War is obviously not something to take lightly. But war does make a fantastic category of film. The struggles translate onto the screen well and often show the horrible realities of the front line. Here are my five favorites.
1) Saving Private Ryan
This is hands down the best war movie of all time. It’s also probably one of the ten greatest movies ever made. This film has to be considered one of Spielberg’s many masterpieces. For those of you unfamiliar with the famous plot, I’ll run it down for you. Captain John Miller and his team are sent on a deadly mission to find Pvt. James Ryan whose three brothers have been killed in action. The cast is one of the all-time greats led by Tom Hanks, with supporting work from Matt Damon, Barry Pepper, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Vin Diesel, and Paul Giammati. There is some brutal war violence, wonderful dialogue, and great cinematography. This is an unbelievable film experience that demands to be seen.
2) Schindler’s List
“The list is an absolute good. The list is life.” Schindler’s List is the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman working for the Nazis who sympathizes with the Jewish people. The story is less important than the meaning of the film. This is another war masterpiece made by, you guessed it; Spielberg. The cast is a powerhouse featuring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley. The performances are ridiculous, and you forget that they are acting. Everything feels legitimate. The film is in black and white and is 3 hours and 25 minutes long, which may turn some viewers off, but just adds to the entire experience for me.
3) Apocalypse Now
We move on from the two fantastic Spielberg films, and move on to another equally talented director: Francis Ford Coppola. The plot follows the disturbed Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen) on his quest through Cambodia to kill one of the war’s most highly decorated soldiers, Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Kurtz has gone insane during the war and has created a dystopian society that he now lives in and rules. I may start sounding like a broken record, but this film has an awesome cast as well consisting of Sheen, Brando, Dennis Hopper, Robert Duvall, and a young Laurence Fishburne. This is a unique look at war, and the horrors it sets on soldiers. It’s an experience like no other, and one of the strangest, but best movies ever made.
4) Inglorious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino has the most style of any modern director out there. His style fits exactly what I’m looking for, and Inglorious Basterds works its magic the way all of his great films do. Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth, Michael Fassbender, Diane Kruger, and Melanie Laurent star, and they do it well. As all of Tarantino’s films are this one’s uber violent. There’s no shortage of blood and guts, but again, in Tarantino’s style, it’s all stylized. This is not the most realistic war film (not even close), but it’s one hell of a ride.