Arts & Culture

WWII Movie Rankings

By Ryan G. ’23

Though we may never experience a battleground, these cinematic masterpieces make us feel as if we were there. Some filmmakers are able to tell great stories of the war, keeping the viewer intrigued through the entirety of each story. Film is one of the best ways for us to spark interest in the general public so we can ensure the legacies, hardships, and miracles of war are never forgotten. Here are the films that I thought did it best: 

Honorable Mention: The Bridge on the River Kwai

David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai gives a good glimpse into what life was like in a Japanese P.O.W camp. The captured soldiers are forced to build a bridge for the Imperial Japanese Army while Lt. Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) attempts to give the boys more favorable conditions while in the camps.

5. Darkest Hour

The beginning of the war was hell for Great Britain. France had just surrendered to Germany, leading them to have to make a hasty retreat at Dunkirk, and Britain’s Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, was growing increasingly unpopular. In Darkest Hour, Joe Wright does a fantastic job documenting Britain’s hardships and Winston Churchill’s rise to power with scenes getting increasingly darker in color as the film proceeds. Gary Oldman portrays Churchill as a near-carbon copy.

4. Saving Private Ryan

Buckle your seatbelts, everyone, because you are about to go on a three-hour ride through Northern France at the end of the war. The storming of Omaha Beach fits perfectly with the opening of the film and fluidly leads to the plot of Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) on a search for James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon). Spielberg’s screenwriter, Robert Rodat, was able to slip in many hidden details that the average viewer may not be able to catch, such as two Czech soldiers telling the Americans, “Please don’t shoot me, I’m Czech,” and getting shot anyway because the Americans mistake their Czech for German.

3. Dunkirk

World War Two saw technological advancements in warfare on the ground, the ocean, and the sky. Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk tells a story from all three perspectives. The transitions in the film, from the ground to the air to the sea, piece together to tell the story of the Brits’ escape at Dunkirk. Nolan’s change of lighting and sound during dramatic events is key to emphasizing the vitality of certain scenes, especially at the beginning of the film where the sirens are going off when the soldiers are told to evacuate.

2. Schindler’s List

Schindler’s List is a very powerful and moving story about Oskar Schindler, the man who prevented thousands of Jews from being sent to concentration camps. The film is shown in black and white, except for one little girl who has a red coat, a brilliant use of color to represent the innocence of the Jews during the Holocaust. Spielberg’s story ensures the remembrance of the legacy of Oskar Schindler.

1. The Forgotten Battle

In my opinion, the best World War 2 movie is Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s The Forgotten Battle. The Dutch liberation story set in 1944 astonishingly integrates scenes in English, Dutch, and German, using a variety of perspectives to show the full picture of how the Allies were able to reclaim the Netherlands.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Opinions

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