This video is published by Filmscalpel on 2015, now can be seen on Filmscalpel website and Vimeo. I was interested, firstly, by the name « Poetry and Propaganda ». Since I am always absorbed by media propaganda, these two terms evoked my curiosity due to their main subject and their contrariety. After seeing it, I am more certain about my choice because, in my opinion, this video essay did not just attend an interesting subject, but also presented it in an video-graphically interesting way.

« Poetry and Propaganda » is a short, brief comparison between two movies: Dead Poets Society (1989) and All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). More specifically, a comparison between the representation of the teacher’s image in two different movies which present two different topics. The first one is an English teacher (Robin Williams), who tries to trigger his students to express their love for themselves, for poetry. The second one (Arnold Lucy), could not be more opposite, wants his students to leave their personal dream behind and stand up to protect their fatherland.

However, this video essay has successfully presented the similarities of their image’s construction. It is interesting finding out that there are remarkable similarities between two movies, specially two characters and how they are presented to the audience. Both movies are began with a general view of the class, where students are waiting for the teacher. After that, we can see that there is a close shot in each teacher’s face when they look at their students. Both of them used a Latin phrase, which reveals immediately their purpose coming to the class, also their personality: while the first teacher (in Dead Poets Society) wants their students to « Carpe diem – Seize the day », the second one (in All Quiet on the Western Front) talks about dying for fatherland. We can also see some close-shots on students faces, showing their emotions while listening to their teacher’s words. Since there, the scenes are continued with their fast, touching speech, where they both used strong words as « battle » to describe what their students have to face with. Students listen carefully, respond to their teachers by emotion, then actions. In the ending scenes, students stand on desks to cheer up or show their respect with their teacher and the camera focuses on teacher’s proud smile. We can say that they both successfully achieved their wishes.


Regarding the videographic form, this video essay surprised me because the authors did not use voice-over to « narrate » the video. They only used excerpts from two movies to develop and explain their arguments. It is interesting that they did not even place two movies side-by-side but we can still understand their comparative analysis as long as we pay attention to the characters’ speech. To outline the similarities between the teachers’ screens, they used the same music throughout the video, despite constant transitions between two movies. In addition, they also use dialogues as a transition element: we can listen to the other teacher’s dialogue before the video changes to its scene. This sound editing keeps audience on track and, inadvertently, evokes their comparative analyse.