Top 10 War Movies29.08.11 # Top Ten # 20 Comments
Conquest, great leaders, love, death, national identity, brave last stands. This is what makes war so damn fun – to watch from a distance. These are the best war movies ever made.
How are we defining ‘war movie’ in this list? It has to be a real war, and a fighting soldier’s story.
10. THE HURT LOCKER (2009)
Best Picture winner about a U.S. explosive disposal team during the Iraq War. It’s an exploration of the psychology behind the lone soldier who walks toward the bomb that everyone else is running away from, often several times a day. Add to that the threat of sniper fire, baking heat and civilians whose loyalties could lie anywhere. It says little about the Iraq conflict itself but represents all soldiers who end up working a day job in hell. The Hurt Locker is a hughly suspenseful movie, with masterfully constructed set-pieces.
9. FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
Classic Kubrick in its off-kilter poetic starkness, and dark humour. This is an unusual movie not least because it has only two (elongated) acts, instead of three. The first follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their training, while the second depicts the experience of two of them in the Tet Offensive during Vietnam. The movie is less about the Vietnam war itself, more about how the Marine Corp turns recruits into killers, anchored by the most jaw-dropping portrayal of a drill instructor ever put to film.
8. PATTON (1970)
Perhaps the great war biopic, this follows U.S. General George S. Patton as he leads his men in North Africa and Europe during World War II. Co-scripted by Francis Ford Coppola, the movie starred George C. Scott and won seven Oscars, including Best Picture. The opening monologue, where Patton speaks to an unseen audience with an enormous American flag behind him, is one of the most iconic images in cinema. It’s a movie powered by an electrifying performance, of an intimidating half-crazed military genius juggling his ego, passion and patriotism. He here is dishing out some discipline -
7. THE LONGEST DAY (1962)
A massive movie in every sense of the word, not least because it had six directors and a $10 million budget (making it the most expensive black and white movie in history until 1993). This dramatisation of D-Day also has an enormous cast including John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton and Robert Wagner, with everybody playing their own nationality. The story looks at the landings from a number of perspectives, to give a complete overview. It’s all about scale. How’s this for a wide shot? -
6. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930)
The original anti-war movie, and the granddaddy of virtually every movie on this list. It follows a group of German schoolboys as they are talked into enlisting in WWI by their jingoistic teacher and then slowly realise they’ve made a tragic mistake. Soon the notion of the enemy, of right and wrong, seem irrelevant as life in the trenches becomes one of misery, mutilation, anger and bewilderment. The scene where the soldier reaches for the butterfly at the end is poignant and unforgettable. The Nazis disliked what it said so much they released rats into the cinemas, then banned it. You can watch this great war movie free online right here -
Best War Movies – 5th to 1st >
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