Top 5 Greatest War Movies
The Biggest Battles from Field to Screen
January 17, 2014 by Heidi Alger
Movies about the service men and women who defend our freedoms and fight from the front lines have us standing in line to watch the battles on the big screen. Here are a few fun facts about five of the top war movies from the past 100 years:
Saving Private Ryan
This epic war film is set during World War II when troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Paratrooper Private Ryan was one of four brothers sent to battle—the only one who survived—and was MIA when it was ordered that he be found and returned to his family.
The opening scene of the invasion runs nearly 30 minutes, cost nearly $11 million and included up to 1,000 extras. Director Steven Spielberg requested no one enter theatres once the movie began, making every effort to help viewers feel like they were in the middle of it all, fighting for their own lives.
One of the first movies to show the tense psychology of guerrilla warfare in Vietnam, this movie, directed by Oliver Stone, is based on his own tour of duty. Really. It follows a young recruit in a common moral crisis that was—and is—too familiar in war.
To prepare for their roles, all actors endured a 14-day boot camp in the Philippines where they were required to stay in character, eat only military rations, refused showers, slept in the jungle and had night watch rotations.
Full Metal Jacket
This Vietnam-era film follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through training, where they are prepared for combat by their hard drill instructor (played by retired Marine and former drill instructor R. Lee Ermy) who is fast and fierce with punishments.
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the incredibly tense movie was shot entirely in England. The title refers to the type of small arms ammunition used in warfare—full metal jacket ammunition has a copper coating covering the lead core of its projectile.
From northern Africa to Germany, Patton memorializes the outspoken World War II General George S Patton Jr.
Parts of the speech at the beginning of the movie were inspired by an actual speech Gen. Patton gave before the 3rd Army finally landed in Normandy in June and July of 1944. And the ivory-handled revolvers actor George C. Scott wore in the speech were actually Patton’s bona-fide revolvers! (How cool is that?)
Black Hawk Down
This film chronicles the events of the Battle of Mogadishu, a raid that involved an elite U.S. Soldier's attempt to catch top lieutenants of a warlord.
All Black Hawks and Little Birds used during the filming were from the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment) and most of the pilots were involved in the actual battle on Oct. 3-4, 1993. A lot of the extra Rangers in the film were current Army Rangers, serving with the 3/75 Ranger Regiment.
You know this Top 5 is based on opinion, right? So what are your favorite war films? Tell us in the comments section below—we want to know! If you’re a real military movie enthusiast and still can’t get enough, check out our list of over 150 famous military movies we’ve collected on Pinterest.
Image Sources: Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Patton, Black Hawk Down