Films Within Films: Nation's Pride

Dimension X has its own films, and just like they never saw the release of - I dunno - Swiss Army Man, we also missed out on their film history. Nation's Pride is part of that history, propaganda though it may be.

Nation's Pride (Stolz der Nation)

Director: Alois von Eichberg
Stars: Fredrick Zoller
Genre: War, propaganda, foreign language
Precis: A lone German sniper defeats a U.S. platoon.
Review from Dimension X: There are two versions of Nation's Pride. One is a nigh-intolerable piece of Nazi propaganda that nevertheless dazzles with percussive editing and riffs on the history of propaganda films. The other is the blackest of comedies almost accidentally sending up the Nazi ideal. And they are both exactly alike.

Director Alois von Eichberg was, some say, a closeted Jew, having dangerous fun "encoding" his film with anti-Nazi propaganda. By the time the starring sniper, played by Fredrick Zoller, carves a ridiculously perfect swastika into the floorboards, the non-indoctrinated audience should start to get the joke. Eichberg's steals from other films include the iconic baby carriage scene in Eisenstein's The Strike, a director with Jewish roots also living in a non-Jewish propagandist world. The multiplication of dead bodies, the G.I.s killed by Zoller, evoke images of Nazi death camps. What one audience might see as a G.I. using a baby as a shield, another would identify as a plea for the inhuman sniper not to shoot during its rescue. When the variably-accented Americans refuse to blow up the historical tower where Zoller hides, one audience will see them as virtuous, the other as foolish. Eichberg walks a remarkably tight wire. But in the end, Zoller's creepy laugh is surely that of a villain.

Most people have only seen the last 6 minutes or so, and they are a brilliant piece of editing and satire. Tracking down the feature-length film is more difficult, but could be interesting to cinephiles. The rise of a military star, completely perfect and without flaw may seem tedious until you recognize his values are themselves flawed. As a famous TV serial monster, "Your evil is my good", and that exemplifies Zoller's character perfectly. All the trappings are those of heroism, but the motivations are so twisted that it is evil presented as a good. Disturbing that this should ever be taken as given, without peeling back that first level.

Watch what clips have filtered through to our universe (courtesy of Inglourious Basterds):

Behind the scenes:
Final rating: How do you rate something like this? Ambiguously. I give it a quizzical emoji.
Would see if it were made: Probably not outside film class, but that's political.


LondonKdS said...

I always thought that this was a partly a joke by Tarantino against his less-engaged critics - a film-within-a-film that is literally nothing but a lot of people being shot one by one, with the implication that "this is what people who condemn my films while refusing to watch them think that they're like".

Siskoid said...

The mini-film itself - if we're breaking character and sticking to Dimension A - was directed by Eli Roth, but likely written by Tarantino, so I think your interpretation holds water. It's also a pastiche of fascist propaganda film-making, fits the character of Zoller the actor, and gets played to a Nazi audience just before IT gets riddled with bullets.

Anonymous said...

Your Evil is My Good. Sutekh or SET.

Propaganda knows no national bounds

John Huston’s Fake Documentaries Of World War II

The Doctor Who reference reminds me of this:

Set as in a film or television set. Perhaps history itself is more fiction than fact.

"One early incident demonstrated the dangers of embroidering the truth. The CPI fed newspapers the story that ships escorting the First Division to Europe sank several German submarines, a story discredited when newsmen interviewed the ships' officers in England. Republican Senator Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania called for an investigation and The New York Times called the CPI "the Committee on Public Misinformation."[20] The incident turned the once compliant news publishing industry into skeptics.

Early in 1918, the CPI made a premature announcement that "the first American built battle planes are today en route to the front in France," but newspapers learned that the accompanying pictures were fake, there was only one plane, and it was still being tested.[22] At other times, though the CPI could control in large measure what newspapers printed, its exaggerations were challenged and mocked in Congressional hearings.[23] The Committee's overall tone also changed with time, shifting from its original belief in the power of facts to mobilization based on hate, like the slogan "Stop the Hun!" on posters showing a U.S. soldier taking hold of a German soldier in the act of terrorizing a mother and child, all in support of war bond sales."

"The purpose of the CPI was to influence American public opinion toward supporting U.S. participation in World War I via a prolonged propaganda campaign.[5] The CPI at first used material that was based on fact, but spun it to present an upbeat picture of the American war effort. In his memoirs, Creel claimed that the CPI routinely denied false or undocumented atrocity reports, fighting the crude propaganda efforts of "patriotic organizations" like the National Security League and the American Defense Society that preferred "general thundering" and wanted the CPI to "preach a gospel of hate."[6]
The committee used newsprint, posters, radio, telegraph, cable and movies to broadcast its message. It recruited about 75,000 "Four Minute Men," volunteers who spoke about the war at social events for an ideal length of four minutes, considering that the average human attention span was judged at the time to be four minutes. They covered the draft, rationing, war bond drives, victory gardens and why America was fighting. It was estimated that by the end of the war, they had made more than 7.5 million speeches to 314 million people in 5,200 communities.[7] They were advised to keep their message positive, always use their own words and avoid "hymns of hate."[8] For ten days in May 1917, the Four Minute Men were expected to promote "Universal Service by Selective Draft" in advance of national draft registration on June 5, 1917.[9]"

Brendoon said...

re the 1918 bit, I read that thanks to my namesake, the Wright Brothers who sued any American trying to build a plane before WW1, American aircraft hardly had a look in on the conflict. US pilots flew in British and French craft over the skies of France. The American plane which did emerge was, according to the article, a hair raising thing to fly. Handy against the hat hair you get from those leather helmets.


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