History 105B (101) Contemporary Global Issues in Historical Perspective: The Pacific War in History and Film




Course Level





In 2018W, the topic for HIST 105B is Pacific War in History and Film. This course interrogates Japanese Pacific War films to contemplate how Japan's contemporary history has been shaped by, and shapes, the presentation and memory of World War II in the Pacific. A particular emphasis will be on how the war was presented during wartime and has been remembered on film thereafter.

Are you interested in how history is presented on film?  Have you ever wondered whether film reflects or shapes society's views of historical events, or maybe if it does both?  This course examines the interplay between cultural production and conventional memory.  In other words, how and why has the popular understanding of historical events changed over time, and how can we trace that shift?

To examine this question, we will focus on one medium (Japanese films) and one historical topic (Japan's invovlement in the Pacific War, 1937-1945).  Our material will be films about the Pacific War made by some of Japan's most celebrated directors -- from classic auteurs Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Ozu, and Kinoshita in the 1940s-1950s, to lesser-known iconoclasts Suzuki Seijun, Kobayashi Masaki, Masumura Yasuzo, Shinoda Masahiro, and Imamura Shohei in the 1950s-1960s, to household names like Ghibli animators Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao today.  Viewing these films, the class will ask how the historical narrative of Japan's role in the Pacific War was presented during the conflict and how it has changed since then alongside contemporary developments in Japan's postwar history.


  • Monday lectures held from 17:00-18:00
  • Wednesday screenings and film discussions held from 17:00-20:00