The article analyzes film discourse, both informative and fiction, in the United States during the First World War. The article places “the division of films” in the framework of the complex campaign of institutional communication started by W. Wilson’s government after the war declaration by analyzing “publicity” and “propaganda” strategies deployed by the Committee on Public Information, which was created ad hoc for the military campaign. On the one hand, the paper explores the film stories, both documentary and fiction, distribution apparatus in both the United States and the international markets, the administration policies and the involved agencies, especially in the international distribution. On the other hand, it examines the model of production concerning the contracts signing with film companies and the organization adopted by the Committee on Public Information to create its own productions and participate in joint projects with film companies. The paper places emphasis on the “theory” developed by the Committee on Public Information about script-writing and film staging, particulary on the case of documentary stories, which were based in a model, hybridized with fiction stories, in order to stimulate demand for “educational”, “propaganda” film-making, to which the exhibitors initially showed signs of resistence. The paper also highlights, in overall terms, how iconical representation was categorized and, in particular, the assessment on the role silent cinema can play in the Committee’s development of communicative strategies. In spite of the Comittee’s avoidance of the “propaganda” category, as its own name shows, iconical representation was given “highest propaganda value” and was granted a place of privilege, particularly, in the international campaign’s call to spread “the gospel of americanism” around the globe.
Keywords: Political Communication | Propaganda | Publicity/Advertising | Film Discourse | Discourse Analysis