History books have documented numerous geo-political reasons for war. But what does war mean for the young people on the frontlines? Guided by idealism, most of them sign up for a war they don’t quite understand. “Gallipoli” shines a light on this crushing reality. The movie is about two runners – young, hopeful, and looking for an adventure.
They become best friends and sign up for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps — a promising overseas stint. The reality is anything but. The wide-eyed boys are instead dispatched to the Gallipoli peninsula where the Turkish army already has a distinct advantage. “Gallipoli” shows in heartbreaking detail how war destroys the youth. Many don’t know what they’re signing up for, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.
The Battle of Algiers (1966)
Gillo Pontecorvo’s “The Battle of Algiers” depicts the conflict between Algerian rebels and the French government during the Algerian War. What strikes you immediately about the film is its distinct documentary style and feel. Pontecorvo hired several non-professional actors and shot the film on location.
The dedication to realism extends to the narrative as well since the film lays bare the often-barbaric acts on both sides of the conflict – tactics including torture and the targeted bombing of civilians. Pontecorvo set out to make a politically neutral film, and while it’s true the film takes no sides, it does play out like a horror film. In keeping the tone objective, the film cannot but help highlight the atrocities of war, whether one likes it or not. Victory for any side always comes at a terrible price.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Anime isn't your conventional medium for a war film but Japan knows what it's doing as per usual! “Grave of the Fireflies” is a poignant story about two children who become orphans by the time WWII ends. It is a heartbreaking tale of them trying to survive and fend for themselves. The war has ended. Japan is on the brink of defeat.
What happens to children of war when their families and lives are torn apart? “Grave of the Fireflies” paints a soul-crushing picture of widespread desolation, misery, and despair. Innocence and joy have long abandoned this land and all that remains is a gravesite. The film is easily one of the greatest, most impactful anti-war films of all time. Cinema was elevated. Magic happens when anime — traditionally light and enchanting — meets oppressive subjects like war.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
Released in the middle of WWII, “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” is a sketch of a type of British military man deemed out of date. Cartoonist David Low first created the character of Colonel Blimp back in 1934. Blimp is out of shape and somewhat slow – traits now considered undesirable in the British military. The film details the character’s origin story, but most of all, it is a defense of Colonel Blimps everywhere who deserve a place in Britain’s military history.
The film stars Roger Livesey as Clive Candy – a seasoned British soldier who finds himself at odds with the younger crop of soldiers. Rules and tradition mean nothing to this lot. How times have changed! Candy’s character embodies what England aspired to in theory – fair play, civility, and dignity in war.
Lawrence of Arabia
An epic war adventure film, "Lawrence of Arabia" had incredible cinematography. This film is directed by David Lean and is based on the life of British archaeologist and army officer, T.E. Lawrence. It follows and documents the officer’s experiences throughout the Ottoman Empire, such as his attacks on Damascus and Aqaba.
At the 35th Academy Awards show in 1963, the film was nominated for a total of ten Oscars — and won seven of them. The wins include the awards for Best Director and Best Picture. If that wasn't reason enough to watch it, this film also scores 94% on the Tomatometer.