Watch Prelude to War
- 52 min
Prelude to War is a 1942 documentary film produced by the United States government and directed by Frank Capra, who later became famous for directing It's a Wonderful Life. The movie is the first in a series of seven films known as Why We Fight, which were intended to help bolster public support for American involvement in World War II. The film begins with an introduction by Walter Huston, who serves as the narrator throughout the movie. Huston sets the stage by describing the rise of Nazi Germany and the atrocities committed by Hitler's regime. The film then moves on to describe the broader geopolitical context that led to the outbreak of war - including the rise of militarism in Japan, the occupation of Ethiopia by Italy, and the Spanish Civil War. Throughout the film, the audience is presented with a barrage of images and archival footage, accompanied by Huston's narration. The footage is often raw and graphic, showing the realities of war and its impact on civilians. There are shots of bombed-out cities in Europe, footage of Japanese soldiers committing atrocities in China, and images of the Holocaust. One of the most interesting segments of the film is a discussion of how the Nazis were able to gain power in Germany. The film argues that the Nazis were able to exploit the economic turmoil caused by the Great Depression, as well as the resentment many Germans felt after World War I. The film depicts Hitler as a cunning demagogue who was able to manipulate the fears and prejudices of the German people to gain power. Another important theme of the film is the importance of American involvement in the war effort. The film argues that the United States cannot remain neutral in the face of such evil, and that it is America's responsibility to help defeat the Axis powers. The movie also stresses the importance of unity and cooperation among the Allied powers. The film ends with a stirring call to arms, urging Americans to support the war effort in whatever way they can. Huston's final words are a warning that the stakes of the war are high - "it is up to you and every other American to play his part, to do his job, to make sure that we win this war." Overall, Prelude to War is a powerful documentary that effectively conveys the urgency and importance of the Allied effort in World War II. While some of the footage and arguments may seem dated to modern viewers, the film still serves as a compelling reminder of the sacrifices made by so many in the fight against tyranny and oppression.