Topic: Cold War Film and Propaganda

Brief module outline
The Cold War between 1945 and 1991 saw one of the most intense propaganda conflicts in history. Popular culture played a vital role in the icy stand-off between the East and West. Through media such as popular film, each side promoted the virtues of their respective systems, while simultaneously demonising their opponents. This module uses feature films and documentaries to analyse different aspects of the battle for hearts and minds in the Cold War. Some films will be used to help illustrate the key propaganda themes of the Cold War; others will be viewed as primary source documents—i.e. they will be discussed and analysed in the context of when they were produced and what they tell us about the mindset of Americans and Russians at the time. Combined with in-class discussion and analysis of primary documents, examining Cold War films provides students with an engaging way of exploring the relationship between history, propaganda and entertainment.
Worth 50% of the module grade.

This assignment requires you to submit an extended case-study of 2,500 words that explores one of the films analysed in Weeks 3-6 of the module.  A case-study involves writing in a focused way about a specific primary source (i.e. the film) and using that example to talk about the wider picture.

It’s an Anglo-American animated version of George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, released in 1954.  The film is 90 minutes long. This film of Animal Farm was secretly funded and scripted by the American intelligence services, principally the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Write a 2,500 word (+/-10%) extended case-study that looks at one of the films from Weeks 3-6 of the module. You are encouraged to make use of and evidence at least 10 strong scholarly sources (academic journal articles and books), and you must respect the School of Humanities referencing parameters.
Choose one of the films looked at in Weeks 3 to 6 of the module. Analyse that film from as many angles as possible in order to contextualise it historically and to explore its relationship to the Cold War. Use the set of questions below to guide you. Think about the importance of each of the questions. Feel free to approach the film from other angles not touched on by these questions:

  • When was the film made? What was happening in the Cold War and international affairs around this time?
  • Who made the film? How political-minded were they?
  • Why was the film made?
  • What can you tell us about the film’s production?
  • What are the film’s key political messages?
  • How are these messages put across? Think about the plot, characters, scenes, music, and so on.
  • How was the film received? How did it do at the box office? What was its impact, in the long and short term?
  • Which other movies from the same era, or later ones with similar or contrasting messages, would you bring into your analysis in order to contextualise the film?
  • What does the film tell us about propaganda and the politics of filmmaking during the Cold War?
  • Have historians debated the film? If so, how?
  • How does your film relate to historical debates about the Cold War and/or propaganda?
  • What is the film’s overall significance to the Cold War?
    There is flexibility about how you write this case study. You can simply answer the above questions one by one. Alternatively, you can write the answer in something like essay form, integrating answers to the questions as you go along.
    1. Read/watch the two sources below and take copious notes about the film.
    Read Tony Shaw, Hollywood’s Cold War (2007), pp. 72-102. Link on Talis or ProQuest Ebook Central – Detail page (Links to an external site.) 
    For a very basic 3-minute run through of the chief characters in Orwell’s book Animal Farm see this (Links to an external site.)
    Watch film here-2

ANIMAL FARM is 90 minutes long. Link below: (Links to an external site.)
nks to an external site.)
If this fails, find ANIMAL FARM on Box of Broadcasts on Online Library.

  1. Clips, images, reviews for potential use in workshop (Links to an external site.)(Pathe 3 mins ‘advert’ on making of film) (Links to an external site.)(2 mins upbeat apolitical trailer) (Links to an external site.)(5 mins Old Major exhorts the animals to revolt at film’s beginning) (Links to an external site.)(2 mins Napoleon reveals himself as dictator) (Links to an external site.)(2 mins Snowball ‘assassinated’) (Links to an external site.)(last 7 mins of film) (Links to an external site.)  (full movie of 1984 colorised with ending true to Orwell) 

Type of assignment: Academic paper writing
Type of assignment: Essay
Subject: History
Pages/words: 10/2500
Number of sources: 1
Academic level: Bachelor
Paper format: MLA
Line spacing: Double
Language style: UK English

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