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War film is a
film genre A film genre is a Genre, stylistic or thematic category for Film, motion pictures based on similarities either in the narrative , narrative elements, aesthetic approach, or the emotional response to the film. Drawing heavily from the theories o ...
concerned with
war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (news ...

war
fare, typically about
naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized a ...

naval
,
air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosphere (0.04402961% at April 2019 concentration ). Number ...
, or
land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists mainly of Earth's crust, crustal components such a ...

land
battles, with combat scenes central to the drama. It has been strongly associated with the 20th century. The fateful nature of battle scenes means that war films often end with them. Themes explored include combat, survival and escape, camaraderie between soldiers, sacrifice, the futility and inhumanity of battle, the effects of war on society, and the moral and human issues raised by war. War films are often categorized by their milieu, such as the Korean War; the most popular subject is the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
. The stories told may be
fiction Fiction is any creative workA creative work is a manifestation of creative effort including fine artwork (sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculp ...

fiction
,
historical drama A historical drama (also period drama, costume drama, and period piece) is a work set in a past time period, usually used in the context of film and television. Historical drama includes historical fiction Historical fiction is a literary genre ...
, or
biographical A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person's experience of these life events. Unlike a profile or c ...
. Critics have noted similarities between the
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
and the war film. Nations such as China, Indonesia, Japan, and Russia have their own traditions of war film, centred on their own revolutionary wars but taking varied forms, from action and historical drama to wartime romance. Subgenres, not necessarily distinct, include
anti-war An anti-war movement (also ''antiwar'') is a social movement, usually in opposition to a particular nation's decision to start or carry on an armed conflict, unconditional of a maybe-existing just cause. The term anti-war can also refer to p ...
,
comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Humour (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic lan ...

comedy
,
animated Animation is a method in which Image, figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent cel, celluloid sheets to be photographed and exhibited on film. Today, most an ...
,
propaganda Propaganda is communication that is primarily used to influence Influence or influencer may refer to: *Social influence, in social psychology, influence in interpersonal relationships **Minority influence, when the minority affect the behavior ...
, and . There are similarly subgenres of the war film in specific
theatres Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The performe ...
such as the Western Desert of North Africa and the
Pacific The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. T ...
in the Second World War,
Vietnam , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Hanoi , coordinates = , largest_city = Ho Chi Minh City , languages_type = National language , languages ...
, or the Soviet-Afghan War; and films set in specific domains of war, such as the infantry, the air, at sea, in submarines or at
prisoner of war A prisoner of war (POW) is a non-combatant—whether a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and m ...
camps.


Genre

The war film genre is not necessarily tightly defined: the
American Film Institute The American Film Institute (AFI) is an American film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying ...
, for example, speaks of "films to grapple with the Great War" without attempting to classify these. However, some directors and critics have offered at least tentative definitions. The director
Sam Fuller Samuel Michael Fuller (August 12, 1912 – October 30, 1997) was an American screenwriter A screenplay writer (also called screenwriter for short), scriptwriter or scenarist, is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing ...
defined the
genre Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area aro ...
by saying that "a war film’s objective, no matter how personal or emotional, is to make a viewer feel war." John Belton identified four narrative elements of the war film within the context of
Hollywood Hollywood is a neighborhood A neighbourhood (British English, Hiberno-English, Hibernian English, Australian English and Canadian English) or neighborhood (American English; American and British English spelling differences, see spelling ...

Hollywood
production: a) the suspension of civilian morality during times of war, b) primacy of collective goals over individual motivations, c) rivalry between men in predominantly male groups as well as marginalization and objectification of women, and d) depiction of the reintegration of veterans. The film critic Stephen Neale suggests that the genre is for the most part well defined and uncontentious, since war films are simply those about war being waged in the 20th century, with combat scenes central to the drama. However, Neale notes, films set in the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern U.S. state, states loyal to the Union (American Civil War), Union and south ...
or the American
Indian Wars The American Indian Wars, also known as the American Frontier Wars, the First Nations Wars in Canada (french: Guerres des Premières Nations) and the Indian Wars were fought by European governments and colonists, and later by the United States and ...
of the 19th century were called war films in the time before the First World War. The critic Julian Smith argues, on the contrary, that the war film lacks the formal boundaries of a genre like the
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
, but that in practice, "successful and influential" war films are about modern wars, in particular World War II, with the combination of mobile forces and mass killing. The film scholar Kathryn Kane points out some similarities between the war film genre and the Western. Both genres use opposing concepts like war and peace, civilization and savagery. War films usually frame
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
as a conflict between "good" and "evil" as represented by the Allied forces and
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
whereas the Western portrays the conflict between civilized settlers and the savage indigenous peoples. James Clarke notes the similarity between a Western like
Sam Peckinpah David Samuel Peckinpah (; February 21, 1925 – December 28, 1984) was an American film director and screenwriter who achieved prominence following the release of the Western (genre), Western epic ''The Wild Bunch'' (1969). He was known for the v ...
's ''
The Wild Bunch ''The Wild Bunch'' is a 1969 American Revisionist Western film directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien, Ben Johnson and Warren Oates Warren Mercer Oates (July 5, 1928 – Ap ...
'' and "war-movie escapades" like ''
The Dirty Dozen ''The Dirty Dozen'' is a 1967 war film starring Lee Marvin and featuring an ensemble supporting cast including Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, George Kennedy, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, Robert Webber and Donald Suth ...
''. The film historian
Jeanine BasingerJeanine Basinger (born 3 February 1936), a film historian Although the advent of film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, ...
states that she began with a preconception of what the war film genre would be, namely that: Further, Basinger considers ''
Bataan Bataan ( ; tl, Lalawigan ng Bataan ; pam, Lalauígan ning Bataan) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, ...
'' to provide a definition-by-example of "the World War II combat film", in which a diverse and apparently unsuited group of "hastily assembled volunteers" hold off a much larger group of the enemy through their "bravery and tenacity". She argues that the combat film is not a subgenre but the only genuine kind of war film. Since she notes that there were in fact only five true combat films made during the Second World War, in her view these few films, central to the genre, are outweighed by the many other films that are only just war films. However, other critics such as Russell Earl Shain propose a far broader definition of war film, to include films that deal "with the roles of civilians, espionage agents, and soldiers in any of the aspects of war (i.e. preparation, cause, prevention, conduct, daily life, and consequences or aftermath.)" Neale points out that genres overlap, with combat scenes for different purposes in other types of film, and suggests that war films are characterised by combat which "determines the fate of the principal characters". This in turn pushes combat scenes to the climactic ends of war films. Not all critics agree, either, that war films must be about 20th-century wars. James Clarke includes
Edward Zwick Edward M. Zwick (born October 8, 1952) is an American filmmaker and producer of film and television. He has worked primarily in the comedy-drama and historical drama, epic historical film genres, including ''About Last Night (1986 film), About La ...
's Oscar-winning '' Glory'' (1990) among the war films he discusses in detail; it is set in the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern U.S. state, states loyal to the Union (American Civil War), Union and south ...
, and he lists six other films about that war which he considers "notable". The screenwriter and scholar Eric R. Williams identifies war films as one of eleven super-genres in his screenwriters' taxonomy, claiming that all feature-length narrative films can be classified as belonging to one of them. The British military historian
Antony Beevor Sir Antony James Beevor, (born 14 December 1946) is a British military historian Military history is a humanities discipline within the scope of general historical recording of armed conflict in the history of humanity, and its impact on ...
"despair at how film-makers from America and Britain "play fast and loose with the facts", yet imply that "their version is as good as the truth". For example, he calls the 2000 American film '' U-571'' a "shameless deception" for pretending that a US warship had helped to win the Battle of the Atlantic—seven months before America entered the war. He is equally critical of
Christopher Nolan Christopher Edward Nolan (; born 30 July 1970) is a British-American film director, producer, and screenwriter. Christopher Nolan filmography, His films have grossed more than US$5billion worldwide, and have garnered 11 Academy Awards from 36 ...
's 2017 film ''
Dunkirk Dunkirk ( , ; french: Dunkerque ; vls, label=French Flemish, Duunkerke; nl, Duinkerke(n) ) is a Communes of France, commune in Nord (French department), Nord, a Departments of France, French department in northern France. It lies from the Bel ...
'' with its unhistorically empty beaches, low-level air combat over the sea, and rescues mainly by the "little ships". Beevor feels, however, that Continental European film-makers are often "far more scrupulous"; for example, in his view the 2004 German film '' Downfall'' accurately depicted the historical events of Hitler's final days in his Berlin bunker, and he considers the 1965 French film ''
The 317th Platoon ''The 317th Platoon'' (french: La 317ème section) is a 1965 French war film set during the First Indochina War (1946–54) written and directed by Pierre Schoendoerffer. The film was based on Schoendoerffer's 1963 novel of the same name. Pl ...
'', set in Vietnam, "the greatest war movie ever made". The 1966 film ''
The Battle of Algiers ''The Battle of Algiers'' ( it, La battaglia di Algeri; ar, معركة الجزائر, Maʿrakat al-Jazāʾir) is a 1966 Italian- Algerian historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by in ...
'' is, he argues, a close second.


