Social Question

Berserker's avatar

What are some good movies about WWII?

Asked by Berserker (33392points) March 29th, 2011

There’s Schindler’s List of course, saw that long ago. I also like The Pianist. Roman Polanski, the director, says he wanted to reflect in the movie as much as he could on what it was really like for someone being persecuted in WWII. (which he went through himself) He avoided Hollywood. It’s a great movie, but pretty disturbing, too. Inglorious Bastards was good too, but I think I’d have to re watch it again to fully understand everything. Was kinda tipsy at the time of viewing though. I also saw Downfall, which was pretty good, and Mein Kampf, (technically not about WWII, but it couldn’t be any more related) which I liked a little less. I don’t get all that hypnotism stuff…
So those are the all the ones I know about. Do you guys know about any other ones you could suggest? Maybe lesser known ones. This isn’t typically my genre, so I only know the ones everyone knows about. Help?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

38 Answers

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I know I say this a lot, but “Men Behind the Sun”. It’s an awesome “exploitation” film that shows a realistic portrayal of the brutality of the Imperial Japanese empire. It is disturbing and gory, but to me, the film doesn’t use gore for the sake of gore. My grandparents actually went through this shit, so I’d say the gore is justifiable.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Paths of Glory, and Atonement are two very different but interesting movies, and of course Saving Private Ryan is a good standard…

Berserker's avatar

@Michael_Huntington I thought I saw that before but I messed up the titles. Thanks.

@JilltheTooth Thanks. That first one is WWI, but now that I think of it, I’ve never heard of many WWI movies, but they must, obviously exist. Sounds good. And Saving Private Ryan, of course. Why didn’t I think of it lol.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh, duh, about Paths of Glory. Sorry. A good one about the aftermath at home is The Best Years of Our Lives, it really brings home so to speak what it was like for the vets when they got back.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Life is Beautiful wonderful movie, IMO

If you can handle it, Saving Private Ryan

gory as hell…it as if you are in the war

Kardamom's avatar

A great comedy about WWII is 1941. It’s one of the funniest movies of all time, but it has a lot of accurate info (and some awesome silly stuff) about the look, the action and the location (in this case Los Angeles). The fact that Slim Pickens is in this movie makes it worth the price of admission. My father, who lived in San Luis Obispo (and joined the Navy at 17) confirms that there were Japanese subs that made it to the mainland coast of the U.S. One of them ran aground up in that area.

Tora Tora Tora, was made in the 1960’s is is specifically about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I saw this as a very young kid and it made me cry. Here is the blurb from Netflix: Named for the Japanese phrase that signals the start of an attack, Tora! Tora! Tora! tells both the American and Japanese versions of the infamous attack that catapulted the United States into World War II. The film reveals mistakes made by both governments, which added to the confusion and culminated in the harrowing bombing of Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor. Spectacular battle scenes earned the film an Oscar for best special effects.

Flags of Our Father (by Clint Eastwood) I have not seen this one, but it has gotten a lot of critical acclaim. Here is the blurb on Netflix: Clint Eastwood directs this riveting World War II drama that recounts the story of six U.S. soldiers who were instantly immortalized when they were photographed raising the American flag atop Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi. Based on the book of the same name, the film reconstructs the events surrounding the snapshot, which came to symbolize the U.S. troops’ triumph and America’s indestructible spirit. Ryan Phillippe and Barry Pepper co-star

Sophie’s Choice (starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline). This is an extremely heartwrenching movie about a woman who had been in a concentration camp. A three hanky movie. Here’s the Netflix blurb:Aspiring author Stingo (Peter MacNicol) shares a Brooklyn boarding house with winsome Polish émigré Sophie (Meryl Streep) and her mercurial lover, Nathan (Kevin Kline)—a union unsettled by Nathan’s violent behavior and Sophie’s disturbing recollections of her wartime experience. Stingo uncovers the truth about Sophie, however, when her accounts of her stint at a Nazi concentration camp unravel, laying bare the real source of her torment.

