The naval war film

Genre, history and national cinema

By Jonathan Rayner

The naval war film


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7098-3
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: March 2007
  • BIC Category: The arts / Films, cinema, Society & social sciences / Popular culture, Naval Forces & Warfare, PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / History & Criticism, HISTORY / Military / Naval, Film history, theory & criticism, Popular culture, Film and Media


This book undertakes a unique, coherent and comprehensive consideration of the depiction of naval warfare in the cinema. The films under discussion encompass all areas of naval operations in war, and highlight varying institutional and aesthetic responses to navies and the sea in popular culture. The examination of these films centres on their similarities to and differences from the conventions of the war genre and seeks to determine whether the distinctive characteristics of naval film narratives justify their categorisation as a separate genre or sub-genre in popular cinema.

The explicit factual bases and drama-documentary style of many key naval films, such as In Which We Serve, They Were Expendable and Das Boot, also requires the consideration of these films as texts for popular historical transmission. Their frequent reinforcement of establishment views of the past, which derives from their conservative ideological position towards national and naval culture, makes these films key texts for the consideration of national cinemas as purveyors of contemporary history as popularly conceived by filmmakers and received by audiences.


1. British Naval Films and the Documentary Feature
2. Post-war Naval Films and the Service Comedy
3. Hollywood and the One-Ocean War
4. The Submarine War and the Submarine Film
5. American Films of the Cold War
6. "Damn the Photon Torpedoes!": Star Trek and the Transfiguration of Naval History
7. Popularising the Navy, Rewriting the Past: Contemporary Naval Films
Appendix I: Comparison of Narrative Elements in Naval War Films
Appendix II: Warships in Feature Films

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