History


American Civil War

The costliest war in U.S. history in terms of American life, this war has been the subject of, or the backdrop to, numerous films, documentaries and mini-series. One of the earliest films using the Civil War as its subject was D.W. Griffith's 1910 silent picture, '' The Fugitive''. Films that have the war as its main subject, or about a certain aspect of the war, include the 1989 film '' Glory'', about the first formal unit of the Union Army during the American Civil War to be made up entirely of black men. Some films such as ''
GettysburgGettysburg may refer to: Events * Gettysburg Campaign, a series of American Civil War military engagements in the Main Eastern Theater. ** Battle of Gettysburg, July 1–3 military engagements during the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign ** Retreat from Get ...
'' focused on a single battle during the war, or even on a single incident, like the French short film '' La Rivière du Hibou'' (''An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge''). Others like the 1993 miniseries '' North and South'' spanned the entire breadth of the war. Some films deal with the human aspects of the war, such as '' The Red Badge of Courage'' (1951), or '' Shenandoah'' (1965), on the tragedy that the war inflicted on the civilian population.
Ken Burns Kenneth Lauren Burns (born July 29, 1953) is an American filmmaker, known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in documentary film A documentary film is a non-fictional film, motion-picture intended to "document reality, p ...
's '' The Civil War'' is the most-watched documentary in the history of
PBS The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster Public broadcasting involves radio Radio is the technology of signaling and telecommunication, communicating using radio waves. Radio waves are electromagnetic w ...
.


The Spanish–American War

The first war films come from the
Spanish–American War The Spanish–American War (April 21 – August 13, 1898, es, Guerra hispano-estadounidense or ; fil, Digmaang Espanyol-Amerikano) was an armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, So ...
of 1898. Short "actualities"—documentary film-clips—included ''Burial of the Maine Victims'', ''Blanket-Tossing of a New Recruit'', and ''Soldiers Washing Dishes''. These non-combat films were accompanied by "reenactments" of fighting, such as of
Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt Jr. ( ; October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), often referred to as Teddy or his initials T. R., was an American politician, statesman, conservationist, naturalist, historian, and writer who served as the 26th president of ...

Theodore Roosevelt
's "Rough Riders" in action against the Spanish, staged in the United States.


First World War

During the First World War, many films were made about life in the war. Topics included prisoners of war, covert operations, and military training. Both the Central Powers and the Allies produced war documentaries. The films were also used as propaganda in neutral countries like the United States. Among these was a film shot on the Eastern Front by official war photographer to the Central Powers, Albert K. Dawson: '' The Battle and Fall of Przemysl'' (1915), depicting the , disastrous for the Austrians, with incidents reenacted using soldiers as extras. The 1915 Australian film ''
Within Our Gates ''Within Our Gates'' is a 1920 American silent film A silent film is a film with no synchronized Sound recording and reproduction, recorded sound (and in particular, no audible dialogue). In silent films for entertainment, the plot may be c ...
'' (also known as ''Deeds that Won Gallipoli'') by Frank Harvey was described by the ''Motion Picture News'' as "a really good war story, which is exceptional". The 1916 British film '' The Battle of the Somme'', by two official cinematographers, Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell, combined documentary and propaganda, seeking to give the public an impression of what
trench warfare Trench warfare is a type of using occupied fighting lines largely comprising , in which troops are well-protected from the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from . Trench warfare became archetypically associated with (19 ...

