Kriegsfilm-Bilder und neue Formen der Kriegspropaganda

  • Gabriele Werner


War-film Images and New Forms of War Propaganda

Affective responses to images are political effects. Thus, a critical analysis of images and their representational function must necessarily precede any understanding of the mental states that images (can) elicit. From this perspective, affects are reactive. They become a productive and potentially subversive power when recognized as interpretations of what images let us see and how images are seen. What then comes into view is not only the fundamentally mediated character of affects, but also the extent to which a critique of images is required to make affects understandable as acts of judgment. Through a critical analysis of of selected scenes from several more recent (anti-) war movies, this paper shows how these movies offer interpretations of reality that rely heavily on the political efficacy of affects. Presenting an adaptation of war to the formats and conventions of a medium, then, need not be an act of cynicism; rather, it suggests that the reality we see through the prism of the medium is real as well, exhibiting itself as the meaning-generating action of a perceived outside world. That is why filmed scenes of torture are movie plot elements that can convey information about the social acceptance or condemnation of torture. Such political messages, moreover, are addressed to a sentient gaze. But if affects are interpretive effects, there is no inextricable link between image and affect. In fact, the latter may be the opposite of that being evoked.