Keep calm and go to the pictures. Did British cinema win the second world war for the allies? How subtle propaganda may have helped the war effort on the home front

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Dwyer, Jackie
Issue Date
BA (Hons) in Film, Literature and Drama
Dublin Business School
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This thesis is entitled 'Did British cinema win the Second World War for the Allies? How subtle propaganda in movies may have helped the war effort on the home front.' The purpose is to see if, by the use of subtle messages and inferred propaganda in feature movies made in Britain during the 1939-1945 conflict and with an English background, British cinema was able to rally support for the cause from its citizens and in so doing, may have brought an early end to the conflict. Propaganda was a very important weapon in war and the cinema was a very important weapon in propaganda. Britain had shown its adeptness in propaganda during the First World War - something that even Hitler commented on in Mein Kampf - and even though its film industry was in its infancy, it was still able with great effect to make use of its burgeoning popularity to further the war effort, particularly with movies such as For The Empire (1916), a heavily patriotic and stirring short (approx seven minutes) made on behalf of the Treasury whose aim was to get the population to contribute to the war effort. The Battle of the Somme (1916) is an hour long documentary which purported to be actual footage of the fighting which took place in North-East France although doubt has now been cast on some of the scenes in the documentary, with accusations that some of the action had been staged. Whether it was all real or not, it is still an extremely strong piece of propaganda.