trench warfare
was like. Much of the film was shot on location at the Western Front in France; it had a powerful emotional impact. It was watched by some 20 million people in Britain in its six weeks of exhibition, making it what the critic
Francine Stock Francine Stock is a British radio and television presenter A television presenter (often referred to as a television personality) is a person who introduces or hosts television show, television programs, often serving as a mediator for the program ...
called "one of the most successful films of all time". The 1925 American film ''The Big Parade'' depicted unglamorous elements of war: the protagonist loses his leg, and his friends are killed. William A. Wellman's ''
Wings A wing is a type of fin that produces lift while moving through air or some other fluid. Accordingly, wings have streamlined cross-sections that are subject to aerodynamic forces and act as airfoil An airfoil (American English Am ...
'' (1927) showed aerial combat during the war and was made in cooperation with the Army Air Corps. It proved a powerful recruiting tool. It became the first film (in any genre) to be awarded an Oscar for best picture. Later films of varied genres that deal with the First World War include
David Lean Sir David Lean (25 March 190816 April 1991) was an English film director, producer, screenwriter and editor. Widely considered one of the most influential directors of all time, Lean directed the large-scale epics The Experimental Physics an ...
's "colossal epic", both war film and biopic ''
Lawrence of Arabia Colonel (UK), Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935) was a British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat, and writer who became renowned for his role in the Arab Revolt (1916–1918) and the Sinai and Palestine C ...
'' (1962), shot in the then unfamiliar and exciting
70mm 70 mm film (or 65 mm film) is a wide high-resolution film gauge Film gauge is a physical property of photographic or motion picture film stock which defines its width. Traditionally, the major movie film gauges are 8 mm, 16 mm, 35 mm ...
Technicolor Technicolor is a series of color motion picture processes, the first version dating to 1916, and followed by improved versions over several decades. It was the second major color process, after Britain's Kinemacolor Kinemacolor was the firs ...

Technicolor
, and described by
Steven Spielberg Steven Allan Spielberg (; born December 18, 1946) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He began his career in the New Hollywood era and is currently the most List of highest-grossing film directors, commercially successful ...

Steven Spielberg
as "maybe the greatest screenplay ever written for the motion-picture medium";
Richard Attenborough Richard Samuel Attenborough, Baron Attenborough, (; 29 August 192324 August 2014) was an English actor, filmmaker, and entrepreneur. He was the president of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and the British Academy of Film and Televisio ...

Richard Attenborough
's satirical anti-war musical comedy based on
Joan Littlewood Joan Maud Littlewood (6 October 1914 – 20 September 2002) was an English theatre director who trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA ) is a drama school in London, England, that provides vocatio ...

Joan Littlewood
's play of the same name, ''
Oh! What a Lovely War ''Oh! What a Lovely War'' is a 1969 British comedy and musical film directed by Richard Attenborough (in his directorial debut), with an ensemble cast, including Maggie Smith, Dirk Bogarde, John Gielgud Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH (; 1 ...
'' (1969); Spielberg's 2011 war drama ''
War Horse The first evidence of horses in warfare dates from Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it is bordered by ...
'' was based on
Michael Morpurgo Sir Michael Andrew Bridge Morpurgo, (born Michael Andrew Bridge; 5 October 1943) is an English book author, poet, playwright, and librettist who is known best for children's novels such as ''War Horse (novel), War Horse'' (1982). His work is no ...

Michael Morpurgo
's children's novel of the same name. Many of the films promoted as "documentaries" added context to authentic battlefield scenes by staging critical events, and invented episodes and dialog to enhance excitement at the cost of authenticity.


Finnish Civil War

Although the 1918
Finnish Civil War The Finnish Civil War; . Other designations: Brethren War, Citizen War, Class War, Freedom War, Red Rebellion and Revolution, . According to 1,005 interviews done by the newspaper '' Aamulehti'', the most popular names were as follows: Civil ...
between
Whites White is a racialized classification of people and a skin color Afghan children with fair skin Human skin color ranges from the darkest brown to the lightest hues. Differences in skin color among individuals is caused by variation in p ...
and Reds remained a controversial topic a century later in
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gulf of B ...

Finland
, many Finnish filmmakers have taken up the subject, often basing their work on a book. In 1957, 's ''
1918 This year is noted for the end of the First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war that began on 28 July 1914 and ended on 11 November ...
'', based on
Jarl Hemmer Jarl Robert Hemmer (18 September 1893 – 6 December 1944) was a Swedish language, Swedish-speaking Finnish author. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature eight times. Life He was born into a wealthy family, from Vaasa, Finland. ...

Jarl Hemmer
's play and novel, was screened at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival. Recent films include Lauri Törhönen's 2007 '' The Border'', and
Aku Louhimies Aku Louhimies (born 3 July 1968) is a Finland, Finnish film director and screenwriter. He has directed feature films, documentary films, commercials and music videos. His international breakthrough was the 2016 serial drama Rebellion (miniseries), ...

Aku Louhimies
's 2008 ''
Tears of April ''Tears of April'' ( fi, Käsky) is a 2008 Finnish war drama film directed by Aku Louhimies. Based on the novel ''Käsky'' by Leena Lander, the film is set in the final stages of the Finnish Civil War. The film tells a story of a captured Female ...
'', based on Leena Lander's novel. Perhaps the most famous film about the Finnish Civil War is
Edvin Laine Edvin Laine (13 July 1905 – 18 November 1989) was a Finnish film director. Laine was born Bovellán. Laine directed a comedy ''Aaltoska orkaniseeraa'' and family film ''Sleeping Beauty (1949 film), Sleeping Beauty'', both in 1949. ''The Un ...

Edvin Laine
's 1968 ''
Here, Beneath the North Star ''Here, Beneath the North Star'' ( fi, Täällä Pohjantähden alla) is a 1968 Finnish drama film In film and television show, television, drama is a category of narrative fiction (or docudrama, semi-fiction) intended to be more serious than ...
'', based on the first two books of
Väinö Linna Väinö Linna () (20 December 1920 – 21 April 1992) was a Finnish author. He gained literary fame with his third novel, ''Tuntematon sotilas'' (The Unknown Soldier (novel), ''The Unknown Soldier'', published in 1954), and consolidated his posit ...
's '' Under the North Star'' trilogy; it describing the civil war from the losing side, Finland's Red Guards.


Spanish Civil War

The
Spanish Civil War The Spanish Civil War ( es, Guerra Civil Española)) or The Revolution ( es, La Revolución) among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War ( es, Cuarta Guerra Carlista) among Carlism, Carlists, and The Rebellion ( es, La Rebelión) or Uprising ( ...

