War films occasionally have the stigma of being boring. Or too patriotic. Sometimes, the best war films are ones you may never even have heard of. Below is a list of ten great war movies; both underrated ones and ones that need to be seen by more people.
The Human Condition Trilogy
The Human Condition is the epitome of all war films. Released in its hometown of Japan in six parts, it was condensed into three for global release. The films are set in the midst of the Second World War. They follow Kaji, an intellectual pacifist who is brought in to humanise prisoner of war camps. His ideologies draw criticism for his co-workers and conflict ensues. Kaji’s beliefs are put to the test even further when he is drafted into the war.
Anthropoid is another film set during WW2, but focuses on a specific real-life event. Operation Anthropoid was a plot to assassinate a high-ranking Nazi officer in Prague. The film focuses on the events leading up the operation and the subsequent fallout. It culminates in one of the most thrilling shoot-outs in any recent war film. The cast is led by Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan.
The Inglorious Bastards
Quentin Tarantino liked the title of this movie so much, he stole it for his own war flick. The original Inglorious Bastards is actually a semi-remake of The Dirty Dozen. Starring Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson, it sees a group of prisoners drafted into attacking an armoured train transporting a missile.
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Jack O’Connell offers a great lead performance in this war thriller. He stars as a British soldier serving in Belfast during the riots in 1971. After getting separated from his unit, he has to avoid enemies and return to base.
Angelina Jolie decided to direct the true story of US Olympian and army officer, Louis Zamperini. Once again starring Jack O’Connell, the film follows Zamperini from a plane-crash, to surviving nearly fifty days on a raft, before becoming a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp. The film earned itself a sequel, although hardly any of the original cast or crew returned.
Kelly’s Heroes is the most overtly comic film on this list. It boasts a killer cast, including Clint Eastwood and Donald Sutherland. The plot follows a group of soldiers who go beyond enemy lines, in order to rob a bank. Look out for the scene where Sutherland shoots paint out of a tank.
Director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have teamed up many times. Lone Survivor is probably their best collaboration. Set during the Afghanistan war, it follows a botched mission and the fall-out for the four team members. Unfortunately, the title kind of gives away the ending.
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Andrew Garfield delivers a solid performance as the real-life Desmond Doss. Mel Gibson directs the story of Doss, a medic in WW2 who refuses to even carry a weapon. What follows is a stunning story about a brave man that deserves to be seen. Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington provide great support.
Come and See
Come and See is a truly harrowing war film. Initially banned for eight years by the Soviet authorities, the film is very anti-war. It takes places during the Nazi occupation of Belarus. Our protagonist is a young boy who witnesses horrendous atrocities and suffering – the film makes a point of showing the disturbing effect this has on him.
Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington lead an award-winning cast in Glory. A slightly different war film, this focuses on the American Civil War. Broderick leads the army’s second African-American unit in battle at Fort Wagner.