Assess the reliability and usefulness of the documentary 'Prelude to War,' in determining the failure of the League of Nations.

Essay by ipodrixHigh School, 11th gradeA-, February 2007

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The documentary, Prelude to War, is unreliable but is useful to an extent in explaining one of the core failures of the League of Nations. Its reliability is detracted due to its narrow view, blatant bias and propaganda evident in the production of this film. However, this bias demonstrates the prejudice mindset of the American people at the time and could be a useful explanation for America's refusal to join the League, which was one of its key failures. This documentary is unreliable due to its transparent bias and is reasonably useful in explaining an aspect of one of the key failures of the League.

The reliability of this documentary is severely detracted by the one-sided viewpoint and oblivious bias. The documentary was produced by the U.S Army Service Forces in 1943 to 'give factual information as to the causes and events leading up to our entry in to war, and the principles for which we are fighting.'

This statement splashed across the screen at the beginning immediately demonstrates opportunity for bias as America's government is justifying its own involvement in the War. The prejudice becomes only more clearer as the documentary goes on to explain the 'damning' war plans of the Axis Powers; Germany Italy and Japan. It describes the Japanese as 'bucktooth pals' and the Germans as 'having an inborn love of regimentation and harsh discipline.'Furthermore, it unfairly portrays the Axis powers as being forces of evil, playing foreboding music while showing footage of the Axis Powers in contrast to patriotic, joyful music when showing footage of America. The motive of this documentary is evidently misplaced as it is trying to justify America's position through the use of propaganda which severely undermines the reliability of this documentary.

Despite this, the propaganda and bias of this film is useful in demonstrating the prejudiced mindset created by this film and hence America's reluctance to join the League due to a lack of understanding and respect. This lack of respect for other nations is evident in the documentary as a freeze frame of Hitler is accompanied with circus music. Furthermore images of the Axis Powers bombing Pearl Habour, France and Britain would only create hatred within the hearts of Americans. Similar films like these may have only served to alienate and stir hatred and mistrust among the Americans towards the other side of the world. Consequently this documentary can provide an explanation for America's refusal to join the League of Nations which was ultimately the key to its failure.

The prejudice, propaganda and evident bias in this documentary are a testament to the unreliability of this document. It is narrow-minded and an unfair portrayal of the Axis Powers. Despite this, it gives light to an explanation of America's refusal to join the League of Nations due to a mindset of disrespect and mistrust, leading to one of the fundamental failures of the League.