WORLD WAR 2 MOVIES: Blogger Buddies Speak…

 
 
All week I have been looking at movies based on World War 2. I’ve already shared reviews and a Phenomenal 5. So I thought it would be cool to hear the thoughts of some of my movie blogging buddies. There are literally hundreds of World War 2 pictures and so many of them are great movies. But there are also a handful that stand out as true classics as you will see by the picks below. I asked some of my movie-loving friends to share their favorite World War 2 movie with a brief explanation of why they love it so. I got some great choices and great defenses and I appreciate everyone who chimed in.
 
 
From my buddy Mark over at Marked Movies:
 
“THE THIN RED LINE”
 

“The brutality of war is ethereally and philosophically handled by Terrence Malick. Beautifully shot with an endless cast of familiar faces. War, captured as a meditation and a surprisingly poetic baptism that was based on the novel by James Jones.”

Adam from one of my favs3 Guys 1 Movieagreed:

“THE THIN RED LINE”

Without a doubt my favorite WW2 film of all time is Terrance Malick’s The Thin Red Line. This film was released in 1998 and was overshadowed by another small WW2 film also released that year, Saving Private Ryan. While both films are deserving of great praise, for me the Thin Red Line is a far superior film.

I would describe this film as, a thinking man’s war film. Malick presents us with a war movie from the perspective of an Emersonian philosopher. He also allows us a look inside the heads of several of the main characters, so you can see their thoughts and motivations for their actions.

This is a beautifully shot film, with the Eden like beauty of the tropical islands juxtaposed with the brutal horror of war. If you are looking for a war film that will leave you with more questions than answers, about the nature of man and his place in the world, this might be a film you would enjoy.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the amazing performances in this film by Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson and John Cusack to name a few. It’s a star-studded film with lots powerful performances and small cameo appearances. If you get a chance to check out The Thin Red Line I urge you to give it a watch, after all, it’s my favorite WW2 film.

Pete from the always funI Love That Film” :

“SAVING PRIVATE RYAN”

“Saving Private Ryan” feels more like an experience than a film. Never has a battle scene been more immersive than the opening assault on Omaha Beach. The rest of the film pales in comparison but still delivers some heart breaking characters and perfect cinematography.

However it is the opening thirty minutes that grabs the viewer; putting them in the terrified faces of puking, trembling soldiers before showing them being ripped apart and torn to shreds by enemy gunfire. The handheld point-of-view style camera puts us right there on the beach and changed war films forever. It is a scene you can never forget; a terrifying experience.

Overall, it may not have a complex narrative or be overly ponderous and thoughtful about the life of a soldier, but it does leave viewers with a brutal sense of the horror and the heroics of World War 2.”

Sharing the same view is my friend Kristin from the wonderfulAll Eyes on Screen“:

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN

Well, I’m going to be clichĂ©, or boring, or predictable, and say that my favorite WWII film is Saving Private Ryan. Partly because I haven’t seen a ton of war films, but the reason I primarily chose it is that I love the film. The story is moving, and there isn’t a hint of realism–the film is rooted in realistic combat, dialogue, and action. Tom Hanks leads a strong cast in a film that as many have said–and many more will say–was cheated at the Oscars. I did watch Shakespeare in Love in order to see what was so good about it that it was able to beat out Saving Private Ryan, and in my humble opinion, Shakespeare in Love didn’t come close.”

Marc fromLove Your Moviesadded cool twist:

“THE READER

With a different slant on a WWII film, The Reader tells the story of a woman and former prison guard for the Nazi party. An illiterate woman who was just trying to serve her country and make a living is later put on trial for crimes against humanity along with the other women guards she worked with. They soon conspire to have her take the fall for them all and with her ailment she is unable to refute the accusations.

Having had an unusual relationship with a young high school student whom she lost touch with over the years, he soon discovers her again when she is on trial and he is a young law student. After he is grown he begins to search her out in prison and helps her unknowingly learn how to read and write. Knowing she was innocent of the certain charges and that she is genuinely a good person he can’t lose touch with her.
 
With career changing performances from Kate Winslet and Ralph Finnes, it is an emotional powerhouse of a film that shows a side of one time Nazi’s that hasn’t been shown before. Quite a few soldiers and others involved were just trying to make a living and thought they were doing the right thing for their country as do most servants of their countries. While it’s not considered a traditional WWII film it is still a necessary story none the less.”
 
Great choices and great comments.

