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): 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...

Director(s): Milius, John
Year of Publication: 1997
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This miniseries dramatizes the famed volunteer regiment during the Spanish-American War. Assistant Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt leads the First Voluntary Calvary (the Rough Riders), a representation of the racial, ethnic, class, and regional...

Director(s): Douglas, Gordon
Year of Publication: 1956
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An American gun runner falls in love with a revolutionary during the Cuban War for Independence. 

Director(s): Millin, David
Year of Publication: 1970
Abstract:

Shangani Patrol depicts a decisive defeat for the British in the First Matabele War, which provided them with a heroic narrative to further colonization goals in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). Major Allan Wilson leads a group of soldiers...

Director(s): King, Henry
Year of Publication: 1939
Abstract:

This legendary story of Stanley and Livingstone marks the onset of British colonization of Africa. Upon hearing that the famed British missionary and explorer David Livingstone is dead, Welsh-American investigative reporter sets out to find him....

Director(s): Selman, David
Year of Publication: 1937
Major Wars:
Abstract:

The fictional cowboy Hopalong Cassidy rounds up horses for Roosevelt's Rough Riders in the Spanish American War.   Outlaws threaten to derail his mission. 

Director(s): Korda, Zoltan
Year of Publication: 1938
Abstract:

A young Indian prince turns to British colonial authorities after his uncle usurps his kingdom. The film presents the British as heroes and rightful conquerors of India. 

Director(s): Powell, Michael
Year of Publication: 1943
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Widely considered a masterpiece, directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger explore the changing notions of modern warfare against the tradition of British military systems from the Boer War to World War II. Centered on Clive Candy, an aging...

Director(s): Lang, Walter
Year of Publication: 1939
Major Wars:
Abstract:

When her father leaves to fight in the Boer War, Sara Crewe attends an elite boarding school in London. News of her father's death leaves her orphaned and penniless. She works to pay her tuition and board and refuses to believe her father is dead...

Director(s): Fleming, Victor
Year of Publication: 1927
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This silent film is a romanticized and fictionalized account of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, a special regiment that fought in the Spanish-American War. A motley and diverse group of volunteers set aside their differences and form lasting...

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

A half-hour satire about the United States' involvement in the Spanish-American War, and then the Philippine-American War. [IMBd]

Director(s): Davis, Peter
Year of Publication: 1971
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Produced during the US involvement in the Vietnam War, this documentary draws parallels between that conflict and the American acquisition of the Philippines following the Spanish-American War. Using newsreels and ragtime, it reveals American...

Director(s): Steinhoff, Hans
Year of Publication: 1941
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Supported by Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, Uncle Kruger uses the Boer War to demonize the British. It draws parallel to the Boer politician Paul Kruger and Adolph Hitler and the Boer War and World War II. The film's focus...

Director(s): Seitz, George B.
Year of Publication: 1938
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In the fever-stricken areas of Cuba a brave band of scientists, doctors and U. S. Marines fight a losing battle against the deadly plague of 'Yellow Jack,' until the great heroic risk taken by an Irish sergeant brings victory. [IMBd]

Director(s): Seitz, George B.
Year of Publication: 1938
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Based on a true story, U.S. Army surgeon Walter Reed frantically works to combat Yellow Fever in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. As the virus hits the military and civilian population in Havana, Cuba, Reed turns to a discredited theory...

Director(s): Attenborough, Richard
Year of Publication: 1972
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Richard Attenborough's examination of the early life of Winston Churchill, from his unhappy school days, his experiences as a cavalry officer in British India and the Sudan, and his experiences as a war correspondent in the Boer War, up until his...

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