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The war as it was: historical reception of the Great War in American popular cinema, 1918-1938

The war as it was: historical reception of the Great War in American popular cinema, 1918-1938
The war as it was: historical reception of the Great War in American popular cinema, 1918-1938
This thesis is an examination of the reception of selected films from the United States concerning the Great War during the interwar period. Despite the influential nature of these films at the time of their release, relatively few studies have been conducted on the response of contemporary audiences to these texts. Given the significance of the Great War as a critical event in modern history and culture, it is important to study the responses of audiences to works concerning the war during this period.

Taking the war as a cinematic subject as opposed to a genre, I analyse both the content and reception of significant war-related films, using the movies themselves and contemporary newspaper and magazine articles and reviews, advertising and internal studio memoranda. I use this method in reference to the following films: The Heart of Humanity (1918), The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (1921), The Big Parade (1925), What Price Glory (1926), Wings (1927), Hell’s Angels (1930), Journey’s End (1930), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Men Must Fight (1933), The Road Back (1937) and Three Comrades (1938).

I argue that audiences often interpreted what they perceived to be honest portrayals of war trauma as ‘realistic’, there was no uniform definition as to what constituted an ‘anti-war’ film, Great War films from this period tended to blame Germany or humanity in general for the war, sometimes both, and that most war films performed a memorial function for audiences.
University of Southampton Press
Copping, Ryan
34832b37-c02e-4d55-902f-55fdd71add76
Copping, Ryan
34832b37-c02e-4d55-902f-55fdd71add76
Williams, Michael
fdd5b778-38f1-4529-b99c-9d41ab749576
Hammond, Michael
6285f8c5-aeca-4715-845b-dd05e3e0b777

Copping, Ryan (2016) The war as it was: historical reception of the Great War in American popular cinema, 1918-1938. University of Southampton, Department of Film, Doctoral Thesis, 239pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis is an examination of the reception of selected films from the United States concerning the Great War during the interwar period. Despite the influential nature of these films at the time of their release, relatively few studies have been conducted on the response of contemporary audiences to these texts. Given the significance of the Great War as a critical event in modern history and culture, it is important to study the responses of audiences to works concerning the war during this period.

Taking the war as a cinematic subject as opposed to a genre, I analyse both the content and reception of significant war-related films, using the movies themselves and contemporary newspaper and magazine articles and reviews, advertising and internal studio memoranda. I use this method in reference to the following films: The Heart of Humanity (1918), The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (1921), The Big Parade (1925), What Price Glory (1926), Wings (1927), Hell’s Angels (1930), Journey’s End (1930), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Men Must Fight (1933), The Road Back (1937) and Three Comrades (1938).

I argue that audiences often interpreted what they perceived to be honest portrayals of war trauma as ‘realistic’, there was no uniform definition as to what constituted an ‘anti-war’ film, Great War films from this period tended to blame Germany or humanity in general for the war, sometimes both, and that most war films performed a memorial function for audiences.

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More information

Published date: April 2016
Organisations: University of Southampton, Film

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 396342
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/396342
PURE UUID: fcf4d1d8-d328-42e7-bce3-9b9e68f38000

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Date deposited: 15 Jul 2016 13:39
Last modified: 11 Dec 2019 17:31

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