war movies They generally get acclaim for their accuracy in depicting the battlefield, and for the realism of the explosions and gore that are an integral part of warfare. But as we well know, the battlefield is only a part of the war. There are families left behind when soldiers go off to war, and there are families who must flee the fighting. There are prisoners of war and concentration camp victims. There are diplomats and freedom fighters who try to change the outcome from a different point of view.
Let’s take a look at this list of films that look at war from a different angle, in the way war is played out outside the battlefield.
10 Life is Beautiful (1997)
Roberto Begnini burst onto the international scene in 1997 with a war film like no other. in Life is beautifulAnd He plays an Italian Jew named Guido who falls in love with a Gentile, Dora, and life seems picture perfect as they open a bookstore and have a beautiful son named Giusui. But World War II arrives, and Guido and Giosuè are taken to a concentration camp, where a desperate Dora (Nicoletta Brasci, Begnini’s real-life wife) volunteers to go with them.
Through a series of elaborate stunts and tricks, Guido keeps the truth of the camp from Giosuè, successfully convincing him that they are all playing a very complicated game, and even as Guido is led to his death, he continues the charade that all is well for his son’s sake. Jyusui and his mother survive and reunite, and the young boy is none the wiser about what really happened. Begnini was inspired to produce the film for his father, who himself had spent time in a Nazi labor camp, and preferred to use humor when telling people of his experiences.
9 Two Women (1960)
Sophia Loren was still in her twenties when she won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as the widow Cesira in the 1960 drama Vittorio De Sica. It’s the grim story of Cesira’s struggle to keep her daughter Rasheed safe after fleeing a bombing raid on Rome for the supposed safety of the countryside she descends from. Cesira’s family. Even before leaving Rome, Cesera has been trading in her sexuality, sleeping with a man in exchange for him watching her shop, and things are getting worse.
Once Rome is captured by the Allies and considered the safest option, a mother and daughter are sexually assaulted by soldiers in a church as they attempt to return. Jean-Paul Belmondo as Michel is a potential love interest for Cesira and father figure for Rosita, but this is not the case. It’s a stark and brutal film, depicting the often gruesome impact of war on women in particular.
8 Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo del Toro’s understated success is many things at once: dark fantasy, horror, and a coming-of-age movie, but let’s not forget that it’s also a war movie, set during the early days of the Franco regime after the Spanish Civil War, at the end of World War II. 10-year-old Ophelia is already in a stressful situation, dealing with her stepfather, Captain Vidal, while trying to take care of her frail pregnant mother. Ofelia is drawn into the magical labyrinth of the underworld, where she hopes to find the tools needed to protect her mother, but she constantly stumbles fulfilling the tasks given to her by the labyrinthine, trying to stop Vidal from capturing or killing the fleeing rebels.
Del Toro specifically referred to another classic Spanish film, The spirit of the beehiveas an influence when comparing war and horror to a movie about a child.
7 Apocalypse Now (1979)
You’d be forgiven for not remembering if Francis Ford Coppola’s famous 1979 war movie included any battle scenes, as for scenes without any, it’s still packed with violence. In Joseph Conrad’s famous 1899 novel Heart of DarknessWe follow the story of Captain Willard (Martin Sheen), who is on his way to Cambodia to kill the insane Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who is waging unsanctioned guerrilla warfare against the backdrop of the Vietnam War.
Traveling on an offshore patrol boat, Willard meets a number of terrifying characters along the way, including Robert Duvall’s Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, who famously quotes “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”. The movie is an intoxicating mixture of drugs, surfing, testosterone, and violence, with Kurtz eventually dying after Willard attacks him with a machete. It is a film about men drugged by war but used to the violence and madness that goes with it.
6 Casablanca (1942)
1942 White House Not only was it filmed during World War II, it was still raging as pictured. Ex-American Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) runs a popular nightclub in Morocco, where refugees of every class meet in hopes of making the connections that can bring them home. The town becomes strained, and that’s when Blaine’s old flame Elsa (Ingrid Bergman) turns up, looking for a way out on her own, along with her resistant Czech husband.
