Films about the Cold War and Wars of Decolonization

This collection provides information on selected movies, TV productions and documentaries on the themes of gender, military and war in the period covered by the Oxford Handbook.

The most important wars for this period include:

  • Cold War (1946–91)
  • Arab-Israeli Conflicts (1947ff)
  • War of Indonesian Independence (1945–49)
  • Korean War (1950–53)
  • African Wars for Independence (1952ff)
  • Algerian War (1954–62)
  • Indochina Wars (1946–79)

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Director(s): Hughes, Nick
Year of Publication: 2001
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An account of the 100-day Rwandan genocide, as experienced by a young Tutsi girl. Josette seeks refuge in the Catholic Church, only to find another form of horror there. The departure of UN peacekeepers further makes the area unstable and Josette...

Director(s): Adi, Yasmina
Year of Publication: 2011
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On the call of the revolutionary National Liberation Front (FLN), thousands of Algerians marched in Paris, on October 17 1961, to protest France's war effort in Algeria, despite the curfew imposed by the government. The police responded with...

Director(s): Thompson, Ernest
Year of Publication: 1988
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1969 presents two young men radicalized by the Vietnam War. After Scott's brother dies while fighting, he and his friend Ralph launch a plan to steal their files from the local draft board. Scott escapes arrest and travels to Canada...

Director(s): Graham, William A.
Year of Publication: 1976
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A made-for-television drama of the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Olympics. Black September, a Palestinian terrorist group, took 11 Israeli athletes hostage. All surviving hostages were then killed by the group or the police during a failed rescue...

Director(s): Binisti, Thierry
Year of Publication: 2013
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Two adolescents form a connection despite the conflicts in Israel/Palestine. Tal, recent French immigrant, struggles with comprehending the violence engulfing Jerusalem. After a bombing, she tosses a bottle into the sea filled with questions for...

Director(s): Schoendoerffer, Pierre
Year of Publication: 1982
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A French widow seeks to rehabilitate her husband's tarnished image after the Algerian War of Independence. After a historian publicly accuses Captain Marcel Caron of torturing Algerians, Nicole Caron sues him. The trial recreates the last two...

Director(s): Wargnier, Régis
Year of Publication: 1995
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In this melodramatic tragedy, director Régis Wargnier explores the emotional costs of war on a French woman. Shortly after Jeanne marries Louis, he leaves for war. She channels her sadness and anger into a series of affairs that span from World...

Director(s): Mann, Delbert
Year of Publication: 1963
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In Cold War America, an exacting officer shapes up a unit at the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command. His commitment to work causes tensions in his personal life.  

Director(s): Wajda, Andrzej
Year of Publication: 1955
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A seminal work in Polish New Wave cinema, director Andrzej Wajda fashions a devastating anti-war film about the lost generation of World War II. After experiencing a life of deprivation and German occupation, Stach becomes radicalized through the...

Director(s): Haroun, Mahamat-Saleh
Year of Publication: 2011
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A man's ego supersedes his roles as father, husband, and breadwinner in the chaos of the modern day civil war in Chad. A former champion swimmer holds a respectable job as pool attendant when management replaces him with his son. He sends his son...

Director(s): Portman, Natalie
Year of Publication: 2015
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Based on the memoirs of Amos Oz, this film explores the last years of British-mandated Palestine and the creation of Israel from the perspective of a child. His family begins to fall apart after the Arab-Israeli War when his father enlists and...

Director(s): Gerima, Haile
Year of Publication: 1999
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The Battle of Adwa and Ethiopia's independence in the era of European colonization still inspires the nation's peoples today. This documentary interviews historians, elders, priests, poets, and singers to show how that battle shaped Ethiopian...

Director(s): Rugeles, José Luis
Year of Publication: 2015
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Alias María brings attention to child soldiers in Columbia's ongoing civil war. Maria must bring a commander's newborn child to safety while avoiding detection by government-backed paramilitary troops. On her journey, she discovers that...

Director(s): Achkar, David
Year of Publication: 1992
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Through home movies, old newsreels, letters and fictional reconstruction of imprisonment, this film examines the life of the filmmaker's father, Marof Achkar, a diplomat under the Sékou Touré regime, who later disappeared into the Guinean gulag....

Director(s): Affleck, Ben
Year of Publication: 2012
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On November 4, 1979, militant Iranian activists storm the American embassy in Tehran and capture dozens of American hostages, sparking a 444-day ordeal. There's a little-known footnote to the crisis: six Americans escaped and a mid-level CIA...

Director(s): Wajda, Andrzej
Year of Publication: 1958
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Widely considered to be the best Polish film of all time and a landmark in world cinema, director Andrzej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds explores the fractured national identity of war-torn Poland. At the very end of World War II, Maciek, a...

Director(s): Feng, Xiaogang
Year of Publication: 2007
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Assembly explores honor, sacrifice, and identity through Gu Zidi, a captain of the 9th Company of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) near the end of the Chinese Civil War. During the decisive Huaihai Campaign, Gu and his men defend a...

Director(s): Bukai, Rafi
Year of Publication: 1986
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Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, Atvanti Popolo follows two Egyptian soldiers behind enemy lines in the Six Day War. The film won praise for its use of Arab actors, which further humanized the soldiers lost in the Sinai...

Director(s): Vautier, René
Year of Publication: 1972
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Based on interviews with veterans of the Algerian War of Independence, this film explores how war reshapes identity. At a deserter camp, Lt. Perrin transforms a unit of Breton pacifists into killers. Only one man resists. 

Director(s): Pas, Klaus
Year of Publication: 2008
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Director Klaus Pas draws connections between the social problems of immigrants in Parisian suburbs and former child soldiers in the Second Liberian Civil War. These youths struggle to find their place in their world after the war. They experience...

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