This list of ‘Ten Cold War Films Worth Watching‘ by James Lindsay at the Council on Foreign Relations infuriated me (OK, maybe not infuriated. ‘Mildly irritated’, perhaps). Not because the films aren’t worth watching (indeed, many of them are solid gold classics that you should certainly view) but that the list was so English-language, US-UK focused in its content. But then again, the same blog brought us ‘The Cold War in 40 Quotes‘. 36 of which were by American figures, representing (as does the film list) the highly US-centric view of the Council on Foreign Relations.
I would still encourage people to watch the films on Lindsay’s list, but I think we can look more widely at Cold War cinema in order to gauge how the experience affected film-makers from a much broader spectrum, in terms of nationality, genre, and perspective. Hence, I present my list of ten Cold War films worth watching. I will admit, the list is still horribly Euro-centric and very personal.
These videos have been doing the rounds lately, both very interesting in different ways.
Invisible Peak chronicles the Cold War (and after) history of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Mount Tamalpais and the campaign to have it restored to a pre-USAF station state.
Mt. Tamalpais, sentinel peak of the San Francisco Bay Area, is considered sacred by many… native and non-native alike. In 1950, the military bulldozed the highest peak of the mountain to build an Air Force Station tasked with directing jet interceptors and short range Nike nuclear missiles against the potential threat of Russian nuclear bombers. By 1980 the base was obsolete and summarily closed. The military literally walked away from dozens of structures, leaving behind a huge toxic mess on the mountain. Through the use of historical footage, 3D reconstruction, interviews and breathtaking timelapse cinematography, this 20-minute film, narrated and co-written by Peter Coyote, explores the history of Tam’s West Peak and how local citizens have been fighting to restore their mountain to a natural state.
The film is only twenty minutes long and well worth watching as it explores some of the legacies of the Cold War era.
With all the hoopla of the Cannes Film Festival currently ongoing, one of the entrants that I’m very keen to see is the documentary Red Army. It focuses on the mighty Soviet ice hockey teams of the 1970s and 80s and the career of the great Slava Fetisov. Given the significance of ice hockey within the context of the Cold War, it should be fascinating viewing.