Today: May 20, 2024

A Century Of War Movies  

IWM London presents Real To Reel: A Century of War Movies, a new major exhibition that goes behind the scenes of some of this century’s iconic war films that have captured the imagination of cinema-going audiences across the generations.

In the 100th anniversary year of the release of The Battle Of The Somme film, this immersive new exhibition explores how film-makers have found inspiration in compelling personal stories and gripping real events from wars of the past century. Featuring some of the most celebrated and provocative war movies from across the decades, this exhibition shows how film-makers have used war’s inherent drama to translate stories of love and loss, fear and courage, triumph and tragedy into blockbusters for the big screen.

Real To Reel: A Century Of War Movies will bring together for the first time a unique combination of film clips, costumes, props, scripts, sketches and designs, alongside original archival material and artefacts from IWM’s collections. Accompanied by immersive audio-visual installations, the exhibition will explore the film-making process and how war movies have shaped popular perception of conflicts.

Spanning decades, the exhibition will include items from films such as The Dam Busters, Where Eagles Dare, Apocalypse Now, Battle Of Britain, Das Boot, Casablanca, Jarhead, Atonement and War Horse. Visitors will be able to delve into the historic events and experiences that have inspired the movies: looking at the man behind the myth in Lawrence Of Arabia, through to the real events of D-Day which were vividly recreated in Saving Private Ryan.

Comprising five sections and focussing on English language feature films, the exhibition will explore how war has proved a profoundly compelling subject since the earliest days of cinema.

Laura Clouting, Historian and Curator of Real To Reel: A Century of War Movies at IWM comments: “Through an array of objects, Real To Reel: A Century Of War Movies will explore the enduring fascination with war on the big screen: why film-makers have been inspired to make war movies, how these stories are brought to life on screen, and their ability to influence our understanding of war.”

Reel To Reel runs at London’s Imperial War Museum from 1st July to 8th January 2017.

Tickets are available at

Image  ©Universal City Studios LLLP, photographed by Alex Bailey.  Film still of James McAvoy starring as Robbie Turner in Atonement. A uniform worn by James McAvoy in this film will be displayed in Real To Reel: A Century Of War Movies

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email:

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