For over a century, film is one of the most important forms of mass communication, and it expresses and reflects a society’s way of seeing itself. Whether screened in theaters, on TV or on the web, the medium continues to communicate ideas that seek to influence audiences.
Join us as we explore four different films which were designed to or had the effect of changing public opinion for a specific purpose. We’ll also discuss the relevance of these films in light of contemporary politics.
We’ll watch the following films from Germany, Japan, Russia, and the United States, which were designed for a specific propaganda purpose using the unique nature of the film medium:
Triumph of the Will
This is the film that sold Hitler to the German people. The film screening will be preceded by a lecture by Dr. Meyer. After the film, a class discussion will focus on any similarities between Germany in 1933 and the present day.
An anti-German film that warned the Russian people that they were threatened once again by their Teutonic neighbor. Dr. Meyer will lecture on the film that depicts threats to Russia by Germany, followed by a screening and then class discussion about any current threats to the USA.
Why We Fight
The US in WWII had to portray its enemies in a negative way to warn its citizens of the dangers inherent for its survival. Noted Hollywood director Frank Capra directed this film and Dr. Meyer will present other examples of directors who used the film medium to communicate ideas of hate. Class discussion follows the screening.
Prisoners of Propaganda
Can film be used to persuade viewers to like a potential enemy? The Japanese hoped to use this film using ‘cooperating’ Australian POWs as themselves in anticipation of its planned invasion of Australia. The lecture will illicit comments from the class after the screening.
- To familiarize students with the ways film and media propaganda manipulate facts.
- To assist students in understanding and appreciating the film medium and its power.
- To describe the great films of propaganda and how they were used.
- To explain how modern uses of propaganda in film build on those of the past.
Who Should Take this Class?
- This class is for those who want to learn about the various ways propaganda is used in film and media to influence or change public opinion for a specific purpose.