The Cold War in History and Film


The half-century conflict that developed after 1945 between the United States and the Soviet Union—along with their respective allies—manifested itself in many different spheres of life. This course will explore the integral role that film played on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Following an introductory survey of the main events of the Cold War, we will examine a series of major films (mostly in chronological order), focusing on the context in which they were made and the larger historical themes that they contain. Various genres—such as the rubble film, the thaw film, the Czech new wave, the spy film, the musical, and animation—are also represented. A sampling of the syllabus includes The Murderers Are Among Us, The Cranes Are Flying, On the Waterfront, Man of Marble, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and Goodbye Lenin!  A short written assessment is required after each of the weekly screenings, and supplementary readings will be assigned, as well, to aid our discussions. For conference, students are encouraged to investigate the work of an individual director during this era, the depiction of a specific Cold War event or issue in several films, or the national cinemas of countries, particularly in the Eastern bloc.