During and immediately after a war, Hollywood films typically trumpet the glory of sacrifice and unquestioning patriotism. Ten to fifteen years later, however, morally fraught and sometimes pacifistic movies about the conflict typically emerge. For example, after America joined World War I in 1917, the still infant film industry glorified the fight against "the Hun." But by the early 1930s, films such as All Quiet on the Western Front did not shy away from depicting the horrors of combat and the disillusionment of soldiers. After World War II began, the cycle repeated itself.
Guadalcanal Diary, produced during the second world war, portrayed "the ultimate sacrifice" as a noble and undisputed good while diminishing the ethical complexities. By 1957, though, films such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, first published in book form in 1952, were winning awards for depicting the moral confusion inherent in war.
Subsequently, the movie The Green Berets, produced at the height of the Vietnam war in the late 1960s, was far closer in tone to Guadalcanal Diary than to The Bridge on the River Kwai. A decade or more passed before the film industry finally began producing more complex and ambivalent depictions of the Vietnam war, such as Apocalypse Now and Platoon.