Monday, March 6, 2017

"Macht der Bilder" - Film Propaganda in World War I

During World War I film for the first time was used as a medium for mass propaganda. But how were these images constructed and exploited for publicity purposes? In June 2014, the Austrian TV documentary Macht der Bilder showed how this was done in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

American Cinematographers

The TV program, broadcasted by ORF2, is interesting for several reasons. Most of the World War I footage that was used for this documentary comes from the Austrian Film Museum which has an excellent collection of contemporary film. An analysis of the footage reveals how war scenes sometimes were staged before the camera. Also, although not credited in the TV program, there are some scenes here that were shot by American cinematographers who accompanied the Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War, notably Frank E. Kleinschmidt and Albert K. Dawson.

Parts of the TV program have been uploaded on our YouTube channel, including film scenes showing the battle for Przemyśl on the Eastern Front in the summer of 1915. Some of the footage on Przemyśl was found in a German archive, but during our research for our book American Cinematographers in the Great War we also located these films, shot by Albert K. Dawson, in the collection of the Library of Congress in Culpeper, Virginia.


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