Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Prisoners of War on Film and in Memory

Prisoners of War on Film and in Memory

U.S. citizens draw much of their understanding of historical events, particularly wars, from the movies.  Many scholars have lamented the decline of readership within the U.S. public, particularly of scholarly, nonfiction works.  Films are easier to access and offer their historical insights in limited doses with easy-to-follow story lines and a ready conclusion.  Committing to watching a film requires little effort or involvement for the viewer.  He or she can sit back and passively observe the director’s vision of history, without being forced to conjure their own imagery or challenge their own beliefs.  If this comes at the cost of insight, accuracy, or content, such a price is a bargain for most consumers.  The reality of history, and wars, is and was always a much bloodier, nastier business than can be conveyed in a couple hours worth of footage and special effects.

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