5. The Longest Day (1962)
At 3 hours long, The Longest Day was an ambitious attempt to try and show that there were two sides in the second world war. It won a couple of Oscars and is packed with characters. And herein lies a minor problem. There are so many characters weaving together the 5 stories of the D Day landings that we never really get close to any of them. But that’s not a problem. This is a docudrama on an epic scale and is one of best depictions of the events of its kind.
4. Patton (1970)
General Patton was a larger than life and always controversial tank commander who lost out on the top commands because of his attitude. The film, quite rightly, won 7 Oscars including Best Actor for George C Scott. As always, the truth is somewhat romanticised but that doesn’t detract from a great biopic. Fact is invariably more engaging than fiction and Patton is another excellent presentation of events in the Second World War.
3. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Is there nowhere that Quentin Tarantino can’t go? His trademark blood and violence is all over Inglorious Basterds which tell the story of an assassination scheme by a troop of rather unpleasant Jewish Americans to get rid of some rather unpleasant German commanders. It’s actually unclear who the real IBs are here. Bizarrely, there’s a lot of humor in this story (and it is a story, not true events) even though the concept has very hard edges. And that’s what makes it archetypal Tarantino. One of his best.
2. Beasts of No Nation (2015) Netflix Original
Beasts of No Nation is so realistic it’s hard to believe that it’s a movie and the characters are actors. This the story of a child who is forced into an army of African rebels as a boy soldier. This is an enormously sensitive topic and the stories that have come out Africa about the atrocities in the civil wars have been very one sided. That there might be another side to the lives that the rebels have to live has never been considered before and that makes the movies a genuine first. It is compulsive watching that will change your attitudes for ever.
1. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Stanley Kubricks cynical poke at the futility of the Vietnam war, Full Metal Jacket, is a film of two halves. The first half takes us through basic training with a platoon of conscripts and their Gunnery Sergeant. R Lee Ermeys creation of a god fearing killing machine borders on the comical.
There’s plenty of excellent and funny lines. But the under current of dehumanising soldiers to the point of madness is terrifying. The second half of the movie moves to Vietnam and looks at the misinformation that the Americans engaged to convince the rest of the world that everything was going well. This is a masterpiece that deserved more from the awards.
What’s your favorite war movie streaming on Netflix? Let us know in the comments!