What are the all time most popular movies about World War 2?

Cinema continues to attempt to portray the passion and misery, almost a century after the Second World War which claimed millions of lives and irrevocably altered the geopolitical landscape of the world. Through some of the best World War II films, writers and filmmakers have used screenplay and camera to recreate battlefields and bring historical figures to current audiences.

It was intrinsically cinematic how many of us first learnt about World War II. We are presented with a binary choice of “good guys” and “bad guys,” with stories of valiant sacrifice, secrecy, and a wicked, cruel monster at the center of it all. Because of these factors, WWII has been incredibly influential in film—both for its engaging story and for its use as jingoistic propaganda.

But we now have a far better grasp of this conflict and the humanitarian situation that gave rise to it. Ironically, so too have the movies that portray it. It’s crucial that we remember the reality of this era when we examine early cinema’s nationalistic representations of WWII as well as current cinema’s more nuanced views. Without enough context and analysis, we run the risk of allowing history to repeat itself if we allow our consumption to end at the American exceptionalism position as “heroes” in this tragedy.

Here are some of the most popular movies that depicts many stories of that time in the world’s history.

soldiers in a dug up bunk

Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler factory

Perhaps the most emotional war movie ever filmed is Steven Spielberg’s deeply personal masterpiece. More so considering that it was based on the actual account of Oskar Schindler, who originally intended to use the cheap Jewish labor in Krakow to his advantage in order to build a fortune. Schindler’s List, which won seven Oscars, gives Thomas Keneally’s original book credit and is still poignant and timely today.

Oskar Schindler, a businessman in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II, eventually worries about his Jewish employees as he observes the Nazis’ persecution of them. After seeing the tragedy of the Holocaust firsthand, Schindler’s purpose changes, and he offers Nazi officials bribes to keep their staff out of the concentration camps, saving more than 1,100 lives.

During the brutal German Nazi regime, Schindler, the avaricious businessman, unexpectedly transformed into a humanitarian by turning his factory into a haven for Jews. It is a tribute to the good in all of us since it is based on the actual tale of Oskar Schindler, who prevented roughly 1100 Jews from being gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998)

In this gripping movie, World War II troops search for Private Ryan, whose three brothers have perished in combat.

Before Saving Private Ryan, no Hollywood movie had shown the tragedy of battle in such vivid detail as it did in its startlingly realistic opening scene on Omaha Beach during the Normandy invasion. Then, Spielberg asks, “How can you find decency amid the agony of war?As Tom Hanks’s troops advance well beyond enemy lines to free one soldier, he may then go back to his distraught mother, who has lost all three of her other kids, who is waiting for him at home. Although occasionally emotional and unmistakably manipulative, this movie really originated the genre.

In war, it a terrifying journey into a place called Hell where people are disposable and human life is cheap. The troops taking part in the Allied invasion of the Normandy Coast on D-Day, June 6, 1944, are scared of what is in store for them. A hail of enemy fire quickly dispatches hundreds of soldiers as the landing craft’s doors open. There is no safety anywhere since even those who manage to enter the sea are shot at. Men are blasted to pieces on Omaha Beach, the injured call out to their moms, and doctors are unable to move due to catastrophic gunfire that kills further soldiers.

With Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg demonstrates why he is the best director in the world, a creative genius whose films always evoke strong feelings and heighten awareness of the senses. This is the most significant antiwar drama ever produced, and it was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture in 1998. Robert Rodat, the screenwriter of the movie, has given Captain Miller and his soldiers both a symbolic and a universal importance.

There is no grandeur in dying for one’s nation, and violence has no redeeming qualities. Small acts of decency are all that truly count in the terrible rapacity of battle. Kindness is not only a habit of the heart, but it also represents the only hope under the dreadful circumstances of war. These defining moments, as depicted by Miller and his men’s deeds, are blazing lights in the brutal night of death and destruction.

Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)

A spectacular achievement, the movie about the Dunkirk evacuation quickly rose to the top of the canon of great war films after its first release. One of the most immersive movies you’ll ever see weaves together three different stories: the soldiers on the beach, including one young Tommy in particular; the Spitfires overhead; and the brave civilians who risk their lives to cross the Channel in their boats to aid in the rescue.

