Why We Fight

Capra ended up producing a seven part documentary series called Why We Fight, beginning with the Prelude to War, outlining the events that led up to the outbreak of World War II, and moving on to installments on the war in central Europe, Russia and China, The Battle For Britain and finally War Comes to America. The series involved historical archive footage of prominent world leaders such as Hitler, Neville Chamberlin and Mussolini, as well as actual war footage peppered with the occasional scene reenacted for the camera (like a family sitting around a radio listening to FDR’s speech). The narrative however is driven almost entirely by the ever-present voice of the authoritative narrator. The beginning of the series employs the narrator informing the viewer that what they are about to watch is the answer to the question, “why we fight.” The rest of the series is then presented like an essay arguing for a point, as the narrator explains the events leading up to the American involvement in the war. The point, of course being that it was inevitable that the American people should stand against the likes of Nazism and dictators like Hitler and Mussolini, and that they should continue to fight until the conclusion of the war. The films are clearly polemical and undoubtedly helped to galvanize support for the war both at home and among the troops. After the victory was secured, Capra continued to make films in this vein for the government, in an effort to inform and instruct with titles like Know Your Enemy and Your Job in Germany.