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

Based on the memoir by Loung Ung, this film by director Angelina Jolie explores the impact of the Cambodian genocide (from April 1975 to January 1973) on children after the Cambodian Civil War (1967–75) and during the Cambodian-Vietnamese War (...

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:

The war film, Five Gates to Hell the story of a group of Red Cross doctors and nurses, who are taken captive by guerillas in a fortress in the jungles of Vietnam. Forced to remain as sex slaves by a local warlord (Benson Fong) and the...

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
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
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:

Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 war film directed, co-written, and produced by Stanley Kubrick. An American soldier experiences the dehumanization of war from military training to the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War. At Paris Island, new...

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

Good Morning, Vietnam is a 1987 American comedy-drama war film directed by Barry Levinson. Disc jockey Adrian Cronauer starred by Robin Williams, starts to work for the Armed Forces Radio in Saigon at the official  start of the Vietnam...

Director(s): Clooney, George
Year of Publication: 2005
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
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
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.

Director(s): Shagrir, Micha
Year of Publication: 1967
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Two years after the Six Day War (1967), doctors at an Israeli hospital try to save the lives of an Arab terrorist and Israeli officer just brought in after a border clash. This documentary explores human rights and warfare.

Director(s): Masharawi, Rashid
Year of Publication: 1996
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In the days leading up the peace accords signed by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel and Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, an extended family continue to live their lives in the Gaza Strip. A mother waits for her...

Director(s): Peter Davis
Year of Publication: 1975
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This documentary film recounts the history and attitudes of the opposing sides of the Vietnam War using archival news footage as well as its own film and interviews. A key theme is how attitudes of American racism and self-righteous militarism...

Director(s): Peter Davis
Year of Publication: 1974
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This documentary film recounts the history and attitudes of the opposing sides of the Vietnam War using archival news footage as well as its own film and interviews. A key theme is how attitudes of American racism and self-righteous militarism...

Director(s): Oliver Stone
Year of Publication: 1993
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Director Oliver Stone's third Vietnam War is based on the life of Le Ly Hayslip (born 1949) who also has a cameo appearance in it. Le Ly is a girl growing up in a Vietnamese village. Her life changes when communist insurgents show up in the...

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