R320 Fall 2018 Propaganda Films
Thursdays, 2:15–3:40, Oct. 18-Nov. 8
Instructor: Ben Gold
Films not only entertain, they also can convince the viewer of a certain political point, or influence the opinions or behavior of people, by providing deliberately misleading, propagandistic content. We will see four propaganda films. The development of Russian cinema in the 1920’s saw considerable progress in the use of the motion picture as a propaganda tool, at the same time serving to develop the art of moviemaking. Eisenstein’s films, in particular The Battleship Potemkin, are masterworks of the cinema, even as they glorify Eisenstein’s Communist ideals. The rise of totalitarian states and WWII in the 1930’s and ‘40’s, are arguably the “Golden Age of Propaganda.” Leni Riefenstahl, a filmmaker working in Nazi Germany, created what is likely the greatest propaganda movie of all time: Triumph of the Will, a film commissioned by Hitler to chronicle the 1934 Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg. Despite its controversial subject, the film is still recognized for its revolutionary approaches to using music and cinematography. During the Depression, the US government, specifically the Resettlement Administration, sponsored two short films, The Plow That Broke the Plains and The River, to raise awareness about the New Deal.
Ben Gold, a frequent instructor at OLLI, is a lifelong classic film buff with a degree in political science. Combine these two elements, and what could be more exciting than watching the most classic of all propaganda movies?