Lifeboat (by Alfred Hitchcock) I’ve never seen this one, but I am very intrigued about it, after researching this question. I’ve never seen a bad Hitchcock movie. Here’s the Netflix blurb:Using a story by John Steinbeck as inspiration, master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock stages a gripping World War II drama by cramming eight survivors of a German torpedo attack into the hull of a tiny lifeboat. Among them are a journalist (Tallulah Bankhead), a radio operator (Hume Cronyn) and a woman (Heather Angel) clutching the corpse of her dead baby. But the real trouble starts when one of the survivors (Walter Slezak) reveals he’s a Nazi

Au Revoir Les Enfants I’ve seen this one at least 5 or 6 times. Here is the Netflix blurb:As World War II rages on, two students at a boarding school—the French-Catholic Julien Quintin (Gaspard Manesse) and the Jewish Jean Bonnet (Raphael Fejto)—form an unlikely friendship in director Louis Malle’s powerfully moving drama based on events from his own life. Although the boys begin as adversaries, they soon find common ground, especially when it becomes clear that Jean is merely trying to survive the tyranny of the Nazis

Europa Europa. I’ve seen this one a few times too. It is reminiscent of the above film, in that a young Jewish boy is being hidden in a Christian school, but this one is much closer to the Nazi’s. He is forced to fraternize with a young Nazi girl to keep up the charade. There are some really horrific scenes of the young man trying to stretch his foreskin in the bathtub so that no one will know that he is Jewish. It’s wrenching, but there are some very touching scenes between the boy’s girlfriend’s mother who may or may not know that he is a Jew.

Joker94's avatar

Rewatch Inglourious Basterds. So, so worth it.
Oh, and Enemy at the Gates was purdy cool, but I never got to finish it.
Letters from Iwo Jima was great.
I saw a neat foreign film called Saviors in the Night. I have no clue how to find it, but it was all about a Jewish family in hiding during WWII.

wilma's avatar

The Longest Day. It tells the story of D-Day from the perspective of the allies and the Germans.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Empire of the Sun is another to consider. It takes place in Japan and stars Christian Bale as a 12 year old British child that becomes a Japanese POW.

Berserker's avatar

@SpatzieLover Another vote for Ryan. All right, I’ll definitely check this then. Life is beautiful sounds interesting, too.

@Kardamom Thanks for your searching work. A lot of those seem intriguing, especially Sophie’s Choice (which I’ve actually heard of before) and Europa Europa. I really need a damn Netflix account, I’ll never find any of those in my vid rental place…

@Joker94 Yeah I do plan on Giving Bastards another viewing. (this time sober lol) I’ve heard of Enemies at the Gate too, but never saw it. I think I might find that one easy enough. Saviors of the Night seem cool too.

@wilma Another unknown one to me. Seems like an interesting idea though, to have different perspectives.

@Pied_Pfeffer I think I may have heard of that before, not entirely sure. Thanks. :)

I know there’s a few Anne Frank movies out there, any suggestions on those? I read the book, that was pretty hardcore. :/

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Symbeline Read Anne Frank’s book. There are a couple of documentaries on her that are quite good, too. Here’s one of them if I can think of the other one I just saw, I’ll let you know…it was a good one!

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Symbeline : Warning about Sophie’s Choice…major weeping and gasping will occur. I own it, watch it on occasion, and kind of freak out every time. And it’s stunning.

Joker94's avatar

I almost forgot, The Boy in The Striped Pajamas was a great book and movie. It’s another Holocaust film, so’s you know.

Berserker's avatar

@SpatzieLover Yeah, I did read the book, or the collected accounts of her journal, but there was stuff added in between, mainly to situate the reader about time frames and the like. Are there different versions? Parts that stuck out to me were when she made an advance on a girl when they were sharing a bed, and was turned down, and of course, in the end where her and her family didn’t make it. That was damn shocking and sad because she seemed pretty optimistic throughout her diary. Will go check the link, thanks. :)

@JilltheTooth Then it’s on my list. It’s not because I’m a freak who likes to see people suffer or anything, but I am interested in movies that portray it as accurately as possible, like my The Pianist example. So this one is on my list. If I find it…

filmfann's avatar

Chaplin’s The Great Dictator
The Best Years Of Our Lives
Saving Private Ryan
Band Of Brothers
A Bridge Too Far
Empire of the Sun
Hiroshima Mon Amore
30 Seconds Over Tokyo

Kardamom's avatar

@Symbeline. You must have some funky little independent video rental places near you, huh? If not, check the nearest art museum, sometimes they can order movies for you. Do you have a gay district in your town? Those are the folks that will have a lot of great foreign and/or art movies, including the last 2 on my list. Does someone you know have a Netflix account and will maybe let you borrow a film or two?