5 PHENOMENAL WORLD WAR 2 FILMS

How on earth do you narrow a list of top World War 2 movies down to just five? Since the war itself, there have been so many high quality films from across the globe that focused on this troubled time in our world’s history. When trying to narrow down this list, I wanted to make sure that the war was a key character in the story and not simply the backdrop. Several classic films such as “Casablanca” are set in wartime but the war isn’t central to the picture. But I didn’t want to restrict the list to only combat centered movies. So while the war is a key ingredient in the films I chose, combat doesn’t have to be the main focus. These five films are war pictures that not only show the action of the battlefield but the horrible effects and atrocities of World War 2. As always, I wouldn’t call this the definitive list, but there’s no denying that these World War 2 films are absolutely phenomenal.

#5 – “THE PIANIST” (2002)

The Pianist” is a painful yet moving film about a Jewish-Polish pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman. The movie covers the Nazi invasion and eventual occupation of Warsaw, Poland as well as the subsequent Warsaw Uprising by the Polish resistance. We follow Szpilman and his family as the Nazi’s invade. We see them confined to the horrible conditions of the Jewish Ghetto. We even see the Nazis begin shipping out Jews to the nearby death camps. Szpilman’s struggle to survive isn’t always easy to watch. There are some genuinely heart-wrenching and disturbing scenes that still stick to me to this day. But the entire film is done responsibly and it packs such an emotional punch that you’ll never want to forget this dark time in our worlds history. Adrien Brody won the Best Actor for his portrayal of Szpilman and it was well-deserved. It won numerous other awards and remains one of the most powerful World War 2 films out there.

#4 – “SAVING PRIVATE RYAN”  (1998)

A World War 2 movie from 1998, “Saving Private Ryan” was Steven Spielberg’s hugely popular film that also received several Oscar nominations. Spielberg’s movie has been praised for its intensely realistic portrayal of combat during the war. The intensity of the battle sequences mixed with the enormous attention to detail gives the movie a heightened realism that’s hard to forget. The story captures the extraordinary emotions which are fueled by both the camaraderie and the loss of soldiers in battle. We see it’s effects on the men and we see the effects on their family. A sensational cast led by the always diverse Tom Hanks lay the story out for us with honesty and grit. And the opening 30 minutes which features the Omaha Beach landing on D-Day will go down as one of the most piercing and powerful scenes in movie history. “Saving Private Ryan” is a movie that calls us to remember a war we should never forget and Spielberg’s accomplishment should never be forgotten as well.

#3 – “THE LONGEST DAY” (1962)

“The Longest Day” may have the greatest ensemble cast in the history of movies. John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Red Buttons, Robert Wagner, Eddie Albert, Roddy McDowall, Sal Mineo, Rod Steiger, and so many more star in this large-scale depiction of D-Day and the invasion of Normandy. The movie looks at D-Day from all sides, the Americans, the British, the French Resistance, and even the Germans. The attention and effort put in “The Longest Day” is evident. The movie was influenced by contributors from all sides of the war including those who fought on June 6, 1944. At almost 3 hours, the movie goes to great lengths to look at all that went into the planning and execution of that gutsy and dangerous invasion. Great performances and several classic scenes help make “The Longest Day” one of my favorite war films of all time.

#2 – “SCHINDLER’S LIST” (1993)

Steven Spielberg’s brilliant film “Schindler’s List” is one of the most devastating movies you’ll see. But it’s also an example of filmmaking at it’s best and, much like “The Pianist”, it looks back at a horrific time in our world’s history that we should never forget. The film revolves around the true life story of Oskar Schindler, a money-hungry German businessman who arrives in Krakow after the Nazi invasion in hopes of making tons of money exploiting the war. Instead we see a remarkable personal transformation. But the film should be most remembered for it’s realistic portrayal of the Nazi atrocities against the Jews. Spielberg’s use of black and white instead of color and his filming technique gives the movie an almost documentary feel. Also his careful attention to detail and honest depictions of the horrors that took place make the film even more potent. “Schindler’s List” is a monumental achievement even though it’s one of the most difficult movies to watch.

#1 – “FLAME AND CITRON” (2008)

I can see where it would surprise some to see a more recent Danish picture at the top of my list of World War 2 movies. “Flame and Citron” is a movie many have probably never heard of but everyone should see. It’s an enthralling film about two Danish resistance fighters who carry out hits on Nazi officers , key Nazi targets, and Nazi sympathizers during the German occupation of Denmark. It’s loosely based on true events and is told from a unique perspective that really grabbed me. Thure Lindhardt and the wonderful Mads Mikkelsen are brilliant as the secret assassins and Christian Madsen’s direction is top-notch. “Flame and Citron” is a gritty and unashamed look at the war through the eyes of a persecuted people who were willing to fight back. It’s a movie that’s flawlessly executed (no pun intended) and that reveals a side of the war that was completely new to me. It’s an incredible movie and one that I can’t recommend enough especially to those who love war films.

See something on my list you disagree with? Did I leave your favorite World War 2 movie off? Please take time to share your comments or post your list of the best World War 2 movies. The more comments, the better the discussion.