My approach on war movies are entirely different since this war did happen and battle scenes with its blood, carnage, and decapitated limbs are all too real, hits too close to home. I take these films more seriously, opting to watch them alone with the curtains drawn and the door locked.
Here then are my 10 favorite war films.
2. Apocalypse Now. This war classic from Francis Ford Coppola was shot in the Philippines in the 1970s. Watching a deranged Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz on the latter part of the film is worth the effort of hunting for a longer version of the film, retitled Apocalypse Now Redux, that was released in 2001.
3. Full Metal Jacket. Stanley Kubrick’s ultra-violent film follows a group of Unites States Marines from their brutal recruit training to the days spent in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam. This is one of my favorite Kubrick films together with 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange.
4. Platoon. Oliver Stone is at the height of his artistic powers in his Oscar-winning film about the Vietnam War starring Charlie Sheen. This film is way up there with Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, and The Deer Hunter (next on the list) as the best Vietnam War movies ever made.
5. The Deer Hunter. Michael Cimino’s 1978 Vietnam War film tells the harrowing story of three Russian-American steel workers from a small American town who become prisoners of war and the aftermath after their daring escape from prison. The Russian roulette scenes from prison and later in a Saigon bar is unlike anything I’ve seen in film.
6. The Thin Red Line. I don’t really remember the plot of Terrence Mallick’s WWII film which stars a slew of actors like George Clooney, Sean Penn, and Jim Caviezel. I do remember that Mallick photographed the film like he was writing poetry which if you ask me is rather difficult to pull off.
7. Born on the Fourth of July. Tom Cruise gives a bravura performance in Oliver Stone’s second Vietnam War film as true-life war veteran Ron Kovic. Kovic gets shot in his teens while fighting the war in Vietnam, rages on his paralysis, and later on channels this rage in protesting the war that has made him wheelchair-bound for life.
9. The Hurt Locker. Released in 2008 about a squad of American soldiers deployed in Iraq to dismantle bombs planted by insurgents. Scenes where Ssgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) disarm bombs is taut with suspense and aided with minimal and at times zero musical score.
10. The Wind that Shakes the Barley. Winner of the Palm d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, Ken Loach’s film is about a pair of brothers fighting together and ultimately against each other for Irish independence. One unsolicited advice if you plan to watch this – make sure the DVD has subtitles, Irish accent is a pain.