Anne Frank The Whole Story (which is a more modern adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary) (the version with Ben Kingsley as Anne’s father) is really good. Although the Diary of Anne Frank from 1959 is very sweet, starring Millie Perkins as Anne. And I just noticed a more recent version, that is actually a BBC mini-series that sounds worth watching. Here’s the Netflix blurb for the mini-series:Teenager Anne Frank (Ellie Kendrick) and her Jewish family hide from the Nazis during World War II in this outstanding BBC production of the classic book. As time drags on, they deal with both the terrifying fear of their situation and normal family life. But the cramped quarters and tense situation sometimes cause tempers to flair. Presented in five half-hour episodes, the series intertwines some of Frank’s actual words within the action.

I agree with @JilltheTooth that Sophie’s Choice will make you cry and even need to leave the room to compose yourself.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Symbeline More on Anne Frank in this book by Miep Gies and on this web site for Miep

This documentary created to show the Paper Clip Project of 8th graders in Tennessee was an unexpected treasure I watched late one evening on cable.

Kardamom's avatar

@Symbeline Here is another one I just found, based on the fact that I’ve seen some horrifying documentaries about the subject of Kamikaze fighters. This one is called Kamikaze in Color and it talks about the whole philosophy of kamikaze fighters, describes their training, and talks to survivors on both sides about what this tactic meant.

You might also be interested in the documentary War in the Pacific from 1982 with Walter Cronkite narrating the story of the conflict, complete with interviews and archival footage.

Berserker's avatar

@Kardamom Yeah, where I rent my vids, it’s this independent place. I boycott all the big names lol. XD I’ll definitely check there for the suggestions here. I usually rent horror, so I may be surprised by their other sections. Don’t check em too often, truth be told. Our library rents out movies though, I’m thinking I should go check there, too. Never thought about that…in the same place as the museum. (this is a small town) In Montréal there’s a gay district. If you reckon they have good stuff, I’ll look that up when I next go down there for reasons other than going to school lol. And thanks for the Anne Frank suggestions. Lots of different adaptations out there, I see. So there’s a series too, that could be interesting. This probably plays on things like History Channel right? (again, my library might be able to help for that one)

The Kamikaze thing sounds intriguing…especially as I really wonder just how the hell Kamikaze pilots are able to do this. Japanese culture as a whole is pretty intriguing, and from what I know of the Edo age, totally relentless when it comes to values and honour, often having suicide as a strong element… A lot of that still remains, it seems.

@SpatzieLover Oooooh right… now I remember, someone helped the Frank family to hide out in the first place. I forgot about that. Yeah I should probbaly check this out again, either through book or film form. Interesting website, as well.

@filmfann I’ve heard of Casablanca. But I had no idea that was a WWII film…A Bridge too Far I’ve heard of too. Thank you for the suggestions. I should have figured that so many WWII movies existed. Also, if you guys know of any good WWII books (whether fictional or informative) please let me know.

faye's avatar

Band of Brothers is so good! It’s a true story, just filled out to turn it into a movie. I’m watching Pacific now, it’s good so far. If you google John Wayne, you’ll find some.

Kardamom's avatar

OMG! I was just waiting for you to ask about books. I didn’t want to hijack your thread, so I waited for you to ask.

I just finished a great book by a female Scottish author called The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. It’s about a older woman, living in England. The story goes back and forth from current time, to when she was a little girl and a young woman during WWII. It is very vivid and has great dialogue between her and her house keeper and her children and her parents and her lover and a young friend that moves in with her (when she’s an old woman). The story, the characters and the dialogue and the imagery are rich! I loved this book (it just happens to have many parts of it set during WWII and it describes a lot of the pain and atrocities and loss associated with the war) But it is also a wonderful warm book about love and friendship and redemption.

