I must admit that I haven't seen World War Z, although I do have it on in the background as I write this. However, the title obviously made me think about World War movies, even though the storyline of World War Z is quite different to a classic war film, I know. I do like a war film and war has been the setting for many great stories. Therefore, here is a list of my top 10 movies set during World War II.
10 - The Dam Busters (1955)
A classic British war film made only 10 years after the end of the war. The story behind the Dam Busters is so fascinating that this film keeps everyone's interest. The science involved in creating a bomb that would skim on water is just awesome and this film depicts how the invention was developed. A great film to show kids too, especially if they are studying WWII.
9 - The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
An outstanding film directed by David Lean and starring Alec Guinness. The film has a special place for me as I visited the bridge that they built in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. The bridge and the film tells the story of the war in South East Asia and the length that soldiers had to go to. The film won 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture at the 30th awards ceremony.
8 - The Great Escape (1963)
A film full of classic scenes and quotes. Some of the best war films are based in POW camps and this is maybe the best. Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson & Jame Coburn amongst many others; the cast is strong and the movie benefits from it. The portrayal of hope and drive is supreb in this film and the ending gives us a few twists. Great film.
7 - Escape to Victory (1981)
Now, this wouldn't be in many people's list and I am quite aware that it might not belong here. But it holds a place of nostalgia for me. My dad owned the film on VHS and I remember watching it over and over. The fact that football (soccer) is involved too, makes me all the more interested. A cast of big film stars and ex-professional footballers give this film a feel of the perfect sporting film. Any film that stars Michael Caine and Pele, is ok by me!
6 - The Longest Day (1962)
What a cast! Too many stars to list here but you can find them all here. This film tracks D-Day in fine detail and displays many little ploys that the Allies used as decoys like the paradummies that were used during WWII. The film is full of anecdotes from real people during the landings and are put together in a way that makes the film a must watch for WWII enthusiasts.
5 - Life is Beautiful (1997)
This film has such a heartwarming feel at the beginning, that when you realise the context that the film is set in the terror hits the viewer. Roberto Begnini drives home the devestation that Holocaust brought to those who were commited to concentration camps. And the father son relationship between Guido and Joshua and the fact that Guido turns the camp into a game, makes that lump in your throat get all the more larger.
4 - The Pianist (2002)
Roman Polanski gives us one of the greatest films about the Holocaust. The film uses the beauty and innocence of music to portray the din and tumult that the atrocities against Jews brought to the world. A great performance from Adrien Brody and a superb story earned this film 7 Oscar nominations and it won 3, including Best Actor and Best Director. A truly must-watch film.
3 - Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The first 20 minutes of this film is one of the best openings of a film of alltime, in my view. The action and use of sound in the scenes when the troops land on the beach, is some of best scenes in war film history. As the film goes on I find that it is unable to keep up this perfection, but for those opening scenes alone it should be on every war lovers list.
2 - Casablanca (1942)
Not necessarily a war film, Casablanca, is however a film set during World War II and the reason the story evolves as it does is due to the war. The political complexities of Casablanca at that time is the constant behind the enravelling love story involving Rick and Ilsa. The film is one of my favourites of all time and although not technically a "war" film its setting makes its place in list confirmed.
1 - Schindler's List (1993)
What a spectacular movie this is! There is no other movie that encapsulates the horrors of the Holocaust as well as a film could ever do. For me, this is a film that everyone should see and one that should be shown in all schools. It is hard-hitting and maybe too vivid for a young audience, but that is key in any portrayal of a historical atrocity such as the Holocaust. Having visited Auschwitz in Poland, the film brings to life the sheer volume of the camp's devastation and gives me that chill down my spine that reminds me of the one I felt when I was there. In my view, Spielberg never has and never will outdo this picture.