Words for Battle
Extracts from the works of the poetry and prose of Milton, Blake, Browning and Kipling are set to film. The famous “we shall never surrender” speech by Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address are also quoted. It powerfully associates these passages with music by Handel and Beethoven with images of everyday life in Britain at war.
At the time this film was made the war was going well for Germany. Britain had the support of her Empire but even so there was a serious threat of a German invasion. The aim of this film was to reassure people that Britain was strong and would fight, but also to inspire them that Britain and British ideals and values were worth fighting for.
Interesting or important points about the film
One of the main aims of British propaganda in WW2 was to set out Britain’s war aims very clearly, and this included a strong statement of what Britain stood for. The idea of this film was to use poetry and famous speeches allied to moving images to promote a feeling among people that their war service was a noble cause and was really worthwhile. The Ministry of Information was actually quite disappointed with the film, feeling that it was too artistic and that its message was not clear enough, especially at a time when Britain’s survival in the war was in doubt.