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In Honor Of Memorial Day Weekend: Our Favorite War Movies

May 23rd, 2008 8:30am EDT
Saving Private RyanMemorial Day commemorates members of the armed forces who died in war or any military action. Americans often celebrate Memorial Day by watching the Indy 500, going shopping, or having family picnics. Why not spend this Memorial Day thinking about the soldiers who gave their lives to the United States by watching a war film?

The staff here at Starpulse.com got together and came up with a list of some of our favorite war movies. Here they are in no particular order:

Band of Brothers (2001) - Yes, we know it's technically a mini-series, but it's so good we had to include it. The length of the mini-series (10 parts) allowed more character development, more skirmishes, and more description of the war throughout the various seasons of the year. The HBO series recreated the path of Easy Company (an elite paratrooper unit) from their basic training in Georgia, to D-Day, to the Battle of the Bulge, to their triumph at the end of the war.

Band of Brothers



Saving Private Ryan (1998) - The film starts with an unforgettable 24-minute battle sequence on Ohama Beach during D-Day. As the characters learn about each other, the moviegoer learns about them. It's an ensemble cast of well-known actors who don't bash heads for screen time. Steven Spielberg directed the film, recreating World War II's D-Day invasion and immediate aftermath.

Saving Private Ryan



Apocalypse Now (1979) - Three years in the making, this film features some of the greatest actors of our time (Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and Dennis Hopper) and was nominated for eight Academy Awards. The film was an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novella "Heart of Darkness" about a descent into primal madness during the Vietnam War.




Full Metal Jacket (1987) - This film was the first big movie to really show what boot camp was: just as scary as combat. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, it centers on a group of Marine volunteers under the guidance of a terrifying drill instructor. The second half of the film takes place in Vietnam, as seen through the eyes of the newly indoctrinated soldiers.

Full Metal Jacket



The Deer Hunter (1978) - Starring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and John Cazale, the film centers on a group of friends from a small Pennsylvania town who sign up for Vietnam. The movie is more about the mental effects of war, instead of the war itself. "The Deer Hunter" was renowned for its portrayal of the war's effect on America's working class and its use of Russian roulette in the Vietnam sequences.




Black Hawk Down (2001) - Based on a classified strike in Somalia in the early 90s, "Black Hawk Down" brought the difficulties of urban warfare against a guerrilla army full of men, women, and children to the public eye. Directed by Ridley Scott, the film centers on the longest ground battle involving American soldiers since the Vietnam War.




Platoon (1986) - Directed by Oliver Stone, "Platoon" centers on a young man who quits college to join the Army in the late '60s. A "grunts-eye" view of the war, it mixes battle with realistic war details: bugs, jungle rot, C-rations, marijuana, and counting down the days to going home.




Schindler's List (1993) - Based on a true story, Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" centers on Oskar Schindler, a German businessman in Poland who winds up saving over 1,000 Jews from being shipped to Nazi death camps and certain death. The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and is the best American film about the Holocaust.


Das Boot (1981) - One of the most gripping and authentic war movies ever made, "Das Boot" follows a U-Boat captain and his crew as they patrol the ocean in search of Allied vessels during World War II. The film is renowned for portraying the boring hours spent in a cramped submarine waiting for action and/or death.




Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) - Named after the code words used by the lead Japanese pilot to indicate they had surprised the Americans, the film centers on the days leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.





Other great war films:

The Great Escape
Good Morning, Vietnam!
Empire of the Sun
The Hunt for Red October

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-Harrison Ford's Seven Best Films (Not Including 'Star Wars')
-Top Five Best/Worst Action Sequels
-The Best Movies About Summer Camp

Check out our "War" movie section!

Story by Noelle Talmon & Casey Johnson
Starpulse contributing writers


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