Christopher Lewis Sahara
Sahara is an iconic film of the portrayal of war in the 1940s. It has many of the propaganda points the government made filmmakers use in that time. The German prisoner is portrayed as a savage animal that cares about nothing except for his superior race. When juxtaposed against the German soldiers the Americans seem saintly and superior. This is a popular tactic the government would use to make it seem more just for Americans to go to war, as if it is their worldly duty. This would increase the number for men to go and fight in this war and future wars. The film also portrays the allies of the Americans in a good light. The French, who are usually known as being rude and unable to win any battle, are shown to be nice to the Americans and gives them leadership where it is due. Today, many Americans would see this odd as it is a common stereotype that all French people are rude to Americans. These icons are common propaganda for the time, but aren’t the only messages given through the film.
One groundbreaking aspect for this film is the portrayal of a Native African. Films of this time did not portray Africans or African Americans to be major soldiers in the armed forces. The film seemed to go around this by having the person of color be a native of Africa and only an ally to the Americans. They took a risk making him a martyr, as in his last scene when he risks his life to save his comrades. This is one of the first times in an American war movie that a person of color is shown to be a hero and not just a cook or deck hand. Another aspect of this film is how the American is shown to be able to learn from the African and take pity upon his Italian prisoner. The show of compassion after persuasion shows the rugged exterior of the American solder who does what he has to do, but also the soft inside which is his compassion towards his fellow man. A soldier is shown as snot only a fierce warrior, but also as a compassionate human being. This film follows the guidelines of war propaganda of the time, but also sets new grounds for the assimilation of different cultures into the melting pot that was and still is America.