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FULLERTON : WWII Propaganda Films to Be Shown

September 08, 1993|WILLSON CUMMER

Propaganda films from the World War II era will be shown during a two-month film festival at Cal State Fullerton.

The university's history department is co-sponsoring the festival with the National Archives, which owns many of the films.

Charlie Chaplin's 1940 film "The Great Dictator," which ridicules the Axis leaders, opens the festival on Monday. The Axis countries of Germany, Italy and Japan were aligned against the Allies.

All the films will be introduced by faculty or students.

Some of the films, like Frank Capra's 1942 film "Prelude to War," were paid for by the government. Others were private ventures.

"World War II engendered a massive nationalism in the United States. This was part and parcel of that," said Bill Doty, a government archivist.

Many of the films are blatant attempts to sway public opinion, said Arthur Hansen, a history professor. But he pointed out that contemporary films can also promote certain viewpoints.

"For almost every film that gets put out now, there are interest groups that do not see it in their interest," Hansen said.

The propaganda films did have an impact on the public, Hansen said. The 1945 film "Know Your Enemy--Japan," which shows on Oct. 11, helped fuel racism against Japanese-Americans, many of whom were interned during World War II, he said.

Other films in the series are the 1943 film "Mission to Moscow," which tried to whitewash Stalin's purges in the 1930s. "The Rainbow," a 1944 Soviet film about Nazi brutality, will also be shown.

Two 1944 films about the danger of capture by a military enemy will be shown. They are "Resisting Enemy Interrogation" and "The Purple Heart."

John Huston's 1945 film "Let There Be Light," which shows the mental damage inflicted on soldiers, will complete the festival.

All the films will be shown free at 7 p.m. on Mondays at Mackey Auditorium on the Cal State Fullerton campus.

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