Film and other visual media played a significant role in the modernization efforts of the Swedish Armed Forces during the interwar period. Driving the effort to establish educational cinema within the armed forces was an association called Föreningen Armé-, Marin- och Flygfilm (AMF), run by military officers. AMF produced, distributed, and promoted hundreds of military training films over the years which, together with written documentation, are kept in its archives today.
Based on empirical basic research, this dissertation discusses these educational activities from several angles. It presents an analysis of eighty instructional and orientation films; examines how military staff became film producers; and traces how educational cinema was gradually integrated into military education accompanied by related technologies, adapted teaching methods, and modified lecture halls. It also reconstructs official justifications for the use of cinema.
The dissertation belongs to an evolving field of studies of useful cinema and specifically to a recent shift in international research interest toward military media practices undertaken in peacetime. It offers a first comprehensive study of the history of Swedish military cinema culture and complements previous work on early educational cinema.
A general observation of the dissertation concerns the significant challenges proponents of educational cinema faced when attempting to establish it within the Swedish Armed Forces. Cinema was not useful per se. The dissertation proposes an explanation of the historical processes through the lens of assemblage (agencement) to highlight the dynamic entanglement of various heterogeneous actors and components over time. A dynamic network of alliances accommodated change and maintained continuity. Military educational cinema was established by those who produced and used the films; those who justified their practices; those who financed them; and those who believed they could gain from them. This military media constellation was also deeply connected to contemporary cinema culture.