Disclaimer: The films are chosen personally by the author, and it is a subjective list. Thank you for your comprehension.
Saving Private Ryan (1998): A new and great vision of war movies
Steven Spielberg‘s masterpiece reinvented the genre. The five-time Oscar-winning movie opens with a long and shocking depiction of the D-Day on Omaha Beach. The American troops have to make their way through the beach to reach the bunkers. During the assault, Spielberg insists on the raw brutality of the battle by showing blood, guts, and dismembered bodies. The epic fight ends with a wide shot of the beach that turns into a blood bath. Survived Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his section are assigned a new mission: saving Private James Ryan (Matt Damon). However, nobody knows his location nor if he is still alive. In this film, Steven Spielberg combines historical background with fiction to offer a brand new vision of war movies.
Enemies at the Gates (2001): A breathtaking showdown between two sharpshooters
Another movie, based on the eponymous novel, takes place during World War II but this time the film focuses on the East front with the battle of Stalingrad. Vasily Zaitsev (Jude Law), a former shepherd from the Ural, joins the Red Army in 1942 and finds himself fighting the German troops in Stalingrad. During the harsh fight, he displays his marksmanship, which he has learnt with his grandfather, and saves the commissar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes). To boost troops’ morale, Danilov suggests that the Soviet troops need someone to admire to give them hope. Logically, he publishes Vasily’s war exploits in the army newspaper to describe him as a national hero and a propaganda figure. Afterwards, Vasily is transferred to the sniper division where he will face off several times with a formidable German sharpshooter, the Major Erwin König (Ed Harris).
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003). Epic battles at sea
The movie depicts the epic maritime warfare between the English and French warships during the Napoleonic wars. Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) of HMS Surprise is ordered to attack the French privateer Acheron. In their first showdown, the English vessel is heavily damaged after being ambushed by the French ship. Despite this early setback, the hunt continues for Aubrey and his crew that decides to follow Acheron, sailing to the Galapagos Islands. On his way, the English captain has now to plan a new attack methodically. A long-range assault is quickly ruled out by Aubrey since the French warship has a thicker hull. Therefore, he has to find a way to be as close as possible to damage and sink Acheron.
Merry Christmas (2005): A deeply moving film
Set during World War I, French director Christian Carion recalls the true story of Christmas truce set up in 1914. After an umpteenth unproductive assault on the German trenches, French and Scottish troops are deflated. As war wears out each side and Christmas nears, German and Allied armies agree to stop fighting for Christmas night. The unofficial truce begins when Scottish soldiers are striking up festive songs accompanied by bagpipes. In the German trenches, a soldier and tenor start singing Silent Night. Eventually, all the armies join in the no-mans-land to celebrate Christmas. The troops share food and champagne during this peaceful night before walking back to their trenches, knowing tomorrow they will kill each other.
Dunkirk (2017):A complete and spectacular depiction of the Dunkirk retreat
Directed by Christopher Nolan, the movie portrays the retreat of the British army to the French city of Dunkirk in 1940. Nolan describes the events from three perspectives: land, air and sea. Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), a young British soldier, flees to Dunkirk after the German troops ambushed his company. Once on the beach, he encounters thousands of soldiers ready to depart. He boards the only destroyer left but a few miles off the coast, U-Boats torpedo it. In the air, only two Spitfires are sent shoot down the German bombers. Among them, Farrier (Tom Hardy) and his teammate attempt to do their best to protect the troops while at sea The Royal Navy requisition all the civilian boats on the English Coast.