Unlike most film genre’s war movie writers and directors tie the movie to a specific war, no matter how fictional the characters or implausible the plot. On rare occasions, the best war movies connect themselves to an actual figure or battle. However, with the list of the best war movies ever made, that is not the case. Imagination has trumped reality.
A fair number of the greatest war movies tie scripts to biography. Notable among these most notably include “Patton” and “Sergeant York.”
Another notable common point the best war pictures share concerns the fact that very few of them lend themselves to more than a small number of conflicts. Most notable, Vietnam, WWII, WWI, and the Civil War take the top places, perhaps because they were the largest in American history in duration, for the most part, and casualties.
Some war movies are based on true events and they often tell the life story of exceptional individuals.
To screen for films worth consideration for the final spot, 24/7 Tempo examined The American Film Institute’s “The 100 Greatest American Films Of All Time”, Vulture’s “The 50 Greatest War Movies Ever Made,” Rotten Tomatoes’ list of best war movies, and a similar analysis by IMDb. However, the weight of these contributed to but did not determine the list, because the author has watched each one of our final tallies.
All Quiet on the Western Front made in 1930 starred Lew Ayres and Louis Wolheim. Ranked at or near the top of every great film about war, the plot is simple. A professor convinces many young students that fighting for German is the height of manhood, and a moral imperative — a calling like no other. Tragedy faces each of the “heroes”, and the means and results of their demise tells several movie’s worth of stories about the horrors of battle and blind fealty to one’s country. The final message is that war is less than pointless.