5 Old War Movies Everyone Should Watch At Least Once, And 5 Modern Ones That Are Almost As Good
These movies will just break your heart.
There's no doubt that the war movie genre is one of the most difficult. Filmmakers need to include as much detail as possible to give the audience the best story, but they also need to be accurate enough not to exaggerate the facts and add as much fiction as the movie actually needs.
Some directors choose an entire war or a long period of time to portray in their film, others focus on one battle or even the particular story of one character from whose perspective we learn about what happened at the time.
The genre was popular in earlier years because the wounds of many wars were still healing, but modern directors often choose the genre for their new works because there are so many angles to tell the same story. Here we have a total of ten films, old and new, that you must watch if you love war movies.
1. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
The movie is considered one of the best in the genre and there's almost nothing else that can compete with it. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture and we think it was actually a trampoline for other directors to dive into the genre.
The movie is set in the heart of World War I and tells the story of several young men who thought war was fun and signed up for the army. What they didn't know at the time is that war is the most horrible thing there is and it's not exciting at all. The story is about how they come to realize the brutal reality of life during war.
2. The Deer Hunter (1978)
This star-studded movie is a great anti-war statement. The main characters are played by Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep. The three-hour movie tells the story from different perspectives and gives fans a chance to dive deeper into the psychology of the Vietnam War.
The film has been highly acclaimed by audiences and critics everywhere, as the devastating story that was told so many years ago still bears all the horrors and stands as one of the best movies about the Vietnam War.
3. Schindler's List (1993)
Schindler's List is another Oscar-winning movie that everyone should see at least once in their life. Why once – simply because it's too much to handle and you'll most likely be devastated after it's over. The movie is probably the best work created by Steven Spielberg ever.
Focusing on the horrors of World War II, it tells the true story of Oskar Schindler, a businessman who was deeply disturbed by the Nazi Final Solution and ultimately used his personal fortune to save over 1000 Jewish lives during the Holocaust. The movie is very emotional and it's impossible to hold back tears while watching it.
4. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Another of Spielberg's famous World War II films begins with an absolutely horrific image of the Normandy landings, but then becomes a movie about a group of soldiers who are sent to rescue the titular Private Ryan from behind enemy lines.
Spielberg does an excellent job of showing two main themes at once: while depicting the hell that war really is, he also makes us see how heroic these soldiers are. He shows concrete individuals who are the best in a horrible environment, and that's the controversy that makes the movie one of the best.
5. Life Is Beautiful (1997)
With such a wholesome name, the theme of the movie is far from being anything close to beauty, as it tells the unfortunate story of innocent families horribly affected by war. When a loving father Guido Orefice gets into the concentration camp with his son, he goes out of his way to make him believe that they are trapped in the game and there’s a prize at the end waiting for them.
The Italian movie is a heartbreaking tearjerker and the scenes from it will never leave your mind.
6. The Pianist (2002)
The 2002 movie is a true masterpiece that even won Roman Polanski a BAFTA award. The film, starring Adrien Brody, tells a story from the perspective of his character, Władysław Szpilman, a Holocaust survivor.
He plays the role of an extremely talented pianist who somehow survives the Nazi occupation, but ends up completely alone after his family is deported during the war. The way the directors portrayed human suffering in the film is almost unbelievable, but we still realize that it was not over-dramatized at all, and the reality might have even been worse than what we see on screen.
7. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
One of Tarantino's best movies, Inglorious Bastards, tells two stories at once. The first one revolves around a particular team of Jewish-American soldiers who are enjoying their mission to kill as many Nazis as possible. At the same time, we follow the one-sided story of a young Jewish theater owner who plots his own revenge.
While still telling the well-known story of World War II, albeit with many fictional twists in it, Quentin Tarantino ’s take is something fresh and unique for the genre.
8. Incendies (2010)
This movie is probably the most underrated in the genre as not many fans know about it despite its high ratings. The story of the film revolves around Middle Eastern twins who lived in Canada and decided to find their lost mother.
They must return to their homeland in the Middle East, where they experience terrible brutality and learn frightening truths about their family's past.
9. Dunkirk (2017)
Christopher Nolan directed it in 2017, and while it feels like a thriller at times, it's definitely a war movie, and one of the best. However, Nolan managed to pull it off while preserving his own unique style, so we ended up with something extraordinary.
The story of how the Allied forces were successfully evacuated from the port of Dunkirk is at the heart of the film, and the narrative is told from many perspectives, allowing the viewer to really feel the gravity of the event.
10. Ayla: The Daughter of War (2017)
The movie tells us the story of an unexpected friendship between a young girl and a sergeant during the Korean War. What makes fans love the movie is the depiction of something pure and kind in the middle of a terrible nonstop war. This South Korean-Turkish drama is a must see for those looking for new perspectives.