We flash back to seeing Rick and Elsa in Paris in 1940, when Elsa believed her husband was dead and the threat of the Battle of France had the two lovers preparing to elope together. It’s one of the most famous movie love triangles of all time, with each twist and turn caused by the war going on around the lovers, offscreen.
5 Schindler’s List (1993)
Spielberg’s 1993 masterpiece tells the epic story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a German businessman and Nazi Party member whose efforts in World War II have him save more than a thousand Polish Jews from almost certain death in concentration camps by employing them in his factories. Shot in black and white, Schindler must continue to be nice to his Nazi associates, and stay on the good side of terrifying SS Lieutenant Amon Guth (Ralph Fiennes) as he takes out as many of the camp’s inmates as he can.
The fights here take place on factory floors, in a crowded ghetto, and at glittering parties where Schindler greasy palms and outwit the Nazis. But it is every bit as brutal as a movie set in the trenches, presenting the horrors of the Holocaust in stark definition.
4 Dr. Strangelove O: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Stanley Kubrick took on The Cold War in 1964, with a dark and funny satire starring such luminaries as Peter Sellers (in three roles) and George C. Scott, and marked the first film by James Earl Jones. There are countless movies that depict panicked soldiers in the trenches, attacking ignorant chiefs who decide their own fate, well this one is about those officials and how reckless they really are.
A paranoid general, played by Sterling Hayden, is bent on a preemptive nuclear strike against the then-Soviet Union, and the American president, his advisors, and a team of others scramble to stop it. And of course, there’s the titular Dr. Strangelove (Sellers in a career-defining role), a nuclear expert who also happens to be an ex-Nazi. This is all more than a little crazy, and there’s probably more truth to it than the rest of us would like.
3 The Deer Hunter (1978)
Another movie you’d be forgiven for not remembering for having battle scenes, given its undeniable brutality. Michael Cimino’s 1978 drama made stars of Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep and the tragic John Cazale, the story of three friends who go to war in Vietnam. From a wedding to deer hunting to a Viet Cong prison camp and back home, the three friends endure captivity, torture, horrific injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. The film has taken some criticism for historical inaccuracies, but what shines is the portrayal of these men’s inability to leave the war behind, all without showing us a battlefield.
2 Forbidden Games (1952)
René Clement’s 1952 wartime classic (If Joe Interdit in the original French) in June 1940, during the French Campaign. It begins with citizens fleeing Paris, Paulette’s parents (Brigitte Fossey) and pet dog being killed during an air attack. She finds refuge with a peasant family who has a young boy, Michel (Georges Beaujolais), who takes Paulette under his wing. Left largely to their own devices, the children formulate their own ideas about how life, death, and war should work, create a secret animal cemetery in a barn, steal crosses from the church cemetery, and piss off the villagers.
The film is a success because of the talents of the young protagonists, and is a tragic reminder that while adults fight war, children try to make sense of it.
1 Fallout (2004)
Acclaimed actor Bruno Ganz is unparalleled in the 2004’s harrowing depiction of Hitler’s last days held in an underground bunker. Hitler is depicted as a weak, insane man who has lost his grip on the empire he once ruled so easily, a portrayal that some critics have found shows too much humanity for one of history’s greatest villains. But it is a fascinating look at him and the group of people who were in the bunker with him, including his mistress Eva Braun, whom he married shortly before their joint suicide, and Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda, who poison each of their six children. with cyanide capsules while they slept.
At first, there is stark denial of believing that everything is really falling apart, as Brown hosts a party in the cellar. But the news from above ground, and Hitler’s increasingly unstable mental state, prove otherwise. It’s a bit like watching karma in action, as this group of people who orchestrated a lot of the above killings realized that they were, in fact, doomed.