H-NET BOOK REVIEW
Published by H-War@h-net.msu.edu (October 2006)
Guy Westwell. _War Cinema: Hollywood on the Front Line_. Short Cuts Introduction to Film Studies Series. London: Wallflower, 2006. 133 pp. Illustrations, filmography, bibliography, index. $20.00 (paper), ISBN 1-904764-54-1.
Reviewed for H-War by Lisa Mundey, U.S. Army Center of Military History
A Militant Hollywood
_War Cinema_ is part of the Short Cuts Series, a sequence of compact introductory survey texts for various aspects of film studies. Guy Westwell, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at London Metropolitan University, provides a well-researched survey of contemporary war film scholarship, particularly focused on American cinema. It is primarily geared toward students of film studies and popular culture. Given the target audience, Westwell assumes the reader is familiar with such ideas as Benedict Anderson's "imagined communities," Antonio Gramsci's theory on hegemony, and other critical discourses. He also presumes that the readers have a basic knowledge of film terminology and concepts, such as "genre" and "auteur," and American history. Nevertheless, the text is not overly laden with jargon, so a non-expert can understand it.
Westwell rejects the idea that war films are entertainment and argues that cinema and audiences have a complex relationship, which he describes as a cultural imagination about war. In _War Cinema_, Westwell constructs a history of twentieth-century film cycles, capturing Hollywood's changing cultural imagination about war. Reflecting the overall state of film scholarship and his own predisposition, Westwell critiques Hollywood for its tendency to mythologize, construct myopic nationalistic interpretations, and produce pro-war films ...