Approximately 338,000 British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and other Allied troops were evacuated from Dunkirk to England during the Battle of Dunkirk from May 26 to June 4, 1940, as German forces closed in on them. A huge military operation took place in the little French coastal town of Dunkirk during World War II. The gigantic operation—dubbed the “Miracle of Dunkirk”—involved hundreds of military and civilian vessels and was a turning point in the Allied war effort.

Only roughly 7,500 troops were able to leave Dunkirk on the first full day of Operation Dynamo’s evacuation efforts; the next day (May 28), about 10,000 were able to leave. Due to the Royal Navy’s inability to access Dunkirk’s short beach, the Allies issued a request for smaller ships to transport troops from the coast to the bigger ships farther out in the North Sea. Eventually, between 800 and 1,200 boats—many of them fishing or pleasure vessels—helped with the evacuation from Dunkirk.

By the time the evacuations were over, some 198,000 British and 140,000 French soldiers—a total of about 338,000 men—had been able to leave the beaches at Dunkirk. When the resistance came to an end on the morning of June 4 and German soldiers took control of Dunkirk, an extra 90,000 Allied troops as well as the majority of the BEF’s heavy artillery and tanks were left behind.

Letters From Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood, 2006)

The film tells of the Second World War engagement at Iwo Jima between the United States and Imperial Japan as given by the Japanese combatants.

Given from the Japanese perspective, this is the better of the two movies. It serves as a companion piece to Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers, which portrayed the narrative of the struggle for Iwo Jima from the American perspective. The movie is the pinnacle of Clint Eastwood’s artistic development as he movingly and eloquently humanizes the Japanese troops who are battling against almost insurmountable odds.

The majority of the movie was filmed in California’s Barstow and Bakersfield, despite the fact that it takes place in Japan. Ken Watanabe was the only member of the Japanese cast who was not chosen through auditions.[citation needed] On April 8, filming in California came to an end, and the cast and crew returned to the Los Angeles studio for additional sequences.

Some of Ken Watanabe’s sequences were shot on location at Iwo Jima. Beaches, villages, and Mount Suribachi were all used as movie locations on Iwo Jima. The majority of the fighting sequences were shot in Iceland since the team was only permitted to shoot a few small shots on Iwo Jima. About two months were spent filming in Los Angeles, as well as in other US cities like Chicago, Houston, and Virginia.lasted for approximately two months, and other locations across the US including Virginia, Chicago, and Houston.

The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998)

After helming two of the most extraordinary motion pictures of the 1970s—Badlands and Days of Heaven—American filmmaker Terrence Malick vanished for twenty years from the film industry before making a comeback in 1998 with this imaginative adaptation of James Jones’ 1962 novel about the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II.

The Thin Red Line is a big-budget, lavishly produced epic that is also one of the most profoundly philosophical movies ever made by a major Hollywood company. It is a challenging reflection on man, nature, and war. The Thin Red Line, one of the best war movies ever made, stars a who’s who of today’s top performers, including Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, Elias Koteas, and Woody Harrelson. It is a kaleidoscopic portrayal of the experience of fighting.

The dreamy study of men in conflict as the Eden-like countryside transforms into a living hell is shown in The Thin Red Line, which, as befits a Malick film, features lavish production values and gorgeous photography. The internal and external fights that the different troops face are the subject of this philosophical treatise.

In 1964 and 1998, two film adaptations of it were released. The most well-known of the two adaptations—the one from 1998—was written and directed by Terrence Malick and has many of his defining stylistic elements, such as lavish nature imagery and in-depth philosophical discussion, frequently conveyed through internal monologues. Malick used the movie to elaborate on the notion that because “all men have got the same soul” and are a part of nature, war is just an instance of man pitting himself against himself.

The film has a sizable cast (though fewer than in the book) who all have their own perspectives on the conflict taking place all around them. Despite (or perhaps because of) the constant threat of impending death, most of the characters seem to be surprisingly thoughtful and articulate in their internal monologues.

The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller, 1980)

The Big Red One, directed by Samuel Fuller, is one of the most moving movies ever made about World War II. It chronicles the semi-autobiographical tale of a group of sharpshooters striving to survive. This narrative centers on a group of sharpshooters who are fighting to survive the Big Red One, and is considered one of the most moving movies ever produced about World War II. As they go from battle to battle throughout Europe, a tough sergeant and the four core members of his infantry squad attempt to survive World War II.

