Movies About Historical Events

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Movies About Historical Events

Multiple directors have reported on Movies About Historical Events. Here are 25 of the best ones.

Schindler's List (1993)

Schindler's List
★★★★
★★★★
3.6 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall
Rated R

Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical drama directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Zaillian. The film is based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. The film follows Schindler's efforts to protect his Jewish workers from the Nazi concentration camps. The film is both a tribute to the courage of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and a testament to the power of human decency. It is an emotional journey that is both heartbreaking and uplifting as it tells the story of Schindler's remarkable courage and moral conviction. The cast includes Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, and many others in roles that are both powerful and heartbreaking. The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Spielberg, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Zaillian.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns
Rated R

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 war drama film directed by Steven Spielberg that follows a group of U.S. Army Rangers led by Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) as they search for paratrooper Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon) in Normandy during World War II. After sustaining heavy losses in the Battle of Normandy, their mission is to find Ryan and bring him back home. Along the way, the team faces numerous obstacles as they battle the enemy and confront their own personal demons. Ultimately, they come to understand the true meaning of heroism, sacrifice, and courage in the face of adversity. The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and was nominated for a total of eleven.

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Life Is Beautiful
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Roberto Benigni, starring Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano
Rated PG-13

Life Is Beautiful is a 1997 Italian language comedy-drama directed by Roberto Benigni. It tells the story of a Jewish father, Guido Orefice, who is sent to a Nazi concentration camp with his son, Giosué. Guido tries to protect his son from the horrors of their situation by convincing him their time in the camp is part of an elaborate game. Despite the terrible conditions, Guido’s resourcefulness and optimism help his son to survive and even find joy in their situation. In the end, Guido makes the ultimate sacrifice to ensure Giosué’s safety. The film won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and two Oscars for Benigni and its producer, Elda Ferri.

The Pianist (2002)

The Pianist
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Roman Polanski, starring Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay, Emilia Fox
Rated R

The Pianist is a 2002 biographical drama film directed by Roman Polanski, starring Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann and Frank Finlay. It is based on the autobiographical book The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945, written by Władysław Szpilman, a Jewish-Polish pianist, who was living in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II. The story follows Szpilman as he struggles to survive and keep his music alive in the face of persecution by the German invaders. Through a combination of luck and savvy, Szpilman manages to stay alive and help others during the war. The film was critically acclaimed and won three Academy Awards, including Best Director, and numerous other awards.

Paths of Glory (1957)

Paths of Glory
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kubrick, starring Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready
Rated Approved

Paths of Glory is a 1957 war film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, and George Macready. The film tells the story of three French soldiers who are court-martialed and executed after refusing to participate in a suicidal attack during WWI. It is based on the novel of the same name by Humphrey Cobb. The film was an international success and is now considered one of the greatest war movies ever made. It has been praised for its depiction of war, its exploration of themes such as class and morality, and its cinematography. It also serves as a commentary on the futility of warfare and is seen as an anti-war movie.

The Boat (1981)

The Boat
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Wolfgang Petersen, starring Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Klaus Wennemann, Hubertus Bengsch
Rated R

The Boat is a 1981 German drama-thriller directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It follows the story of a German family on the eve of World War II who are forced to flee their homeland on a small fishing boat. Led by their father, the family embarks on an arduous journey across the Atlantic in a desperate attempt to find a safe haven. Along the way, they face relentless storms, dwindling food supplies, and the threat of capture by the Nazis. With their courage and perseverance, the family perseveres, ultimately finding hope and peace in their new home. The film is a powerful and poignant exploration of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Lawrence of Arabia
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From David Lean, starring Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins
Rated Approved

Lawrence of Arabia is a sweeping epic film directed by David Lean and released in 1962. Based on the real-life story of T.E. Lawrence, the film follows the young British Army officer who is sent to the Middle East during World War I to assist in the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. Lawrence soon befriends the leader of the Arab forces, Prince Faisal, and works with him to unify the Arab tribes and fight the Turks. Lawrence's unorthodox tactics and alliances take him on a journey of self-discovery, as he finds himself torn between his loyalty to Britain and his newfound respect and admiration for the Arab people. With its breathtaking cinematography and stirring score, Lawrence of Arabia is a classic exploration of heroism, identity, and friendship.

