Propaganda Film
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Propaganda Film
Propaganda Film
A brief overview of propaganda films throughout history and their development
Curated by Thomas Lindsey
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Propaganda

Propaganda | Propaganda Film | Scoop.it

Propaganda is any form of communication that’s goal is to influence the attitude of a certain community toward a cause or a position. Propaganda films are normally very subjective and only present one side of an issue or an argument. Propaganda is found in many mediums, and film is a very large one.

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Battle of Santiago Bay (1898)

Battle of Santiago Bay (1898) | Propaganda Film | Scoop.it

In 1896 J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith founded the Vitagraph film company and two years later in 1898 they produced the first known propaganda films. These films were shorts depicting re-enactments as real footage of war-time events. The most notable film was, “Battle of Santiago Bay”. This film is said to have been filmed in a bathtub using replica boats and the smoke of the battle being the cigar smoke from the directors cigar. This film and the others like it signify the start of an entirely new genre of film solely dedicated towards the politics of a nation, especially during war-time.

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WWI (1914-1918)

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Harold Laswell Stated

"the [First] World War led to the discovery of propaganda by both the man in the street and the man in the study.  The discovery was far more startling to the former than the latter, because the man in the study had predecessors who had laid firm foundations for his efforts to understand propaganda.  The layman had previously lived in a world where there was no common name for the deliberate forming of attitudes by the manipulation of words" (1938)

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War Office Cinematograph Committee (WOCC

In November 1916 Great Britain formed the War Office Cinematograph Committee in order to determine a propaganda films sole purpose. This stood out for the time as the government was now directly and publicly involved in propaganda film. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_film_propaganda

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The Battle of the Somme (1916)

“The Battle of the Somme is a 1916 British documentary and propaganda film. Shot by two official cinematographers, Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell”
The main point of this film was to raise morale at which it was very successful. The film shows scenes of violence and the true character of war. It finally show the home front what the troops have to deal with and go through. This shock value causes great uproar and concern for the fight.

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The Bond (1918)

The Bond (1918) | Propaganda Film | Scoop.it

This film is yet another propaganda film that Charlie Chaplin stars in. This time however the film is completely funded by Chaplin himself. It depicts Chaplin as a “good” American buying bail bonds and seemingly shows how the bond system works. There is great satirical qualities as in the beginning the text sequence says there are many kinds of bonds and demonstrates that the “most important” bonds are Liberty Bonds to support the war effort.

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Battleship Potemkin HQ

This 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein is regarded as perhaps the most influential propaganda film of all time. Originally written as a revolutionary film it became to be known as so influential it was banned in many nations. Every shot and scene seems to have great significance in portraying the power struggle between a government and its people. With great cinematography, graphic violence and very tense moments Eisenstein creates the ultimate propaganda film and sets the tone for non-documentary style propaganda films from there on. An article about it can also be read here. 

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19980719/REVIEWS08/401010302/1023

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Cannabis & Hemp (1937-1937)

In the 1930s, anti-drug propaganda was exampled in many films. These films were intended to be shown to parents and children in order to “educate” them about the dangers of cannabis use and the supposed ill-effects of cannabis.

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Assassin of Youth (1937)

Assassin of Youth (1937) | Propaganda Film | Scoop.it

Directed by Elmer Clifton. 

This film is yet another propaganda film centered around the terrors of using Marijuana.

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U.S. WWII Propaganda Films

The United States produced thousands of propaganda films from 1941-1947. These films were very clear in their purpose and were highly effective in boosting morale on many fronts. As there are far too many to cover I will only list the very well known and influential films of this time.

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Why We Fight (1942-1945)

This series of propaganda films mostly directed by Frank Capra, were a set of seven films commissioned  directly by the U.S. The “Why We Fight” films are probably the most well known propaganda films of all time. These films were shown to U.S. troops as a means to get them ready for war. It was also an integrated part of their training. Later on the films were shown to the general public in order to raise support and this is where they gained their prestigious status.

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Propaganda - Institute for Propaganda Analysis

There are seven techniques of propaganda as defined by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis.


Bandwagon: One of the most common techniques in both wartime and peacetime and plays an important part in modern advertising. Bandwagon is also one of the seven main propaganda techniques identified by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in 1938. Bandwagon is an appeal to the subject to follow the crowd, to join in because others are doing so as well.


