ByRicky Derisz, writer at
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!" Twitter: @RDerisz.
Ricky Derisz

Mel Gibson's possibly controversial return to form comes in the style of Hacksaw Ridge, a war movie based on the extraordinary real-life story of Desmond Doss — a war hero with a difference.

Does was a strictly religious Christian who refused to use a gun during WWII, but became the first ever conscientious objector to receive the United States Medal of Honor after saving over 75 of his colleagues during battle.

It's a war movie with a difference, infusing the concept of faith and Christianity into the backdrop of war. It fits neatly under the umbrella of "anti-war movies," films which explore the negative impact combat can have on individuals.

See Also:

But once you've watched the film, where to turn next? Below is a list of some of the best "anti-war" movies, those which are thrilling while also carrying serious messages of pacifism:

1. American Sniper (2014)

Bradley Cooper in 'American Sniper' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
Bradley Cooper in 'American Sniper' [Credit: Warner Bros.]

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Based on the real-life experiences of eagle-eyed sniper, Chris Kyle, Eastwood's movie is thrilling and hard-hitting. Although patriotism is draped over the movie like an oversized American flag hanging on the shoulders of a small child, it does still depict the conflict between acts of war and the personal toll it has on the psyche of those involved.

Despite some question marks over its depiction of the Iraq War and Kyle himself, Bradley Cooper received praise for his performance in the lead role and the film received six Oscar nominations, winning one.

2. Apocalypse Now (1979)

'Apocalypse Now' [Credit: United Artists]
'Apocalypse Now' [Credit: United Artists]

Directed by: Francis Coppola

The Vietnam War movie is widely considered one of the best ever made, despite issues with production. The film focuses on a group of soldiers — fronted by Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen) — and their clandestine mission to find the enigmatic and potentially insane Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando).

The unflinching and soul-searching depiction of the darkness of war makes it difficult but essential viewing. Following the trend for war movies and Academy Award success, it was nominated for eight Oscars, winning two.

3. Das Boot (1981)

'Das Boot' [Credit: Bavaria Film]
'Das Boot' [Credit: Bavaria Film]

Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen

Not only one of the finest war movies ever made, Das Boot is arguably Germany's best. As with Hackshaw Ridge, the film is set around WWII, viewed from the perspective of Lt. Werner (Herbert Grönemeyer), a war correspondent who is aboard a German submarine.

The story depicts the hapless and monotonous task for the crew on board, slicing through the concept of war to reveal a collection of imperfect humans who want to do the best for each other, and for their country.

4. Dr. Strangelove (1964)

'Dr. Strangelove' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]
'Dr. Strangelove' [Credit: Columbia Pictures]

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

The genius director's third furore into — following his debut Fear and Desire (1953) and Paths of Glory (1957) — came in the form of the black comedy, Dr. Strangelove, focusing on the Cold War and the inherent paranoia of an impending attack.

It's outrageously fitting, the excellent commentary told with the undercurrent of humor resulted in a film that still holds its sway over five decades later.

5. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

While Kubrick used satire to express his message in Dr. Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket was stripped of humor, instead delving deep in to the psyche of those at war, the impact such events have, and the moral questions surrounding the instructors and the instructed.

Split into two segments focusing on army training and later in combat itself, Kubrick provides an uncompromising commentary on the humanity of those being pushed to their limit.

6. Jacob's Ladder (1990)

'Jacob's Ladder' [Credit: TriStar Pictures]
'Jacob's Ladder' [Credit: TriStar Pictures]

Directed by: Adrian Lyne

If the concept of an anti-war movie is a strong message that, basically, war is bad, then Jacob's Ladder makes a worthy entrance to the list. It's difference from lies in the fact that — told through the eyes of PTSD suffering Vietnam War veteran Jacob "Professor" Singer — it's more of a hallucinogenic horror than full-on war movie.

However, there aren't many films that can capture the inescapable and claustrophobic sense of a mind deeply unsettled by events of conflict. It's a film that will leave you feeling disturbed, but for the right reasons.

7. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

When it comes to WWII movies, Saving Private Ryan is one of, if not the, best. In particular, the depiction of the Omaha Beach landing is one of the most immersive, and consequently terrifying portrayals of war ever seen on screen.

The film follows Cpt. John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad as they attempt to rescue James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), the last of four brothers left alive during the bloody conflict.

Such was the realism of the action sequences, many veterans had to leave the theatre during the opening scene. Numbers of those seeking help for PTSD also rose, with dedicated hotlines set up to aid those in need.

8. Waltz With Bashir (2008)

'Waltz with Bashir' [Credit: Bridgit Folman Film Gang]
'Waltz with Bashir' [Credit: Bridgit Folman Film Gang]

Directed by: Ari Folman

Don't let the animation fool you; Folman's documentary is anything but two dimensional, following him on a deeply personal journey as he attempts to recollect lost memories during his time as a soldier for the Israeli Army during the 1982 Lebanon War.

Such is the impact of the documentary, the film is banned in a number of Arab countries, including Lebanon. Elsewhere, however, the film was positively received, and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Bonus: Band Of Brothers (2001)

'Band of Brothers' [Credit: Bridgit Folman Film Gang]
'Band of Brothers' [Credit: Bridgit Folman Film Gang]

Rules are there to be broken, and it's difficult to discuss memorable war movies without also including the award-winning TV series, Band of Brothers. Saving Private Ryan duo Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks served as executive producers for the 10-part exploration of the "Easy" Company.

Following the lives of those involved from early training to full-on combat, the compelling series is rammed with unforgettable performances, and the portrayal of the impact of war is even more intense.


Will you be watching Hacksaw Ridge?


Latest from our Creators