War Movies About WW2

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War Movies About WW2

Thinking about War Movies About WW2, there is no limit to the movies who explored this topic. Here are 22 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 film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg. The film is based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman 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 actions during the Holocaust and illustrates the courage and shrewdness with which he used his wealth and influence to protect his Jewish workers. The film also highlights the horrors of the concentration camps and the brutality of the Nazis. Additionally, it provides a complex moral exploration of the role of good and evil in the world.

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 American war film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. Set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II, the film follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller and a squad of soldiers as they search for a paratrooper, Private First Class James Francis Ryan, who is the last-surviving brother of four servicemen. After landing on Omaha Beach, Miller and his men face strong resistance from German forces while searching for Ryan. The mission is complicated by the fact that their orders are to bring Ryan back alive, no matter the cost. As they search, the squad is joined by a U.S. Army Ranger sniper, who helps them to identify and eliminate German troops in the area. Despite heavy losses, Miller and his men manage to locate Ryan, who is found at a nearby bridge. With little time left before the bridge is destroyed, Miller and his men must rescue Ryan and make a daring escape. In the end, Miller and his men are able to successfully complete the mission and return to their base, with Ryan.

Casablanca (1942)

Casablanca
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains
Rated PG

Casablanca is a classic romantic drama set during WWII. The film follows Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a cynical American expatriate who runs a popular night club in the Moroccan city of Casablanca. When Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), a former lover of Rick’s, arrives with her husband, a Czech Resistance leader, on their way to America, their presence complicates matters for everyone. While Ilsa and her husband desperately need Rick’s help to escape the Nazis, Rick must decide whether to do the right thing and help his old flame, or abandon her in order to safeguard his own safety. As the story unfolds, Rick is forced to confront his innermost feelings and make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save his true love.

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, based on the autobiography of the same name by Jewish-Polish musician Władysław Szpilman. The film follows Szpilman's experiences as a Jewish pianist in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II. It stars Adrien Brody as Szpilman, who is aided by a Polish Catholic stranger played by Thomas Kretschmann. The film begins in 1939 when Szpilman, a Jewish musician, is playing at a concert. After the Nazis invade Poland, Szpilman and his family must flee their home in the Warsaw Ghetto and face starvation and brutality. Szpilman soon finds himself alone and must use his musical talent and courage to survive. With the help of a Polish Catholic friend, he is able to hide in the ruins of the city until the liberation of Warsaw in 1945. The Pianist is a powerful and emotional film that won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002 and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It is a stunning example of Polanski's masterful direction and Brody's captivating performance.

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Grave of the Fireflies
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Isao Takahata, starring Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Akemi Yamaguchi, Yoshiko Shinohara
Rated Not Rated

Grave of the Fireflies is a 1988 Japanese animated war drama film written and directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Studio Ghibli. It is based on Akiyuki Nosaka's 1967 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name and follows the story of a brother and sister struggling to survive in Japan during the final months of World War II. The film follows the emotional journey of young Seita and his little sister Setsuko as they face the adversities of wartime life. After their mother is killed in an air raid, the two children are left to survive alone. With limited resources and no support, they are forced to make difficult choices in order to survive. The film is noted for its realistic and sensitive exploration of the human costs of war, as well as its poignant visuals.

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-American film directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It stars Jürgen Prochnow and Herbert Grönemeyer. The story follows the crew of a German U-Boat in World War II, as they battle for survival and try to make their way back to Germany. The crew, led by Captain Lehmann-Willenbrock, must contend with the harsh realities of life aboard a submarine, extreme conditions, dwindling food and water supplies, and dangerous enemy vessels. As the crew's morale deteriorates, they come to realize the precariousness of their situation, and their courage and camaraderie are tested as they attempt to make it home alive.

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Inglourious Basterds
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Quentin Tarantino, starring Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Mélanie Laurent
Rated R

Inglourious Basterds is a 2009 American war film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, the film tells the story of two plots to assassinate the Nazi leadership. The first is a scheme by Jewish-American Nazi hunter Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and his team of Jewish-American soldiers to kill as many Nazis as possible. The second is a plan by a young French-Jewish woman, Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), who has witnessed the execution of her family by Nazi soldiers, to avenge them by killing Hitler and other key figures in a heavily guarded movie theater. Through both storylines, the film follows a series of larger-than-life characters from both sides of the war who come together in a climactic showdown.

