Playing World politics on silver screen

playing world politics on silver screen, movies, propaganda,

Politics and cinema of any country are the strongest tools that go hand in hand.  One way or the way they affect each other, though their connections may be sometimes tacit and invisible their mutual linkage could not be ostracized by anyone. The past events and personalities are personified on the Silver Screen in such a way that it would present only those events and personalities whether they are real or fictitious to boost up the superiority of one side over the other, no matter what maybe it’s historical reality and existence. 

Worth of a picture

The Chinese say that a picture has worth more than a thousand words (though this adage or proverb was originally coined by an American, Fred R Bernard, for the publicity of his advertisement agency in the 1920s) was in itself a propaganda or publicity stunt by attributing it to the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, for credibility. Knowing the cogency of visual arts, and especially of print and electronic media, no government or state of the world ever ventured to ignore it. 

Movies in Cold war

Immediately after the Soviet Revolution of 1917, Vladimir Lenin directed the Soviet Commissar for Education to allow only those information that are healthy and productive to the Soviet Union and both print and electronic media including the film industry was put in their purviews as well. Hence marking both the educative and informative value of film and cinema for the Soviets and the Soviet Union. Thus setting up a state or national narrative based on the exploitation of Capitalism of weak nations and the glory of Communism as the savior of these oppressed ones. 

Also Read; The National narrative in education

While their political and ideological rival, the United States of America, was not lagging in the use of cinema for political leverage. 

D. W. Griffith’s movie, Birth of Nation, was even eulogized by President Woodrow Wilson for the true depiction of American history on the silver screen.  Though in the movie African American delineation was very negative. 

Nazi’s cinema

German Nazis took a step further by setting up a ministry of People’s Entertainment and Propaganda in 1933 and Joseph Goebbels was made its head.  Every aspect of movie making right from script, direction, acting, and actors participating in them to its release was scrutinized by this ministry.  Anything that would undermine the theme or the hidden message of the movie was forbidden.

Even critical appraisal of the movies was banned.  Jews actors and staff were thrown away by the ministry. Their sole focus was then to propagandize movies for the Nazi Party and augment their worldview with cinematic help. 

Supporting national narrative

While Americans hailed movies like the Birth of a Nation, Gone with the wind, and Son of the Gods, the Soviet Union also filmed movies like Golden Mountains, Return of Maxim, and Fall of Berlin. The German Nazis too joined the cinematic war of propaganda by Operation Michael, the Degenhardt, the Great King, and others like them. 

Cinema and film provide an escape from the harsh realities of life.  This was the reason why more than one billion movie tickets were sold in Germany in just two years 1942-1944. 

With the birth and rapid growth of social media have made everything virtually a tool for propaganda.  Viewers have access to anything and everything.  Once deemed prohibited and circumcised in society are now accessible through the internet.  This has almost waived the governmental control on cinema and movie making which were once controlled in an iron-fisted way by them.

Authoritarian, dictatorial, and democratic setups all have used cinema for their political, social, economic, and military propaganda boosting their national narrative for their nation-building strategy.  The political cinema and movies as were used in past years are no longer fruitful in the 21st century.

Neither influence on audiences nor revenue figures from their exhibition is very staggering for the investors to invest in them. The truth is, you cannot fool all the people all the time!!! 

(also published in the Global News Pakistan )

Playing World politics on silver screen

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