Cinema and the Cold War: An International Perspective

Authored by: Tony Shaw

The Ashgate Research Companion to Modern Warfare

Print publication date:  February  2010
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754674108
eBook ISBN: 9781315613284
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042495


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The Cold War is much in vogue on contemporary cinema screens. Just as film-makers recycled the Second World War for political and financial profit in the 1950s and 1960s, so a new generation has recently mined the rich seam of Cold War history. Some of the resulting movies have been, like many of their Second World War counterparts, unashamedly triumphalist. In the Face of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed, for instance, an American documentary made in 2004, credits the late US actor-turned-president with having ‘freed a billion slaves from their Communist masters’. Other Hollywood products, like the complex thriller Syriana (2005), have taken a quite different political tack by connecting US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) machinations during the Cold War to America’s present-day troubles in the Middle East. Meanwhile, films depicting the degradations faced by those who lived under communism have been in the vanguard of a ‘new wave’ in Central and Eastern European cinema. These include the Romanian-made 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (2007), the harrowing story of an illegal abortion under Nicolae Ceau┼čescu’s dictatorship, and the German movie The Lives of Others (2006), a compelling, Oscar-winning critique of Stasi surveillance culture. 1 1

<> (20 May 2008); Variety (21 November 2005), pp. 53, 61; Vertigo (April 2008), pp. 21–3; Sight and Sound (May 2007), pp. 16–20.

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