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The adding of sound to the WWI film should certainly have been a realist
strategy, considering that most of these films never showed combat zone and
first line trenches. During the first two years of war, cameramen were
almost never admitted at the front; after they could go but they could not
film what they wanted, mainly because militaries and politicians did not
want to frighten civilians and keep them from enrolling. The films often
had sound, but it was the voice of a recruiting sergeant commenting the
march past while the film is shown. Sound effects added to true images of
the fights would certainly have been a realist and honest strategy, but it
would also have been considered ennemy propaganda. To conclude, let us
admit that sound and realism are also a matter of politics, and that these
particular films were not only mute, they were also blind!
 
Germain Lacasse
 
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Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite
http://www.tcf.ua.edu/screensite