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Pan's Labyrinth
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Guillermo del Toro, starring Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú
Rated R

Pan's Labyrinth is a 2006 Spanish-Mexican dark fantasy drama film that follows the story of a young girl named Ofelia. Set in Spain in 1944, Ofelia is forced to move to a rural military camp with her pregnant mother, Carmen, and her sadistic stepfather, Captain Vidal. While exploring the camp, Ofelia finds a mysterious labyrinth and meets a faun who reveals her to be a princess of an underground kingdom. He tasks her with completing three dangerous tasks in order to reclaim her throne. Throughout the film, Ofelia struggles to fulfill the tasks while dealing with the harsh reality of the war around her. Ultimately, Ofelia's inner strength and courage help her overcome her fears and she is able to reunite with her true family.

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 is a German-language historical war drama directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and released in 2004. It tells the story of Adolf Hitler's final days in his bunker in Berlin, from April 20th to April 30th 1945, during the Battle of Berlin. The film focuses on Hitler's inner circle of close associates and their efforts to remain loyal to him in the face of their impending defeat. In the midst of his deteriorating mental state, Hitler is forced to confront the reality of his quickly crumbling empire and the inevitability of his own downfall. The film stars Bruno Ganz as Hitler and features a number of prominent German actors in supporting roles. It is regarded as one of the most accurate and powerful portrayals of Hitler and his final days.

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

To Be or Not to Be
★★★★
★★★★
3.3 out of 4 stars

From Ernst Lubitsch, starring Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack, Felix Bressart
Rated Passed

To Be or Not to Be is a 1942 American comedy-drama directed by Ernst Lubitsch starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard as a married couple of actors living in Warsaw, Poland during World War II. The couple finds themselves in a difficult situation when the husband, Joseph Tura, is forced to join the Nazi-controlled Polish Army. After a failed attempt at fleeing the country and a series of comedic misadventures, the couple is eventually able to join the Polish underground and help their country fight back against the Nazis. Along the way, the couple learns of a Nazi plot to capture the Polish underground's leader, which leads to a wild finale as the pair tries to outsmart the Nazis and save their country. With its mix of slapstick comedy, romance, and wartime drama, To Be or Not to Be is a unique and timeless 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 classic 1957 British-American epic war film directed by David Lean. Set in World War II, the film stars Alec Guinness, William Holden, Sessue Hayakawa, and Jack Hawkins. The plot follows British POWs who are forced to build a bridge on the River Kwai to assist the war effort of the Japanese Imperial Army. Their commanding officer, Colonel Nicholson (Guinness), is determined to complete the bridge despite the mistreatment of his men. As the bridge nears completion, Colonel Nicholson and the Japanese Commander, Colonel Saito (Hayakawa), must decide if they can co-operate to finish their common goal. When Allied forces arrive to destroy the bridge, the Japanese and British forces must decide which side they will fight for. The film ultimately celebrates the courage of the human spirit in the face of adversity, and has won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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 a classic World War II movie directed by John Sturges in 1963. It follows the story of a group of Allied prisoners of war who plan an elaborate escape from the notorious German POW camp Stalag Luft III. Led by the cool-headed and cunning RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett (Richard Attenborough), the POWs include American Flight Lieutenant Robert Hendley (Steve McQueen), Australian Flying Officer Louis Sedgwick (James Garner), and an assortment of other inmates from all corners of the world. With a lot of ingenuity and determination, the men are able to build three separate tunnels (dubbed Tom, Dick, and Harry), but when their escape is discovered, their captors launch a massive manhunt to track them down. In the end, only a few of the men are able to successfully escape and evade capture.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

The Best Years of Our Lives
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From William Wyler, starring Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Fredric March, Teresa Wright
Rated Approved

The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell. Set in the years immediately following World War II, the film tells the story of three returning veterans—Al Stephenson (March), Fred Derry (Andrews), and Homer Parrish (Russell)—as they struggle to reintegrate into their civilian lives. As they each struggle to adjust to life after the war, they form a bond and support one another in facing the difficulties of post-war life, such as unemployment and infidelity. The film was a critical and commercial success, winning seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

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 a 2016 American war film directed by Mel Gibson, telling the true story of World War II American Army Medical Corps Officer Desmond Doss. Doss, a conscientious objector, refused to bear arms during WWII on religious grounds and was the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor for service in combat without firing a single shot. The film follows Doss's story from his upbringing in rural Virginia, where he faced prejudice from his family and community for his pacifist stance, to his heroic acts in the Battle of Okinawa, where he saved the lives of 75 men, despite being wounded several times. The film features an ensemble cast, including Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving, and Sam Worthington.

Goodbye, Children (1987)

Goodbye, Children
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Louis Malle, starring Gaspard Manesse, Raphael Fejtö, Francine Racette, Stanislas Carré de Malberg
Rated PG

Goodbye, Children is an acclaimed French film directed by Louis Malle. Set during World War II in a small French village, the film follows two teenage boys, Julien (Stanislas Carre de Malberg) and Jean Bonnet (Philippe Morier-Genoud). Despite their very different personalities, the two boys become close friends while attending a Catholic boarding school in the village. However, when a small group of Jewish children arrive at the school, the boys' friendship is tested. Julien is a member of the French Resistance, while Jean is a nationalist sympathizer. The film follows Julien and Jean as they struggle to come to terms with their conflicting loyalties, and ultimately make different choices in the face of the horrors of war.