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Judgment at Nuremberg
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Stanley Kramer, starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich
Rated Approved

Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 American courtroom drama film directed by Stanley Kramer, written by Abby Mann, and starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximilian Schell, Judy Garland, and Marlene Dietrich. The film tells the story of a military tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1947, in which four German judges are accused of crimes against humanity for their involvement in war crimes during World War II. The tribunal is chaired by the American judge Dan Haywood (Tracy), and the four defendants are all prominent members of the Nazi legal system. Throughout the trial, the defendants are confronted with evidence of their complicity in the Holocaust and other war crimes, and must grapple with the implications of their actions. The film also explores the moral dilemmas faced by all involved, ranging from the defendants who must confront the consequences of their choices, to the American judges and prosecutors who must weigh their sense of justice and the rule of law against their own feelings of vengeance and hatred. Ultimately, the film ends with a verdict of guilty for all four defendants, and the court's determination that justice had been served.

1917 (2019)

1917
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Sam Mendes, starring Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Daniel Mays, Colin Firth
Rated R

1917 is an epic World War I film about two British lance corporals, Schofield and Blake, who are ordered to deliver an urgent message, deep behind enemy lines, in order to prevent a deadly attack against 1,600 of their fellow soldiers. The two brave lads must journey through a treacherous landscape, filled with hidden dangers, riddles and traps set by the enemy. Along the way, they experience the brutality of war, the fragility of life, and the bonds of friendship, as they attempt to complete their mission before it’s too late.

Downfall (2004)

Downfall
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Oliver Hirschbiegel, starring Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Köhler
Rated R

Downfall (2004) is a historical war drama directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. It is based on the last days of Adolf Hitler and his inner circle in Nazi Germany during the final weeks of World War II in April 1945. The film focuses on the psychological and emotional breakdown of Hitler as Germany's defeat in the war becomes increasingly clear. As the Nazi regime collapses around them, Hitler and his closest advisors grapple with their fates in the face of certain defeat. The film contains many of the key moments of Hitler's last days as well as the perspectives of his inner circle, including his mistress Eva Braun and his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Through the film, Hirschbiegel puts the audience in the shoes of those in the bunker with Hitler, creating a vivid and powerful portrait of life in the final days of the Third Reich.

The Great Escape (1963)

The Great Escape
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From John Sturges, starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson
Rated Approved

The Great Escape is an action-packed World War II adventure film directed by John Sturges and starring Steve McQueen. The movie is based on a true story of an attempt by Allied POWs to escape a Nazi POW camp. The story follows a group of British and American prisoners who plan an ambitious mass escape from a German POW camp. Led by "The Cooler King" Hilts (Steve McQueen), the prisoners devise a plan to dig three massive underground tunnels and escape during a football match. Unfortunately for the prisoners, their escape is discovered and the Germans launch a desperate manhunt to find and capture them. As the prisoners make their way across Europe, they must outwit the Nazis and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds if they are to make it to safety. With an all-star cast, thrilling action sequences and an Oscar-nominated score, The Great Escape is a must-see classic.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on the River Kwai
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From David Lean, starring William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa
Rated PG

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British-American epic war film directed by David Lean and based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. The film tells the story of a group of British prisoners of war during World War II who are forced to build a bridge over the River Kwai by the Japanese. The bridge becomes a symbol of British pride and camaraderie despite the harsh conditions of their captivity. The film follows British Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) who reluctantly leads the prisoners in building the bridge and is pitted against his Japanese counterpart, the brilliant but ruthless Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa). As time passes, Nicholson gradually comes to respect Saito’s iron will and dedication to duty, and their mutual respect grows. The conflict between the two men is further complicated when a British commando team is sent to blow up the bridge. The film culminates in a thrilling climax as Nicholson and Saito work together to try to save the bridge from destruction.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

All Quiet on the Western Front
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Lewis Milestone, starring Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray, Arnold Lucy
Rated Passed

All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 film directed by Lewis Milestone and based on the novel of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque. The film follows a group of German schoolboys who eagerly enlist to serve in World War I, only to find the reality of war to be a brutal and dehumanizing experience. The boys, led by the brave and idealistic Paul Baumer, struggle to survive in a world that is hostile to their innocence. The film depicts the horrors of trench warfare, and ultimately, the futility of war itself. All Quiet on the Western Front is a powerful anti-war film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1930.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Hacksaw Ridge
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Mel Gibson, starring Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer
Rated R

Hacksaw Ridge is an American biographical war drama film about the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacifist combat medic who was awarded the Medal of Honor despite refusing to bear arms during the Battle of Okinawa. Directed by Mel Gibson, the film stars Andrew Garfield as Doss, alongside Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, and Vince Vaughn. The film follows Doss, who grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia, and was inspired by the stories of veterans who had served in World War I. He enlists in the U.S. Army and eventually ends up in Okinawa, a heavily fortified island in the Pacific, where his unit is tasked with capturing a heavily defended Japanese position known as Hacksaw Ridge. Despite being an unarmed medic, Doss risks his life time and time again to rescue wounded soldiers while under constant enemy fire. His heroic actions during the battle eventually earn him the Medal of Honor.

