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2017-18 APUSH Themes and Movie Lists

January 1, 2018 by Marcie Gorsuch   

Themes capture “big ideas” in American history. The Collegeboard has identified the following themes (NEW) as critical to understanding American history. 

APUSH Theme 1: American and National Identity

This theme focuses on how and why definitions of American and national identity and values have developed, as well as related topics such as citizenship, constitutionalism, foreign policy, assimilation, and American exceptionalism.

APUSH Theme 2: Politics and Power

This theme focuses on how different social and political groups have influenced society
and government in the United States, as well as how political beliefs and institutions have
changed over time.

APUSH Theme 3: Work, Exchange and Technology

This theme focuses on the factors behind the development of systems of economic exchange,
particularly the role of technology, economic markets, and government

APUSH Theme 4: Culture and Society

This theme focuses on the roles that ideas, beliefs, social mores, and creative expression have
played in shaping the United States, as well as how various identities, cultures, and values
have been preserved or changed in different contexts of U.S. history.

APUSH Theme 5: Migration and Settlement

This theme focuses on why and how the various people who moved to and within the United
States both adapted to and transformed their new social and physical environments.

APUSH Theme 6: Geography and the Environment

This theme focuses on the role of geography and both the natural and human-made
environments on social and political developments in what would become the United States.

APUSH Theme 7: America in the World

This theme focuses on the interactions between nations that affected North American history
in the colonial period and on the influence of the United States on world affairs.


U.S. History Videos

  • Changes have been made to the list for 2017-18. This is an extensive listing of numerous movies that relate to American history.The topic areas range from colonialism to present day and incorporate numerous themes, including social changes, political elements, economic crises and cultural revolutions.  For this assignment, you will be completing an analysis on at least one of the following movies.  Please note, the movies with a * to the right hand side of the title are rated “R” for various reasons.  In order to view one of these * movies, you must receive parental consent.  There are numerous other movies you may choose from that do not incorporate a rating of “R”.  Again, in order to view one of the rated “R” movies, you must receive parental consent!

The Last of the Mohicans*
The Crucible

The Crossing
The Patriot*
Immigration/ Turn of the Century
Far and Away
Gangs of New York*

In the Heart of the Sea
  Civil War


Gods and Generals
Gone with the Wind
Little Women


Killing Lincoln

12 Years a Slave

The Free State of Jones

The Better Angel

      The West
Wyatt Earp
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Dances with Wolves
Buffalo Soldiers
Wild Bill*
Open Range*
Magnificent Seven
The Alamo
Fly Boys
Sergeant York
      1920s and Depression

Grapes of Wrath
Eight Men Out
Cinderella Man
The Babe
Public Enemies*
Warm Springs
To Kill a Mockingbird
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
All the King’s Men
Bonnie and Clyde*
Inherit the Wind



Tora, Tora, Tora
The Big Red I
Sands of Iwo Jima
Where Eagles Dare
Pearl Harbor
Saving Private Ryan*
Battle of the Bulge
Letters from Iwo Jima*
Flags of Our Fathers*
A League of Their Own
Band of Brothers*
Bridge on the River Kwai
Battle of Midway
The Longest Day
South Pacific

The Great Escape

Gentlemen’s Agreement
American Graffiti
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
Twelve Angry Men


The Godfather *
Korean War
Cold War
13 Days
Rocky IV
Fail Safe
Missiles of October
Dr. Strangelove
Civil Rights

Mississippi Burning*
Malcolm X
Crisis at Central High
A Time to Kill
Eyes on the Prize
Remember the Titans
1960s and 1970s
Apollo 13
The Hurricane*
The Right Stuff
All the President’s Men
Frost Nixon*
We were Soldiers*
Good Morning Vietnam*
Full Metal Jacket*
Hamburger Hill*
Born on the 4th of July*
Coming Home*

The Green Berets

American Sniper (War on Terror)

Lone Survivor

Black Hawk Down*     (Somalia-U.S. Drop)
Jarhead*     (Gulf War)
Roe v. Wade     (Court case-abortion)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn     (1900’s-turn of the century)
Jefferson in Paris     (Thomas Jefferson)
Manchurian Candidate*     (Gulf War)
Newsies     (1899-NYC Press/Pulitzer)

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)

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