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 is a biographical war drama directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and stars George C. Scott as General George S. Patton. The film follows Patton’s life and career from the time of his World War II campaigns in North Africa and Europe. As Patton embarks on his campaigns, he is forced to confront the complex nature of the situations he is thrust into. Through Patton’s personal story, the film looks at the futility of war and the courage it takes to fight it. The film culminates in the Battle of the Bulge, where Patton is able to pull off a miraculous victory against the Germans. Patton is ultimately lauded as a hero, even as he struggles to reconcile his personal demons. The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Jojo Rabbit
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Taika Waititi, starring Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi
Rated PG-13

Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 comedy-drama directed by Taika Waititi. The story follows Johannes "Jojo" Betzler, a ten-year-old German boy who is fascinated with the Nazi party and dreams of joining the Hitler Youth. However, his world is turned upside down when he discovers that his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl named Elsa in their attic. Despite his initial revulsion and fear, Jojo gradually learns to accept Elsa and discovers the humanity beneath his naive idealism. Through Jojo’s journey, the film explores the horrors of war, the limits of patriotism, and the importance of embracing difference. The film stars Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo, Scarlett Johansson as his mother, and Waititi himself as Adolf Hitler. It received critical acclaim and won several awards, including the Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award and an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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 and produced by Clint Eastwood. The film follows the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the Japanese soldiers who fought in it. It chronicles their experiences in the days leading up to the invasion and during the actual battle. It also explores their relationships with each other, their families, and their homeland. The film stars Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase, and Shido Nakamura. It is told in two parts, showing the events from both the American and Japanese perspectives. The film is both a tribute to the courage of the Japanese soldiers and a criticism of the war. Ultimately, it is a story of honor, loyalty, and friendship.

Atonement (2007)

Atonement
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Joe Wright, starring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Brenda Blethyn, Saoirse Ronan
Rated R

Atonement is a British romantic war drama film directed by Joe Wright and based on the novel of the same name by Ian McEwan. The film follows a young girl, Briony Tallis, as she inadvertently causes a rift between her older sister Cecilia and her lover Robbie Turner. Through her misunderstanding of their relationship, Briony mistakenly accuses Robbie of a crime he did not commit. As a result of her accusation, Robbie is sent to prison for the crime and is later conscripted to fight in World War II. Years later, Briony, now a nurse in the war, attempts to atone for her mistake by reuniting Cecilia and Robbie. The film explores the consequences of Briony's actions and the power of love and hope against seemingly insurmountable odds. Despite the odds, Cecilia and Robbie are eventually reunited and hopeful for the future.

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 World War II epic directed, co-written, and produced by Christopher Nolan. Set in 1940, the film follows the events surrounding Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Allied soldiers from Dunkirk, France. The film stars Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and Tom Hardy. The film follows multiple characters, on land, air and sea, as they attempt to survive the German onslaught and get to safety. As the German forces close in, the British military and civilian vessels mount a desperate rescue mission to save the nearly 400,000 stranded Allied soldiers. In the face of overwhelming odds, the bravery and determination of the warriors and civilians alike ensures the success of Operation Dynamo and the evacuation of Dunkirk.

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

The Dirty Dozen
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Robert Aldrich, starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes
Rated Approved

The Dirty Dozen is a 1967 American war film directed by Robert Aldrich, and starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and Charles Bronson. The film follows the exploits of a group of misfit American military prisoners, who are assigned to an Allied mission during World War II. The twelve criminals, led by Major John Reisman (Marvin), are tasked with assassinating a group of German officers during a mission in France. Along the way, Reisman and his team must confront their own inner demons, while facing the deadly realities of war. With its intense action sequences and memorable characters, The Dirty Dozen has gained cult status and is considered to be one of the greatest war films of all time.

The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red Line
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Terrence Malick, starring Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Kirk Acevedo
Rated R

The Thin Red Line is a 1998 American epic war film written and directed by Terrence Malick. It follows a group of U.S. soldiers during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. The story follows a platoon of C-for-Charlie, a U.S. Army rifle company, as they move beyond the beach and into the jungle in search of the Japanese. The film examines the psychological impact of war on the men in the company, as well as the moral and philosophical questions posed by the conflict. The Thin Red Line features an ensemble cast including Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, John Savage, Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas and George Clooney. The film is acclaimed for its cinematography, as well as Malick's unique use of spirituality and his avoidance of traditional narrative conventions.

 



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