Nuclear War Films

Nuclear War Films

Nuclear War Films

Nuclear War Films


This first book-length critical examination of nuclear war motion pictures- feature films, documentaries, and educational short films- in addition to recognizing a new film genre reflects an important era of modern film history.

Taken as a whole, the 25 contributions by 21 film specialists brought together here provide a comprehensive view of 32 feature films, documentaries, and educational short films comprising a representative selection of the new genre- all produced between 1946 and 1975by American, French, British, and Japanese film makers. In addition to discussions of such well-known films as On the Beach, Hiroshima, Mon Amour,and Dr. Strangelove,the collection analyzes and comments on a number of less well known but important films such as A Thousand Cranes, Countdown to Zero, and To Die, To Live,documentaries and educational short films that hitherto have been inadequately presented in cinema literature.

Marshall Flaum, one of the outstanding figures in the field of television documentaries, has provided an unusually interesting Foreword, and Jack Shaheen, the editor of the volume, has added a perceptive Preface and has appended a list of distributors and credits. A major contribution to the serious study of the nuclear war film genre, the book thus provides an analytic text with apparatus and notes, and will be of interest to general readers as well as students of the film and film makers.


Films are mirrors of our lives and times. During the course of this century, our changing society, our evolving attitudes and concernsour history, in fact -- have been reflected in our films. Perhaps less explicitly in features than in documentaries, but no less emphatically. Even the distortions and lies we often find in that celluloid mirror reveal some inescapable truths not only about those who created the falsity, but about those who demanded it and avidly paid for it at the box office. As such, the motion picture is fit study for the historian and the sociologist as much as it is for the film student.

In the broad study of the motion picture art and its relation to our collective history in this century, it is perhaps most valuable to examine the motion picture forms that have persisted over the years -- the genre films. These are the films that fall into particular groups and categories, all within their category sharing similar motifs and similar styles. Since the endurance of these forms is determined by the degree of our response to them, they may be seen to significantly reveal our psychological, sociological, and political condition at any given point in our time.

In recent years there has been a proliferation of film books, although mostly of frivolous nature, with a heavy emphasis on nostalgia. There is nothing profoundly wrong with this, for when all is said and done, through the years movies indeed seem to have been our "best entertainment" and as a natural consequence, the films of the past do evoke the pleasant, bittersweet glow of nostalgia. Yet occasionally a serious analytical work like this appears that dares to probe beneath the surface . . .

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