As world war II finally ended, with shedding blood, poverty and instability all over. There is a lack of verified details and stories were getting fabricated. Cinema, as a medium which gallantly covers all topics under the sun, confronts war, its realities and this lack of verified facts as a plot hole. There are numerous movies made in the context of war. Many prided themselves on accurate portrayal whereas there are some which are fictional and some based on the assumed repercussions of it. While some showcased violence and blood, others showcased perspectives behind each country, the effects of war on commoners and other associated themes. As each of them are unique and much needed, here is the list of best war movies made.
Best Movies Based On World War 2
Schindler’s list (1993)
One of Steven Speilberg’s masterpiece. The story is based on a non fictional novel by an Australian author Thomas Keneally. The story focuses on the prominent industrialist, Oskar Schindler and his wife- Emilie Schindle’sr- attempt to save thousands of jew children by employing them in their factory. The movie is lauded as one of the best films ever made and is a winner for seven academy awards. The movie is praised for the tone, performances and Speilberg’s exceptional direction. The girl in red has so many sub themes layered and is a main driver for change and remorse in Schindler. This also showcases the change of tone in the movie and serves as a brilliant tool in narrative.
Saving private ryan (1998)
Another Steven Speilberg gem, this movie is set on the background of Invasion of Normandy during World war II. The war scenes are shown so brilliantly that it tears your heart apart. The scene showing the assault on Omaha Beach is an apt portrayal of the gruesome aspects of war. A troop headed by John H Miller heads out to find Private Ryan, the last remaining sibling of a family. The movie has extremely nuanced direction and performances especially by Tom Hanks and Matt Damon.
Life is Beautiful (1997)
This Italian movie wonderfully showcases the horrors of war on civilians. Especially during the second world war time, where Jews were being slaughtered, dragged and tortured in concentration camps. The movie shows what a family of Jews, especially the bond between parents and their son plays out. The father tries hard and puts on an act for his son when they are in the camp. He behaves as if everything is a complicated game and that they are supposed to win one day. It is warm and light at the same time. The movie was critically acclaimed and remains as one of the best movies ever made.
Christopher Nolan’s cinematic excellence can be fully understood in this movie. This movie is praised as one of the best war films ever made. It’s based on a true story. The performances and certain frames are exceptional. As the name suggests, the movie shows the evacuation of Dunkirk during World war II and shows it from three perspectives: the land, air and Sea. There are less dialogues. One should carefully observe and perceive the sounds and visuals in the movie to understand its true meaning.
Letter from Iwo Jima (2006)
This Japanese language American movie is directed and produced by Clint Eastwood. The battle of Iwo jima, the historical war is shown from the perspectives of Japanese soldiers. This movie is a companion to another Clint Eastwood movie Flags of our Fathers which shows the American perspective of the same war. The writing and direction was appreciated and so was the idea of good and evil being two sides of the same coin. The movie was not a box office success but definitely worth a revisit with an impartial mindset for the direction and screenplay.
The Great Escape (1963)
As the title hints, this movie is about the escape of British POWs from a German camp. The movie is based on a first hand account of the same escape. The movie did take its fictional freedom as it deviated from the story to increase its appeal. However, the movie is a well received and appreciated one. Also notice the amazing stunts in the movie which became a classic.
The Imitation Game (2014)
The movie is based on the biography of brilliant British Mathematician Mr Alan Turing who first proposed the idea of thinking machines. This British cryptanalyst is hired by the British intelligence to break the code used by Germans. He and his team successfully decodes after much hard work. The movie shows how the war was won using science and strategy. The movie also deals with Alan Turing’s life as a whole and is a must watch for an emotional and intelligent movie.
Directed by David Ayer, this movie takes a look at one of the most instrumental units in the army- the tank crew. They were also the section who had a high rate of casuality. The movie is set in the final weeks of the war where the tank crew had got in Germany already and plays a pivotal role in winning the war.
The Dirty dozen (1967)
The Dirty Dozen directed by Robert Aldrich had an ensemble cast including Lee Marvin. The movie was a box office success and won critic’s praise. It is based on a book ‘Fifty Thirteen’. The movie looks at Project Amnesty- a program to train the US Army’s prisoners to commandos on a suicide mission. The movie has violent scenes and has not hesitated in showing bloodshed.
This is a German historical drama film based on the Battle of Berlin when Germany was almost defeated. It also depicts the final days of Adolf Hitler. The movie is directed by Oliver Hirschbeigel. The crew took great efforts to set the surroundings apt by using eye-witness accounts and memoirs. The movie faced a lot of controversy as Hitler was shown as a human rather than his monstrous behaviours. Hitler was not just an autocratic leader in the movie but showed how his charm can manipulate the people around him. Instances such as this are taken from Hitler’s former private secretary’s book ‘Until the final hour’. The movie got extensive appreciation from critics all over the world.
Thin Red Line (1998)
The movie shows a fictionalised version of the Battle of Mount Austen. The movie is quite philosophical in its approach as it shows how we never stop seeking wisdom.The British foot soldiers who were first to give their life. The movie title is inspired by the poem ‘Tommy’ of Rudyard Kipling. A line in the poem refers to British foot soldiers as “the thin red line oh heroes”.
This list barely covers five percent of the brilliant films that were made on World War II- Here is some more for you to check out:
- Bride on the river kwai
- Jojo Rabbit
- Black book
- Pearl Harbour
- The Longest day
- Come and see
- Das boot
- Inglorious Bastards
Also Read: Best Science Fiction Movies on Amazon Prime