Our top pig of war movies
“No one won the last war, and no one will win the next war.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
War is hell, for sure, but it can also make for undeniably unforgettable movies. This is our top pig of war movies.
Ran which translates as “Chaos” is a 1985 epic action drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The plot derives from William Shakespeare's King Lear into a story inspired by the life of the 16th-century feudal ruler Mori Motonari. Ichimonji Hidetora, a powerful though now elderly warlord, decides to divide his kingdom among his three sons, one of whom rejects the offer as foolish. The other two bring war to the land via bloody conflicts depicted largely as the result of the ruthlessness with which their father ruled the land. It’s a multilayered gem that depicts cruelties of war but it’s also the story of one man’s tragic end and of his horrifying rush of reflection and regret.
Fun fact: The title alludes to a line from Rudyard Kipling's poem "Tommy", from Barrack-Room Ballads, in which he calls foot soldiers "the thin red line of heroes", referring to the stand of the 93rd Regiment in the Battle of Balaclava of the Crimean War. The Thin Red Line It’s a 1998 epic war film written and directed by Terrence Malick. It is the second screen adaptation of the 1962 novel of the same name by James Jones based on his World War II experiences fighting in the Guadalcanal campaign. Movie is a fictionalized version of the Battle of Mount Austen in the Pacific Theater of World War II, it portrays soldiers of C Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. You can read more about the movie plot on our site.
Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 epic war film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. Set during the D-Day Invasion of Normandy in World War II, the film is notable for its graphic portrayal of war and for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which includes a depiction of the Omaha Beach assault during the Normandy landings. It opens with a harrowing re-creation of that attack, offering a grunts’-eye view of the chaos and gore resulting with wartime experiences without a hint of romance or nostalgia. The film follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller and his squad as they search for a paratrooper, Private First Class James Francis Ryan, the last surviving brother of three servicemen killed in action.
Apocalypse Now is a 1979 epic war film directed, produced and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola, loosely based on the 1899 novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. The setting was changed from late 19th-century Congo to the Vietnam War. The film follows a river journey from South Vietnam into Cambodia undertaken by Captain Benjamin L. Willard, who is on a secret mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz, a renegade Army Special Forces officer accused of murder and who is presumed insane. Coppola's film is confusing and disturbing, it captures the insanity war and draws on Conrad to suggest that war might just be an outgrowth of an awfulness at the core of humanity itself.
The Hurt Locker is a war thriller drama film directed by Kathryn Bigelow. The film follows an Iraq War Explosive Ordnance Disposal team who are targeted by insurgents, and shows their psychological reactions to the stress of combat, which is intolerable to some and addictive to others. We would dare to say that it’s one of the few movies that doesn’t ignore the politics of the Iraqi conflict but also focuses on the terrifying experiences of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.
Dunkirk is a 2017 war film written, directed, and produced by Christopher Nolan that depicts the Dunkirk evacuation of World War II. Director attempts to portray the evacuation by depicting it via three differently paced timelines at once: land, sea, air and builds the tension on all three fronts. A deeply emotional narrative captures the spirit of a nation desperately trying to find sparks of hope under grim circumstances.
It’s a 1959 Japanese war film directed by Kon Ichikawa, based on the novel Nobi by Shōhei Ōoka, translated as Fires on the Plain. In February 1945, the demoralized Imperial Japanese Army on Leyte was in desperate straits, cut off from support and supplies by the Allies, who were in the process of liberating the Philippine island. Private Tamura has tuberculosis and is seen as a useless burden to his company. He is ordered to commit suicide if he is unable to get admitted to a field hospital. After being denied admission, he’s forced to wander a hellish landscape of the dead, the desperate, and the starving.
It’s a 1981 German war film written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen.It adapts a best-selling German novel by Lothar-Günther Buchheim, drawn from his experiences as a war correspondent embedded with a submarine crew during the Battle of the Atlantic. The film action is set during World War II and follows German U-boat U-96 and its crew, as they set out on a hazardous patrol in the Battle of the Atlantic Main character is an experienced and disillusioned unnamed captain whose sense of military duty and commitment to his men overwhelms open distaste for Hitler, Nazism, and the execution of the German war. Das Boot depicts both the excitement of battle and the tedium of the fruitless hunt, and shows the men serving aboard U-boats as ordinary individuals with a desire to do their best for their comrades and their country.
