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The Humanities Conference 2003

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The Good War: Hollywood’s Sanitized Warfare

Tom Pollard.

This paper employs film studies, a newcomer among the humanities, to focus on the molding and shaping public opinion on issues of war and peace. From among the hundreds of motion pictures depicting armed combat, including many that attempt a realistic portrayal of the atrocities and defeats of military actions, a sub-genre of films emerges eliciting very different emotions of patriotism, courage, and selfless heroism. They alter historical details, omit embarrassing operations, or simply rewrite history according to the filmmaker’s desires.


Tom Pollard  (United States)
Humanities and Social Sciences
National University San Jose, CA

At present, I am a professor at National University in San Jose, California. I have a Ph.D. in American Studies (Cultural Anthropology) from the University of Kansas. In addition, I have a M.A. degree in English Literature from Cal. State University and a B.A. degree in English literature from San Francisco State University. My professional work is divided between work as a filmmaker (writer, researcher, host) and as a film writer (books and articles on film topics). My film credits include The Maya Pompeii (Discovery Channel) and Paradise Bent (Channel 4, SBS). My publications include Postmodern Cinema (Roman and Littlefield, 2003), “The Hollywood War Machine,” (New Political Science, 2002),and several other articles and book chapters. I, too, share an interest in the humanities, and I have also wondered about the future. My approach is the micro one, focusing attention on just one aspect of society. In my case, that aspect is war films and their social impact.

  • Film studies
  • Genre studies
  • Good War

(30 min Paper Presentation, English)