Spanish Civil War
has attracted directors from different countries.
Sam Wood Samuel Grosvenor Wood (July 10, 1883 – September 22, 1949) was an American film director and producer, who is best known for having directed such Hollywood hits as ''A Night at the Opera (film), A Night at the Opera'', ''A Day at the Races (f ...
's ''
For Whom the Bell Tolls ''For Whom the Bell Tolls'' is a novel by Ernest Hemingway Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman. His economical and understated style—which he ...
'' (1943), based on Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, book of the same name, portrays the fated romance between an American played by Gary Cooper and a partisan played by Ingrid Bergman against the backdrop of the civil war. The epic 168 minute film with its landscapes shot in Technicolor and a "beautiful" orchestral score was a success both with audiences and with critics. Alain Resnais's ''Guernica (1950 film), Guernica'' (1950) uses Picasso's 1937 Guernica (Picasso), painting of the same name to protest against war. Carlos Saura's ''La Caza'' (The Hunt, 1966) uses the metaphor of hunting to criticise the aggressiveness of Spanish fascism. It won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 16th Berlin International Film Festival in 1966. Ken Loach's ''Land and Freedom'' (''Tierra y Libertad'', 1995), loosely based on George Orwell's ''Homage to Catalonia'', follows a British communist through the war to reveal the painful contradictions within the anti-fascist Republican side.


Korean War

Samuel Fuller’s ''The Steel Helmet'' (1951) was made during the Korean War (1950–1953). The critic Guy Westwell notes that it questioned the conduct of the war, as did later films like ''The Bridges at Toko-Ri'' (1954) and ''Pork Chop Hill'' (1959). Fuller agreed that all his films were anti-war. No Hollywood films about the Korean War did well at the box office; the historian Lary May suggested in 2001 that they reminded American viewers of "the only war we have lost". In 1955, after the fighting, the successful Republic of Korea, South Korean action film ''Piagol'' about leftist guerrilla atrocities encouraged other film-makers. The 1960s military government punished pro-communist film-makers and gave Grand Bell Awards to films with the strongest anti-communist message. ''The Taebaek Mountains'' (1994) dealt with leftists from the south who fought for the communists, while ''Silver Stallion'' (1991) and ''Spring in My Hometown'' (1998) showed the destructive impact of American military presence on village life. The violent action films ''Shiri (film), Shiri'' (1999) and ''Joint Security Area (film), Joint Security Area'' (2000) presented North Korea in a favourable light. Films in Democratic Republic of Korea, North Korea were made by government film studios and had clear political messages. The first was ''My Home Village'' (1949), on the liberation of Korea from the Japanese, presented as the work of Kim Il Sung without help from the Americans. Similarly, the country's films about the Korean War show victory without help from the Chinese. The film scholar Johannes Schönherr concludes that the purpose of these films is "to portray North Korea as a country under siege", and that since the U.S. and its "puppet" South Korea invaded the North once, they would do so again.


Algerian War

Gillo Pontecorvo's dramatic ''
The Battle of Algiers ''The Battle of Algiers'' ( it, La battaglia di Algeri; ar, معركة الجزائر, Maʿrakat al-Jazāʾir) is a 1966 Italian- Algerian historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by in ...
'' (( it, La battaglia di Algeri; ar, معركة الجزائر; french: La Bataille d'Alger), 1966) portrayed events in the Algerian War (1954–1956). It was shot on location as an Italo-Algerian co-production. It had the black and white newsreel style of Italian neorealism, and even-handedly depicts violence on both sides. It won various awards including Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It was attacked by French critics and was for five years banned in France.


Vietnam War

Few films before the late 1970s about the Vietnam War actually depicted combat; exceptions include ''The Green Berets (film), The Green Berets'' (1968). Critics such as Basinger explain that Hollywood avoided the subject because of opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, making the subject divisive; in addition, the film industry was in crisis, and the army did not wish to assist in making anti-war films. From the late 1970s, independently financed and produced films showed Hollywood that Vietnam could be treated in film. Successful but very different portrayals of the war in which America had been defeated included Michael Cimino's ''The Deer Hunter'' (1978), and Francis Ford Coppola's ''Apocalypse Now'' (1979). With the shift in American politics to the right in the 1980s, military success could again be shown in films such as Oliver Stone's ''Platoon (film), Platoon'' (1986), Stanley Kubrick's ''Full Metal Jacket'' (1987) and John Irvin's ''Hamburger Hill'' (1987). The Vietnamese director 's ''The Abandoned Field: Free Fire Zone'' (''Cánh đồng hoang'', 1979) gives an "unnerving and compelling .. subjective-camera-eye-view" of life under helicopter fire in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War. The film cuts to an (American) "helicopter-eye view", contrasting painfully with the human tenderness seen earlier.


Later wars

Dino Mustafić's ''Remake (2003 film), Remake'' (2003), written by Zlatko Topčić, tells the parallel Coming-of-age story, coming-of-age stories of a father living in Sarajevo during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
and his son living through the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. According to Topčić, the story is based on incidents from his own life. The Iraq War served as the background story of U.S. movies, like ''Hurt locker (film), Hurt Locker'' from 2008, ''Green Zone (film), Green Zone'' from 2010, and ''American Sniper'' from 2014. The War in Afghanistan (2001–present), War in Afghanistan since 2001 was depicted in various movies, among them ''Restrepo (film), Restrepo'' in 2010 and ''Lone Survivor'' from 2013.


Second World War


Made by Western Allies

The first popular Allies of World War II, Allied war films made during the
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
came from United Kingdom, Britain and combined the functions of documentary film, documentary and propaganda. Films such as ''The Lion Has Wings'' and ''Target for Tonight'' were made under the control of the Films Division of the Ministry of Information. The Cinema of the United Kingdom, British film industry began to combine documentary techniques with fictional stories in films like Noël Coward and
David Lean Sir David Lean (25 March 190816 April 1991) was an English film director, producer, screenwriter and editor. Widely considered one of the most influential directors of all time, Lean directed the large-scale epics The Experimental Physics an ...
's ''In Which We Serve'' (1942)—"the most successful British film of the war years"—''Millions Like Us'' (1943), and ''The Way Ahead'' (1944). In America, documentaries were produced in various ways: General Marshall commissioned the ''Why We Fight'' propaganda series from Frank Capra; the War Department's Information-Education Division started out making training films for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy; the Army made its own through the U.S. Signal Corps, including John Huston's ''The Battle of San Pietro''.
Hollywood Hollywood is a neighborhood A neighbourhood (British English, Hiberno-English, Hibernian English, Australian English and Canadian English) or neighborhood (American English; American and British English spelling differences, see spelling ...

