04 Propaganda

We have a lot of discussion and notes to make up what with my illness and, well, your lack of blog participation. The latter is especially important with our very small class. This week we will address Propaganda (what is it? are all films propaganda films?) having watched Battleship Potemkin and watching The Spanish Earth, Prelude to War, American Sniper, Enemy at the Gates, or Triumph of the Will outside of class. We also have the pleasure of seeing our first film presentation by James on American Sniper, which will follow my own example presentation on Alexander Nevsky.

Your reading this week is a piece written by the director of both Battleship Potemkin and Alexander Nevsky. It does not directly tackle the concept of propaganda, speaking instead of the photographic and graphical composition of film. As supplementary reading, consider skimming two other pieces included here: another piece by Eisenstein essentially congratulating himself and the Soviet Film industry and a piece underscoring the contemporary uselessness of Triumph of the Will to serve as propaganda, though lauded as the greatest propaganda film ever made.

Next week’s films are:

  • This Is Not a Film (in class)
  • Bicycle Thieves (film screening on Tuesday)
  • Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (available at the public library)
  • Citizenfour (available at the public library)
  • An Inconvenient Truth (available at the public library)

4 thoughts on “04 Propaganda

  1. Communist Russia’s cinema’s early work of art, Battleship Potemkin, utilizes amazing technical film-shooting to make an influential piece of classic propaganda. An integral theme throughout the movie is “the many”. Echoing Communist ideals and principles, it emphasizes “the many” with impressive technical scenes and repetitive text cards. Views of hundreds, if not thousands, of people gathered around the dead Sailor and revolutionary, Vakulinchuk, are reinforced by text cards stating: “one for all” and ” all for one”. Everything and everyone “good” is done in or with a large group of people. Battleship Potemkin,somewhat uncommon for the world of cinema, focuses and glorifies “the many”.

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  2. Propaganda can either be subtle or out there; in Battleship Potemkin it’s over the top and they make it obvious that they’re being bias. They do this by showing the previous Russian government terrorizing innocent people and treating the soldiers/sailors like garbage. Also in every shot, they’re always multiple people; there wasn’t a single shot of someone alone. Since this was made during the Soviet era, they were promoting communism and why it works. They did this buy shooting each scene with multiple people working together and showing how they succeeded to overthrow a corrupt government. The rebels are shown as saviors to the common people while the established government was evil. In American Sniper they are more subtle; instead of showing the “enemy” as horrible people the director just only focused on what the protagonist saw. He was a sniper and killed many targets. The propaganda in this movie is showing that Americans are brave, enduring, and heroic. They show this by showing how much sorrow they go through and how war takes a toll on them. The main character Chris Kyle went back into service for more fighting even though it was affecting him in a negative way. It shows Americans as selfless heroes who would do anything for their country; it does not glorify America, only the people living in America. Also just because propaganda is trying to send a specific message doesn’t mean it’s entirely false. In American Sniper, so people are actually selfless, but the problem is that it can’t represent a whole. Propaganda is used to influence people about certain issues without them really knowing.

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  3. Battleship Potemkin,
    American Sniper,
    Both versions of Red Dawn, which are obvious propaganda films against the Soviet Union and several other communist nations.

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