Card Stacking: Involves the selection and use of facts or falsehoods, illustrations or distractions, and logical or illogical statements to give the best or the worst possible case for an idea, program, person, or product.


Glittering Generalities: Associating something with a 'virtue word' and creating acceptance and approval without examination of the evidence." These are vague, broad statements that will connect with the audience's beliefs and values. They really don't say anything substantive. Slogans make great examples. The vagueness means that the implications, though varying for different people, are always favorable.


Name-Calling: Giving an idea a bad label and therefore rejecting and condemning it without examining the evidence." This is the use of negative words or labels to create prejudice against some person, group or idea.


Plain Folks: The method by which a speaker attempts to convince the audience that he or she and his or her ideas are good because they are 'of the people,' the 'plain folks.' The person speaking will adopt a demeanor that makes them look like "everyman." They will appear to connect with the audience and their point of view. Careful choice of clothing, vocabulary, and mannerisms is necessary to make the identity connection.


Testimonial: Consists in having some respected or hated person say that a given idea or program or product is good or bad. This technique has a well-known someone endorse, recommend or approve of a product, cause or program.


Transfer: Carries the respect and authority of something respected to something else to make the latter accepted. Also works with something that is disrespected to make the latter rejected.

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Independenta Romaniei (1912)

Independenta Romaniei (1912) | Propaganda Film | Scoop.it

This 120 min. silent film directed by Aristide Demetriade was the first “historical fiction” film to be considered to have a propagandic message. With much patriotism the film is said to be made to shift the Romanian publics perception to accept and embrace Romania’s involvement in the Balkan Wars.

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British WWI Propaganda Films

The British propoganda system was a very integrated one. Both the government and civilians worked together on projects. During the first span of the war, Britain had the goal of getting the U.S. to join the war on Britain's side. Most propaganda was directed toward this, and most of the films produced were shipped over to the U.S. Britain painted the Germans in a very poor light in their films as well in order to influence the U.S. further.

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Britain Prepared (1915)

Britain Prepared (1915) | Propaganda Film | Scoop.it

Directed by Charles Urban.

This was the first official propaganda film released by Great Britain contracted with the War Office.

 

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U.S. WWI Propaganda Films

The Committee on Public Information (CPI) was established during World War I in order to generate support from citizens about the war. The United States was originally uneasy and somewhat skeptical about films as a propaganda tool and also created the Division of Films in September of 1917 to take in and handle footage shot by Army Signal Corps cameramen.

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Zepped - (1916)

This very famous and "unknown" film stars Charlie Chaplin and his attempts to take down a German Zeppelin Airship. There has been no viewing of this film since 1917 and only snippets have ever been released since its re-discovery in 2009. This propaganda film stars one of the most well known and renowned film stars of the time. This illustrates how expansive propaganda film had become to the film industry and the viewing public.

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The Interwar Period (1919-1935)

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The Big Parade (1925)

The Big Parade (1925) | Propaganda Film | Scoop.it

This film released in 1925 by director King Vidor depicts the bravery of American soldiers and of soldiers in general (those fighting for the right cause of course). This film was very impacting as it was one of the first war films not to lionize the human cost of war and the tragic violence therein.

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Reefer Madness (1936)

Reefer Madness (1936) | Propaganda Film | Scoop.it

Directed by Louis J. Gasnier. 

This 1936 American propaganda exploitation film directed by Louis Gasnier is comprised of exaggerated events that take place when high school students try Marijuana. This was one of the first propaganda films to be aimed at a nations public that did not have a distinct political view and that did not deal with war. This marked the way for many culturally propaganda films as of date. Watch the film in its entireity here, 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Azf320JDdqU

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Propaganda in World War II (1939-1945)

This time in history is thought to be the “golden age” for propaganda. There was an unbelievable amount of propaganda in circulation from every corner of the globe. Germany had become a propaganda power house having perfected their techniques for production and technique in the years since WWI. The United States also had much propaganda concerning the war efforts and villainizing the opposing forces especially Germany.

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Women in Defense, 1941

This film written by Eleanor Roosevelt is a short documentary showing the necessity of women in the workforce in the time of war. This film urges every women to do their part.

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