Circuit Q&A – What’s Your Favorite WWII Movie?

Scene from Saving Private Ryan

The war that engulfed the world has been the back drop for some of the greatest movies ever made in the years and decades that followed; no single event can tell the complete story. From bloody, gory battles to war-torn romances and family dramas, these WWII films put the horrors of war and test of our humanity on full display. Whether a psychological study of the actors and figures involved or a snapshot of a particular decisive battle, the impact tremors beyond the screen. Even a post-war story of reconciling our past and living with the consequences, these films have lead to some of the greatest acting performances, cinematography masterpieces and memorable scenes to be captured on celluloid. 

Scene from “Dunkirk”

Three such films that epitomize the different sub-genres of WWII films are “Downfall”, “Life Is Beautiful” and “Saving Private Ryan”.  For instance, Oliver Hirschbiegel‘s “Downfall” tells the story of the Nazi dictator’s final days in his bunker through the eyes of his final secretary. Starring Bruno Ganz, this film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2005. 

In stark contrast, Roberto Benigni‘s 1997 Oscar-winning “Life Is Beautiful” depicts a father trying to shield his young son from the atrocities of the Holocaust.  While  Steven Spielberg‘s depiction of the horrific violence of war in “Saving Private Ryan” won him a Best Director Oscar in 1999. These films and many others have delivered Oscar-worthy performances and career-defining works that make the audience question their humanity and leave us hopeful for a better future.

It would be almost impossible to pick just one film that best depicts the global war. In other words, in the 74 years since the end of WWII, we have seen many films from differing perspectives tackle the many complexities of war, loss, the depravity of man and even love and hope.

In remembrance of D-Day (June 3, 1944), here are some of the best WWII films of all time (this is by no means a definitive list):

Scene from “Land of Mine”
  • “From Here to Eternity” (1953)
  • “The Pianist” (2002)
  • “Empire of the sun” (1987)
  • “Land of Mine” (2015)
  • “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
  • “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957)
  • “To Be or Not to Be” (1942)
  • “The Great Escape” (1963)
  • “Inglorious Basterds” (2009)
  • “Son of Saul” (2015)
  • “Downfall” (2004)
  • “The Dirty Dozen” (1967)
  • “Schindler’s List” (1993)
  • “Dunkirk” (2017)
  • “Das Boot” (1981)
  • “Casablanca” (1942)
  • “Patton” (1970)
  • “A Bridge Too Far” (1977)
  • “Life Is Beautiful” (1997)
  • “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (2008)

Which films make it on your list of definitive WWII movies? Let us know in the comments.

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