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): Rossellini, Roberto
Year of Publication: 1961
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Commissioned by the Italian government, this film celebrates the 100th year anniversary of the Risorgimento by examining General Giuseppe Garibaldi's military campaigns in Sicily and Naples. Director Roberto Rossellini combines epic production...

Director(s): Zwick, Edward
Year of Publication: 1989
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Glory stands as an important cinematic contribution to the history of the American Civil War by telling the story of the all-black 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Although told from the perspective of Col. Robert Gould...

Director(s): Fleming, Victor
Year of Publication: 1939
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An Oscar-winning adaptation of Margaret Mitchell's novel, Gone with the Wind focuses on an elite white southern woman's life before, during, and after the American Civil War. Scarlett O'Hara, favorite daughter of a Georgia plantation...

Director(s): Reynolds, Kevin
Year of Publication: 2012
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Toward the end of the Civil War, tensions between two families near the West Virginia and Kentucky border almost reignite the war. Their clash over a stolen pig leads to intervention by the states' governors and United States Supreme Court. 

Director(s): Coletti, Duilio
Year of Publication: 1948
Major Wars:
Abstract:

As the First Italo-Ethiopian War commences, Professor Perboni promotes an Italian nationalism that excludes colonization of African states. He argues that Italy must concentrate on improving the nation after the Risorgimento, prompting...

Director(s): Farkas, Nicolas
Year of Publication: 1936
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A Russian naval officer and his Japanese wife are torn apart during the Russo-Japanese War. 

Director(s): Dieterle, William
Year of Publication: 1939
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A fictional account of the French occupation of Mexico during the mid-19th century. Emperor Maximilian I, a puppet of Napoleon III, seizes control of Mexico during the American Civil War. Rebel forces force him to abdicate. 

Director(s): Soldati, Mario
Year of Publication: 1941
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A thematic precursor of Italian neorealism, this richly detailed portrait of the Italian Risorgimento explores love, loss, and changing social norms during wartime. Franco, a young Lombard nobleman, marries Luisa, the daughter of a humble clerk....

Director(s): Armstrong, Gillian
Year of Publication: 1994
Major Wars:
Abstract:

The story of the March family: four daughters and a strong mother who, because her husband is away serving in the Army during the American Civil War, must raise her "little women" on her own.

Director(s): Nichols, Dudley
Year of Publication: 1947
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Adapted from the classic play by Eugene O'Neill, a New England family comes undone during the American Civil War. Lavinia Mannon discovers shocking family secrets while her father and brother are at war. Upon their return, tragedy befalls the...

Director(s): Hamilton, Whitney
Year of Publication: 2005
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A tortured romance set during the American Civil War. A white southern woman is torn between her family's Confederate loyalties and her husband's commitment to the Union. She dons a rebel uniform and soldier's appearance to support her family....

Director(s): Heyes, Douglas
Year of Publication: 1985
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Two friends from West Point find themselves on opposite sides of the American Civil War in this acclaimed television miniseries. The depiction of their twenty-year history reveal regional differences that led to war as well as major life events...

Director(s): Lance Hool
Year of Publication: 1999
Abstract:

During the Mexican-American War, Irish immigrants switched sides due to ethnic and religious hostilities in the U.S. Army. An excursion to go to mass marks a group of Irish Catholics deserters of the U.S. Army. They decide to fight for freedom...

Director(s): Bird, Antonia
Year of Publication: 1999
Abstract:

After the Mexican-American War, Captain John Boyd is sent to a remote U.S. military outpost in the Sierra Nevadas. Boyd and his regiment embark on a rescue mission after a stranger asks for their help. Their Algonquin guides warn them of the...

Director(s): Lee, Ang
Year of Publication: 1999
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Abstract:

Two young friends living in the Kansas/Missouri territory join the Bushwackers, an informal army unit fighting for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The battles are intimate, pitting neighbor against neighbor, and war forges new...

Director(s): Gerima, Haile
Year of Publication: 1993
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Director Haile Gerima connects the past to the present in his internationally-acclaimed, sci-fi exploration of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. After high-fashion photo shoot, a black American model wakes up on a southern plantation nearly two...

Director(s): Masumura, Yasuzô
Year of Publication: 1965
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This love story set at the dawn of the Russo-Japanese War reveals the limitations of modernity within Japan's hierarchical and patriarchal society. Okane returns home after living as a wealthy man's mistress and encounters hostility from...

Director(s): Visconti, Luchino
Year of Publication: 1954
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In this sumptuous melodrama, a young Italian countess falls in love with an Austrian officer during the Third Italian War of Independence. Livia Serpieri risks her family ties, social status, and fortune for Franz Mahler. When he spurns her, she...

Director(s): Cinkwright, Kathy
Year of Publication: 2010
Major Wars:
Abstract:

This documentary explores the Athenaeum Girls' School summer camp program, where young white teenage girls immerse themselves in the culture and idealized femininity of the Antebellum American South. Although the directors show their subjects...

Director(s): Hancock, John Lee
Year of Publication: 2004
Abstract:

The Alamo focuses on the political negotiations behind the Texas Revolution in this Hollywood blockbuster. The political meetings, military planning, and battles featuring Sam Houston, Davy Crocket, and Santa Anna all lead to the triumphant...

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