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Which Battle of the Somme? War and neutrality in Dutch cinemas, 1914–1918

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Abstract

While the Netherlands tried to maintain neutrality during World War I, the belligerent nations watched the country and its public opinion closely. At the same time, the French, English, and German authorities used propaganda to influence Dutch public opinion. The famous documentary film The Battle of the Somme (1916) is seen as a prime example. Its critical reception in the Netherlands has been studied before, but its challenge to the cause of neutrality has escaped close attention. Not only did Dutch ministers, mayors, film distributors, and cinema owners get involved in the marketing and regulation of war propaganda, but so did the intelligence services and propaganda departments of the warring countries. This article shows that at least three films about the battle of the Somme were shown in Dutch cinemas - French, English, and German - and that all of them were part of a struggle to secure the public's favour.

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... Apparently, Germans learned quickly, and the failure in neutral countries (see Dibbets andGroot 2010, Smither 2005) of bombastic military fi lms Graf Dohna und seine Möwe and Bei unseren Helden an der Somme led to an instant change of strategy: melodramas and romantic comedies, set ideally in a scenic setting and starring the internationally acclaimed German actress and war widow Henny Porten, fantastic features made by Paul Wegener, comic relief off ered by Ernst Lubitsch's comedies and detective series Joe Deebs, proved much more successful than the offi cial propaganda. German propaganda offi cers decided wisely not to screen in neutral countries fi lms with overtly propagandist message, such as propaganda cartoons John Bull (1917) or Das Säugetier (1917. ...
Article
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... (1916), uno dei film più celebri del periodo e secondo alcuni (Chapman 2008, 40-45) il primo a essere percepito -almeno da parte britannica -come pienamente documentario e realistico, ottenendo per questo un enorme successo di pubblico. Gli autori mostrano come, anche in un territorio neutrale quale i Paesi Bassi, gli spettatori diventino bersaglio delle attività di propaganda delle nazioni belligeranti: tre diversi film sulla battaglia della Somme, realizzati da altrettante prospettive, vengono distribuiti nel Paese a partire dal 1916, con l'obiettivo di orientarne l'opinione pubblica (Dibbets, Groot 2010). Con attenzione al caso italiano, Alessandro Faccioli ha ripercorso il modo in cui le immagini delle pellicole realizzate nel corso del conflitto hanno circolato nei decenni successivi, manipolate e appiattite dal punto di vista semantico, nei numerosi documentari di montaggio. ...
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Chapter
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Desmet remained joint owner of Cinema Palace till 1918, but Hamburger would supply the movies
  • Jean Blom
  • Desmet