One of the most documented events in world history is World War II, and Hollywood continues to release films on the subject. This week, we get another film set during the war, with Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge.” Gibson’s film stars Andrew Garfield as Pfc. Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector to the War who saved over 70 men during the Battle of Okinawa. The film has heavy overtones on faith in the face of adversity, and has received positive reviews for its direction and performances. The brutality and horrific acts committed ruing World War II often lend themselves to stories based on principle, making “Hacksaw Ridge” the latest in a long line of narratives based on the topic. With the release of Gibson’s new film, what are your favorite World War II films? Let us know in the comments below! Here are a few of the best to kick us off.
1. “Inglourious Basterds”
Quentin Tarantino’s film is extremely violent and certainly an alternative history of the War. However, sometimes the “lighter” fare of Basterds is an easier watch than the heaviness of a “Schindler’s List.” Tarantino turns his tale of Shosanna Dreyfus into one of the ultimate revenge tales in alternate history. The film has aged extremely well due to the ever growing popularity of its actors. Michael Fassbender, Daniel Bruhl, and Christoph Waltz all received their first public exposure here. Waltz’s Oscar win is one of the best supporting actors wins in history, and the film remains one of Tarantino’s best. Looking back at the 2009 season, its hard to believe that “Avatar” actually beat “Basterds” as the Best Drama film at the Globes.
2. “The Bridge on the River Kwai”
Films about principle are tough to make, but “The Bridge on the River Kwai” may be the best film about believing in one’s honor made by a western director. The film won 7 Oscars and is considered one of David Lean’s greatest films (which is saying quite a lot). The film is full of excellent performances, including an incredible lead performance by Alec Guinness. Guinness plays extremely well off of Sessue Hayakawa, who also received an Oscar nomination for his performance. The film’s focus on honor and belief is not too dissimilar from “Hacksaw Ridge” in some ways. Perhaps the best moment in the film is Guinness’ realization that he became too prideful in the process of building the titular bridge. It’s a must-see for any fan of war films, and its one of the best about the war in the Pacific.
3. “Saving Private Ryan”
It’s difficult to create a list about the best films of World War II without including one of Spielberg’s greatest films. “Saving Private Ryan” barely takes the spot over “Schindler’s List” due to it’s epic scale. Beyond an incredible opening sequence, the film perfectly captures the tragedy of the War. Tom Hanks delivers one of the most underrated performances of his career, despite the fact that he got nominated for Oscar. Even some of the small roles in the film went to future stars in the industry. Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, and Paul Giamatti all appear in supporting roles. While it is one of bleakest films depicting the war, it is also brilliant in the ways it finds its humanity.