War films have an important role to play in depicting war as it really is and educating people about the trials and tribulations of historical battles. War films can tell stories about many aspects of war from the military engagements on the frontline, the loved ones left behind and the aftermath of returning from war and the often traumatic readjustments soldiers had to make back in normal society. Here, we take a look at some of the best war movies in cinematic history:
#1 Saving Private Ryan
This 1998 epic starring Tom Hanks was set during the Normandy invasion of World War Two. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and became iconic for its intense opening scenes which graphically depict the horrors of battle. It won several awards and in 2014 was granted special preservation rights in the National Film Registry for being culturally significant.
Released in 1986, this movie was written and directed by Oliver Stone, a veteran of the war himself, and followed the experiences of several soldiers during the Vietnam War. Starring big Hollywood names like Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen and a very young Johnny Depp, the movie is a gritty, dark tale of men on the edge and the blurring of lines between what is acceptable in combat and what is crime.
#3 Schindler’s List
This epic does not cover war in the way we imagine war films – there are no battles. Instead it tells the harrowing story of the persecution of the Jews during the World War Two Holocaust. Released in 1993, it was based on a novel by Thomas Keneally about the role of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, in saving over a thousand Jews by employing them in his factories.
Focusing on tank warfare, which not many films have, this story follows a hardened tank commander as him and his men fight their way across Germany in 1945. It’s a true survival story as the crew of the Sherman tank are outgunned, outnumbered and stuck with a rookie. This film provides a unique insight into the harsh conditions of early tank warfare and the camaraderie of the crew inside. Why not try your very own tank experience with a Tank Driving Day? For more information, visit https://www.armourgeddon.co.uk/tank-driving-experience.html
#5 Full Metal Jacket
Another 1980s war movie, a decade heavily influenced by the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the film was based on a book and followed the trials of two young privates coping under a devilish drill instructor and their subsequent battle experiences during the Tet Offensive of Vietnam. The movie covers themes of patriarchy, brainwashing and the smallness of man compared to the vastness of the situations he must try to handle.
Still showing at cinemas, this is the newest film on the list but it set to go down in history as one of the greatest war films of all time. Telling the true story of the miraculous rescue of thousands of Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk during May 1940, the film follows three separate stories from land, sea and air. Exhilarating, gritty and action-packed – it shows war in all its harsh reality.