Driftwood: Marshall Plan Films

Houen zo!, (ECA Niederlande) 1952, Herman van der Horst (Foto: EYE Film Institute Netherlands/Jacob Merkelbach)
April 29, 2018
 
At the beginning of 1948, the U.S government launched the Marshall Plan, an initiative to rebuild Europe. Many regard it as the most successful aid program of all time. In this view, it is seen as the program that helped set the stage for Western Europe’s economic boom and saved it from imminent ruin (and Communism).
 
However, in 1948, the enthusiasm for the Marshall Plan was much more contained. Maria Fritsche's new book The American Marshall Plan Film Campaign and the Europeans. A Captive Audience? illustrates how Americans tried to convince Europeans of the benefits of the Marshall Plan and the modernisation measures that came with it. The USA produced around 200 short films to this purpose. Under the slogan By Europeans, for Europeans, they commissioned films from European filmmakers. Among them were well-known documentary filmmakers like Humphrey Jennings and John Ferno as well as young talents such as Georg Tressler, whose success came later. The film officers' propaganda strategy was to demonstrate the merits of the Marshall Plan for recovery and modernisation, but abstain from the "sledgehammer approach." (Stuart Schulberg)

Maria Fritsche, "The American Marshall Plan Film Campaign and the Europeans. A Captive Audience?", London/New York: Bloomsbury Academic 2018
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