The Big Red One, which is based on Fuller’s personal experiences, follows a group of American troops as they mature from impressionable youngsters to combat-tested warriors under the leadership of their gruff yet fatherly sergeant (a fantastic Lee Marvin). The maverick director’s best work clearly and movingly conveys the futility and sorrow of war and offers all the proof necessary to support Martin Scorsese’s claim that Fuller’s war pictures were the purest, least romantic, and harshest ones.

Sergeant Possum, a veteran of World War One (played by Academy Award winner Lee Marvin), wants to finish the job and escape with his group of inexperienced recruits. Kill the enemy before they kill you. That’s all it is: a job.

His now-seasoned squad, which includes Gruff (Mark Hamill), Zab (Robert Carradine), Vinci (Bobby CiCicco), and Johnson (Kelly Ward), learns both the brutal horror of war and to never become emotionally attached with a fresh recruit during the drive into Germany, the Normandy Invasion, and what seemed like endless death from North Africa to Sicily.

Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)

In Quentin Tarantino’s absurdist retelling of World War II, a group of Allied resistance soldiers under the command of Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) chase Nazis and engage in some historical revisionism. A gang of Jewish American troops’ World War II plot to kill Nazi officials coincides with a theater owner’s retaliatory intentions to do the same in Nazi-occupied France. The homicidal plan of Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) runs parallel to their narrative because the French-Jewish cinema owner wants retribution for a war crime committed against her family. The film’s interconnected storylines have a samilar objective: eliminating as many Nazis as possible, including Hitler.

The worldwide box office for Inglorious Basterds exceeded $321.5 million, making it Tarantino’s most successful movie to date. The film received generally positive reviews, with Waltz’s performance as Hans Landa being singled out for praise, but some criticized the historical liberties taken. It received several nominations and prizes as well, including eight nods for Academy prizes (including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay). Waltz received several accolades for his portrayal of Landa, including the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

One of the best movies ever produced, period. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s on-screen chemistry almost created this movie the gold standard for the war-torn romance subgenre.

With career-defining performances from Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca is an undeniable classic and maybe Hollywood’s most iconic statement on love and passion.

No one involved in the production of Casablanca expected it to stand out among the hundreds of films Hollywood produces each year. Casablanca was hurriedly released in order to capitalize on the publicity surrounding the Allied invasion of North Africa a few weeks earlier. It had its international premiere on November 26, 1942, in New York City, and on January 23, 1943, it was made available to the general public in the US. The movie enjoyed a respectable, though unspectacular, initial run.

The Epsteins and Koch were recognized for Best Adapted Screenplay, while Casablanca outperformed expectations by winning the Academy Award for Best Picture. Curtiz was also recognized for his work as Best Director. Its popularity has progressively risen to the point that its iconic lead characters, catchy lines, and all-pervasive theme music frequently place it towards the top of lists of the best movies ever made. The movie was chosen by the United States Library of Congress in 1989 as one of the first to be preserved in the National Film Registry because it was “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Pearl Harbor (Michael Bay, 2001)

A historical tale laced with passion and conflict. The plot centers on two best friends for life as well as a stunning nurse who become embroiled in the horror of a notorious Sunday morning in 1941.

An American romantic war drama film called Pearl Harbor was released in 2001. It was directed by Michael Bay, produced by Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer, and written by Randall Wallace. Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett, Cuba Gooding Jr., Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, Colm Feore, and Alec Baldwin are some of the actors that appear in it. The assault on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941, is highly romanticized in the movie, which focuses on a love story set against the backdrop of the attack, its aftermath, and the Doolittle Raid.

The classic love story Pearl Harbor takes place in the midst of a war that makes everything more difficult. The initiators of everything are Rafe and Danny, childhood friends who later went on to become Army Air Corps pilots and met Evelyn, a Navy nurse. Rafe hooks up with Evelyn after falling head over heels for her. Rafe agrees to fight in Britain after that, and Evelyn and Danny are sent to Pearl Harbor. When the surprise “Pearl Harbor” air raid occurs one morning, Rafe is away fighting.

