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Everybody’s Business: Film, Food & Victory by Dr S Hockenhull

Everybody’s Business: Film, Food & Victory in the First World War

PAPER delivered by Dr Stella Hockenhull of the University of Wolverhampton, at the Home, Food & Family Conference, 5 March 2016

One month after the outbreak of the Second World War, the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was introduced in Britain in an attempt to grow more food to feed a nation in conflict. This not only concerned the need to educate, but also provided the impetus for community and patriotism.  That this plan was mobilised at such short notice owes a debt to the First World War, a period which witnessed the birth of film as official propaganda.

The main disparity between the two wartime film campaigns lies in their strategies for dealing with the populace. The Second World War, deemed ‘the People’s War’, used the working class as central protagonists with the aim of demonstrating a disregard for class difference.  On the other hand, the First World War deployed upper and middle class characters in order to educate despite the fact that the cinema audience during this period was predominantly comprised of those fighting starvation, and indeed those actually ‘digging for victory’.

This paper analyses the strategies inaugurated in the cinematic food campaign in World War One in both newsreels and fiction film.

The film described in the lecture, Everybody’s Business can be viewed on Youtube in two parts…

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