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Revisiting Cold War Propaganda: Close Readings of Chinese and American Film Representations of the Korean War

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

No doubt the most memorable 1950s American propaganda film on the Korean War was Pork Chop Hill (1959), directed by Lewis Milestone, who made the anti-war classic All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). The most popular and influential on the Chinese side was Shangganling (The Battle of Sangkumryung Ridge or The Battle of Triangle Hill; 1956). Both deal with a single battle in which a small, dedicated unit is seen defending a remote hill top in the face of an overwhelming enemy onslaught. Their purpose was to convey political messages and teach long-term lessons to members of the audience well after the Korean War was over. But a shot by shot and character by character comparison and close reading reveals both parallels and differences.


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