July 18, 2024

Films can bring to life war’s battles, leaders, examples of strategic decisions, and examples of less successful strategic decisions.

As Mark Gagnon and Jacqueline E. Whitt show in this presentation, there are many ways that films can be used in professional military education. From learning about strategic decisions and their impacts to broadening the world views and perspectives, films help viewers visualize the dynamics and complexity of strategic environments better than other media. For example, the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Art Film Program provides a terrific forum for students and faculty to view a film and discuss both its context and lessons learned for today’s military. Also on WAR ROOM is an article about the classic film Tunes of Glory, an example of such a film with important insights and lessons for today’s leaders.



You can also download a copy of the podcast here.


Mark Gagnon is a colonel in the U.S. Army and Professor of German in the Department of Foreign Languages at the U.S. Military Academy. Jacqueline E. Whitt is Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Army War College and the WAR ROOM Podcast Editor. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.

Image: Still from All’s Quiet on the Western Front, an anti-war film from 1930 that won the Academy Awards for Outstanding Production and Best Director (Lewis Milestone). Film is now in the public domain.


  1. It’s unfortunate that the press hailed Burns’ documentary as a masterpiece before it was even seen, due solely to the fact that it was a Burns’ project, it seems. Given how the press rarely expresses a mea culpa, this documentary will probably remain the standard of what the Vietnam War was all about, which is too bad because the Vietnam veterans aren’t getting any younger, so facts not addressed will fall by the wayside. Teaching is so much video today, soon there’ll be no more books anyway.
    College professors, politicians and the Vietnamese communists can now salve their consciences and tell everyone they were right all along because the movies say so.

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