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): Schoendoerffer, Pierre
Year of Publication: 1977
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This film memorializes the French wars of de-colonization in Vietnam and Algeria by offering a romantic view of a disgraced French military officer. Known as the "crabe tambour" (crab drummer), Lt. Willsdorff inspires his men with his tenacity...

Director(s): Claude Berri
Year of Publication: 1970
Major Wars:
Abstract:

One of the earliest mainstream French films that addressed the Algerian War. A private has no desire to serve in Algeria, and tries to call in a favor to avoid being drafted.

Director(s): Gianni Amelio
Year of Publication: 2012
Major Wars:
Abstract:

August 1957: A famous writer in his forties, Jacques Cormery, visits his mother who lives in Algiers. The city is undergoing the urban warfare of the Battle of Algiers during the Algerian War of Independence. Cormery reflects on his school years...

Director(s): Abdelkrim Bahloul
Year of Publication: 2003
Major Wars:
Abstract:

The poet and radio personality Jean Sénac was a pied-noir (European colonist) who chose to stay in Algeria after its independence in 1962, strongly attached to the country he was born and raised in. Ten years later, he was under surveillance by...

Director(s): Maoz, Samuel
Year of Publication: 2009
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In this critically acclaimed drama, director Samuel Moaz offers an innovative take of the Lebanon War partly informed by his own experiences as an Israeli soldier. Set inside an armored tank, a small crew of soldiers enters a devastated but still...

Director(s): Riklis, Eran
Year of Publication: 2008
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A grove of lemon trees becomes a metaphor for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When the Israeli Defense Minister moves to a house bordering the West Bank, his security team views his neighbor's lemon trees as a potential threat. Salma, a...

Director(s): Zemmouri, Mahmoud
Year of Publication: 1986
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Director Mahmoud Zemmouri, an Algerian émigré, offers a satirical perspective of the Algerian War of Independence. Two young men exchange their teenage rebellion, expressed through their obsession with pop culture, with the one surrounding them....

Director(s): Demy, Jacques
Year of Publication: 1964
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Two young French lovers are altered by the Algerian War for Independence. Geneviève learns she is pregnant from her love affair with Guy, who has been drafted into the war. She agrees to marry a rich man to giver her child a better life. Guy opts...

Director(s): Rostan, Philippe
Year of Publication: 2010
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This documentary traces the life of Madeleine Riffaud, a French poet and journalist who participated in and documented resistance during war. After gaining notoriety for her bold actions in World War II, she turned her attention to the Vietnamese...

Director(s): Bernard, Chris
Year of Publication: 1986
Abstract:

Two young British women have a night of fun with Russian sailors in 1980s Liverpool. Their personal relationships and personal ambitions show a thawing of the Cold War, and the constraints on the working-class women's lives reveal the harsh...

Director(s): Benjamin, Richard
Year of Publication: 1988
Abstract:

An All-American teenager who wants to join the Air Force discovers his parents are Soviet spies in this late Cold War espionage thriller. With excellent performances from a top-notch cast, Little Nikita is a fast-paced suspense thriller in the...

Director(s): Mihaileanu, Radu
Year of Publication: 2005
Major Wars:
Abstract:

During the early part of the Sudanese Civil War, a young boy escapes and pays a heavy emotional price. Schlomo, an Ethiopian Christian, and his mother face religious persecution in Sudan. She places her son with an Ethiopian Jewish woman waiting...

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

Based on the 1957 novella, L'Hôte (The Guest), by Albert Camus, David Oelhoefen directs this story the story of two men on opposite sides of the Algerian War (1954–62) who find common ground. Daru, an Algerian-born French teacher of...

Director(s): Robson, Mark
Year of Publication: 1966
Major Wars:
Abstract:

The war drama Lost Command, directed by Mark Robinson and based on the best-selling 1960 novel The Centurions by Jean Lartéguy, explores France's loss of political control and military defeat in Indochina and Algeria through the...

Director(s): Bartlett, Hall
Year of Publication: 1982
Major Wars:
Abstract:

After the Laotian government cracks down on foreign journalists following the civil wars in Laos and Vietnam, Australian John Everingham remains behind to uncover the story. He is eventually arrested and exiled to Thailand after his lover turned...

Director(s): Schoendoerffer, Pierre
Year of Publication: 1982
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Pierre Schoendoerffer directs this riveting French courtroom drama, about dead Captain Marcel Caron, played by Jacques Perrin, whose memory is publicly damaged by the historian Professor Paulet on TV, twenty years after his death. Captain Caron’s...

Director(s): Cavalier, Alain
Year of Publication: 1964
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This French film L’Insoumis, directed by Alan Cavalier, was one of the first that dealt with the Algerian War (1954–62). Thomas Vlassenroot, a citizen of Luxembourg, played by Alain Delon, enlists in the French Foreign Legion after his...

Director(s): Berends, Andrew
Year of Publication: 2015
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An unflinching and poetic glimpse into a forgotten war, Madina's Dream tells the story of rebels and refugees fighting to survive in Sudan's Nuba Mountains. After decades of civil war, South Sudan achieved its independence from Sudan in 2011. But...

Director(s): Kazan, Elia
Year of Publication: 1953
Abstract:

Based on a true story, a leader of a circus troupe in Czechoslovakia attempts to defect to the United Stated in the early 1950s. The film shows why he decides to leave, providing propaganda for the efficiencies of American free enterprise, and...

Director(s): Chadwick, Justin
Year of Publication: 2013
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A chronicle of Nelson Mandela's life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa. [IMBd]

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