Cinema Sports News (1940–1944): Between Factual Information and Propaganda

in International Journal of Sport Communication

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Ludovic BirotUniversity of Rouen, France

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Christophe PecoutUniversity of Rouen, France

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Coyte CooperWest Virginia University, USA

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The aim of this study was to analyze the cinema news produced during the German occupation of France (1940–1944) to better understand how information and news about sports were used to disseminate propaganda. Sports held a much bigger place in the cinema news of that time than in today’s televised news. Given the keen interest in sports information shown by the Nazi propagandists, the authors sought to determine how competitive sports and, more broadly, athletic practices were used by the German Reich and the Vichy government to advance propagandist goals. They found that sports information was presented in 2 manners. For spectator sports, a strategy of news “screening” was used to prevent unwanted images from national and international competitive matches from being seen. For the sports practiced by the French population, films dealing with these sports were made. Both types of documentary film were found to have propagandist goals, with images manipulated to change the population’s lifestyles to better serve the political regime in place.

Birot and Pecout are with the Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Rouen, 76 821 Mont Saint Aignan Cedex, France. Cooper is with the Dept. of Sport Studies, West Virginia University.

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