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40 Essential War Movies

Being a huge on the war movie genre over the past few years, I consider these 40 movies to be essential for any movie fan and fan of the genre in general. I offer this list along with my sharpest salute.
1Paths Of Glory

Definitely the best war movie I have ever seen. The final scene where the only woman in the movie sings, causing the crowd of French soldiers to turn into a tear-eyes group of lonely men is extremely haunting and heart-wrenching. Absolutely essential.
2Foret Gump
3Dr. Strangelove

Stanley Kubrick at his best. This is both hilarious and frightening.
4All Quiet On The Western Front

Movie showing the horrors of WWI trench warfare. One of the first movies to earn a Best Picture Oscar.
5The Pianist

The Pianist is an account of the true life experience of a Polish pianist during WW2, in the context of the deportation of the Jewish community to the Ghetto of Warsaw, a setting virtually absent from all films inspired on WW2.
6Apocalypse Now
8Band Of Brothers
9Full-Metal Jacket
10Grave Of The Fireflies

Extremely stunning animated Japanese war movie. It's a movie about the beauty and fragility of life and youth. If you think Japanese animation is all giant robots and superhuman schoolgirls, this could be the film which changes your mind. It's slow, poetic, beautiful and sad, and extraordinarily honest.
11Lawrence Of Arabia

Epic and literate version of British adventurer and soldier T E Lawrence's experiences in Arabia during the First World War.
12Das Boot

A short history lesson about Nazis? Sure! Just watch this movie.
14From Here To Eternity

The definitive Pearl-Harbor movie.
15Saving Private Ryan
16Enemy At The Gates
17Empire Of The Sun
18The Bridge On The River Kwai

With a great visual beauty and terrific whistling tune March, "The Bridge on the River Kwai" is a great dramatic entertainment of the wills of men.
19Army Of Shadows

Filmed in a cold, documentary-like style, this film tells the intertwining stories of several members of the French resistance.

Hilarious Robert Altman's Korean War satire. If you are tired of the typical "Vietnam conflict" movies, then you might enjoy this.
21The Thin Red Line
22Three Kings
23Ivan's Childhood

Andrei Tarkovsky's devastating debut follows a vengeful Russian boy who takes on reconnaissance missions for the Soviet Army during the Second World War.
24Ballad Of A Soldier

A delicate Russian-made tribute to that nation's staggering sacrifice during WWII, Grigori Chukhrai's drama concerns a teenage infantryman's journey back home for a six-day break, a reward for taking out two German tanks.
25The Great Escape

A heroic war movie classic and shows the bravery of men in the second world war.
26Black Hawk Down
27The Hurt Locker
28We Were Soldiers
30Before The Rain

i saw this film last year and for the rest of the day could not shake the emotional response it had provoked within me. Totally original in its construction, it makes the "inventive" timelines of tarantino's work look childish and simplistic. This film tells many stories and helped me understand the Balkan conflict in a new light.
31The Dirty Dozen

The quintessential "guys on a mission" movie and a war classic.
32Letters From Iwo Jima
33The Hunt For The Red October

A submarine movie. Second best to "Das Boot".
34Gone With The Wind

An obvious classic. Some consider this to be mostly a romantic drama, which in fact it is, but one cant deny the significance of the events and the details of American civil war shown in the movie.
35The Deer Hunter
36Schindlers List

Again, this doesn't really fall under the genre, but because of the historically and biographically compelling and authentic story taking place during WWII, no war movie list is complete without this.

Patton was a man who lived for war. World War II was the high point and culmination of his life. He didn't fight for any principles, he didn't fight to defend freedom or democracy or any abstract idea; he fought because he loved fighting. In his diaries you can read of his fear of flunking out of West Point; the prospect terrified him because he was certain that he would never be good at anything except being a general or a leader of a country.

Not much more to say about this timeless classic.
39Inglorious Basterds
40No Man's Land

This is a deeply disturbing film that everyone should see. It brings home the true insanity of war and the total depravity of the human mind.
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