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Wake Island (78 min., b&w, 16mm), Paramount, 1942. As the first Hollywood feature film to depict an actual American World War II campaign, Wake Island is itself a primary historical document. It is also an effective device for motivating students to explore the chaotic and frustrating beginnings of the war. The film still has entertainment value, but further, offers reflections of a nation still shocked by the Japanese attack, unsure of its future, and eager to find heroes and some form of victory in defeat. Students will react to technical errors (stock footage of biplanes), but through supporting lecture or individual research can find a surprising degree of basic accuracy in the depiction of the sixteen day defense as well as lessons on the limitations of contemporary press coverage and the creation of images and myths (the Marines and the question of who was actually in command.) A good variety of supporting sources include Samuel Eliot Morison's The Rising Sun in the Pacific 1931 -April 1942. the contemporary press, and first person published accounts by Marine Major James Deveraux, Navy Commander Winfield Scott Cunningham and Marine pilot Major Bayler. (Course: Modern War and Its Images) Eugene P. A. Schleh University of Maine at Portland-Gorham 48 ...


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