Online course: World War II Cinema: A Chronicle of the War on Film (now starting January 22)



­­A 12-WEEK ONLINE COURSE (January – April 2023)


In this original 12-week online course, to be delivered via the Google Meet platform, we’ll study 20 World War II films made between 1942 and 2016. Arranged as an international chronicle, these films collectively tell the story of the war from 1930s fascism to the surrender of Japan.

The course will simultaneously move through the history of World War II and explore questions provoked by the war film as a genre. We’ll watch a broad variety of war films – adventure stories, harrowing dramas, comedies, an animated film – by some of the world’s greatest directors. Its appropriately global approach will examine films from the USA, the UK, Italy, Japan, Poland, France, Hungary, and the Soviet Union.

The class is limited to a maximum of 12 participants. Each week I’ll give an original lecture presentation and then lead an in-depth group discussion. All participants will have a chance to contribute. The only weekly homework will be to watch a film (or two) in your own time. There will be no final exam or essay. This course is designed purely for exploration and discovery.

Weekly session: Sundays at 12pm PT/3pm ET (North America)
(8pm UK time/9pm CET)

(NB. The lecture portion of the session will be recorded and available for download if you are unable to attend a live session and need to catch up.)

Price per student: US$140. Contact me at for further information.


January 15  January 22  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 1. Introduction: World War II and Cinema
[Fascist Europe, 1938]

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (USA, 1989) – Steven Spielberg [128min]
THE CONFORMIST (Italy, 1970) – Bernardo Bertolucci [108min]

January 22  January 29  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 2. The British War Movie
[England, 1939-42]

HOPE AND GLORY (UK, 1987) – John Boorman [113min]

January 29  February 5  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 3. Here and There, Now and Then
[Poland, 1939-42
TO BE OR NOT TO BE (USA, 1942) – Ernst Lubitsch [99min]
A GENERATION (Poland, 1955) – Andrzej Wajda [87min]

February 5  February 12  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 4. Hollywood’s War Effort
[North Africa, 1941-42]
CASABLANCA (USA, 1942) – Michael Curtiz [102min]
SAHARA (USA, 1943) – Zoltan Korda [97mins]


February 12  February 26  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 5. Hollywood After the War
[The Pacific War, 1941-42]
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (USA, 1953) – Fred Zinnemann [118min]
RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP (USA, 1958) – Robert Wise [93min]

February 26  March 5  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 6. The 1990s Revival
[The Pacific War, 1942-43
THE THIN RED LINE (USA, 1998) – Terrence Malick [146min]

March 5  March 12  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 7. French Reckoning
[Occupied France, 1942
MR. KLEIN (France, 1976) – Joseph Losey [123min]
AU REVOIR, LES ENFANTS (France, 1987) – Louis Malle [104mins]

March 12  March 19  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 8. The Soviet War Film
[The Eastern Front, 1943
IVAN’S CHILDHOOD (USSR, 1962) – Andrei Tarkovsky [95min]
COME AND SEE (USSR, 1985) –  Elem Klimov [146min]


March 19  April 2  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 9. The War as Epic
[The War in Europe, 1943-45
PATTON (USA, 1970) – Franklin J. Schaffner [170min]

April 2  April 9  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 10. The Holocaust on Film
[Auschwitz, 1944]
SON OF SAUL (Hungary, 2016) – László Nemes [107mins]

April 9  April 16  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 11. Human Drama
[The Pacific War and Japan, 1944-45
HEAVEN KNOWS, MR. ALLISON (USA, 1957) – John Huston [106min]
GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES (Japan, 1988) – Isao Takahata [89min]

April 16  April 23  [Rescheduled]
Lecture 12. Elegy
[Burma, 1945
THE PURPLE PLAIN (UK, 1954) – Robert Parrish [100min]
THE BURMESE HARP (Japan, 1956) – Kon Ichikawa [116min]