Gandhi (1982)

Gandhi
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Richard Attenborough, starring Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud, Rohini Hattangadi, Roshan Seth
Rated PG

Gandhi is a 1982 British-Indian biographical drama film directed by Richard Attenborough and written by John Briley. The film stars Ben Kingsley as Mohandas Gandhi, a leader of the nonviolent Indian independence movement against the British rule of the time. The story covers Gandhi's life from his early years in India, through his leadership of the Indian independence movement, and his eventual assassination. Along with Kingsley, the film features an ensemble cast including John Gielgud, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, Trevor Howard, John Mills, Martin Sheen, and Rohini Hattangadi. Gandhi was critically acclaimed upon release, receiving numerous accolades, including eight Academy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture. The film was a major commercial success and was the highest-grossing Indian film ever released in India at the time. The film's soundtrack was composed by Ravi Shankar.

The King's Speech (2010)

The King's Speech
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Tom Hooper, starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi
Rated R

The King's Speech is a 2010 historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler. The film stars Colin Firth as King George VI of the United Kingdom, who struggles with a stammer, and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, an Australian speech and language therapist. The film follows their relationship as Logue helps the King to overcome his stammer and gain the confidence he needs to lead his country through the dark days of World War II. The film also stars Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth and Michael Gambon as King George V. With the support of his family and his therapist, the King is able to make a historic radio broadcast on the day Britain declares war on Germany. The film was a critical and commercial success, winning four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director for Hooper, Best Actor for Firth, and Best Original Screenplay for Seidler.

Stalag 17 (1953)

Stalag 17
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Billy Wilder, starring William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss
Rated Not Rated

Stalag 17 is a 1953 American war/comedy film directed by Billy Wilder and starring William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger and Peter Graves. Set in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II, the film follows a group of American airmen as they try to figure out who among them is a spy. Holden plays Sefton, a cynical and shrewd inmate who is determined to uncover the truth behind the mystery. The film is based on a Broadway play of the same name and follows the airmen as they make various attempts to escape, while also trying to outwit the camp’s commandant, played by Preminger. Through a series of comedic and dramatic scenes, they eventually discover the truth. Stalag 17 won the Academy Award for Best Writing and was nominated for Best Picture.

The Imitation Game (2014)

The Imitation Game
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Morten Tyldum, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech
Rated PG-13

The Imitation Game is a 2014 biographical drama directed by Morten Tyldum, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, a brilliant British mathematician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist who is tasked with breaking the secret Nazi code, Enigma, during World War II. Turing, who is also gay, is also forced to keep his sexuality a secret in order to keep his job as a codebreaker. Along with his team at Bletchley Park, Turing works tirelessly to crack Enigma and eventually succeeds, leading to the end of the war. However, Turing is charged with “gross indecency” due to his homosexuality and is placed on probation. Despite the sacrifice of his career and personal life, Turing is ultimately recognized as a hero.

The Untouchables (1987)

The Untouchables
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Brian De Palma, starring Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Charles Martin Smith
Rated R

The Untouchables is a 1987 American crime film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet. It stars Kevin Costner as federal agent Eliot Ness, alongside Sean Connery, Charles Martin Smith, Robert De Niro, Andy García, and Richard Bradford. The film follows Ness and his team as they try to bring down the notorious gangster Al Capone. Set in 1930s Chicago, the film is based on Ness's memoirs and recounts the efforts of Ness and his elite team of law enforcement agents to bring down Capone. Ness and his team use unprecedented and dangerous methods to catch Capone and ultimately succeed in making him pay for his crimes. The film received critical acclaim and was a box office success, earning its lead actors Academy Award nominations.

