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War Movies

A war film is any film dealing with war, usually focusing on naval, air, or land battle, but sometimes focusing instead on prisoners of war, covert operations, training, or other related subjects.

Many of the dramatic war films in the early 1940s in the United States were designed to create consensus at the expense of "the enemy." In fact, one of the conventions of the genre that developed during the period was that of a cross-section of the United States which comes together as a crack unit for the good of the country.

War films produced during the Vietnam War era tended to reflect the disillusionment of the American public towards the war. Examples include Catch-22 and M*A*S*H.

War films (like films in any genre) tend to have a number of cliches associated with them: for instance, in many 1940s and 1950s war film, a small group of men will tend to be fairly diverse ethnically, but most of the characters will not be developed much beyond their ethnicity; the officer immediately ranking the main character will tend to be both unreasonable and unyielding; almost anyone sharing personal information--especially plans for after returning home--will die shortly after sharing the plans; and anyone acting in a cowardly or unpatriotic manner will either convert to heroism or die.

However, other films are quasi-documentary in nature, and reflect what the screenwriters feel were the thoughts, words, and actions of the participants in a battle. The American Civil War film Gettysburg was based on actual events during the battle, including the defense of Little Round Top by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain.

Many war films have been produced with the cooperation of a nation's military forces. The United States Navy has been very cooperative since World War II in providing ships and technical guidance. However, this strategy can backfire. The German Ministry of Propaganda, in making the epic war film Königsburg in January 1945, used several divisions of soldiers as extras. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels believed the impact of the film would offset the tactical disadvantages of the missing soldiers.

If they do not cooperate, then another country's military may assist. Many 1950s and 1960s war movies, and the Oscar-winning film Patton were shot in Spain, which had large supplies of both Allied and Axis equipment. The Napoleonic epic Waterloo was shot in the Ukraine, using Soviet soldiers (and incidentally, helped scholars learn why Napoleon preferred the tactics in attacking in column). Saving Private Ryan was shot with the cooperation of the Irish army.

Notable War Films

French and Indian War
  • The Last of the Mohicans
American Revolutionary War
  • The Patriot (2000)
  • Revolution (1985)
Napoleonic Empire Wars
  • Napoleon
  • War and Peace
  • Waterloo
Crimean War
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade
Texas War of Independence
  • The Alamo
American Civil War
  • Battle of Gettysburg (1913)
  • Battle of Gettysburg (1956)
  • Birth of a Nation, first epic film
  • Gettysburg
  • Glory
  • The Red Badge of Courage
Spanish-American War
  • Tearing Down the Spanish Flag - first war movie ever made, in 1898.
Anglo-Zulu War
  • Shaka Zulu
  • Zulu
  • Zulu Dawn
World War I
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • A Farewell to Arms
  • Capitaine Conan
  • Gallipoli
  • Johnny Got His Gun
  • La Grande illusion
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Oh! What a Lovely War
  • Paths of Glory
  • Sergeant York
  • What Price Glory
  • Wings
Spanish Civil War
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Land and Freedom
World War II
  • Air Force
  • Battle of Britain
  • Battle of Midway
  • A Bridge Too Far
  • Captain Corelli's Mandolin
  • Catch-22
  • Corvette K-235
  • Das Boot
  • Decision Before Dawn
  • Enemy at the Gates
  • From Here to Eternity
  • In Which We Serve
  • Kelly's Heroes
  • L'Armée des Ombres
  • La bataille du Rail
  • Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
  • Operation Pacific
  • Paris brule-t-il ?
  • Patton
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Roma, città aperta
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Stalag 17
  • Stalingrad
  • The Ardennes Offensive
  • The Big Red One
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • The Cruel Sea
  • The Dam Busters
  • The Dirty Dozen
  • The Enemy Below
  • The English Patient
  • The Fighting Seabees
  • The Great Escape
  • The Guns of Navarone
  • The Longest Day
  • The Story of G.I. Joe
  • The Thin Red Line
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
  • Tora! Tora! Tora!
  • Twelve O'Clock High
  • U-571
  • Un taxi pour Tobrouk
  • Windtalkers
  • Week-end à Zuydcoote
  • When Eagles Dare
Indochina War
  • La 317éme section
  • Diên Biên Phú
Korean War
  • M*A*S*H
  • The Bridges of Toko-ri
Algerian War of Independence
  • Chronique des années de braise
  • L'Honneur d'un Capitaine
  • Lost Command
  • RAS
  • The Battle of Algiers
Vietnam War
  • Apocalypse Now
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Go Tell the Spartans
  • Hamburger Hill
  • Platoon
  • The Deer Hunter
  • The Green Berets
  • We Were Soldiers
Gulf War
  • Three Kings
  • Blackhawk Down
  • Behind Enemy Lines
  • No Man's Land
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