Date of Publication

5-2011

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

History

First Advisor

John Daly, PhD

Abstract

In this paper, the three eras of film will be addressed by viewing copious amounts of war films and digesting the concurrent themes within the films. The three eras are set by “bookend films”, a movie that is a game-changer, shifting the eras or being a clearly defined end of an era. Other films will be used to compliment the standard theories of the era. Sands of Iwo Jima is a war classic, as is Platoon, and both will be used in this paper as bookends of their respective eras. For the eras, several films serve as “bookends” for their respective era. The meaning behind these “bookends” is to note the beginning and end of the certain frame of thinking throughout that specific era. However, it must be noted that films are always unpredictable, and although the eras may be defined within a specific amount of time, there are always films that overlay the specifics of that era, either taking ideals from past eras or attempting to distinguish the subsequent era. By complimenting the films themselves with articles reviewing or analyzing film, a solidified, concrete idea of the three theories can be clearly formed.

The result of the study originated with the hypothetical interpretation of how war is perceived through film. From the beginning of the 20th century, film quickly became the most important way to communicate news and information between one individual to another. From news reels during World War I to the propaganda films made by Frank Capra in the 1940s, war has been visual to Americans for almost 125 years. As can be expected, once Hollywood became involved with film, war films were the first type of the films on the docket to be produced. While watching movies from the 1940s compared with films such as Saving Private Ryan, a huge disconnect was discovered by how the films handled death, violence and honor. The initial objective was to track how improving technology creates a new style of film. However, once the films were being watched and broader generalizations of film were able to be defined, a group of theories emerged, linking the overlying themes of the films to the themes of the time that the films are made in.

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