The Best War Movies of All Time

Few genres are capable of taking emotions to the limit, both of the spectators and of their protagonists, like the war genre. Making it possible to balance in a single feature film the undeniable dramatic weight and crudeness of an armed conflict with its terrifying “spectacularity” —note the inverted commas—, “war movies” cinema has offered us gigantic works that, without needing to be vindicated, since they do it by themselves, it is worth remembering.

That said, here I bring you this list in which I list my 23 favorite war movies, which I consider the best of all time. Of course, and as always happens in these cases, there will be notable absences, since the list is designed based on my personal tastes, but here are my selections.

All Quiet on the Western Front 1930

Adapting the homonymous novel by Erich María Remarque, Lewis Milestone signed in 1930 one of the bloodiest anti-war speeches that the seventh art has given us, and that continues equally valid and overwhelming ninety years after its premiere. A true prodigy that squeezed every last drop of the media of the time to introduce us to the trenches of the First World War and force us to witness the horrors and nonsense of the conflict and its consequences first-hand.

Senderos de Gloria 1957

Despite having released the extraordinary Perfect Heist the previous year, Paths of Glory was the feature film that made Stanley Kubrick enter cinematographic Olympus directly. Pointed out by many as the director’s best work, the film, starring a colossal Kirk Douglas, combines Kubricks technical and narrative mastery in an anti-war speech that is not afraid to portray the irrationality of the high command of World War I as it bombards us with devastating and indelible sequences.

The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957

Before astonishing half the world with his Lawrence of Arabia, David Lean garnered a whopping seven Oscar Awards with The Bridge on the River Kwai that has lasted in the collective memory thanks, in part, to its mythical soundtrack. Although if something makes it a jewel in war cinema, beyond its superb staging, that is the way in which it focuses the story on its characters, written to perfection and played by a cast of authentic luxury in which they stand out. priceless William Holden and Alec Guinness.

The Guns of Navarone 1961

Of the 23 — or 24, to be exact — films on the list, The Guns of Navarone may be the most enjoyable for its balance of levity, ability to entertain, and old-school showmanship. Closer to classic adventure films than to the pure and simple war genre, the almost three hours that J. Lee Thompsons film lasts leaves us with set-pieces to remember with outstanding special effects and, above all, a cast that exudes charisma and transmits it to each of the frames that make up the story.

Lawrence de Arabia 1962

Each of the scenes that make up David Leans masterpiece is a small diamond in the rough used to build one of the great cathedrals in the history of the seventh art. Photographed by Freddie Young in a glorious 65mm that turns the gigantic production design of the film into an exercise as beautiful as it is hypnotic, starring an unrepeatable Peter O’Toole, and exceptionally narrated by Lean, Lawrence of Arabia should not be corseted within any genre other than cinema in capital letters.

La Batalla de Argel 1966

With The Battle of Algiers, the Italian Gillo Pontecorvo signed one of those feature films that transcend the term to earn the adjective “cinematic experience”. Set in the conflict between the Algerian National Liberation Front and the French colonialist army, the film finds its greatest virtue in a style that embraces documentary language, combining it with the fantastic soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone, immersing the respectable in a relentless contest with overwhelming force.

The Dirty Dozen 1967

Gallows Twelve was not Robert Aldrich’s first approach to war films set in World War II —there is Attack! or Ten seconds from hell to show us his impeccable hand for it—, but it was his greatest contribution to the genre. A true delight, epic, with a round script and, above all, with a cast that cuts the hiccups just by reading their names.

Patton 1970

Once again we surf the fine line between genres to include Franklin J. Schaffner’s wonderful Patton in our compilation. Halfway between the biopic and the usual war film, the winner of seven Oscars focuses on the figure of the controversial North American general George S. Patton, whose victory against Erwin Rommel changed the course of World War II, and to whom he played a George C. Scott in the most potent acting exercise of his career.

Johnny Got His Gun 1971

Written and directed by Dalton Trumbo, who adapted his own novel for the big screen, we could classify Johnny took his rifle as the great anti-war film in history and as one of the most disheartening, depressing, and harsh exercises that we will find in this list; that continues to stir consciences with the same perfection as almost five decades ago. It may not be exemplary in terms of staging and form, but the moral debates it raises and the way it captures the ordeal of a war victim are to be commended.

A Bridge Too Far 1977

The three hours of A Far Bridge and its dramatization of the famous Market Garden operation, carried out during World War II, are fabulous in each and every one of their formal and narrative aspects; but if this jewel by Richard Attenborough triumphed at the time and continues to be so captivating it is due to a stellar international cast that literally leaves any of those mentioned on this list in their infancy.

The hunter 1978

Four years after making his debut with Clint Eastwood with A Booty of 500,000 Dollars, the double Oscar-winner Michael Cimino marked a new turning point in cinema set in the Vietnam War with The Hunter. Three almost perfect hours that, in addition to not exhausting at any time, keep you glued to the screen with a lump in your throat at the display of beauty and horror with which the director narrates the introspective journey of its protagonists.

Apocalypse Now 1979

Defeated at the 1979 Oscars for Kramer vs. Kramer, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, and more specifically its extended version known as Redux, with almost an hour of unreleased material, is one of the descents into the hell of the war and one of the roundest studies on its effects on the soldiers mind that cinema has given us. An authentic work of art, part of popular culture, whose atmosphere is denser and suffocating than the humid Vietnamese landscapes in which it is set.

El submarino 1981

There are many “submarine” movies, but none like Wolfgang Petersens masterful Das Boot. An atypical underwater approach to World War II from the German point of view directed to a thousand wonders that, extracting gold from the bottled scene in which it is set, offers 150 minutes in which the public shares the same claustrophobia, the same tension and the same restlessness as its desolate protagonists, sent to almost certain death.

Ran 1985

Momentarily moving away from “modern” warfare, we go back to feudal Japan at the hands of Akira Kurosawa in the magnificent Ran; a production in which the Japanese master freely adapted William Shakespeare, King Lear, with beauty as captivating as it is unusual, captured thanks to outstanding art direction and cinematography. Dazzling in each and every one of its aspects.

Threads 1984

Despite being aimed directly at the television market, this BBC production has managed to find a place in this selection thanks to its power of suggestion and its terrifying exploration of the effects that a nuclear bomb would have on a population like that of Sheffield. In the key of the false documentary, Threads portrays the hypothetical situation with a crudeness in which there is no room for the slightest bit of sugar or hope and leaves passages that are material for the worst nightmares that can be imagined.

Platoon 1987

Oliver Stones’ first approach to the Vietnam War, whose trilogy set in the conflict would complete Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven and Earth, won the Oscars for best film and best film on its own merits. address. Because Platoon, in addition to showing off the cynicism, crudeness, and narrative expertise always present in the director’s work, wins whole by diluting the experiences of Stone himself, who served in the contest between 1967 and 1968; offering a first-hand view of the horror.

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