Hollywood
made films with propaganda messages about America's allies, such as ''Mrs. Miniver'' (1942), which portrayed a British family on the home front; ''Edge of Darkness (1943 film), Edge of Darkness'' (1943) showed Norwegian resistance fighters, and ''The North Star (1943 film), The North Star'' (1943) showed the Soviet Union and its Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Communist Party. Towards the end of the war popular books provided higher quality and more serious stories for films such as ''Guadalcanal Diary (film), Guadalcanal Diary'' (1943), Mervyn LeRoy's ''Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo'' (1944), and John Ford's ''They Were Expendable'' (1945). The Russians, too, appreciated the propaganda value of film, to publicise both victories and German atrocities. Ilya Kopalin's documentary ''Moscow Strikes Back'' (russian: Разгром немецких войск под Москвой, literally "The rout of the German troops near Moscow"), was made during the Battle of Moscow between October 1941 and January 1942. It depicted civilians helping to defend the city, the parade in Red Square and Stalin's speech rousing the Russian people to battle, actual fighting, Germans surrendering and dead, and atrocities including murdered children and hanged civilians. It won an Academy Award in 1943 for best documentary. Newsreel cameras were similarly rushed to Stalingrad early in 1943 to record "the spectacle which greeted the Russian soldiers"—the starvation of Russian prisoners of war in the Voropovono camp by the 6th Army (Wehrmacht), German Sixth Army, defeated in the Battle of Stalingrad. Feature films made in the west during the war were subject to censorship and were not always realistic in nature. One of the first to attempt to represent violence, and which was praised at the time for "gritty realism", was Tay Garnett's ''
Bataan Bataan ( ; tl, Lalawigan ng Bataan ; pam, Lalauígan ning Bataan) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, ...
'' (1943). The depiction actually remained stylised. Jeanine Basinger gives as an example the "worst image for stark violence" when a Japanese soldier beheads an American: the victim shows pain and his lips freeze in a scream, yet no blood spurts and his head does not fall off. Basinger points out that while this is physically unrealistic, psychologically it may not have been. The wartime audience was, she points out, well aware of friends and relatives who had been killed or who had come home wounded.


Made by Axis powers

The Axis powers similarly made films during the Second World War, for propaganda and other purposes. In Germany, the Oberkommando des Heeres, army high command brought out ''Sieg im Westen'' ("Victory in the West", 1941). Other Nazi propaganda films had varied subjects, as with ''Kolberg (film), Kolberg'' (1945), which depicts stubborn Prussian resistance in the Siege of Kolberg (1807) to the invading French troops under Napoleon. The propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels chose the historical subject as suitable for the worsening situation facing Nazi Germany when it was filmed from October 1943 to August 1944. At over eight million marks, using thousands of soldiers as extras and 100 railway wagonloads of salt to simulate snow, it was the most costly German film made during the war. The actual siege ended with the surrender of the town; in the film, the French generals abandon the siege. For Japan, the war began with the Second Sino-Japanese War, undeclared war and invasion of China in 1937, which the Japanese authorities called "The China Incident". The government dispatched a "pen brigade" to write and film the action in China with "humanist values". Tomotaka Tasaka's ''Mud and Soldiers'' (1939) for instance, shot on location in China, Kōzaburō Yoshimura's ''Legend of Tank Commander Nishizumi'', and Sato Takeshi's ''Chocolate and Soldiers'' (1938) show the common Japanese soldier as an individual and as a family man, and even enemy Chinese soldiers are presented as individuals, sometimes fighting bravely. Once war with the United States was declared, the Japanese conflict became known as the Pacific War. Japanese film critics worried that even with Western film techniques, their film output failed to represent native Japanese values. The historian John W. Dower, John Dower found that Japanese wartime films had been largely forgotten, as "losers do not get reruns", yet they were so subtle and skilful that Frank Capra thought ''Chocolate and Soldiers'' unbeatable. Heroes were typically low-ranking officers, not samurai, calmly devoted to his men and his country. These films did not personalise the enemy and therefore lacked hatred, though Great Britain could figure as the "cultural enemy". For Japanese film-makers, war was not a cause but more like a natural disaster, and "what mattered was not whom one fought but how well". Asian enemies, especially the Chinese, were often portrayed as redeemable and even possible marriage partners. Japanese wartime films do not glorify war, but present the Japanese state as one great family and the Japanese people as an "innocent, suffering, self-sacrificing people". Dower comments that the perversity of this image "is obvious: it is devoid of any recognition that, at every level, the Japanese also victimized others."


Postwar

According to Andrew Pulver of ''The Guardian'', the public fascination with war films became an "obsession", with over 200 war films produced in each decade of the 1950s and 1960s. War film production in the United Kingdom and United States reached its zenith in the mid 1950s. Its popularity in the United Kingdom was brought on by the critical and commercial success of Charles Frend's ''The Cruel Sea (1953 film), The Cruel Sea'' (1953). Like others of the period, ''The Cruel Sea'' was based on a bestselling novel, in this case the former naval commander Nicholas Monsarrat's story of the battle of the Atlantic. Others, like ''The Dam Busters (film), The Dam Busters'' (1954), with its exciting tale of the inventor Barnes Wallis's unorthodox bouncing bomb and its distinctive theme music, were true stories. ''The Dam Busters'' became the most popular film in Britain in 1955, and remained a favourite as of 2015 with a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, though, partly because it celebrated an "exclusively British [victory]", it failed in the American market. A large number of war films were made in the 1955–58 period in particular. In 1957 alone, ''Bitter Victory'', ''Count Five and Die'', ''The Enemy Below'', ''Ill Met by Moonlight (film), Ill Met by Moonlight'', ''Men in War'', ''The One That Got Away (1957 film), The One That Got Away'' and ''Seven Thunders (film), Seven Thunders'', and the highly successful, critically acclaimed pictures ''The Bridge on the River Kwai'', which won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year, and ''Paths of Glory'' were released. Some, such as ''Bitter Victory'', focused more on the psychological battle between officers and egotism rather than events during the war. ''The Bridge on the River Kwai'' brought a new complexity to the war picture, with a sense of moral uncertainty surrounding war. By the end of the decade the "sense of shared achievement" which had been common in war films "began to evaporate", according to Pulver.
Hollywood Hollywood is a neighborhood A neighbourhood (British English, Hiberno-English, Hibernian English, Australian English and Canadian English) or neighborhood (American English; American and British English spelling differences, see spelling ...

