Films about National Wars in the 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 included for this period are:

  • Mexican American War (1846–48)
  • European Civil Wars (1848–49)
  • Wars of Italian Independence (1848–49, 1859, 1866)
  • Crimean War (1853–56)
  • American Civil War (1861–65)
  • German Wars of Unifications (1864, 1866, 1870–71)
  • Russo-Japanese War (1904–05)

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Director(s): Risi, Dino
Year of Publication: 1949
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Before he became one of the masters of Commedia all'italiana, director Dino Risi took on the origins of the First Italian War of Independence with the Five Days in Milan incident. This short film, produced during the Italian centennial, shows how...

Director(s): Blasetti, Alessandro
Year of Publication: 1934
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Alessandro Blasetti's masterpiece 1860 reveals Garibaldi's invasion of Sicily from the perspective of a shepherd-turned-soldier and his wife. The campaign was a turning point in Italian unification. The film influenced post-1945 Italian...

Director(s): Bornedal, Ole
Year of Publication: 2014
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Abstract:

This controversial TV series explores the meaning and legacy of 1864, when Denmark lost the Second Schleswig War as well as its world power status. Two brothers follow in their father's footsteps and enlist in the Danish Army to fight Prussia for...

Director(s): Masuda, Toshio
Year of Publication: 1980
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Set during the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese attack the Russian naval base Port Arthur and take the surrounding cliff known as Hill 203. The film's focus on Hill 203 emphasizes the importance of this land victory in securing...

Director(s): De Sica, Vittorio
Year of Publication: 1942
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A subversive film made during World War II, director Vittorio de Sica hides a message of resistance within a comedic drama about the Italian Wars of Unification. A woman looks back on her youth when she and another girl fall for a Garibaldian...

Director(s): Taviani, Paolo
Year of Publication: 1974
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Revolutionary fervor sweeps the Italian states in the early 19th century. A Lombard aristocrat returns home after his incarceration for revolutionary work in France. Old friends convince him to support a peasant uprising in a southern Italian...

Director(s): Egen, Brian James
Year of Publication: 2006
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A collection of three of Ambrose Bierce's most popular and constroversial stories of the American Civil War: Story of a Conscience, One Kind of Officer, and An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.

Director(s): Beresford, Bruce
Year of Publication: 2003
Abstract:

A documentary detailing how Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa allowed a Hollywood crew to film him in battle, altering the course of film and military history in the process. Early movie giants D.W. Griffin and Harry Aiken sent Frank Thayer to...

Director(s): Kinoshita, Keisuke
Year of Publication: 1944
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An epic spanning from the Meiji Restoration to the Second Sino-Japanese War, director Keisuke Kinoshita portrays the decline and rise of militarism in one family over three generations in Japan. The first generation's commitment to the samurai...

Director(s): Maruyama, Seiji
Year of Publication: 1970
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Battle of the Japan Sea depicts the origins of the Russo-Japanese War. When Japan's attack on Port Arthur in China fails, Russia sends aid. As one Japanese general conducts naval warfare, another negotiates with the Bolsheviks to defeat...

Director(s): Eisenstein, Sergei M.
Year of Publication: 1925
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This international cinematic masterpiece portrays revolutionary events that preceded the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. In 1905 following the Sino-Russo War, sailors of the Potemkin protest poor conditions, stirring riots on board as...

Director(s): Vancini, Florestano
Year of Publication: 1972
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Abstract:

This controversial film reinterprets the Expedition of the Thousand, a key event in the Italian Risorgimento that brought Sicily into the Kingdom of Sardinia. After Garibaldi's conquest, villagers of Bronte revolt after promised land reforms fail...

Director(s): Castle, William
Year of Publication: 1954
Major Wars:
Abstract:

During the Crimean War, Allied troops guard a new weapon, a super cannon, that can destroy the Russian naval base of Sebastopol. A traitor in their midst leads to the kidnapping of the British commander, which prompts French and British soldiers...

Director(s): Minghella, Anthony
Year of Publication: 2003
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Abstract:

Young lovers from Cold Mountain, North Carolina struggle to survive during the American Civil War. War changes Inman's honorable excitement to enlist into defeated desertion, while it transforms Ada's inexperience with rural mountain life into...

Director(s): Wilcox, Herbert
Year of Publication: 1948
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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): Watanabe, Kunio
Year of Publication: 1957
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This film about the politics and battles of the Russo-Japanese War shows how an emperor’s decision affects ordinary people. Meiji's militarism and determination to make Japan a world power cinematically results in stunning battle sequences. The...

Director(s): Duke, Daryl
Year of Publication: 1985
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Abstract:

A biographical drama of Florence Nightingale, who transformed the nursing profession during the Crimean War. Born to an aristocratic British family, Nightingale volunteered to care for the war's wounded. She used her experiences there to help...

Director(s): Ross, Gary
Year of Publication: 2016
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Abstract:

A disillusioned Confederate soldier rebels against his new nation and the reconstructed South during and after the American Civil War. Newt Knight leads the enslaved and other former soldiers in an armed insurrection against the Confederacy,...

Director(s): Wyler, William
Year of Publication: 1956
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Abstract:

The American Civil War tests a Quaker family's pacifism. As Confederate troops near their southern Indiana town, Josh Birdwell, the eldest son, feels torn between upholding his ideals and protecting his family. As battle commences, he takes up...

Director(s): Scorsese, Martin
Year of Publication: 2002
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Abstract:

During In 1846, waves of Irish immigrants poured into the New York neighborhood of Five Points. "Billy the Butcher" bands his fellow "Native Americans" into a gang to take on the Irish gang "The Dead Rabbits," organized by Priest Vallon. After a...

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