Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 10:16 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 10:16 | SYDNEY

Top foreign policy movies


Sam Roggeveen


29 April 2009 18:21

Stephen Walt has listed his top ten 'movies that tell us something about international relations more broadly'. His Foreign Policy colleague Dan Drezner has joined in, as has Gideon Rachman at the Financial Times. I couldn't get to ten, and frankly, I don't like my list very much, but here it is in no particular order:

  • Breaker Morant: A great portrait of Australians at war which illustrates beautifully the tension between justice and security in wartime.
  • Seven Days in May: About a suspected military coup in Washington. I only saw this film once about fifteen years ago, but I'll never forget how tense and beautifully paced it was. A great thriller that has a lot to say about civil-military relations.
  • Schindler's List: Needs no elaboration, I think.
  • A Fish Called Wanda: The 'special relationship' between the US and Britain explained.
  • The Adventures of Barry McKenzie: The Australia-Britain relationship explained.
  • The Little Drummer Girl: A layman's guide to Israeli security policy.
  • The Godfather trilogy: It's a foreign policy parable, as explained in this book.
  • Spies Like Us: It's the only film I can think of that makes fun of arms control negotiations. Plus, the early scenes show in full glory the often wasted comic talents of Chevy Chase. And there's a Bob Hope cameo.
  • Thirteen Days: They should have cut out the mawkish scenes between Kevin Costner's character and his family, but other than that, a great thriller and as good a summary of the Cuban Missile Crisis as you'll need.

Walt is right that the list of films focusing on aspects of diplomacy is pretty short, hence the bias in my list toward themes of war. I'm also slightly embarrassed at how American my list is, so I'd love to hear your suggestions about how I can broaden my cinematic mind.