Hollywood
films in the 1950s and 1960s could display spectacular heroics or self-sacrifice, as in the popular ''Sands of Iwo Jima'' (1949) starring John Wayne. U.S. Marines considered ''Sands of Iwo Jima'' visually authentic, but found Lewis Milestone's ''Battle Cry (film), Battle Cry'' (1955), with its attention to the lives of the men, the more realistic film. The formula for a successful war film consisted, according to Lawrence Suid, of a small group of ethnically diverse men; an unreasonable senior officer; cowards became heroic, or died. Jeanine Basinger suggests that a traditional war film should have a hero, a group, and an objective, and that the group should contain "an Italian, a Jew, a cynical complainer from Brooklyn, a sharpshooter from the mountains, a midwesterner (nicknamed by his state, "Iowa" or "Dakota"), and a character who must be initiated in some way". Films based on real commando missions, like Gift Horse (film), ''The Gift Horse'' (1952) based on the St. Nazaire Raid, and ''Ill Met by Moonlight (film), Ill Met by Moonlight'' (1956) based on the capture of the German commander of Crete, inspired fictional adventure films such as ''The Guns of Navarone (film), The Guns of Navarone'' (1961), ''The Train (1964 film), The Train'' (1964) and ''Where Eagles Dare'' (1968). These used the war as a backdrop for spectacular action. Darryl F. Zanuck produced the 178 minute documentary drama ''The Longest Day (film), The Longest Day'' (1962), based on the first day of the D-Day landings, achieving commercial success and Oscars. It was followed by large-scale but thoughtful films like Andrei Tarkovsky's ''Ivan's Childhood'' (1962), and quasi-Documentary film, documentary all-star epics filmed in Europe such as ''Battle of the Bulge (1965 film), Battle of the Bulge'' (1965), ''Battle of Britain (film), Battle of Britain'' (1969), ''The Battle of Neretva'' (1969), ''Midway (1976 film), Midway'' (1976) and ''A Bridge Too Far (1977 film), A Bridge Too Far'' (1977). In Lawrence Suid's view, ''The Longest Day'' "served as the model for all subsequent combat spectaculars". However, its cost also made it the last of the traditional war films, while the controversy around the help given by the U.S. Army and Zanuck's "disregard for Pentagon relations" changed the way that Hollywood and the Army collaborated. Zanuck, by then an executive at 20th Century Fox, set up an American–Japanese co-production for Richard Fleischer's ''Tora! Tora! Tora!'' (1970) to depict what "really happened on December 7, 1941" in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The film, panned by Roger Ebert and ''The New York Times'', was a major success in Japan. Its realistic-looking attack footage was reused in later films such as ''Midway (1976 film), Midway'' (1976), ''The Final Countdown (film), The Final Countdown'' (1980), and ''Australia (2008 film), Australia'' (2008). The story was revisited in ''Pearl Harbor (film), Pearl Harbor'' (2001), described by ''The New York Times'' as a "noisy, expensive and very long new blockbuster", with the comment that "for all its epic pretensions (as if epic were a matter of running time, tumescent music and earnest voice-over pronouncements), the movie works best as a bang-and-boom action picture".
Steven Spielberg Steven Allan Spielberg (; born December 18, 1946) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He began his career in the New Hollywood era and is currently the most List of highest-grossing film directors, commercially successful ...

Steven Spielberg
's ''Saving Private Ryan'' (1998) uses hand-held camera, sound design, staging and increased audio-visual detail to defamiliarise viewers accustomed to conventional combat films, so as to create what film historian Stuart Bender calls "reported realism", whether or not the portrayal is genuinely more realistic. Jeanine Basinger notes that critics experienced it as "groundbreaking and anti-generic", with, in James Wolcott's words, a "desire to bury the cornball, recruiting poster legend of John Wayne: to get it right this time"; and that combat films have always been "grounded in the need to help an audience understand and accept war". Its success revived interest in World War II films. Others tried to portray the reality of the war, as in Joseph Vilsmaier's ''Stalingrad (1993 film), Stalingrad'' (1993), which ''The New York Times'' said "goes about as far as a movie can go in depicting modern warfare as a stomach-turning form of mass slaughter".


Military–film industry relations

Many war films have been produced with the cooperation of a nation's military forces. Since the Second World War, the United States Navy has provided ships and technical guidance for films such as ''Top Gun''. The U.S. Air Force assisted with ''The Big Lift'', ''Strategic Air Command (film), Strategic Air Command'' and ''A Gathering of Eagles'', which were filmed on Air Force bases; Air Force personnel appeared in many roles. Critics have argued that the film ''Pearl Harbor'''s US-biased portrayal of events is a compensation for technical assistance received from the US armed forces, noting that the premiere was held on board a U.S. Navy carrier. In another case, the U.S. Navy objected to elements of ''Crimson Tide (film), Crimson Tide'', especially mutiny on board an American naval vessel, so the film was produced without their assistance. The film historian Jonathan Rayner observes that such films "have also clearly been intended to serve vital propagandist, recruitment and public relations functions".


National traditions


Chinese

The first Chinese war films were newsreels like ''Battle of Wuhan (1911 film), Battle of Wuhan'' (1911) and ''Battle of Shanghai (1913 film), Battle of Shanghai'' (1913). Still in films such as Xu Xinfu's ''Battle Exploits'' (1925), war featured mainly as background. Only with the Second Sino–Japanese War from 1937 onwards did war film become a serious genre in China, with nationalistic films such as Shi Dongshan's ''Protect Our Land'' (1938). The Chinese Civil War, too, attracted films such as Cheng Yin's ''From Victory to Victory'' (1952). A more humanistic film set in the same period is Xie Jin's The Cradle (1979), while more recent large-scale commercial films include Lu Chuan's ''City of Life and Death'' (2009). Chinese directors have repeatedly attempted to cover the atrocities committed by the Japanese during the Nanking massacre (1937–1938), with films such as the political melodrama ''Massacre in Nanjing'', Mou Tun Fei's docudrama ''Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre'', and the "contrived Sino–Japanese romance" ''Don't Cry, Nanking''. Zhang Yimou's epic Chinese film ''Flowers of War'' (2011), based on Geling Yan's novel, portrays the violent events through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl.


