Saving Private Ryan
Not only is it one of the greatest war related films ever made, it is simply one of the absolute best films ever made period. The cinematography is unmatched to this day, the story is very deep and full of twists, and it enriches emotions that very few movies can accomplish. I have been trying hard to think about any recent movies that have an emotional impact as big as a film like this and I honestly cannot think of one. Everything is so well done, and if you are a fan of the HBO series The Pacific or Band of Brothers you will feel right at home.
Saving Private Ryan has everything right in the title for you to understand what it’s about. A group of soldiers decide to go back into war to save a soldier, even if the risks are high and it may not be logically worth it. However on this journey they come across several bigger tasks, such as helping another squad take down an entire group of Germans (one of my all time favorite scenes) and providing help to other. The story is deep and you really get a grasp for what the soldiers went through during the war.
Black Hawk Down
Just like Saving Private Ryan this has to be one of the best films ever made, I’m a war movie fan so don’t hate me! Black Hawk Down has a similar story to that of Saving Private Ryan. A standard fly over of several helicopters during a mission to track down an enemy target goes wrong. A RPG hits the tail of one of the Black Hawk helicopters, causing it to crash. Shortly after people are sent to rescue them, another bird goes down. A simple mission becomes an extremely important rescue mission. The movie follows several squads, which soon become one squad as they try to rescue the downed pilot.
This movie is one of my favorites because of all the extremely memorable moments it offers. There are plenty of heroic moments, and you get a true sense of how each soldier looks after one another as brothers. At the end of the movie you can even get a sense of some of the psychological issue that arise after going through such an experience. I don’t think any movie will portray what is happening over in the Middle East better than what this movie will put you though. That is unless you catch the opening sequence to The Kingdom.
Full Metal Jacket
This is a long movie, but it’s also one of the most well done movies ever. The movie is based off the book The Short-Timers which follows a platoon of soldiers throughout their time in the army. It goes right from the stories behind boot camp to the stories of two soldiers in the middle of the Vietnam war. The movie spends a lot of time developing the characters, and puts more emphasis on their time becoming friends and the harsh circumstances to simply hold a rifle. Full Metal Jacket of course refers to the bullet casings the soldiers used in battle, which should tell you how deep the movie goes.
This movie is a great movie to watch, not just for people interested in a war film, but anyone interested in a great story period. The fact that it starts off and spends so much time in boot camp is what really pushes the film over the top. There is so much emphasis on building each character so specifically that you care about every action they make. If someone gets wounded you feel the pain the others are going through, if someone is making a mistake you understand why the others are getting frustrated. It really shows you what it’s like to be a soldier, but also glances over the harsh Vietnam times, and that’s what makes it great.
Saints and Soldiers
The movie takes place shortly after the Malmedy Massacre during the Battle of the Bulge, and is in fact loosely based on true events. The Massacre was when 84 American prisoners of war were murdered by German troops, at which were later put on trial for their actions. The story focuses on a group of American soldiers that escape from the Massacre and come across a downed British pilot. Together they have vital information that they need to pass on to Allied lines to turn the tide in the war. Deacon, one of the American soldiers, disarms a German soldier but does not kill him. Later he has hallucinations, which are then explained by another soldier is a cause of Deacon accidently killing a woman and several kids. Note that there are some underlying religious undertones and that turned me away for a while, but I did eventually watch it. The undertones are more so about doing good deeds than anything, and it really adds to the overall story.
This is one of my favorite movies of recent times because of the good ethics tone it has. It is also not about full on war, and there is only one scene in the whole movie that I can remember with a big epic battle. It is more so about them conserving each other and helping each other climb over every hill they come across. There is some action, but don’t expect it to be fully fledged gun fight after gun fight. They also had several real events in the movie that really add to the experience. One off the top of my head was when they go into a house and they have to hide under the floor as several German troops eat lunch above them. It really hits home on what the soldiers are going through. Deacons mistake also shows how something tragic can happen and haunt a soldier forever, even if he tries to let it go or make up for it. With the religious tone he does find some redemption though.
The Hurt Locker
This is another rather recent film that deserved to win many awards when it released. The Hurt Locker is about a three-man American army bomb disposal team and takes place right in the middle of the Iraq war. The story was actually written by a journalist that tagged along a squad doing a similar mission in the war. The story is about the bomb team doing what they do best, but when a group of mercenaries come along, plans change and the goal of revenge becomes evident.
The movie is deep and full of emotion and with how many awards it has won, I’m obviously not the only person that thinks that. The true reason it is on this list is simply because it brings several issues soldiers have in the Iraq war to the screen so you can get a better understanding of things. For example James, the main characters, becomes friends with a young kid in Iraq that is simply selling DVD’s. However later in the film something happens to this kid and James’ emotions change entirely right then and there. Its absolutely breath taking and will easily get you thinking about what the soldiers go through.
These are some of my absolutely favorite movies of all time, and 5 of the absolute best war related films you will ever see. With 9/11 just passing a lot of people are starting to remember and thank the heroes that fight for our freedom every day, and these movies might help you grow a bigger respect for what they do. There are plenty of other films to choose from too, and being a war film fan myself I could probably write books about it. However I found a way to narrow it down to my 5 favorite films, so go ahead and check them out!