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Film Propaganda and its Audience: The Example of Britain's Official Films during the First World War

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Abstract

its policies by mounting a large and systematic campaign of official propaganda. Within days of the declaration of war, Asquith asked Charles Masterman (a member of the cabinet and chairman of the National Health Insurance Commission) to initiate such a campaign, and Masterman set up his largely secret organization at Wellington House - the London headquarters of the Insurance Commission. To begin with Masterman and his colleagues were exclusively concerned with neutral and allied opinion abroad, but by 1917 domestic enthusiasm for the war had begun to wane, and they turned their attention to public opinion at home as well. Indeed, in the last two years of the war, they also sought to influence public opinion in enemy countries as well. As the scale of official propaganda increased, the government twice took the

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... Pada Perang Dunia Pertama, misalnya, Inggris menggunakan karyakarya sastra dengan tujuan memperluas pasar propagandanya (Reeves, 1983). Film kemudian digunakan propagandis Inggris pada sekitar 1915. ...
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War and propaganda become two inseparable aspects. When its occupation in Indonesia, Japan used various tool to influence and attract Indonesian’s attention. Mass media became the most accessible tool used by Japan to give the doctrines and propaganda, especially Djawa Baroe magazines. This paper aims to analyze how the Japanese use the media, especially Djawa Baroe magazine, produced in 1943 in Indonesia as a propaganda tool in doctrine and mobilize its dominated society through the discourse analysis approach. The research was conducted through three stages of analysis, in which the results of the analysis were analyzed profoundly through the view of critical discourse analysis. The result shows six-issues categories can be discussed from 250 articles in Djawa Baroe magazine. Japanese military powers; area security by Japan; education, training, and knowledge were given to society; Japan and “the older brother”; enemies; and, community testimony and response. As a result, propaganda, doctrine and the application of Japanese cultural influences can be seen in the style of language, the use of sentences and images displayed in the article. Doctrine given by the Japanese government includes various aspects such as threat and fear from the enemies and kindness and attention.
... World War I and the need for public support at different levels continued the phenomenon, and propaganda was in widespread use (Lazer et al., 2018). Pamphlets were used to circulate propaganda messages (Sanders, 1975), while early film propaganda was shown in British cinemas during World War I (Reeves, 1983). ...
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Historians have long taken an interest in military recruitment advertising and public relations. Much of their attention, however, has been directed towards promotion in wartime, with a lot less known about how governments used media to attract civilians in peacetime or during the many so-called ‘limited wars’ of the post-war era. This article addresses this shortcoming by exploring three separate recruitment campaigns waged in Britain at different moments in the 20th century. Giving a sense of the scale of official recruiting work, it highlights the central role played by commercial advertising and public relations professionals in the planning and development of campaigns and investigates whether recruiters were actually successful in convincing civilians to join up. The evidence presented here suggests that they had a negligible effect on enrolment rates. Yet, it also indicates that different types of appeal were used to attract civilians in peacetime, with material rewards typically taking precedence over notions of patriotic duty. Suggesting that such appeals effectively commodified military service, this article concludes by reflecting on their broader legacy to studies of media, war and conflict.
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The place of propaganda in a democratic society has been discussed long before the age of fake news, as the heated debate on this issue that took place in the UK and other democracies from around 1914 to 1950 clearly shows. Drawing upon a variety of published and archival sources, the article examines the changing views of British political elites, intellectuals, publicity experts and the public on the proper role of government in the public sphere, while discussing their influence on government policies and exploring the light they shed on British—and, more broadly, liberal democratic—culture and identity.
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British film propaganda directed at neutral countries was meant to strengthen the pro-British attitude or at least weaken pro-German sentiments in the neutral countries. Directed at the wide strata of neutral societies as well as at intellectual, military and economic elites, factual films from the battle lines were believed not only to counteract German propaganda but also to overshadow hostile actions taken by British government against economic and political freedoms of the neutrals. This article is an attempt at understanding the reasons for the eventual failure of British film propaganda in the Netherlands. While mentioning various conflict areas between the countries, it focuses on cultural entanglements and cultural networks that developed, though precariously, throughout the war. The neglect of existing connections between British and Dutch filmmakers and the hesitant if not hostile attitude of War Office Cinematograph Committee towards expensive adaptations of literary works, and feature films in general, might be perceived, the article argues, as one of the core reasons, along political and economic tensions, why Britain lost the battle for Dutch cinema audiences.
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This article offers a cross-national analysis of the historical reception of the American war film The Battle Cry of Peace (J. Stuart Blackton and Wilfred North/Vitagraph, 1915) in the neutral countries of the Netherlands and Switzerland during World War I. Treating propaganda as a mode de lecture, the authors demonstrate how a fiction film that was originally intended as preparedness propaganda picked up very diverse and often conflicting meanings in cinema cultures outside the United States. In the eyes of its audiences, the film could have been qualified as ‘entertainment’ or ‘propaganda’, ‘fiction’ or ‘fact’ at the same time. When comparing the Dutch and Swiss reception contexts in more detail, it becomes clear that The Battle Cry of Peace was a popular film in both countries. However, the film made a different impact on its audiences on a national level. German propaganda officials in Switzerland considered the anti-German tendencies of the film highly problematic. This was hardly the case in the Netherlands. While The Battle Cry of Peace confronted Swiss audiences with their linguistic and cultural divide, here, the meaning of the film was generally tied into a unifying neutrality discourse. In both cases, however, a fact often neglected by contemporary (film) historians, cinema can be understood as an important agent in the public debate about the war outside the warring countries, as was acknowledged by individuals and institutions at the time.
Thesis
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Propaganda has been an integral part of human history, and while the documentation of conflict through film began in the middle of the nineteenth century, it was not until the First World War that the production and distribution of war films as propaganda became a mass phenomenon. Moving images of the war proliferated in all Western countries at an unprecedented rate. This thesis explores the role of wartime propaganda films in Britain, France, and Germany during the First World War by assessing the achievements and missteps of cinematic variations on the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Although these films achieved varying degrees of success as both propaganda films and war documentaries, they failed to alter the fundamental opinion of the masses. Rather, they strengthened and reinforced existing attitudes about the war. More importantly, the films shaped the way people would remember both the battle and the war in future generations.
Article
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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