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San Pietro


Propagating Assent: Three Wartime Films

Sunday, May 15, 2022 at 2:00 pm

Location: Bartos Screening Room

These three short films from Frank Capra, John Ford, and John Huston, all made during World War II under the auspices of the United States military, constitute some of the most artistically successful works of propaganda ever fabricated, their distortions in the service of moral truths remaining as poetic and problematic today as ever.

Prelude to War

Dir. Frank Capra. U.S. 1942, 52 mins. Digital projection. The first and most celebrated installment of Capra’s Why We Fight series of training films for the Office of War Information, Prelude to War proved such an effective tool for indoctrinating rank and file soldiers into fighting the war in Europe that it was approved for release to the general public and eventually awarded the Academy Award for best documentary.

The Battle of Midway

Dir. John Ford. U.S. 1942, 18 mins. Digital projection. Shot by Ford and camera assistant Jack MacKenzie on handheld 16mm cameras while in the thick of engagement, The Battle of Midway confronted the American public with one of the most galvanically authentic depictions of military combat ever filmed. During the edit, Ford cannily spliced in a shot of Major James Roosevelt, the President’s son, prompting FDR to exclaim, “I want every mother in America to see this film.” 

San Pietro

Dir. John Huston. U.S. 1945, 33 mins. 35mm. Kept under wraps for two years by the U.S. Army for its unsparing frankness, particularly its lifelike close-ups of dead GIs, Huston’s depiction of the 143rd regiment’s push to liberate the Italian town of San Pietro was ironically almost entirely reconstructed after the fact by the filmmaker and his unit.

Ticket includes Museum admission and access to the exhibition Deepfake: Unstable Evidence on Screen.

Tickets: $15 / $11 senior and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / discounted for MoMI members ($7–$11). Order tickets. Please pick up tickets at the Museum’s admissions desk upon arrival. All seating is general admission. Review safety protocols before your visit.