Melissa Green's Sahara Reflections
I had expected to thoroughly hate the movie "Sahara." War movies are not my bag, and the fact that this particular war movie was old and in black-and-white wasn't helping much. However, I enjoyed the movie if only for its unintentional hilarity.
As a propaganda film, it represents all of the categories suggested by the government except for a clear representation of the home front.
1. The Issues of the war: The film states that the Allies are fighting for freedom from tyranny and for the right for men to choose their own destiny. They are interested in the dignity of choice.
2.The Nature of the Enemy: We are presented with two different faces of the enemy: The Italian and the Nazi. The Italians are explicitly made out to be the lesser evil. The Italian states that while Mussolini can force his people into war and make them wear the uniform of soldiers, he cannot force them to believe in his ideas. The Italians are portrayed as good people who have been forced into war by an evil dictator. The Nazis on the other hand, have apparently become so corrupted by Hitler as to be evil to the core. They have lost their humanity so much that they are willing to shoot men in the back and even murder their own soldiers. By dehumanizing the Germans to such an extent, it helped to rally people in favor of the war because no one would refuse to fight an enemy so vile.
3. United Nations: Sahara features a microcosm of the allied forces. There are British troops (featuring both Irish and English soldiers), American troops (with a Texan, a New Yorker, and a career army soldier), a Sudanese soldier, and a Frenchman. The government, while apparently keen to show the strength of the world allies coming together to fight the insidious evil of the Axis, it is of note that the Americans are the de facto leaders of this group.
4. Production Front: The Italian, in his attempt to ingratiate himself with the allies, makes an appeal to the American soldiers and the fact that his relative worked in a steel mill in Pittsburgh. He suggested that his relative may have even had a role in producing their tank.
6. The Fighting Forces: This category was obviously the most well represented in the film. The film showed the soldiers fighting on the front, the tactics used, and the bravery and honor of those fighting.
The film was successful in terms of a propaganda piece. It was clear that the Allies were right in their decision to fight, and that we clearly were to root for them. However, "Sahara" went beyond the propaganda to portray a black man as an equal. While this integrated unit did not reflect the reality of American troops during WWII, Tambul was an important character. He was portrayed as just as much of hero as his white counterparts. He gave his life to ensure success of the mission, and his role in killing the Nazi POW was perhaps the most important single act in the film.