Tag Archives: Iwo Jima

Movies for the Classroom: With the Marines at Tarawa

I’ve still been a little shell-shocked lately after the grueling test season ended.  I’ll be trying for more original material for later this week, possibly before Thanksgiving. 

This week I’ve been watching the incredible series WWII in HD on the History Channel.  This series is a compilation of newly-discovered color footage of the Second World War, enhanced and spliced with High-Definition graphics to create a unique visual experience.  First-hand accounts are narrated throughout the series in each theater of the war.  Though it may be too strong for your students, definitely take a look for yourself, especially on an HD TV. 

One of the people highlighted on this show is Time/Life war correspondent Robert Sherrod.  He was with the Marines that met stiff Japanese resistence in Tarawa, Saipan and Iwo Jima.  The Marines that filmed the Tarawa operation spliced together a documentary film, With the Marines at Tarawa.  Under the Hays code for film decency, the film was considered too graphic for major Hollywood distribution.  Sherrod persuaded President Franklin Roosevelt that the American public needed to see this film, so that they understood the full price of war.  Roosevelt consented, and the film gained a nationwide release. 

It won the 1945 Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject, and it galvanized the war effort, which had flagged after the casualty counts at Tarawa were released.  Attached above is the actual documentary, which gives you a unique look at World War II that many people today think wasn’t available at the time. 

Americans in 1944 saw graphic images of war, just as Americans in 1968 saw images of Vietnam.  Yet the outcome was altogether different.  I leave it to you to debate why.

WARNING: This film is EXTREMELY GRAPHIC in nature.  DO NOT SHOW this film in your classroom unless you have WRITTEN CLEARANCE from an administrator. 

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