Patton (1970)

Patton
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Franklin J. Schaffner, starring George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Stephen Young, Michael Strong
Rated GP

"Patton" (1970) is a biographical war-drama directed by Franklin J. Schaffner that follows the career of American General George S. Patton during World War II. It follows Patton's journey from North Africa to Europe, as he commands Allied forces in the Mediterranean and Western Europe campaigns. Along the way, Patton battles German General Erwin Rommel and struggles with his own inner demons. The film stars George C. Scott as General Patton, Karl Malden as General Omar Bradley, and Stephen Young as General Dwight D. Eisenhower. The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for George C. Scott, and Best Director for Franklin J. Schaffner. It became a classic of cinema, praised for its depiction of Patton's life, battle tactics, and psychological complexities.

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

Letters from Iwo Jima
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Clint Eastwood, starring Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryô Kase
Rated R

Letters from Iwo Jima is a 2006 war drama directed by Clint Eastwood. The film takes place during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II and tells the story from the perspective of the Japanese soldiers. It follows the story of four soldiers who are facing the prospect of certain death in the face of an overwhelming American force. Through the letters the soldiers wrote home, their inner struggles and fears are revealed. Despite their impending doom, the soldiers display remarkable bravery and loyalty to their Commander, inspiring a sense of pride and honor in their homeland. The film ends with a hopeful message, conveying the idea that even in the most desperate of times, courage and dignity can still be found.

Dunkirk (2017)

Dunkirk
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Christopher Nolan, starring Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy
Rated PG-13

Dunkirk is a 2017 war film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It depicts the evacuation of Allied soldiers who were trapped on the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France during World War II. The film follows the stories of three groups of characters: the British Expeditionary Force soldiers on the beach, a civilian boat sailing from England to Dunkirk, and the Royal Air Force pilots in the sky. As the soldiers await rescue from the sea, a sense of desperation grows in the ranks. The civilians also bravely join the rescue effort amidst the dangers of enemy fire. The film culminates in a battle between the Allies and their German pursuers that turns the tide of the war. Dunkirk showcases the bravery of those who fought during the Battle of Dunkirk and celebrates the courage of those who risked their lives to save their fellow soldiers.

Joyeux Noel (2005)

Joyeux Noel
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Christian Carion, starring Diane Kruger, Benno Fürmann, Guillaume Canet, Natalie Dessay
Rated PG-13

Joyeux Noel (2005) is a French film directed by Christian Carion. It tells a story of World War I during the Christmas truce of 1914, when British, French, and German soldiers temporarily stopped fighting to celebrate the holiday. Through the individual experiences of a French soldier, a German tenor, a Scottish chaplain, and a German female opera singer, the film explores themes of courage, faith, and the power of music to bring people together. The soldiers come together to celebrate Christmas and enjoy a brief respite from the chaos and horror of war. Despite the barriers of language and culture, they share their stories and experiences, and ultimately find common ground. Ultimately, the soldiers recognize the tragedy and futility of the war and its effects on the people involved. Joyeux Noel is a powerful and poignant reminder of the humanity of war, and of the need to work towards peace.

The Last Emperor (1987)

The Last Emperor
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Bernardo Bertolucci, starring John Lone, Joan Chen, Peter O'Toole, Ruocheng Ying
Rated PG-13

The Last Emperor tells the story of the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, from his ascension to the throne as a three-year-old in 1908 to his imprisonment and political rehabilitation by the Communist Party of China in 1959. Throughout the film, Puyi's life is seen as a reflection of the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the rise of the Chinese Republic. As the film follows his life, it examines the effects of extreme power and privilege on a young mind, as well as the dramatic changes that took place in China during the first half of the 20th century. With the help of his courtiers, Puyi navigates the complexities of court life and attempts to find his place in the new society, eventually coming to terms with his own mortality. The film won nine Academy Awards.

Empire of the Sun (1987)

Empire of the Sun
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Steven Spielberg, starring Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers
Rated PG

Empire of the Sun is a 1987 American epic historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on J.G. Ballard’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. The film follows a young English boy, Jim Graham (played by Christian Bale), who is separated from his parents and subsequently struggles to survive alone in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during World War II. Along the way, he befriends a wealthy American expatriate, Basie (John Malkovich), who helps him survive. The film explores the devastating psychological effects of war on its participants, as Jim attempts to come to terms with his former privileged lifestyle and the harsh realities of life in a Japanese internment camp. The film also explores themes of childhood innocence, the power of faith, and the human cost of war. Empire of the Sun is widely praised for its cinematography, acting, score, and Spielberg's direction.

 



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