Today: April 18, 2024

Best Ever War Movies

Jonathan Teplitzky’s wartime drama The Railway Man, which hits Blu-ray and DVD on May 5th, 2014 tells the story of Eric Lomax (Jeremy Irvine), a British officer who is captured by the Japanese in Singapore and sent to a POW camp. There he is forced to work on the Thai-Burma Railway. Years later, Lomax (Colin Firth) returns to the scene of his torture with his wife (Nicole Kidman) to let go of a lifetime of bitterness and pain. To mark the release, FilmJuice picks out some of the best war movies … ever…

All Quiet On The Western Front (1930)
All Quiet on the Western Front, based on Erich Maria Remarque’s novel of the same name was perhaps one of the earliest, post WWI films to portray the harrowing reality of life in the trenches. Directed by the Oscar-winning Lewis Milestone the film was widely cut and censored and only restored to its original format in the year 2000 – 20 years after Milestone had begged Universal Studios to do so. Today it remains an important film, inspiring Steven Speilberg’s Saving Private Ryan.

Sands Of Iwo Jima (1949)
This John Wayne classic follows a group of US Marines from their initial training to the Battle of Iwo Jima during WWII. Seen as the flagship World War II film, perhaps due to John Wayne’s appearance, Sands of Iwo Jima was notable for starring real-life marines – namely three survivors who had raised the second flag on Mount Suribachi during the actual battle. A number of the film’s cast were reunited decades later in the 1970 western, Chisum..

Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)
Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle (of Planet Of The Apes fame), Bridge on the River Kwai was brought to the screen by visionary David Lean – and like The Railway Man – features the construction of Burma Railway. Winner of seven Oscars, the film stars William Holden and British veteran actor, Alec Guiness who considered it his finest work.Boulle received an Oscar for the screenplay, although it was, in reality written by Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson who were on Hollywood’s anti-communist blacklistand could only work on the film in secret.

Paths Of Glory (1957)
As much an anti-war film as an out-and-out war film, Stanley Kubrick’s Paths Of Glory is set during WWI. The plot follows Kirk Douglas’ Colonel Dax, a commanding officer of French soldiers who stand trial for refusing to carry out a suicidal attack. The only female character in the film was portrayed by German actress Christiane Harlan who later married Kubrick. Paths Of Glory will be shown as part of London’s BFI’s on 2nd May.

Born On The Fourth of July (1989)
Oliver Stone directed Tom Cruise in what would be an Oscar winning performance asRon Kovic, a real-life paraplegic whose autobiography the film is based on. The film is the second in what is considered to Stone’s Vietnam trilogy after Platoon (1986) and preceding Heaven And Earth (1993). Filmed in the Philippines as relations between Vietnam and America hadn’t yet been fully restored.

Schindler’s List (1993)
Adapted from the novel Schindler’s Ark, this traumatic film is based on the true story a German businessman who was responsible for saving the lives of more than a thousand refugees during the Holocaust. Shot (mostly) in black and white, with a cast comprising of Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley, the film won Spielberg his first Directing Oscar alongside a gong for Best Picture.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Notable for its graphic and realistic portrayal of war, the film’s opening 27 minutes – which features the Omaha Beach assault – is deemed to be not only the standout scene in a hugely acclaimed film, but the most memorable moment in any war film. With a cast headed by Tom Hanks and featuring Matt Damon, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel and Giovanni Ribisi, Saving Private Ryan won Spielberg his second Oscar and saw the Director mature from a ‘family’ movie maker to a serious filmmaker.

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas (2008)
Holocaust drama The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is based on the John Boyne novel of the same name, and explores the horror of a WWII Nazi concentration camp through the eyes of two young boys – one the son of the camp’s Nazi commander and the other a Jewish inmate. Starring Hugo’s Asa Butterfield, alongside Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel), David Thewlis (Harry Potter) and Rupert Friend (Homeland), the film is hugely affecting and was widely acclaimed upon release.

The Hurt Locker (2009)
Kathryn Bigelow’s breathtaking film about a three-man Explosive Ordnance Disposal team during the Iraq War led Bigelow to become the first female director to win an Oscar since the Awards began. Rightly so, as The Hurt Locker is an incredible slice of filmmaking. Tense and terse, the movie benefited a sensational script by Mark Boal who was embedded as a journalist with a U.S. Army bomb disposal team back in 2004.

The Railway Man is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 5th May 2014 courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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