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): Lumet, Sidney
Year of Publication: 1964
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This chilling Cold War film reveals the dangers of nuclear warfare, militarism, and technology. After Strategic Command detects an unidentified intrusion into U.S. airspace, bombers armed with nuclear weapons are ordered to their fail-safe points...

Director(s): Oelhoffen, David
Year of Publication: 2014
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Based on the novella L'Hôte by Albert Camus, two men on opposite sides of the Algerian War find common ground. Daru, a schoolteacher, escorts Mohamed, a peasant accused of the murder of his cousin, through the Atlas Mountains during a...

Director(s): Hondo, Med
Year of Publication: 2004
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An interesting film that considers race, sexuality, and religion within the Algerian War for Independence. A French Senegalese rapes an Algerian woman. Years later he offers to marry her. Fatima accepts, in part to have a black father for her...

Director(s): Mohamed El Hadi Benadouda
Year of Publication: 2014
Major Wars:
Abstract:

During the Algerian revolution, El Hadi joined his sister in France and became an active member of a secret FLN armed group. Encompassing settling of scores, attempted murder, hiding, imprisonment and finally deportation back to Algeria in 1962,...

Director(s): Almond, Paul
Year of Publication: 1980
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In this Canadian Cold War thriller, a journalist working in the Soviet Union uncovers corruption and human rights abuses. She must work avoid the KGB and other spies to get the story out. 

Director(s): Jolie, Angelina
Year of Publication: 2017
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Based on the memoir by Loung Ung, this film explores the impact of the Cambodian genocide on children after the Cambodian Civil War and during the Cambodian-Vietnamese War. Ung's family flees Phnom Penh after the Americans evacuate and the Khmer...

Director(s): Burnat, Emad
Year of Publication: 2011
Major Wars:
Abstract:

5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bil'in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, the film follows...

Director(s): Clavell, James
Year of Publication: 1959
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An exploitation film of war and sexual violence, Five Gates to Hell represents the fears of communism that gripped Americans in the early Cold War. In the early 1950s, guerillas attack an army hospital in French Indochina, staffed by an...

Director(s): Sinclair, Ingrid
Year of Publication: 1996
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This controversial film explores the meaning of independence through the lives of female soldiers during and after the Rhodesian Bush War/Zimbabwe War of Liberation. Two young women join the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army and rename...

Director(s): Rydell, Mark
Year of Publication: 1991
Major Wars:
Abstract:

From World War II to the Vietnam War, two entertainers witness the drama behind the scenes of war. Dixie Leonard joins Eddie Sparks' U.S.O. tour and becomes an instant success. Over the course of thirty-five years, Dixie loses her husband, her...

Director(s): Young, Terence
Year of Publication: 1963
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Widely regarded as the best film in the 007 franchise, From Russia with Love places James Bond into the thicket of Cold War international politics. Bond must retrieve a Lektor decoder from a Soviet defector in Istanbul before the...

Director(s): Kubrick, Stanley
Year of Publication: 1987
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An American soldier experiences the dehumanization of war from military training to the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War. At Paris Island, new recruits encounter physical and emotional trauma as they become U.S. Marines. One escapes war through a...

Director(s): Hamilton, Guy
Year of Publication: 1966
Major Wars:
Abstract:

British spy Harry Palmer finds himself in a trap when sent to Berlin during the Cold War. His mission to escort a defector is felled after an elaborate double cross involving Israel, East Germany, and the Soviety Union. Palmer must uncover the...

Director(s): Olivera, Héctor
Year of Publication: 1983
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This black comedy, based on the novel by Osvaldo Soriano, tackles Argentinian politics during its Dirty War. A micro civil war breaks out in a small town, pitting the mayor against the deputy mayor. Communists take advantage of the government...

Director(s): Ziman, Ralph
Year of Publication: 2008
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A young hoodlum's rise from a small-time criminal to a powerful crime entrepreneur during the turbulent years before and after the fall of apartheid. [IMBd]

Director(s): Levinson, Barry
Year of Publication: 1987
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Disc jockey Adrian Cronauer of Armed Forces Radio arrives in Saigon at the start of the Vietnam War. His irreverent humor, love of rock and roll, and reporting on censored news make the troops love him and his superiors unhappy. His friendship...

Director(s): Clooney, George
Year of Publication: 2005
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This film reveals the history behind journalist Edward R. Murrow's encounter with Sen. Eugene McCarthy at the height of anti-communism in early Cold War America. Murrow and his CBS news team face down accusations of communism after they file a...

Director(s): Becker, Wolfgang
Year of Publication: 2003
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A son takes great measures to protect his mother before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Alex's mother falls into a coma when she sees her son arrested during an anti-government protest. To protect her recovery, he pretends German...

Director(s): Young, Roger
Year of Publication: 1985
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An American sports reporter finds himself of victim of Cold War politics. A Soviet scientist with classified information approaches Mickey Almon while he's in Moscow to cover an international athletic event. The KGB arrests him. After confessing...

Director(s): Nesher, Avi
Year of Publication: 1979
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Between the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, an Israeli army troupe entertains soldiers. Members compete with each other to win a coveted spot on national television.

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