11 August 2007

Propaganda In Action 10

In contrast to the trailer for "Pork Chop Hill" listed below, we've a clip from the 1956 Chinese Korean War combat film, "Triangle Hill"(Shang Gan Ling), which was based on an incident during the 1952 battle of Triangle Hill during the Korean Conflict, in which a company of Chinese People's Volunteers machine gunners fended off an attack by US infantry.

The most striking things to note in this clip are, 1, the sort of massed, human wave style attack employed by the Americans in here(which, as a commentator to this clip on YouTube, whose father was a US Army second lieutenant during the Battle of Triangle Hill pointed out, didn't happen during the actual battle), and the kind of faceless, in-human, even horde-like quality given the Americans in this excerpt.

This is essentially a simple reversal of the kind of depictions of Chinese and North Korean soldiers often made in American Korean War films of the same period, such as "Pork Chop Hill".

How much of this sort of grossly over-simplified depiction of battle tactics and the enemy seen in these examples is due to the personal beliefs and prejudices of the film-makers themselves, the perceived need of these film-makers to tell these stories in the simplest kind of visual and story-telling short-hands possible, so that audiences will completely understand the goings-on on-screen, pressures, from either film studios or outside political interests, and the general political climates then prevailing in the US and PRC, I don't know.

Only a thorough study of the production circumstances behind each film would yield decisive answers.

But, the results, a kind of jingoistic, flattened-out portrayal of the enemy that essentially denies the enemy's individuality and humanity, can be readily seen, even by the biggest dolt.

That, perhaps, is the worst aspect of propaganda, in that issues and peoples are reduced to one-dimensional cartoons of what and who they are, or were, thus creating a kind of all-purpose bogeyman suitable for use by whatever interested parties that wish to exploit them for their own purposes.

Be seeing you.

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