Indonesian

Many Indonesian cinema, Indonesian films deal with the occupation of the archipelago by the Japanese during the Second World War. Teguh Karya's ''Doea Tanda Mata'' (''Mementos'', literally "Two Eye Marks", 1985) covers the limited nationalist resistance to Dutch colonial rule in the 1930s. A third group of films such as ''Enam Djam di Jogja'' (''Six Hours in Yogyakarta'', 1951) and ''Serangan Fajar'' (''Attack at Dawn'', 1983) covers the Indonesian National Revolution, Indonesian war of independence (1945–1949). Two other films about the same period portray the Indonesian equivalent of the Chinese Long March: Usmar Ismail's ''Darah dan Doa'' (''The Long March'', literally "Blood and Prayer", 1950) and ''Mereka Kembali'' (''They Return'', 1975). Each of these films interprets the past from the perspective of its own time. The more recent ''Merdeka'' (Freedom) trilogy (2009–2011), starting with ''Merah Putih (2009 film), Merah Putih'' ("Red and White", the colours of the flag of the new Indonesia), revisits the campaign for independence through the lives of a diverse group of cadets who become guerillas. Karya's ''November 1828'' (1979) looks at Indonesia's struggle for independence through historical drama about the Java War, Java or Diponegoro War (1825–1830), though the colonial enemy was the same, the Dutch East Indies, Dutch. Deanne Schultz considered it "a valuable interpretation" of Indonesian history that "embodies the best of popular Indonesian cinema". It was the first Indonesian film to become well known internationally.


Russian

War has been Russian cinema's major genre, becoming known indeed as the "cinema front", and its war films ranged from grim portrayals of atrocities to sentimental and even quietly subversive accounts. Leonid Lukov's popular and "beautiful" ''Two Warriors'' (1943) depicted two stereotypical Soviet soldiers, a quiet Russian and an extrovert southerner from Odessa, singing in his dugout. The many Russian films about the Second World War include both large-scale epics such as Yuri Ozerov (director), Yury Ozerov's ''Battle of Moscow (film), Battle of Moscow'' (1985) and Mikhail Kalatozov's more psychological ''The Cranes are Flying'' (1957) on the cruel effects of war; it won the 1958 Palme d'Or at Cannes.


Japanese

Japanese directors have made popular films such as ''Submarine I-57 Will Not Surrender'' (1959), ''Battle of Okinawa (film), Battle of Okinawa'' (1971) and ''Japan's Longest Day'' (1967) from a Japanese perspective. These "generally fail to explain the cause of the war". In the decades immediately after the Second World War, Japanese films often focused on human tragedy rather than combat, such as ''The Burmese Harp (1956 film), The Burmese Harp'' (1956) and Fires on the Plain (1959 film), Fires on the Plain, (1959). From the late 1990s, films started to take a positive view of the war and of Japanese actions. These nationalistic films, including ''Pride (1998 film), Pride'' (1998), ''Merdeka 17805'' (2001), and ''The Truth about Nanjing'' (2007), have emphasized positive traits of the Japanese military and contended that the Japanese were victims of post-war vindictiveness and viciousness. Such films have, however, been subject to protest for historical revisionism, revisionism. ''The Eternal Zero'' (2013) narrates the tale of a Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Zero fighter pilot who is considered a coward by his comrades, as he returns alive from his missions. It broke the record takings for a Japanese live action film, and won the Golden Mulberry at the Udine Far East Film Festival, but was criticised for its nationalistic sympathy with kamikaze pilots.


Subgenres


Documentary

The wartime authorities in both Britain and America produced a wide variety of films. Their purposes included military training, advice to civilians, and encouragement to maintain security. Since these films often carried messages, they grade into propaganda. Similarly, commercially produced films often combined information, support for the war effort, and a degree of propaganda. Newsreels, ostensibly simply for information, were made in both Allied and Axis countries, and were often dramatised. More recently, in the Iran–Iraq War, Morteza Avini's ''Ravayat-e Fath'' (Chronicles of Victory) television series combined front-line footage with commentary.


Propaganda

Sergei Eisenstein's 1938 historical drama ''Alexander Nevsky (film), Alexander Nevsky'' depicts Alexander Nevsky, Prince Alexander's defeat of the attempted invasion of the Russian city of Novgorod by the Teutonic Knights. By April 1939 the film had been seen by 23,000,000 people. In 1941 the director and three others were awarded the State Stalin Prize, Stalin Prize for their contributions. The film features a musical score by the classical composer Sergei Prokofiev, considered by artists such as the composer André Previn the best ever written for cinema. Russell Merritt, writing in ''Film Quarterly'', describes it as a "war propaganda film". A 1978 Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Mondadori poll placed ''Alexander Nevsky'' among the world's 100 best motion pictures. During the Second World War, propaganda film, film propaganda was widely used. Kenneth Clark advised the British government that "If we renounced interest in entertainment as such, we might be deprived of a valuable weapon for getting across our propaganda"; he suggested using documentaries about the war and the war effort; celebrations of Britishness; and films about British life and character. Michael Powell and Clark agreed on a story about survivors of a U-boat crew, imbued with brutal Nazi ideology, travelling across Canada and meeting various kind, tolerant and intelligent Canadians, to encourage America into the war. The resulting film, ''49th Parallel (film), 49th Parallel'' (1941), became the top film at British offices that year. Entertaining films could carry messages about the need for vigilance, too, as in ''Went the Day Well?'' (1942) or the avoidance of "careless talk", as in ''The Next of Kin'' (1942). In America, Charlie Chaplin's ''The Great Dictator'' (1940) clearly satirised fascism. Michael Curtiz's ''Casablanca (film), Casablanca'' (1943) was not simply a romance between the characters played by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, but vilified the Nazis and glorified resistance to them. Frank Capra's ''Why We Fight'' series (1942–1945) won the 1942 Academy Award for best documentary, though it was designed to "influence opinion in the U.S. military". During the Cold War, "propaganda played as much of a role in the United States' struggle with the Soviet Union as did the billions of dollars spent on weaponry." ''Face to Face with Communism'' (1951) dramatised an imagined invasion of the United States; other films portrayed threats such as communist indoctrination.


Submarine

Submarine films have their own particular meanings and conventions, concerned specifically with giving the effect of submarine warfare. A distinctive element in this subgenre is the soundtrack, which attempts to bring home the emotional and dramatic nature of conflict under the sea. For example, in Wolfgang Petersen's 1981 ''Das Boot'', the sound design works together with the hours-long film format to depict lengthy pursuit with depth charges, the ping of sonar, and threatening sounds such as of the propellors of enemy destroyers and torpedoes. Classic films in the genre include ''The Enemy Below'' (1957) and ''Run Silent, Run Deep (1958 film), Run Silent, Run Deep'' (1958), both based on novels by naval commanders. ''Run Silent, Run Deep'' is a movie full of tension, both with the enemy and between the contrasting personalities of the submarine Commander and his Lieutenant, played by Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster.


