Prelude to War (1942)

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Prelude to War was the first film of Frank Capra's Why We Fight propaganda film series, commissioned by the Office of War Information (OWI) and George C. Marshall. It was made to convince American troops of the necessity of combating the Axis Powers during World War II. The film was based on the idea that those in the service would be more willing and able fighters if they knew the background and reason for their participation in the war. It was later released to the general American public as a rallying cry for support of the war.

The U.S. Army used Prelude to War as a training film for indoctrinating soldiers before its release in theaters. Prior to deployment, it was compulsory for all U.S. soldiers to view the film. The goal when showing it to the general public was to unify the country and to encourage that everyone should do their part in the war effort. The films produced by Capra inspired the society of the time to mobilize as a nation and rally around their country, their troops, and their president.

The film series was a useful tool in motivating the public and boosted support for the war. It was so well perceived that on March 4, 1943, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded an Academy Award to Capra for Prelude to War as the Best Documentary film of 1942, illustrating how the government and military successfully and cohesively relayed their message of national unity to the American people through popular culture.