Thursday, October 29, 2009

Film in social Studies, Follow up.

I have selected two clips to follow in the theme of War Time propaganda, a study in evolution.

The first clip is from "The Best Years of Our Lives."

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This movie details the struggles and problems faced by World War II vets returning home. Modern culture has portrayed this as the last great war; the war without all those strange problems associated with modern warfare. The best years of our lives tells a different story. Notice the Conversation that the two seemingly uninjured men have at the end of the clip, "That would rehabilitate me." This one line speaks volumes to what was happening on the home front. Psychology had not yet come up with the term, "PTSD," but it would seem that these veterans coming home knew all to well that something was amiss. Further along in the movie one of the men has slipped into almost complete isolation, another is teetering on the edge of alcoholism and the third is struggling to keep his family together.

The second clip is easier to follow than the movie itself. The film, "Flags of our Fathers," by Clint Eastwood, is a tremendously good view of how the soldiers felt about themselves juxtaposed to what the media was doing with the image of, "The American Soldier."

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These men were painted as heroes, but wanted nothing to do with the spotlight. Again the them of the media presenting the war as something glorious, while the soldiers realize the harsh truth. These soldiers must work to reconcile what they have seen with what the American public wants.

Both films present a story opposite to the propaganda of the time, and also present a very different idea of the propaganda than we see about the wars today. They are somewhat counter-cultural in that they present a different side of the war than popular culture would like to know.

I think that these films might have contributed to the anti-military feelings that many people express today. Both films expose the tragedy of war and what happens when men return from war. Now we rarely focus on the positive things our military men are doing, preferring only to hear of the tragedy that is many soldier's return home. This does, I think, a bit of injustice to those men and women who do beneficial things and return home relatively unscathed. I think we need to, as in all things, remember the whole picture. These films, in the context of WWII propaganda, help us to remember that whole picture. Now we just need to learn to see a more balanced picture of current events.

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