Propaganda: Movies and their Message
Film as a Tool
Ever since the birth of film as a medium, governments and all types of organizations saw its potential to sway the masses to their advantage. It didn’t matter if a film wasn’t intended to be used as propaganda, films have messages and if those messages suited their cause, people wrapped their concepts around them.
Because of it, things like D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation happen.
It didn’t matter if Griffith denied being a racist and later released Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages, The Birth of a Nation was used by the Ku Klux Klan, who had been in decline a number of times, to recruit people for their cause until they reached four to five million men by the mid-1920s — a huge number of voting adults considering the population wasn’t much back then and women had just started voting.
Of course, what we often label as “propaganda films” have been kept as tools throughout our history during important world events like World War I, World War II and the Cold War. In fact, Hitler loved movies — and apparently Kim Jong-il did too — which would explain why the German cinema industry made its name with pretty darn impressive films that we, the non-Nazi, label as “propaganda film.”
I don’t know how trustworthy The Guardian is, but apparently there’s even a Nazi 3D film (featuring Hitler, of course) shot 16 years earlier than the first American stereoscopic film .
Even Japan made their first animated film in 1945, Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors (海の神兵), which was ordered by the Japanese Naval Ministry to spread the idea of “the liberation of Asia”. This promoted the union of Asian nations under the leadership of Japan and free of Western power. The film is even scarier considering how cute those bunny rabbits are and how catchy the song (in part five) is.