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British Film Propaganda in the Netherlands: Its Preconditions and Missed Opportunities

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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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