Best War Films of all times.
written by Souranath Banerjee.
There are two categories of war films. The first type glamorizes and romanticizes the concept of war for the entertainment of the audience, as most of us want to enjoy the thrill of the battle-zone but shy away from the real horrors and perils of it.
Now the second kind of films actually portray war as realistically as possible; the bloodshed, the destruction, the cries of the wounded and the death of the young and innocents.
“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”
The cinemas listed below mostly belong to the second category; films that have the courage to paint the real ugly face of war and tell stories of not only courage and strength and also of brutality and helplessness of both soldiers and the civilians.
Let the list begin.
10. Paths of Glory (1957)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmDA60X-f_A
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, for me this film has always scored higher than his other two famous war films Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Dr. Strangelove (1964).
The ruthlessness of war (WW I) and the dirty war-politics played by the higher army officials – both portrayed to perfection.
One of Kirk Douglas‘s most memorable performances.
9. Apocalypse Now (1979)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkrhkUeDCdQ
Director Francis Ford Coppola shot nearly 200 hours of footage – a film that took 16 months of shooting and 3 years of editing.
A highly potent mix of Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando and the disturbing Vietnam War.
The sound of the helicopter wings panning from left to right as they are match cut with the ceiling fan – simply epic!
8. Come and See (1985)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-Ro0SZf438
In this film the horrors of war (WW II) is depicted in the most realistic manner (often too graphic and brutal).
Directed by Elem Klimov, the film is about a young boy who finds an old rifle and decides to join the Soviet Army.
Original uniforms and live ammunitions were used for authenticity.
7. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiObc2XmVqw
Banned in Germany soon after it’s release as they claimed that the Germans were shown as cowards.
Directed by Lewis Milestone, this was the first talkie war film to win the Oscar! (won best picture and best director).
Though visuals of extreme violence was consciously avoided but still the film’s depiction of WW I is honest and brutal.
6. Das Boot (1981)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMj0_wCn6jM
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen this is the epic tale of the crew of a German U-boat (submarine) during the last phase of WW II.
Highly claustrophobic (most of the film is shot inside the submarine) and yet so dramatic and powerful. Some of the tensed moments in the film are slow and nerve wrenching.
Jürgen Prochnow gives a brilliant performance!
5. The Thin Red Line (1998)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCmlOhsIwBk
Directed by Terrence Malick the film was nominated for Oscars in 7 categories!
A kind of a philosophical war film starring Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Adrien Brody, John Cusack, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson, Jared Leto, John Travolta, George Clooney.
‘Every man fights their own war’ and so does each of them!
4. The Cruel Sea (1953)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joUDAD3GB3g
Though successful when released, this one is among the less popular war films but believe me, it surely deserves a spot in this list.
Directed by Charles Frend, this one is a terrific war drama of a British convoy ship in action over the North Atlantic during the WW II.
Powerful script and and tensed situations and superb acting, specially by Jack Hawkins.
3. Platoon (1986)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KztP7SKe0uk
War often gets too brutal for the young recruits and the Vietnam War was no different.
The film is directed by Oliver Stone (himself a Vietnam veteran) and he also won the Oscar for this film on Vietnam War!
It is said to be the most complete war film ever made, though it’s banned in Vietnam because of its depiction of the Vietnamese
2. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlC7XBayj0s
Directed by David Lean who is also famous for his other war films like In Which We Serve (1942) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
British prisoners in the Japanese camp ordered to built a bridge, one of the greatest WW II war drama. The film took 7 Oscars that year, won in all the major categories!
William Holden, Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins has given their career best performances.
1. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EsVtn2GvBo
A team lead by Tom Hanks was set to save Private Ryan (Matt Damon) and bring him home.
Steven Spielberg directed this film and according to many it contains some of the most authentic war scenes ever filmed (specially the Omaha Beach battle sequence).
Probably the most popular war film ever. Also Voted #1 greatest war film in UK’s Channel 4 poll in 2005.
and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most profound and unique one. A must watch).
+1. Ivan’s Childhood (1962)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=setzqMoEEUU
This is the story of 12 year old Ivan directed by the famous Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky.
A spy at such an young age, Ivan has seen the perils of war too closely and yet he again voluntarily wants to risk his life for his country.
The film is one of the most poetic and beautifully shot war films. Though it doesn’t show much of actual combat but still it delivers the chills of war to it’s full effect.
A few other war-films that could have easily made the list are Stalingrad (1993), Enemy at the Gates (2001), Patton (1970), Ran (1985), The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Cross of Iron (1977), Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Red Cliff (2008), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), Rome, Open City (1945), The Guns of Navarone (1961), A Bridge Too Far (1977), The Hurt Locker (2008), Where Eagles Dare (1968) and La Grande Illusion (1937).