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170 × 120 × 18 mm
280 pages
90 illustrations
01 Oct 2007
  • £12.00

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War and Film James Chapman

From the onset of the film medium, directors have found war an endlessly compelling and fruitful subject for their art. In War and Film, Chapman explores their fascination as well as the audience's enduring need to examine and experience the vicissitudes of war.

Chapman examines the issues of truthfulness and realism that arise in depictions of war, whether in the supposed truth telling of war documentaries or Hollywood battle scenes that are ‘more realistic than the real thing’. The book considers films from the US, Britain, and Europe, and the national responses to cinematic depictions of particular conflicts. In discussions of such films as Come and See, Das Boot, Apocalypse Now, All Quiet on the Western Front and Saving Private Ryan, the book appraises their dominant narrative themes, ranging from war as a pointless tragedy to combat as an exciting and heroic adventure. But few films, Chapman contends, probe into the deeper ramifications of war - the psychological scars left on the soldier and civilians.

A study of remarkable breadth and scope, War and Film exposes the power of cinema in shaping our perceptions of violent conflict.

‘Given its size, its breadth of coverage in terms of both films and wars is truly impressive. This is a testament to James Chapmans expansive knowledge of the subject and astute abililty to select just the right examples to make his points . . . essential reading for anyone interested in the subject, from the general reader to the specialist.’ — Film and History

‘[a] well-researched and lively discussion . . .’ — TLS

‘It is quite astonishing that James Chapman has been able to write such a short book on such a big subject without it feeling hurried, foreshortened or compressed. Indeed, in this remarkable volume, Chapman draws on his encyclopaedic knowledge of the war movie to deliver a very satisfactory, and highly readable, introduction to the depiction of war in the movies . . . highly erudite, readable and enjoyable.'’ — Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

War and Film is a sophisticated and well-written survey of the relationship between war and cinema that provides plenty of compelling strands for further investigation.’ — Scope journal

War and Film may be primarily written with a "film studies" readership in mind, but it is pleasingly free of jargon and (once modish) theory, and even where the discussion revolves around explicitly cinematic concerns, Chapmans conclusions often resonate . . . if Chapman proves perceptive in his readings of individual films, he also provides plenty of "hard facts" of interest to historians.’ — War in History

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James Chapman is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Leicester. His previous books include The British at War: Cinema, State and Propaganda, 1939-1945 (1998), Licence To Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films (1999), Cinemas of the World: Film and Society from 1895 to the Present (Reaktion Books, 2003) and War and Film (Reaktion Books, 2008).

1. War as Spectacle
2. War as Tragedy
3. War as Adventure
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Photo Acknowledgements