World War II has always been a great source of historical stories that have been transformed into movies. Some stories narrate direct combat, others describe concentration camps, and yet others confront us with the horrors of war. All these have been used as themes in movies. Selecting a list of the top 10 World War II movies is rather a tough task but this list has movies that you must watch either for their spectacular portrayal of heroism or for their high standard of filmmaking.
Based on the 1952 French novel by Pierre Boulle, The Bridge on the River Kwai is one of the most cherished World War II movies. It describes how British POWs are forced by their Japanese captors to build a bridge across the river Kwai in Burma only to discover later that the bridge would be destroyed as soon as the construction is over. The British team is lead by Colonel Nicholas, who is always at loggerheads with his Japanese counterpart. The tussle between the two makes for the best scenes in the movie.
The Dirty Dozen is one of the most enthralling man-on-mission movies ever made. Director Robert Aldrich casted Hollywood machos like Lee Marwin, Jim Brown, and Ernest Borgnine. The story narrates how a US Army major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers as mercenaries; how he trains them for murdering German officers during World War II; and what happens when the mission goes awry.
The Big Red One stars Lee Marvin and Mark Hamill, and was directed by Samuel Fuller, who narrates an autobiographical account about his experiences in the Great War. Initially the studio had gutted a major chunk of movie but in 2004, at the Cannes Festival, the 47 minutes which were previously deleted were replaced back and the full movie was premiered.
From Here to Eternity is set in the backdrop of the Pearl Harbor incident and narrates the events that took place during and after the Great War. The movie is based in Hawaii and talks about the hardships faced by the soldiers in the months that lead to the gruesome attack on Pearl Harbor. The movie holds a very special place in singer Frank Sinatra’s acting career. He played the part of Private Angelo Maggio.
The Great Escape, as the name suggests, is a movie centered around a daring escape attempt by prisoners of war from a German POW Camp at Stalag Luft III. The Nazis were confident that no one could escape from the heavily guarded camp. But their belief is shattered when around a hundred men tunnel themselves out of the prison. What sets this movie apart from other war movies is the fact that it presents an almost non-fictional account of how a group of allied prisoners had tried escaping the prison walls during World War II.
American director Terrence Malick made his came back to filmmaking after 20 years with The Thin Red Line. Unlike other war movies – which focus more on the violence part – the Thin Red Line centers around the impact of the Battle of Mount Austen on soldiers during World War II. In its entirety it is a compelling narration of the impacts of war on the hopes, dreams and aspirations of young men.
Patton is an American World War II movie that gives a biographical account about US General George S. Patton. Unlike other war movies, where the protagonists are generally portrayed as the all good hero, this movie describes the character of the general in good and bad. The story starts with describing the career of General Patton from the first time he was posted in North Africa and carries forward to showcase his invasions throughout Europe.
Where Eagles Dare is one of the most thrilling World War II movies of all time and is the story of an American General who is captured by the Germans and held prisoner in an impregnable fort. The Nazi’s are unaware that the man they have in captivity has the full knowledge about the yet-to-be launched D-day operation. At the same time, the British are troubled by this news and send a commando team to rescue the general before he gives away the secret plan. Take a look at Clint Eastwood in an army officer’s uniform for a change.
Another classic movie of World War II movies, The Guns of Navarone describes the story of captive British troops on a far away Greek island of Navarone. A troop of British commandos is send to the island to destroy a German fortress where the British are held hostage. The mission seems not only difficult but quiet impossible, owing to the two powerful guns that protect the fortress.
Come and See is a Russian World War II movie that narrates the story of an innocent Belorussian Boy who gets was raised in Stalingrad but during the war had to flee from the place with his mother to Volga amidst heavy firing. This one event completely changes his life, bringing an end to his innocence and also impacting his mind negatively. No other war movie till date has been able to bring out the macabre and horrors of war cinematically alive than this film, the title of which comes from Chapter 6 of Book of Revelations from the Holy Bible.