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Filmmakers began recording military activities in the field during World War II (1939–1945). Since then, films that document military actions have served as a major source of war information for the American public and underscore the distance that separates the civilian from the conflict. War documentaries have covered entire wars, a theater of war, an event, campaigns and battles, and activities in the public sphere affecting wars. They have also mirrored changing times, national agendas, public tastes, and technological advances in attempts, in one fashion or another, to document reality. In war time, documentaries may present conflicting perspectives, participate in the maintenance and construction of sites of memory, and retrospectively engage with challenges and justifications of war.

Historically, the term documentary has met with controversy, in ...

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