Despite receiving generally unfavorable reviews from critics who criticized the story, lengthy runtime, screenplay and dialogue, pacing, performances, and historical inaccuracies, the film was a box office success, earning $59 million in its opening weekend and close to $450 million worldwide. However, others loved Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack and the special effects. It received four Academy Award nominations and took home the prize for Best Sound Editing. In addition, it received six Golden Raspberry Award nominations, including one for Worst Picture. This was the first (and to date, only) time a Worst Picture nominee received an Academy Award, and it is also the first Bay-directed movie to receive such recognition.

Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006)

“Flags of Our Fathers” is a high-profile portrayal of the events from the viewpoint of the United States, and it was adapted from the nonfiction book by James Bradly and Ron Powers published in 2000 about the heroic actions of the Easy Company during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, which resulted in the famous flag-raising. In order to humanize the experience of Japanese troops during the same event, Clint Eastwood’s 2006 Japanese-language film “Letters from Iwo Jima,” which serves as a companion piece, is also commended for its vision and performances.

The conflict is seen taking place in the present and being recalled in the opening sequences of the movie, which also has voiceovers from survivors. Although we won’t realize it until much later, all the essential ideas are being introduced. After a harrowing period at sea, it then concentrates on the first American landing, which was unnervingly peaceful. There was no Japanese fire on the beach, and the men quickly pushed inland until being surprised by hidden enemy positions. 2,000 people died on that first day, practically all of them Americans.

The Sound of Music (Robert Wise, 1965)


The Sound of Music, which made its premiere in 1965, was an immediate success and took home five Oscars. For millions of viewers, the movie is the exceptional fusion of an intense and compelling narrative, top-notch music, and magnificent Salzburg landscape!

In 1930s at the start of the annexation of Austria, a convent assigns a young novice, Maria, to work as a governess for a widowed naval officer’s seven children. The musical follows the tale of Maria, who accepts a position as a governess to a big family as she considers becoming a nun. She begins to feel affection for the children as well as their widower father, Captain von Trapp. Despite being forced to join the German navy, he refuses to support the Nazis. He and Maria make the decision to leave Austria with the kids.

Julie Andrews plays Maria in The Sound of Music, while Christopher Plummer plays Georg von Trapp. The von Trapp family’s new governess, Maria, is the subject of the Grammy-winning musical. The classic love story of Sound of Music is set against the background of impending doom, injecting adventure and excitement into the lives of the seven children who would otherwise have been nurtured with militaristic strictness.

Five Academy Awards were given to The Sound of Music, including those for Best Picture and Best Director. This was Wise’s second set of wins for both categories; his first came from the 1961 movie West Side Story. Along with the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical, the movie also won two Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture and Best Actress. The fourth best film musical, according to the American Film Institute (AFI), The Sound of Music was ranked as the fifty-fifth best American movie of all time in 1998. The movie was chosen by the United States Library of Congress in 2001 for inclusion in the National Film Registry because it was deemed to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

The Great Escape (John Sturges, 1963)

The Great Escape is a substantially romanticized portrayal of the bravery and tenacity of prisoners of war that centers on a British POW’s actual escape from the German POW camp Stalag Luft III. The movie follows the dedication and coordination of several POWs as they make creative attempts to conceal the existence of escape tunnels being excavated beneath the camp’s guards. Also praised were the musical soundtrack and the stunts, which featured Steve McQueen’s well-known motorbike leap.

The movie was adapted from a book by Australian author Paul Brickhill, but it underwent substantial changes to reflect the characteristics of the cast, which featured numerous well-known actors and up-and-coming celebrities. After convincing studio bosses that the picture shouldn’t be shot in California, Sturges used German locales, and Elmer Bernstein composed one of the greatest film compositions in cinematic history. The iconic action in which his character leaps a barbed-wire fence was carried out by his friend Bud Ekins, while McQueen did most of the biking himself. The movie, despite having a lasting impact, sparked controversy since American actors were used in the Hollywood rendition of the escape, which British military veterans felt was only a British endeavor.

The Great Escape, which won McQueen the Best Actor prize at the Moscow International Film Festival, was well-received by critics, becoming one of the highest-grossing movies of the year, and is now regarded as a masterpiece. Another noteworthy aspect of the movie is the motorbike pursuit and leap sequence, which is regarded as one of the finest stunts ever pulled off.