Most people seem to have a passion for at least one particular genre, if not many. But when it comes to war film aficionados, I’ve learned they tend to watch it all, not too dissimilar from horror junkies, yet war film fans have a ferocious fervency for what they deem the best war films of all time. You mention Apocalypse Now to some people, and within seconds, you’re bombarded with a blitzkrieg of quotes from Kurtz’s “The horror…” to Kilgore’s “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” And then there are the rest of us, who have seen a handful of war flicks here and there, liking some and not loving others. But lastly, there are people like me….
I’ll be honest. When I started my research for this list, I had only seen The Hurt Locker. (I know. I’m a horrible person.) Clearly, somehow war films never navigated their way into my childhood, adolescence, or even my film degree. Feel free to send me strongly worded letters to Warwick University; I’ll hand deliver them myself.
So considering I am by no means a pundit for war films, this list is probably a bit different from the standard affair. Not only have I considered “war films” to include films that take place on the battlefield but also movies that are set during a war, yet the combat itself is only the backdrop. A Holocaust or POW film, for example, has just as much of a right to sit at the “war films” table as a high-octane front-line fighting fest.
I have no doubt that every film on this list has touched many people at some stage in their lives, but since I never grew up with these war movies, I had the advantage to be quite objective and unbiased. I’d be lying if I said it was easy to rank each film as most of them are so completely different from one another and what they bring to the table is so deliciously unique. So, I have ranked them in order of which film best fulfilled what it sought out to achieve. So here we go… Bombs away!