THE WAR GENRE
There is something about war movies that invokes a sense of both dread and pride that viewers cannot get enough of. Like a lot of genres, there is an element of optimism required in the movie, despite the fact that its subject is inherently awful. Think of any great war movie and most reward you with a triumphant ending that makes all that went before it worth it.
Saving Private Ryan (1998), Dunkirk (2017) and Schindlers List (1993) may have largely played on the horrors of war but you left the theatre feeling marginally better because they ended on a relatively happy note. That isn't to say that the movies didn't provoke some deeply uncomfortable feelings or that they shied away from the reality of the period in which they were set, just that they found a balance that made them more palatable.
Unfortunately, so many war films are based on the reality of true events so war movies really took off post World War 1. Gallipoli (1981), They Shall Not Grow Old (2019) and All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) regularly feature as some of the greatest WW1 stories on film. The trend continues with WWII which generated films such as The Great Escape (1963), 49th Parallel (1941), The Dirty Dozen (1967) and Life Is Beautiful (1998). Different aspects of the same war but all profoundly effective at conveying the brutality of the time.
Surprisingly one of the biggest box office hits for a war movie is also one of the oldest. Gone with the Wind (1939) is one of the greatest movies ever made and its box office receipts reflect its success. Whenever you look at the highest-grossing movies you have to allow for the fact that ticket prices are higher these days so the movies technically make more. Gone with the Wind took $402 million at the international box office but if you adjust it for inflation on today's money, it would gross a staggering $7.44 billion worldwide. It is by far the most successful war movie of all time.
AMAZON PRIME WAR
DISNEY WAR FILMS
APPLE TV WAR FILMS
PARAMOUNT WAR FILMS
CLASSIC WAR FILMS
Other huge box office hits include American Sniper (2014) which took in $350.13M and that is followed by Saving Private Ryan (1998) on $216.54m. Pearl Harbor (2001), Dunkirk (2017), 1917 (2019) and Platoon (1986) are all in the top 10 for box office receipts. So it is no wonder that streaming platforms are more than happy to hold so many of them.
And if you ever want to get a more in-depth look at a specific point there are a host of war-based shows and documentaries to have a look at. World War II in Colour, Medal of Honor, Age of Tanks and The Last Nazis all zoom in on WWII and the atrocities that occurred.
Of course, the two World Wars are sadly not the only wars that have garnered the attention of filmmakers. Vietnam is the material source for some all time classics. These were largely made in the late 70s and into the 80s when people had had the time to properly digest what had happened between 1955 and 1975. Casualties of War (1989), We Were Soldiers (2002), Born of the Fourth of July (1989), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Apocalypse Now (1979) and Platoon (1986) epitomise the struggles of ordinary men who were drafted to go and fight on the other side of the world.
And if the audience loves a great war movie then so too does Hollywood. Did you know that nearly a third of all Academy Award Best Picture winners have had a military theme? There have been 29 out of 92 total winners and include All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Patton (1970), The Deer Hunter (1978) and with Katherine Bigelow making history as the first female director to get the award, The Hurt Locker (2009).
RECENT WAR REVIEWS
Here you can view our latest War movies and series reviews from major streaming services.
WAR HIDDEN GEMS
Here you can view hidden gems which you may have missed on original release.