Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stiched up

The film segment above is from the Why We Fight series, the fourth part which deals with the Battle of Britain.

Produced by the US Army Special Service Division, and directed by Frank Capra "Why We Fight" is a seven part propaganda/documentary series that traces the earliest beginnings of the second world war starting with Japan's invasion of China in 1931, to the Nazi's march across Europe.

And it is classic propaganda, stitching together unrelated clips of film to support a narrative which is fictional.

Crucially, when you watch the clip, 15 seconds in you will see a parachute. We know the date of this ... it is from the famous BBC Gardner report of 14 July 1940. It shows P/O Michael Mudie parachuting into the Dover Straits. He is eventually picked up from the sea by a Royal Navy vessel and transferred to Dover Hospital where, sadly, he dies from his wounds.

Further on, about 34 seconds into the clip, we see a Walrus flying boat roaring to the rescue, to pick up the smiling airman. But the Walrus was not issued to the RAF until late 1941 and that sequence was shot in the summer of 1942.

The time elapsed between the two sequences of the film is less than 20 seconds but in real life it is about two years. The impression presented is false. Yet such is the power of the imagery that many people, even to this day, believe it represents the truth.

When it comes towards the end of the clip, the claims made about the Germans are the exact opposite of the truth. With their air sea rescue service, it is the Luftwaffe pilot who is more likely to be rescued.

The camera cannot lie, of course. But people do, and here you see a particularly egregious example. Seeing is not (or should not be) believing.

COMMENT: Battle of Britain thread