British Cinema and the Second World War

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The Second World War was such a cataclysmic event that its echoes still reverberate over fifty years after it ended. One of the prime means of exploring the impact of the war has been the feature film. From In Which We Serve, Millions Like Us and The Way to the Stars, made during the war, to Above Us the Waves and the Dam Busters made in the 1950s, the war film became a staple of British cinema - but popular success was not paralleled by critical approval. Most criticism of British war films has been negative and sometimes derogatory, partly because of an intellectual preference for European and Hollywood cinema, and partly as a reaction against films which seemed to celebrate war.

However, sufficient historical distance has now opened up to allow a more judicious view. From modestly budgeted, small-scale dramas like Sea of Sand to expensive and ambitious recreations of famous battles like A Bridge Too Far, these films show an impressive attention to truth and authenticity.

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