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)

Advanced Keyword Search

Previous | War Periods | Next


Director(s): Fuller, Samuel
Year of Publication: 1957
Major Wars:
Abstract:

French Foreign Legion mercenaries and a smuggler band together on a mission during the First Indochina War. Lucky Legs secures her son's passage to America in exchange for helping mercenaries, American veterans of the Korean War, find an arms...

Director(s): Lakhdar-Hamina, Mohammed
Year of Publication: 1975
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Winner of the Palm D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, this film shows how fighting against authoritarianism and fascism in World War II influenced the Algerian War of Independence. A young peasant migrates from his drought-stricken village, only...

Director(s): Ashby, Hal
Year of Publication: 1978
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Sally Bender is the wife of a Captain in the United States Marine Corps. He is sent over to serve in the Vietnam conflict, leaving Sally alone. With nothing else to do, she decides to volunteer at a local veteran's hospital, where she meets Luke...

Director(s): Scott, Tony
Year of Publication: 1995
Major Wars:
Abstract:

After the Cold War, a breakaway Russian republic with nuclear warheads becomes a possible worldwide threat. U.S. submarine Capt. Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) signs on a relatively green but highly recommended Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hunter (Denzel...

Director(s): Scott, Tony
Year of Publication: 1995
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Dueling interpretations of the post-Cold War world clash aboard the U.S. Navy nuclear submarine the U.S.S. Alabama. Disagreement between a battle-hardened commanding officer and academically trained XO over truncated radio messages leads...

Director(s): Attenborough, Richard
Year of Publication: 1987
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An epic drama set in late 1970s apartheid South Africa, this film based on real events follows journalist Donald Woods as he is forced to flee the country after attempting to investigate the suspicious death in police custody of his friend, the...

Director(s): Riklis, Eran
Year of Publication: 1992
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Set during the First Lebanon War, Palestinians take an Israeli soldier hostage. The incident unfolds during the 1982 World Cup, which the men watch together. Their love of soccer, and particularly that of the Italian team, shows how their...

Director(s): Wajda, Andrzej
Year of Publication: 1983
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In another masterpiece work, director Andrzej Wajda uses the Frech Revolution to criticize state repression of Poland's Solidarity movement. Revolutionary leader Georges Danton returns to Paris after Robespierre establishes the Reign of Terror to...

Director(s): Kawasaki, Kikuo
Year of Publication: 2011
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In Jerusalem, friendship develops between a Jewish 9-year-old American coin collector and the abused 9-year-old Arab street urchin trying to extort money from him. [IMBd]

Director(s): Gomes, Flora
Year of Publication: 1988
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This film explores the struggles of one woman during and after the Guinea Bissau War of Independence, a small nation under Portuguese colonial rule for 500 years. Diminga travels to the front lines with food and supplies for her husband. The...

Director(s): Robin, Marie-Monique
Year of Publication: 2003
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Through interviews with military and intelligence officials, extant footage, and film clips, this documentary uncovers the French military's decisive role in the development of counter-insurgency techniques during the Cold War. After fighting...

Director(s): Huberty, Martin
Year of Publication: 2002
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A young idealistic British man joins the French Foreign Legion to fight in the Algerian War. Their bonds, forged in brutal training, are tested when France declares Algeria independent. Different loyalties tear the group apart.

Director(s): Schoendoerffer, Pierre
Year of Publication: 1992
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Director Pierre Schoendoerffer drew on his personal experience as an army cameraman to document an American reporter during the Siege of Dien Bien Phu, the climatic battle of the First Indochina War. Howard Simpson gains a deeper understanding ot...

Director(s): Suleiman, Elia
Year of Publication: 2002
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In this nearly silent black comedy, director Elia Suleiman imagines the fantastical and absurd as a response to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Two lovers who live in different sectors of Israeli-occupied Palestine meet at a checkpoint,...

Director(s): Martin, Hugues
Year of Publication: 2010
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A group of French soldiers encounter djinns (supernatural spirits) during the Algerian War. While on a rescue mission, they must fight off Algerian National Liberation Army forces as well as evil spirits of the desert. 

Director(s): Kubrick, Stanley
Year of Publication: 1964
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Rather than amplifying Cold War fears and hysteria in the early 1960s, director Stanley Kubrick's black comedy masterpiece satirizes them. A rogue American general orders B-52s to drop an atomic bomb on the Soviet Union. Back in the Pentagon's ...

Director(s): Kubrick, Stanley
Year of Publication: 1964
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This satirical film illustrates the president of the United States and his military personnel struggle to maintain national security on the home front after a mentally unable Air Force general launches a nuclear attack against the Soviet Union...

Director(s): Haroun, Mahamat-Saleh
Year of Publication: 2006
Major Wars:
Abstract:

After Chad's government announces amnesty for war criminals at the conclusion of a civil war, an orphaned son orchestrates an elaborate revenge plot. Young Atim's relationships with his grandfather and the accused murderer of his father create...

Director(s): Chahine, Youssef
Year of Publication: 1963
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Director Youssef Chahine uses the history of the Third Crusade to promote pan-Arab unity in the wake of de-colonization and wars with Israel in the early 1960s. Upon hearing of the slaughter of Muslims in in the Holy Lands, Saladin, sultan of...

Director(s): Siodmak, Robert
Year of Publication: 1962
Major Wars:
Abstract:

One of the first films produced after the Berlin Wall divided the city, Escape from East Berlin mirrored real life stories of East Germans seeking freedom behind the Wall. Kurt Schroder, a chauffeur to East German Major, agrees to help...

Pages