Researcher ORCID Identifier

Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Jonathan Petropoulos

Reader 2

Nicholas Warner

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This thesis examines the way in which World War II combat films and television series have shaped British and American collective memory over time. Through analysis of various representative films from 1942 to 2017, this project aims to bring an awareness to viewers of WWII films of the ways in which our collective perception of the past relies heavily on media images rather than historical understanding. The films are analyzed within the context of contemporaneous current affairs to demonstrate how film and television cannot be separated from zeitgeist. Based on the assumption that the zeitgeist is ever-changing, this thesis argues that so do the representation of WWII on screen. Based on this, the project illustrates our current perception of WWII today through the assessment of modern cinematic blockbusters. The project concludes by arguing why it important, now more than ever, for audiences to maintain a nuanced perspective of history and not get swayed up in the emotional rhetoric and aesthetic of WWII films and TV series. Among productions analyzed are: In Which We Serve, The Story of G.I. Joe, Twelve O’clock High, Dunkirk (1958), The Longest Day (1962), Catch-22 (1970), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Fury (2014), Dunkirk (2017).

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.