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): Wayne, John
Year of Publication: 1960
Abstract:

This epic war film produced by star John Wayne presents an action-packed defense of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution. General Sam Houston orders Lt. Col. William Travis to defend a small mission output to delay General Antonio López Santa...

Director(s): Germi, Pietro
Year of Publication: 1954
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Director Pietro Germi, best known for his contributions to Italian Neorealism, shows how a border skirmish in Sicily highlights problems with Italian Unification. A small band of soldiers fights raiding bandits for control over a small town.

Director(s): Curtiz, Michael
Year of Publication: 1936
Major Wars:
Abstract:

During the Crimean War, British officer Geoffrey Vickers, stationed in India, saves the life local rajah. The rajah then allies with the Russians and attacks the British lancers. Vickers seeks revenge by replacing official communication with his...

Director(s): Richardson, Tony
Year of Publication: 1968
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Director Tony Richardson used one of the biggest blunders in British military history to offer commentary on the ongoing Vietnam War. During the Crimean War, outdated military systems, filled with bureaucracy and aristocracy and embodied through...

Director(s): Burns, Ken
Year of Publication: 1990
Major Wars:
Abstract:

An award-winning PBS documentary, Ken Burns' The Civil War brings the conflict to life through the use of archival photographs, maps, diaries, letters, and other sources. It covers the politics, military campaigns, and the homefront before,...

Director(s): Barker, Reginald
Year of Publication: 1915
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Confederate soldier Frank Winslow is terrified of the war and eventually runs away from battle. But when he finds himself behind enemy lines with vital information, he must decide between his fear and his conscience. [From IMDb]

Director(s): Lezama, Luis
Year of Publication: 1939
Abstract:

Two friends enlist in the Mexican army to fight during the Mexican-American War. Their perspective shows the United States as an invading colonizer seeking to expand slavery through its annexation of Texas. 

Director(s): Bruckman, Clyde
Year of Publication: 1926
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Buster Keaton's take on the Great Locomotive Chase of the American Civil War is considered an American classic. As volunteer guerilla soldier and Union ally James J. Andrews, Keaton and his group take over a train heading toward Chattanooga,...

Director(s): Visconti, Luchino
Year of Publication: 1963
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Winner of the 1963 Cannes Film Festival's Palm D'Or and based on the novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, this epic film presents the Risorgimento through the perspective of the aristocracy. Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, recognizes that his...

Director(s): De la Hoya, Oscar
Year of Publication: 2008
Abstract:

Studies the controversial conflict, also known as "Mr. Polk's War," from both sides, exploring why it began, how it was fought, and why it ended in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mexican and American historians unravel the many conflicting...

Director(s): Lindsay, Jim
Year of Publication: 2006
Abstract:

This documentary explores the Mexican-American War through interviews with historians and lavish reenactments. It highlights the aggressively expansionist policies of U.S. President James K. Polk, who envisioned the United States as a nation from...

Director(s): Dieterle, William
Year of Publication: 1936
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A fictional account of the life of Florence Nightingale, this film shows how the pioneer nurse defied military orders during the Crimean War to attend to the wounded.

Director(s): Green, Misha
Year of Publication: 2016
Major Wars:
Abstract:

Underground centers on a group of slaves planning a daring 600-mile escape from a Georgia plantation in the years before the American Civil War. Along the way, they are aided by a secret abolitionist couple running a station on the Underground...

Director(s): Martone, Mario
Year of Publication: 2010
Major Wars:
Abstract:

In 1828, two aristocrats and one peasant join Giuseppe Mazzini's Young Italy movement to strengthen the campaign for Italian unification and independence. Their separate stories reveal the cost of revolution and sacrifice on their personal and...

Director(s): Käutner, Helmut
Year of Publication: 1959
Major Wars:
Abstract:

A comedy produced by West Germany and France, two soldiers bond during the Franco-Prussian War. Separated from their units, one French and one German soldier strike up a relationship after the Battle of Sedan. When they hear the call for war,...

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