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The Semiotics of Strategy: A Preliminary Structuralist Assessment of the Battle-Map in Patton (1970) and Midway (1976)

Paul Ryder, +1 more
- 16 Aug 2017 - 
- Vol. 20, Iss: 4, pp 1-5
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TLDR
In this article, a preliminary examination of the battle map as depicted in two films about the Second World War: Franklin J. Shaffner's biopic Patton (1970) and Jack Smight's epic Midway (1976) is presented.
Abstract
This essay offers a preliminary examination of the battle-map as depicted in two films about the Second World War: Franklin J. Shaffner's biopic Patton (1970) and Jack Smight's epic Midway (1976). In these films, maps, charts, or tableaux (the three-dimensional models upon which are plotted the movements of battalions, fleets, and so on) emerge as an expression of both martial and cinematic strategy. It is argued that the battle-map emerges as a crucial isomorphic element. It features as a prop to signify command and to relay otherwise complex strategic plottings, giving audiences a glimpse into how military strategy is formed and tested: a traditional 'reading' of the map. Conversely, the map is a device of foreshadowing and a sign of command's profound limitations. It is thus resolved that the battle-map is as much a sign of the subjective as the objective.

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