HST 404-05/504-05 The Pacific War in Movies


Summer 2004                                                                                     Room: Niccol 006

June 14-July 8                                                                                    Time: MTWTh, 10:30-1:30pm


Instructor: Dr. Pingchao Zhu                           

Office: Rm315 AD, History Department                           

Office Hours: MT before class, or by appointment

Office Phone: 885-7166, or 885-6253

E-mail: pzhu@uidaho.edu



            This course focuses on World War Two in the Pacific and how Hollywood and movie industry in other countries portray the historical developments.  Major themes include the origins of the war, major problems in the Pacific theater, major Allied campaigns, human conditions of the war, role of the atomic bombs, Allied occupation of Japan, and the immediate aftermath of the war.  The course will not only examine movies Hollywood but also from Japan and China to explore how the war in the Pacific was fought and won with valor, sacrifice, and casualties.  Major strategies and policy making process will be discussed.



Mark D. Roehrs & William A. Renzi, World War II in the Pacific, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2004.



1. Final Examination                                          150 points

2. In-class Presentation                                     150

3. Five in-class movie responses                        100

4. Attendance                                                   100


Examination  includes essay questions mainly coming from the class discussions, reading, and movie presentations.  A study guide will be provided prior to the exam..


In-class movie responses are students instant response to movies or documentaries showed in class.  You have time to write down the response while in class on a sheet with some short questions.  If you miss the class, you can't turn in the response later.


In-class Presentation Two students will team up in one group to do an in-class presentation on one movie.  At the end of the presentation, each group must turn a written report of the presentation (preparation notes, preferably typed, are okay). 

1) The following themes should be included in the presentation:

            --historical background of the movie (this is a must section to include prior to the movie show);

            --director, screen writer, major cast of the movie;

            --how does the movie reflect the cruelty and humanity in the war?  How realistic the movie portrays the historical development?

            --What do we learn about specific event/campaign/issue in the war from this movie?

            --flaws or weakness of the movie in terms of reflecting historical realities;

            --some questions for the class discussion;

2) Showing the movie:

            --the show time show be limited to about one hour, which means it is not necessary to show the entire movie;

            --movie showing must be accompanied with presenters interpretation for certain segments, explain the scene, relating to the historical development, raising questions to the audience, and compare or contrast the movie with the history;

            --prepared to answer questions from the class.
3) Evaluation of the presentation is based on the involvement of all members in the group, quality and information provided.  Each group can decide the format of the presentation.


Attendance is mandatory.  Please keep in mind that summer session is highly condensed and    concentrated.  Examination questions come mainly from the class discussion.  One day of class is the equivalence of one week class in a regular semester.  Therefore, students who miss four class periods without legitimate reasons will automatically receive “F” in this course.



According to the University of Idaho 1998 General Catalog, "For purpose of reporting and record, academic work is graded as follows: A-superior; B-above average; C-average; D-below average; F-failure."  A student’s performance in this course will be evaluated based on the university grade system and graded according to the following points break down:


A=500-450      B=449-400      C=399-350      D=349-300       F=299 and below





Week 1                        June 14-17

                                    U.S. & Japan on the Road to the War


Mon., June 14            Japan as an Emerging Power

                                    Meiji Revolution (documentary)

                                    Reading: chpt. 1


Tue., June 15              War in China

                                    WWII in China (documentary)

                                    Landmine Warfare (Chinese)

                                    Tunnel Warfare (Chinese)

                                    Reading: chpt. 2


Wed., June 16            Pearl Harbor

                                    Tora Tora**

                                    Pearl Harbor**
                                    (One or both of them with comparison)

Reading: chpts. 3-4


Thur., June 17            The First Campaigns

                                    Thirty Seconds over Tokyo**


                                    (one of the mnovies)
Reading: chpt. 5



Week 2                        June 21-24

                                    The War on Different Fronts


Mon., June 21            U.S. Soldiers

                                    The Thin Red Line


                                    Reading: chpt. 6


Tue., June 22              Japan Soldiers

                                    Burmese Harp (English subtitles)**



Wed., June 23            POWs

                                    Bridge of the River Kwai**

                                    Kamikaze (documentary)

                                    Reading: chpt. 7


Thur., June 24            Flying Tigers

                                    Lover’s Grief over the Yellow River (English subtitles)**

                                    Reading: chpt. 9



Week 3                        June 28-July 1

                                    Home Front


Mon., June 28            War at Home, Japan

                                    Japan at War (documentary)

                                    Tokyo Rose (documentary)

                                    The Propaganda War (documentary)

                                    Reading: chpt. 8, pp. 154-174


Tue., June 29              War at Home; USA

                                    Without Due Process (documentary)

                                    Go for Broke**

                                    Reading: chpt. 8, pp. 174-180


Wed., June 30            Final Battles

                                    Sands of Iwa Jima**

                                    Reading: chpt.


Thur., July 1               The End of the War


                                    Reading: chpt. 10



Week 4                        July 6-8 (No Class on July 5, Monday, Independence Day Observed)

                                    Crisis & Challenges


Tue., July 6                 Impact of the Bombs

                                    Black Rain (English subtitled)**

                                    Reading: chpt. 11


Wed., July 7               Rebuilding Japan

                                    Reinventing Japan (documentary)

                                    Reading: chpt. 12


Thur., July 8               Final Exam    



**The movie titles with the ** mark mean presentation is scheduled.

**The instructor reserves the right to change the course schedule if necessary.