Using Films to Teach History of Southeast Asia during WWII

Module Summary

This module is designed to assist teachers in the use of film to teach the history of Southeast Asia. It is designed on two levels. The first is a general discussion of the best ways to incorporate visual materials into the teaching of history. It demonstrates ways to help students develop the tools to “read” film critically. There are suggestions for improving the media literacy of students in general. The second level is a discussion of the use of film for Southeast Asian history in particular. The film Indochine, about French colonialism in Vietnam between 1930 and 1950, is explored as a particularly useful teaching tool to develop student understanding of colonialism/imperialism, the WWII era in Southeast Asia, and the Vietnamese independence movement.

This module is based on the presentation by Gwen Johnson (Teacher, Social Studies Department, Scarsdale High School) at the East-West Center’s 2011 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute for Teachers.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this module do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the East-West Center.

Teaching Materials

PowerPoint lecture “Students as Visual Learners”
A short background essay on Indochine with links to movie reviews and other critical commentary
Link to the film trailer

Key topics include: capitalism, Chinese minorities, communism, decolonization, democracy, European powers, First Indochina War, French Indochina, Geneva Accords, globalization, imperialism / colonialism, independence movements, nationalism, post-war period, revolution, Second Indochina War, trade and the economy, Viet Minh/Viet Cong, warfare and combat, WWII in Southeast Asia.

We welcome comments from teachers on how you have integrated this material into your teaching, including what was useful and what wasn’t, and what additional resources you would like to see in or recommend for this module.