‘Tis the season to be bombarded with commercial after commercial after commercial. No, I’m not talking about the holidays. I’m talking about election season, the madness that rears its ugly head every four years.
Now it’s not even a case of the two party brawl that plays out on our televisions as now we to have watch the constant in-fighting as one party struggles to choose their next candidate. However, this isn’t a column where one vents their personal frustrations with the world. “The Globe” already has a section for that.
In all seriousness, ever since the very concept of art came into existence, people have always been aware of the influence it can have on people. This axiom is the most true when it comes to film. If you type the word “propaganda” into any search engine, you will find a whole slew of archived videos, most of them from the late 1930’s to around 1945. These are usually World War II propaganda ads from all over the world.
It’s not all about persuasion however, because about as early as the 60’s we saw the rise of films more focused on social criticism as well as films that document important events or people. While many of these films are highly fictionalized, they are always rooted in reality, no matter how skewed. I can’t go into too much detail as to what the first political or propaganda film was as this is still a subject of debate. Instead, we’ll take a look at the impact politics has had on film in general.
I mentioned earlier the prevalence of propaganda during World War II. Aside from propaganda commercials, many common stories would often be altered to feature propaganda messages, whether they changed the antagonists to Nazis or Communists or featured a microcosm that represented the world at large. The most notable example of said microcosmic storytelling is the classic film “Casablanca.”
As things progress, war became less popular, particularly during the early years of The Cold War. Here we see films that are more based on causes, history, and conspiracy, with films such as “The Manchurian Candidate,” where the son of a right-wing political family is brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for a Communist conspiracy. Cold War spy thrillers began to dominate during this era, but people weren’t interest in violence as much as they were in intrigue.
As the Cold War began to die down, politics in cinema often led to one of two routes, one being the period political drama and the other being political satire. A recent example of the former is the upcoming “J. Edgar,” which chronicles the man who founded the Federal Bureau of Investigation. An example for the latter would be the 2008 film “Swing Vote,” where one man is told that he has the deciding vote for the next president.
Not much can be said about the political drama without looking at the authenticity of period pieces. So next week on The Weekly Reel, we’ll take a look at how historical events have been portrayed on the silver screen.