Prisoner of war

A popular subgenre of war films in the 1950s and 1960s was the
prisoner of war A prisoner of war (POW) is a non-combatant—whether a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and m ...
film. The genre was popularised in United Kingdom, Britain with major films like Guy Hamilton's ''The Colditz Story'' (1955) and John Sturges's American film ''The Great Escape (film), The Great Escape'' (1963). They told stories of real escapes from Nazi Germany, German prisoner of war camps such as Stalag Luft III in the Second World War. Despite episodes of danger and human tragedy, these films delight in a continual boyish game of escape and ingenuity, celebrating the courage and the defiant spirit of the prisoners of war, and treating war as fun.
David Lean Sir David Lean (25 March 190816 April 1991) was an English film director, producer, screenwriter and editor. Widely considered one of the most influential directors of all time, Lean directed the large-scale epics The Experimental Physics an ...
's ''Bridge on the River Kwai'' (1957) was judged best picture at the Oscars; it took the genre from chilly German prisons to the heat of a camp in Thailand. It was the first, too, to use lush colour to bring out the British stiff upper lip of the colonel, played by Alec Guinness in an Oscar-winning performance. The "definitive" Oscar-winning prisoner of war film was Billy Wilder's ''Stalag 17'' (1953), while the brief but powerful prison camp scenes of ''The Deer Hunter'' (1978) lend an air of tragedy to the whole of that film.


Comedy

Charlie Chaplin's ''Shoulder Arms'' (1918) set a style for war films to come, and was the first comedy about war in film history. British cinema in the Second World War marked the evacuation of children from London with social comedies such as ''Those Kids from Town'' (1942) where the evacuees go to stay with an earl (a country nobleman), while in ''Cottage to Let'' (1941) and ''Went the Day Well?'' (1942) the English countryside is thick with spies. ''Gasbags'' (1941) offered "zany, irreverent, knockabout" comedy making fun of everything from barrage balloons to concentration camps. Abbott and Costello's ''Buck Privates'' (1941) was successful in America, leading to many further wartime comedies.


Animated

Winsor McCay's ''The Sinking of the Lusitania'' (1918) was a silent film, silent First World War film. At 12 minutes long, it was the longest animated film made at that time. It was probably the first animated propaganda film to be made; it remains the earliest serious animated drama that has survived. Through World War II, animated propaganda shorts remained influential in American cinema. The Walt Disney Company, working with the American armed forces, Walt Disney's World War II propaganda production, produced 400,000 feet of war propaganda films between 1942 and 1945, including ''Der Fuehrer's Face'' (1943) and ''Education for Death'' (1943). Japanese anime films from the 1960s onwards addressed national memories of war. ''Akira (1988 film), Akira'' (1988) moves from the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to apocalyptic visions of global conflict; ''Grave of the Fireflies'' (1988) is elegiac on the effect of war on children. ''Barefoot Gen (1983 film), Barefoot Gen'' (1983) portrays the bombing of Hiroshima through the eyes of a child, but reviewers consider it a less well made film than ''Grave of the Fireflies'' with "stomach-churning detail" bizarrely paired with crude artwork, giving it the look of a "Saturday morning Warner Brothers cartoon".


Anti-war

The anti-war genre began with films about the First World War. Films in the genre are typically revisionist, reflecting on past events and often generically blended. Lewis Milestone's ''All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 film), All Quiet on the Western Front'' (1930) was unquestionably powerful, and an early anti-war film, portraying a German point of view; it was the first film (in any genre) to win two Oscars, best picture and best director. Andrew Kelly, analysing ''All Quiet on the Western Front'', defined the genre as showing: the brutality of war; the amount of human suffering; the betrayal of men's trust by incompetent officers. War and anti-war films often prove difficult to categorize as they contain many generic ambiguities. While many anti-war films criticize war directly through depictions of grisly combat in past wars, some films such as Penn's Alice's Restaurant (film), Alice's Restaurant criticized war obliquely by poking fun at such things as the draft board. The number of anti-war films produced in America dipped sharply during the 1950s because of McCarthyism and the Hollywood blacklist. The end of the blacklist and the introduction of the MPAA rating system marked a time of resurgence for films of all type including anti-war films in the States. Robert Eberwein names two films as anti-war classics. The first is Jean Renoir's prisoner of war masterpiece ''Grand Illusion (film), La Grande Illusion'' (''The Grand Illusion'', 1937). Renoir's critique of contemporary politics and ideology celebrates the universal humanity that transcends national and racial boundaries and radical nationalism, suggesting that mankind's common experiences should prevail above political division, and its extension: war. The second is Stanley Kubrick's ''Paths of Glory'' (1957). The critic David Ehrenstein writes that ''Paths of Glory'' established Kubrick as the "leading commercial filmmaker of his generation" and a world-class talent. Ehrenstein describes the film as an "outwardly cool/inwardly passionate protest drama about a disastrous French army maneuver and the court-martial held in its wake", contrasting it with the "classic" ''All Quiet on the Western Fronts story of an innocent "unstrung by the horrors of war".


Mixed genres

Comedy gave scope for satire, and post-war film-makers merged comedy and anti-war sentiment in films as varied as ''Stalag 17'' (1953) and ''Dr Strangelove'' (1964). Black comedy, Black comedies like Mike Nichols's ''Catch-22 (film), Catch-22'' (1970), based on Joseph Heller's Catch-22, satirical novel about the Second World War, and Robert Altman's ''MASH (film), MASH'' (1970), set in Korea, reflected the attitudes of an increasingly sceptical public during the Vietnam War. Other genres were combined in Franklin J. Schaffner's ''Patton (film), Patton'' (1970), about real life General George S. Patton, where combat scenes were interleaved with commentary about how he waged war, showing good and bad sides to a command. It and ''MASH'' became the two most profitable war/anti-war films made up to that time, and ''Patton'' won seven Academy Awards.


Notes


References


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * (revised ed. 2015, ) * * * * *


Further reading

* * * * * *


External links


Imperial War Museum: First World War Film Collection

Michael Wilmington & Dann Gire: World on War: A Film Discussion

British Film Institute: 10 great battleship and war-at-sea films
{{DEFAULTSORT:War Film Film genres War films, Military fiction Works about wars, Film Documentary films about war