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Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis to Detente Movies & TV

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

A science fiction classic, 2001 provides an eerie vision of the twenty-first century, one that features human hibernation, artifacts of alien life forms, and evil technology. It was produced during the height of the Cold War and amid the fierce competition between the Soviet Union and the United States in the field of space exploration. Check out futuristic twenty-first century technology as it was imagined in 1968, and watch out for rogue computers!

Topaz (1969)

One of Alfred Hitchcock's lesser-known films, Topaz is a fictional depiction of the circumstances surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. In this Cold War thriller a Russian official defects to the U.S. and reveals both a pro-Soviet French spy ring and a secret alliance between the Soviets and the Cubans. Not good. It's up to U.S. secret agent Michael Nordstrom and his French sidekick to prevent a full-blown nuclear war. Perhaps not one of Hitchcock's best films, Topaz is worth seeing, if only to observe the way the director has chosen to depict each of the regimes involved in the 1962 crisis.

Thirteen Days (2000)

This recent Hollywood blockbuster, featuring Kevin Costner, depicts the tense days of the Cuban Missile Crisis from the perspective of President John F. Kennedy, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and White House aide Kenny O'Donnell. This film is not a documentary, though the screenplay is based broadly on historical events.

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)

This Academy Award-winning documentary consists primarily of archival footage and interviews with Robert McNamara, the man who served as the U.S. Secretary of Defense during some of the most troublesome years of the Cold War Era, from 1961 until late 1967. McNamara reveals errors in judgment, mistakes in policy, and the many failures of the presidential administrations that were charged with containing Communism during the Cold War. It's a sobering peak at the complicated, imperfect, and uncertain decisions that can and do lead to war.

The Good Shepherd (2006)

A recent Hollywood film featuring Brangelina, Good Shepherd is about the history of the U.S. Central Intelligence Service (CIA). See Brad Pitt struggle to be a good son, a loyal husband, and a dedicated father all while trying to help save the post-World War II world from nuclear war. (That's quite a plateful!)

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