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Representations of War in Films and Novels

Richard Mason and Jarosław Suchoples

This book discusses different aspects of the cinematic and literary representation of war. The papers in this volume consider the roles of war films and war novels in remaking historical memories, the influence of films and novels as social media and debate their roles as instruments of propaganda and mystification. The book is organized along chronological and geographical lines, looking first at the First and Second World Wars in Europe; then the Pacific War; the Vietnam War; and espionage and propaganda in the Cold War and Post-Cold War.
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Hollywood and Vietnam: The Fading Vietnam War Narrative



The paper examines selected American films from the 1950s-1990s as documents of American attitudes that created an atmosphere that helped enable the war in Southeast Asia to take place. The films also serve cultural artifacts that re-visioned the war in the 1980s and 1990s. It employs a contextual methodology and an interdisciplinary framework. Building upon established images of Asia and Southeast Asia in 1950s adventure films, the study compares how subsequent historical epics, such as El Cid, successfully marketed the concept of ‘Americanism’ in popular culture. With the premiere of The Green Berets, however, this marketing and sales technique began to break down and fail until ultimately appearing as a parody of itself in Air America. Finally, the study takes note of how the image of the Vietnam veteran and, indeed, the war itself was revised and re-imagined in the 1980s in television series such as Magnum P.I. and feature films such as First Blood and Rambo: First Blood Part II. These films and narratives were once easily recognized and highly rated (in terms of attendance and viewership). The unpopularity of the war and its aftermath, however, has conspired to make many of these productions fade from popular memory in current times.

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