Why We Fight Series Analysis

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The method through which these texts attempt to meet the purpose of production emphasises the role of film as a shared cultural event. In particular, the Why We Fight series, as it intends to trigger a dialogue that changes attitudes within society, allows for a consideration of the process of spectatorship by those at war. It is important to note Robert Rosenstone’s assertion that historical information in film only “fully [satisfies] … the “filmgoer”, not “the historian”, due to the inherent restrictions of the medium. However, this also suggests that films produced during the period reveal the response of societies to the representations of war in these texts. For example, the success of archival footage in Capra’s series provides insight …show more content…
This aspect of the series, coupled with reports of its success, emphasises the participatory dialogue that these films encourage. Furthermore, the use of film to target conceptions about war is seen through the dehumanisation of the enemy in this series. United States Army studies from the period claim that peer pressure was the key solution to high rates of soldiers failing to shoot to kill the enemy during the early stages of the conflict. Appropriately, the representations of enemy combatants in Why We Fight encourage soldiers to respond to the text as a social group. The dehumanisation of the enemy can also be linked to the group response of wider society. The juxtaposition between United States soldiers and the enemy corresponds with the formation of “symbols of patriotism” in similar propaganda films. These representations act to turn United States soldiers into a cultural symbol for civilian viewers. This suggests that similar films can give insight into the origin of popular conceptions of war. The examination of group responses to these texts highlights the significance of film as a cultural event during this …show more content…
Accordingly, the position of film as a shared cultural event demonstrates the success of documentary as war propaganda. This can be attributed to use of cultural symbolism, including ethnic tropes from Hollywood films, and juxtaposition of national lifestyles. These techniques serve to reinforce a conception of the United States as a motivated, and wholly unified, group in the war. Notably, Bosley Crowther’s review of the first part in Capra’s series in 1943 emphasises how an “inspirational effect” is felt by a combination of this “patriotic symbolism”, and the position of the public as previously “uninformed” about the war. However, it is also important to consider the position of the author as a professional critic. This corresponds with his “scholarly” perspective, and disdain for overt patriotism. Despite this, the review reinforces the usefulness of documentary in propaganda. The ability of the genre to meet a shared need for information about the war resulted in the success of the Why We Fight series. As such, it is important to note Capra’s use of techniques that merge the need of the public for information with the desire of the government to promote social cohesion. Capra’s series, like other government propaganda films, focuses on “the individual’s …contribution to society” as the only viable response to current, and future, developments in

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