THE WAR FILM: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
OR SIMPLE ENTERTAINMENT
A thesis presented to the Faculty of the U.S. Army
Command and General Staff College in partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the
MASTER OF MILITARY ART AND SCIENCE
CLAYTON ODIE SHEFFIELD, MAJ, USA
B.S., University of Florida, Gainsville, Florida, 1995
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited
Esta tesis tiene como propósito brindar al lector una explicación de cómo se producen las películas bélicas y qué efecto tiene su popularidad en las Fuerzas Armadas, si es que tiene algún efecto. Ron Kovic, autor de Nacido el Cuetro de Julio, se enlistó en la Infantería de Marina porque John Wayne atacó Iwo Jima. Top Gun causó una estampida hacia las estaciones de reclutamiento de la Fuerza Aérea dado que muchos reclutas potenciales no diferenciaban entre la Marina y la Fuerza Aérea (2). Frecuentemente la percepción es aceptada como la realidad.
The purpose of this thesis is to provide the reader with an understanding of how war movies are produced and what, if any, effect their popularity has on the military. Ron Kovic, the author of Born on the Fourth of July, joined the Marines because John Wayne assaulted Iwo Jima. Top Gun caused a rush on Air Force recruiting stations because many potential recruits did not differentiate between the Navy and the Air Force (2). Perception is often accepted as reality.
Many Americans know the military only through television and the movies. The fact that many Americans have not served in the military, combined with the defense drawdown, has resulted a large percentage of the population not knowing a single military serviceperson, thereby requiring them to garner their opinions of the military from other sources. If the movie portray the military as evil, untrusworthy, and warmongering, then a large portion of the public likely will view the military in the same light. It is important for the military to understand what shapes public opinion and what effect that public opinion has on recruiting, retention, and even possibly public funding through defense spending. This study aims to demonstrate that the Hollywood war movie is one factor that not only assists in shaping public opinion about the military, but also can affect recruiting and retention in the services."