Fun fact: The film's title refers to the full metal jacket bullet used by military servicemen. Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 war film directed, co-written, and produced by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was based on Hasford's novel “The Short-Timers”. Movie tells two parts of the same story. First one follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their boot camp training in Marine Corps Recruit Depot, primarily focusing on two privates, Joker and Pyle, who struggle under their abusive drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Second one follows the experiences of two of the platoon's Marines in Vietnamese cities. Kubrick depicts a surreal image of violence and confusion in which nothing delicate or pure can survive, showing that war leaves everyone who survives hollowed out, one way or another.
Letters From Iwo Jima (Iōjima Kara no Tegami) is a 2006 war film directed and co-produced by Clint Eastwood. The film portrays the Battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the Japanese soldiers and is a companion piece to Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, which depicts the same battle from the American viewpoint; the two films were shot back to back. Letters From Iwo Jima illustrate the desperation of the Japanese soldiers’ last stand, defending their position from tunnels as they ran out of resources and succumbed to disease. By the film’s end, viewers understand everything that led the men to this moment putting human faces on one of the war's pivotal moments.
They Were Expendablee is a 1945 war's film directed by John Ford. The film is based on the 1942 book by William Lindsay White. Movie is set in the early days of America’s involvement in World War II. It tells the story of the exploits of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three, a PT boat unit defending the Philippines against Japanese invasion during the Battle of the Philippines in World War II. Movie does not let viewers forget the human costs of war, how soldiers' lives become a means to an end, and how military service means living with that knowledge. The “they” of the title refers to more than boats.
The Deer Hunter is a 1978 epic war drama film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino about a trio of steelworkers whose lives were changed forever after fighting in the Vietnam War.
Few words about the plot: In Vietnam, the main characters Mike Vronsky, Nick Chevotarevich, Steven Pushkov along with other soldiers, are captured by the Viet Cong, and are forced to participate in a torturous game of Russian roulette while the jailers place bets. Steven yields to fear and exhaustion and fires his round at the ceiling. As punishment for breaking the rules, Steven is thrown into a cage that is immersed in a river filled with rats and dead bodies. Mike convinces Nick to attempt an escape by inserting three rounds into the revolver's cylinder; after convincing their tormentors with the increased risk, they kill the captors and escape. Movie shows the cruelty and terror of war with almost unbearably intense scenes.
Ride With the Devil is a 1999 revisionist Western film directed by Ang Lee. Movie is an adaptation of Daniel Woodrell’s 1987 novel “Woe to Live On” and it drops viewers into the chaotic world of Civil War guerrilla fighting. Screenplay follows a group of men who join the First Missouri Irregulars, also known as the Bushwhackers, guerrilla units loyal to pro-Confederacy units of the state, and their attempt to disrupt and marginalize the political activities of Northern Jayhawkers allied with Union soldiers.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, also known as Furyo which translates to "prisoner of war" is a 1983 British-Japanese war film. Movie is based on Sir Laurens van der Post's experiences as a prisoner of war of the Japanese in World War II as depicted in his two books. The film deals with the relationships among four men in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during the Second World War — Major Jack, a rebellious South African British officer with a guilty secret from his youth; Captain Yonoi, the young camp commandant; Lieutenant Colonel John Lawrence, another British officer who has lived in Japan and speaks Japanese fluently; and Sergeant Hara, who is brutal, yet humane in some ways and with whom Lawrence develops an unlikely friendship. Movie illustrates torment of war from quite an unusual angle teasing out the homoeroticism and in the process commenting on two different cultures that express such feelings through denial and brutality.
It’s a 1989 war drama film directed by Brian De Palma, based primarily on an article written by Daniel Lang for The New Yorker.The film is based on the events of the 1966 incident on Hill 192 during the Vietnam War, in which a Vietnamese woman was kidnapped from her village by a squad of American soldiers, who subsequently raped and murdered her. It is a tough film to watch, both because of the narrative and in part because of the skillfully built tension and suspense that paints the story of sadness and violence.
War Horse is an epic war film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, based on Michael Morpurgo's novel of the same name. Movie is set before and during World War I, it tells of the journey of Joey, a bay Thoroughbred horse raised by British teenager Albert, as he is bought by the British Army, leading him to encounter numerous individuals and owners throughout Europe, all the while experiencing the tragedies of the war happening around him. Movie draws heavily on the imagery and emphasizes on moments’ fragility.