The introduction lays out the structure of Hymns for the Fallen in broad strokes, noting the chronological scope of the study (35 war films made after the close of the Vietnam War), the subgenre (prestige combat films) and the book’s larger approach to film sound and film music. The three elements of the soundtrack—dialogue, sound effects, and music—and their relationship analytically within the book are also introduced. The book’s larger analogy between serious war films and war memorials, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, is drawn by comparison of scenes from Hamburger Hill (1987) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). The formative impact of the Vietnam War on Hollywood combat film production is also noted. The figures of the American soldier and veteran are presented as central both to combat film narratives and to the target audiences for these films.
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