Films about Colonial Wars of the long 19th Century

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:

  • Imperial Conquest of Africa (1880–1914)
  • Spanish–American War (1898)
  • Boer/South African War (1899–1902)
  • Philippine-American War (1899–1902)

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Director(s): Marshall, George
Year of Publication: 1936
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This Spanish-American War film frames the United States as the liberator of Cuba. After the attack on the U.S.S. Maine, Army Lt. Andrew Rowan travels to the island to deliver a personal message from President McKinley to General Calixto Garcia,...

Director(s): Chahine, Youssef
Year of Publication: 1985
Abstract:

Adieu Bonaparte examines the Napoleonic Wars through the French campaign in Egypt in 1798. General Cafarelli is transformed by his experiences there, rejecting his militarism and embracing Enlightenment ideals by supporting the...

Director(s): Gerima, Haile
Year of Publication: 1999
Abstract:

The Battle of Adwa and Ethiopia's independence in the era of European colonization still inspires the nation's peoples today. This documentary interviews historians, elders, priests, poets, and singers to show how that battle shaped Ethiopian...

Director(s): Sayles, John
Year of Publication: 2010
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Offering parallels to today's wars, this story about the Philippine-American War explores how ideological conflict often terrorizes local people. When American soldiers arrive in a fictional village, its leader Rafael declares himself their...

Director(s): de Villiers, Dirk
Year of Publication: 1989
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In this popular South African television series, influential director Dirk de Villiers traced the lives of two men during the Boer War. After Boer farmer Sloet Steenkamp leads a failed rebellion, he is taken to a concentration camp run by British...

Director(s): Meily, Mark
Year of Publication: 2008
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This film reveals the complex relationships between the colonizer and the colonized during the Philippine Revolution. Set in the city of Baler, scene of a nearly year-long siege, a Spanish soldier and a young Filipina fall in love. With distance...

Director(s): British Pathé Ltd
Year of Publication: 1900
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Early cinematic footage of the Boer War produced by the Warwick Trading Company and filmed by pioneer British director Cecil Hepworth. 

Director(s): Beresford, Bruce
Year of Publication: 1980
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Following the brutal death of a British captain in the Boer War in South Africa in 1901, Lt. Harry Morant leads his unit in pursuit of the Boers, attacks their camp, and has a captive executed. Other executions and deaths lead to the arrest and...

Director(s): Carvajal, Pedro
Year of Publication: 1999
Major Wars:
Abstract:

During the Cuban War for Independence, a young Cuban woman sympathetic to independence and a Spanish soldier fall in love. Their relationship serves as a window to understand the complexity of the revolution as well as the increasing American...

Director(s): Meily, Mark
Year of Publication: 2012
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This biopic of Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the First Republic of the Philippines, reveals the long struggle for independence. Aguinaldo's efforts to coordinate colonial resistance against the Spanish lead his peers to elect him...

Director(s): Wilcox, Herbert
Year of Publication: 1948
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This film explores how women, women's roles, and ideas of femininity change through war. Spanning nearly 100 years across four wars (Crimean War, Boer War, World War I, and World War II), the women of Ladymead become more independent while their...

Director(s): Martin, Raya
Year of Publication: 2009
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Director Raya Martin offers an inventive exploration of the American occupation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War by recreating the visual quality and editing techniques of early cinema. A mother and her son flee Manila for the...

Director(s): Pérez, Fernando
Year of Publication: 2011
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This biopic drama imagines the childhood and adolescense of Cuba's revolutionary leader José Martí. As the son of a magistrate, young Martí soon develops a rebellious spirit and quest for justice. 

Director(s): Diaz-Abaya, Marilou
Year of Publication: 1998
Major Wars:
Abstract:

The life and death of José Rizal, leader and philosopher of the Filipino independence in the late 19th century. Imprisoned by the Spanish for inspiring an unrealized revolution, Rizal remembers his life and work on this last day. His execution ...

Director(s): Dearden, Basil
Year of Publication: 1966
Abstract:

After a self-proclaimed Madhi slaughters Egyptian forces in Sudan in 1883, the British Army sends Major General Charles George Gordon to evacuate the city of Khartoum. Instead, Gordon tries to rally support there in order to defeat the Madhi's...

Director(s): Tilman, Samuel
Year of Publication: 2010
Abstract:

Informed by scholarship and archival records, this television docu-series explores the history of the Congo from the 15th century to the present. From the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to colonialism and independence, the three-part series examines...

Director(s): Deslauriers, Guy
Year of Publication: 1994
Abstract:

The fall of Dahomey (present-day Benin) to France in the late 19th century forces its king into exile. King Behanzin learns to navigate the modern world of colonialism. 

Director(s): Román, Antonio
Year of Publication: 1947
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In this celebration of Spanish nationalism, and an early example of Francoist Spain, a captain makes a last stand in a small village in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Stationed in Baler on the island of Luzon, Captain Morenas...

Director(s): Herzog, Werner
Year of Publication: 2015
Abstract:

At the beginning of World War I, Allied nations turned to British-born Gertrude Bell to help organize the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. Queen of the Desert offers a sweeping account of her life, her travels throughout the Middle East, and...

Director(s): Perold, Jan
Year of Publication: 1963
Major Wars:
Abstract:

The Dutch and the British fight for control over South Africa during the Boer War. Elite farmers hire the rider, who uses guerilla tactics to disrupt the British forces. The film also explores the origins of apartheid while obscuring the British...

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