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): Wisbar, Frank
Year of Publication: 1962
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This German-Italian-Spanish production viewed the Algerian War of Independence through an anti-war lens. A commander of the French Foreign Legion takes his battle-scarred men to search for an Algerian nationalist leader. Though successful in...

Director(s): Dante, Joe
Year of Publication: 1993
Abstract:

A light-hearted comedy, Matinee romanticizes American innocence and Cold War culture before assassinations of political leaders and Vietnam disrupts them. A flashy producer of low-production horror and science fiction films arrives in a...

Director(s): Tofano, Gilberto
Year of Publication: 1969
Major Wars:
Abstract:

After the death of her husband in the Six Day War, an Israeli woman struggles to forge her new identity. Tamar's friends and family believe she should behave as a proper widow, serving as a living memorial to her slain husband, but she wants to...

Director(s): Korki, Shawkat Amin
Year of Publication: 2014
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In this absurdist black comedy, a filmmaking duo encounters tragedy and corruption as they attempt to make a movie about the Iraqi-led genocide of Kurds (the Al-Anfal campaign) during the Iran-Iraq War. 

Director(s): O'Connor, Gavin
Year of Publication: 2004
Abstract:

This Cold War sports drama tells the story of Coach Herb Brooks, who led the U.S. Hockey team to Olympic Gold in 1980 after defeating the Soviet Union. 

Director(s): Chetwynd, Lionel
Year of Publication: 1981
Abstract:

The Olympics often became a site of Cold War cultural tensions, pitting the United States against the Soviet Union. In 1980, the U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated the heavily-favored Soviets in Lake Placid, NY.

Director(s): Minh, Dang Nhat
Year of Publication: 1970
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A child becomes entangled in the messy politics of the Vietnam War. Orphaned by war, little Nhung works as a maid for a rich family when Americans attack Saigon in early 1968. She communicates with Vietnamese soldiers to identify and defeat their...

Director(s): Herbiet, Laurent
Year of Publication: 2006
Major Wars:
Abstract:

The murder of a high-profile French colonel opens up old wounds from the Algerian War for Independence. An investigator tracks down old connections and materials from the war to solve the case.

Director(s): Mazursky, Paul
Year of Publication: 1984
Abstract:

A Russian circus musician defects to the United States in this Cold War comedy. While in a New York Bloomingdale's, Vladimir Ivanoff flees from his handlers. A black security guard protects him and brings Ivanoff to his Harlem home. Despite...

Director(s): Spielberg, Steven
Year of Publication: 2006
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Director Steven Spielberg explores vengeance and morality in an international episode of the Arab-Israeli conflict. After members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization murder Olympic athletes in the 1972 Munich games, the Israeli government...

Director(s): Resnais, Alain
Year of Publication: 1963
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Family, friends, and strangers obsessively hold onto memories of the past within the changing French nation in the aftermath of the Algerian War for Independence. Hélène welcomes home her step-son Bernard and an old lover Alphonse, both who have ...

Director(s): Macdonald, Kevin
Year of Publication: 2007
Abstract:

This documentary reveals the conflicting aims of U.S. foreign policy in the Cold War era by exploring the life of German SS Officer Klaus Barbie. Barbie's war crimes in World War II earned him the name "the Butcher of Lyon," yet he was one of...

Director(s): Mozer, Yariv
Year of Publication: 2008
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In this first-person documentary, a reservist in the Israeli army offers a stinging critique of his nation's role in the Second Lebanon War. The camera allowed filmmaker Yariv Mozer to keep his distance yet equate what he saw with popular war...

Director(s): Nordlund, Solveig
Year of Publication: 1998
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A young boy recounts a story of horror and survival during the Mozambican Civil War. Nelio flees his village after the war destroys it and his family. He arrives in the capital Maputo and joins other orphaned children. Danger greets him there,...

Director(s): Daves, Delmer
Year of Publication: 1953
Abstract:

The Cold War disrupts a love story between an American journalist and a Russian ballerina. Separated by the KGB on their attempt to leave the Soviet Union for the United States, the husband takes desperate measures to reunite with his wife. 

Director(s): Mann, Delbert
Year of Publication: 1982
Abstract:

Based on a true story, Night Crossing chronicles the perils of two East German families as they attempt to cross over the Berlin Wall in a hot-air balloon toward freedom in the late 1970s.

Director(s): Hitchcock, Alfred
Year of Publication: 1959
Abstract:

Director Alfred Hitchcock tackles a case of mistaken identity and a murder mystery in this masterful exploration of Cold War America. Ad man Cary Grant inadvertently finds himself on the run after government agents mistake him for a spy. From New...

Director(s): Tasma, Alain
Year of Publication: 2005
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This television film traces multiple perspectives of the October Massacre during the Algerian War of Independence. It follows members of the National Liberation Front (FLN), French military officers, Parisian police, journalists, and school...

Director(s): Chouraqui, Élie
Year of Publication: 2006
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A friendship between two Americans is tested during the conflicts surrounding the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Said, a Palestinian immigrant, and Bobby, a Jew, leave New York to support their respective sides. 

Director(s): Panijel, Jacques
Year of Publication: 1962
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This documentary, censored for over ten years, explores the Paris Massacre of 1961 during the Algerian War for Independence through interviews, newsreel, and re-enactments.. After implementing a curfew for all Algerians in the city, the Naltional...

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