The Purple Rose of Cairo

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Film has captured and enchanted audiences since its origination with the Lumiere Brothers; and, as it developed, it began to be used to convey messages and ideas. Film started to become a creative outlet that then turned to a catalyst of philosophical thought. Film theorist Sergei Einstein expressed that film “as a work of art, understood dynamically, is just the process of arranging images in the feelings and mind of the spectator”. Thus, directors began to realize that audience manipulation was possible through the images and sounds they delivered, as well as through the way these images and sounds were presented-- it all has an effect of how viewers thought of and interpreted the films. This is especially clear in the German film, Triumph of Will, directed by Leni Reifenstahl. While the film is brilliantly made, with moving cameras, the utilization of long focus lenses, aerial photography, and a revolutionary approach to musical accompaniment, the film was also incredibly propagandistic and manipulative at the time of it’s release. The entire film is a vehicle to promote the ideologies of Hitler; beginning with Germany’s near-destruction in World War I and depicting Hitler as a messiah, descending from the skies to greet his vehement followers. In the opening minutes of the film, there are close-up and over-the-shoulder shots of Hitler, making him seem rather personable, adored, and somewhat noble. There are also shots of children approaching him, showing that the ideas of innocence and purity are to be seen as parallel to the views and goals Hitler himself. Aesthetically, the entire film is superbly done, and politically its manipulative powers are astonishing. By showing Germany as unified under the divine rule of Hitler, it brought the nation together and created one of the most destructive and powerful nations in the 1940s.

While film can be used as propaganda, like in Nazi Germany, it can also be used to provoke thought, rather than control it,...
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