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Effects of Propaganda Films on Ww 2

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The effetc

s of film on WWII propaganda

Without the advent of the medium of film to wage a war of propaganda

both the Axis and the Allies of World War II would have found it difficult to

gather as much support for their causes as they did. Guns, tanks, and bombs

were the principal weapons of World War II, but there were other, more

subtle, forms of warfare as well. Words, posters, and films waged a constant

battle for the hearts and minds of the masses of the world just as surely as

military weapons engaged the enemy. Persuading the public became a

wartime industry, almost as important as the manufacturing of bullets and

planes. Both sides launched an aggressive propaganda campaign to galvanize

public support, and some of these nation's foremost intelletc

uals, artists, and

filmmakers became warriors on that front.

Propaganda in the broadest sense is the technique of influencing human

action by the manipulation of representations. These representations may

take the spoken, written, pictorial, or musical form. Since the cinema uses all

four of these types of representations, a filmmaker would seem to wield a lot

of power as a propagandist. If he so chooses to use his power to its fullest

potential. The essential distinction lies in the intentions of the propagandist to

persuade an audience to adopt the attitude or action he or she espouses. This

is ever so prevalent as Hitler gained support from his nation to exterminate

the Jewish people from Germany and Europe alike. He adopted such support

by using his Nazi propaganda films as a weapon of mass distraction and

manipulation of the people of Germany. If he had not idealized the German

soldier as a hero, and bestowed nationalism in his people, and blamed the

economic problems of German on the Jewish race then he never would have

been able to accomplish what he had in such a short amount of time. The

most famous Nazi propaganda film is Der ewige Jude ("The Eternal Jew").

"Der Ewige Jude" was engineered by Hitler's Minister of Propaganda.

It was created to legitimize the exclusion, and the ultimately the destruction,

of an entire people. It depicts the Jews of Poland as corrupt, filthy, lazy,

ugly, and perverse: they are an alien people which have taken over the world

through their control of banking and commerce, yet which still live like

animals. The narrator tries to depict the Jew's behavior as rat like, while

showing footage of rats squirming from sewers and leaping at the camera.

Using the montage editing technique so as the juxtaposition of the shots

would imply to the viewer to connetc

the rats with the Jewish people. A very

simple and effetc

ive technique that is still used today. The film's most

shocking scene is the slaughter of a cow, shown in bloody detail, by a

grinning Rabbi- and it is followed by, of all things, three innocent

(presumably German) lambs nuzzling each other. Which is yet another

example of the editing techniques that Pudoukin discussed.

Hitler also provides the emotional climax of the film, with footage of

his speech to the Reichstag from 1939. When preceded by sixty minutes

describing the Jewish problem, and followed by thunderous applause, Hitler's

prophetic warning takes on even greater significance: "If the international

finance-Jewry inside and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the

nations into a world war yet again, then the outcome will not be the victory of

Jewry, but rather the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!"(Adolph

Hitler). The importance of this groundbreaking propaganda is often

underestimated. Someone might characterize the film as a X-ray of the

decision making process that led to the Holocaust. It can also be argued that

the film is seen as the official promulgation of Hitler's decision, and that it -

together with the feature film Jud Sub- deliberately was used to prepare both

perpetrators and bystanders for the extermination of the Jews.

The producer Joseph Goebbels knew all to well how to create a film

that would not only grasp the publics attention but also a film that would

transform them into a flock of sheep, upon which he could lead them into

what ever belief he wanted. The masses of German people would stand

behind Hitler no matter what happened. Why wouldn't they? German

propaganda films depicted Adolph Hitler as a kind, family man. Everyone

has seen the pictures of Hitler walking around with little Aryan children.

Across the lawn of a house, or through a

...

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