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): Denis, Claire
Year of Publication: 2009
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An allegory of the failed state of colonialism, a white woman's refusal to leave her coffee plantation in a fictional African country brings the civil war to her. Warned by French officials and military to leave, Maria is determined to see the...

Director(s): Hackford, Taylor
Year of Publication: 1985
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This artistic take on the Cold War sports drama from the late 1980s brings together Russian ballerino Mikhail Baryshnikov and black American dancer Gregory Hines. Both dancers defected to the others' homelands, and an emergency plane landing in...

Director(s): Téchiné, André
Year of Publication: 1994
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Four French adolescents transition to adulthood and discover their sexualities at the end of Algerian War for Independence. Serge, an Algerian immigrant, seduces his classmate François and tries to do the same to Maïté, François's best friend and...

Director(s): Gutman, Nathaniel
Year of Publication: 1987
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An American journalist investigates political intrigue during the Lebanon Civil War. Don Stevens thought he landed an interview with a top leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization only to discover he had been duped. Finding out why leads...

Director(s): Jennifer Cornish Media
Year of Publication: 2001
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This documentary explores women's experiences, emotions, and survival strategies during war. Women who survived conflicts in the Middle East, Bosnia, Uganda, and South Africa share their stories, revealing a growing anti-war sentiment and...

Director(s): Ewing, Heidi
Year of Publication: 2014
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A documentary about American women's involvement in war from Vietnam to the present as soldiers, nurses, journalists, spies, and diplomats. The participants stories range from breaking the glass ceiling to ongoing sexual harassment and from...

Director(s): Disney, Abigail E.
Year of Publication: 2011
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This groundbreaking, five-part documentary challenges conventional depictions of war and peace by focusing on women's experiences. Rather than focus on nation-states, military systems, and technologically-advanced weaponry, war for women centers...

Director(s): Aldrich, Robert
Year of Publication: 1954
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A veteran working as a private detective in Singapore uncovers a plot to kidnap one of the world's leading nuclear scientist in this Cold War film noir.

Director(s): Jin, Xie
Year of Publication: 1984
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Set during the Sino-Vietnamese War, this film explores class tensions and asserts the primacy of Communist Party and state loyalty. Soldiers within a company of the People’s Liberation Army derive from peasant origins while its officer is the son...

Director(s): Vaughn, Matthew
Year of Publication: 2011
Major Wars:
Abstract:

The famed comic book series The X-Men finds its origin story in the global politics of the Cold War.  Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lensherr (Magneto) form the X-Men to help the CIA after Sebastian Shaw, a mutant, conspires to...

Director(s): Fox, Eytan
Year of Publication: 2002
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Two Israeli soldiers keep their love affair hidden while stationed at a remote army base near the Lebanon border. The film's exploration of homosexuality uncovers the personal ambivalence and sacrifice of engaging in an ideological war that...

Director(s): Jackson, Mick
Year of Publication: 1986
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Based on the true story of Yuri Nosenko, a top KGB agent who defected to the United States in the early 1960s. CIA officials intensely debate the veracity of Nosenko's claims and intent to defect because of recent Cold War tensions as well as the...

Director(s): Khelifa, Said Ould
Year of Publication: 2012
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This film focuses on Ahmed Zabana, a national Algerian hero, and corrupt French colonial policies before the Algerian War for Independence. Zabana's actions as part of the National Liberation Front land him in prison, where he interacts with a...

Director(s): Teguia, Tariq
Year of Publication: 2013
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This film asks large questions about resistance, oppression, and pan-Arabism within the context of the global War on Terror. A journalist travels to Beirut to uncover the forgotten history of the Zanj revolution in the 9th century Abbasid...

Director(s): Riklis, Eran
Year of Publication: 2013
Major Wars:
Abstract:

During the First Lebanon War, an Israeli pilot and a young Palestinian refugee find common ground. Fahed helps Yoni escape if the pilot will help him return to his family's ancestral village to plant his father's prized olive tree. Their journey...

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