The first book I read by Rosamunde Pilcher was equally wonderful, although it is a completely different story and setting (but you can see that the author probably used events and parts of characterizations from people in her own family). I can’t say enough about Winter Solstice If you read and like The Shell Seekers, get this one too. I wish they would make a movie out of it. I already know exactly what actors I would want to portray every single character. This second book has nothing to do with WWII, but I’m recommending it to everyone as just a perfect story.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Symbeline Fictional book that is excellent for WWII=The Book Thief

ucme's avatar

Inglorious Basterds…Schindlers List…....I mean I could go on all day long with this shit, but I see you asked for “maybe lesser known ones.” Here are two little gems from a while back…....Kelly’s Heroes. & Where Eagles Dare. Both feature Clint Eastwood, which is one reason they’re so good.

Cruiser's avatar

Catch 22 you will never watch war flicks the same after seeing this movie!

JilltheTooth's avatar

Here’s a thread with a bunch of book recommendations for you…

BarnacleBill's avatar

Tora! Tora! Tora!

I recommend Badenheim 1939 by Aharon Appelfeld.

meiosis's avatar

Cross of Iron and Das Boot both give the German perspective, which is always useful.

Bridge Over The River Kwai is good too, it focuses on the Japanese use of forced labour to build the Burmese Railway

Jay484's avatar

Band of brothers
The Pacific

JilltheTooth's avatar

Paradise Road deals with the treatment of female (Mostly European and American) prisoners by their Japanese captors on Sumatra. A Town Like Alice covers this topic, also, for a large portion of the story. Both are excellent.

Kardamom's avatar

@Symbeline I forgot to ask you why you have this sudden interest in WWII. Are you writing a paper for school or did something spark your attention? I wish you could meet my 90 year old uncle, he could tell you stories about his time in Europe during WWII. You would not believe some of the stuff he went through, the people he met and the things that he learned about. Oddly enough, WWII seems to be one of the things he can remember clearly and vividly and in great detail, even though he could not tell you what he had for dinner last night.

Berserker's avatar

No, no paper or project or anything. It is a sudden interest, especially after realizing how little I know of WWII to begin with. See there’s this guy in uni that I sometimes talk to on free time, and while talking about American History X, he told me he greatly admires Hitler and the Nazis. (although he states that he doesn’t like neo nazis, which are different I guess, although their motivation draws from the same sources) Well anyway after I asked why, he told me two main reasons. I think he has some kind of grandeur delusion thing going on, and admits that he often fantasizes himself as Hitler, or someone like that. (he’s also a big Napoleon fan) I guess being a megalomaniac is harmless if you never actually manage to execute any actual plans. But what shocked me was when he also said that he doesn’t like Jews, and believes they should be all done with. His reason is that they’re ’‘economic parasites’’, but beyond this, he wasn’t able, or willing, to elaborate much. (besides telling me that lots of other people in history didn’t like the Jews)
I’m thinking his mindset here is mere flash value, and I was wondering just how much this guy even knows about WWII. So a few days later I remembered that movie The Pianist and wanted to watch it. Went out and bought it for 12 dollars, brand new. After that I wanted to lend him my copy so hopefully he might be disturbed. I described to him some of the shocking scenes from the movie, and he actually looked surprised and disturbed just from my description. So I lent him the movie, and he thought it was awesome, and said he was laughing like mad at all the killing and humiliation scenes. Well k fine wtv then. I tried, and it’s not my job to change anyone’s mindset anyways.
But with alla that I asked myself lol before criticizing people, how much do I know about the Holocaust? A whole lot of fuckall, as I learned in my past days of reading on sites. I mean I knew all this happened and that it sucks, but how, and most importantly, why? Why did Hitler dislike Jews, how were the Romani ’‘racially inferior’’, why did people even support this? I’ve learned quite a bit since asking my WWII sites question, and honestly some of what I read I really wish I never knew. My god. But I am glad I’m learning more. It’s also a lot more complicated than I thought, especially with all the politics involved which I’ve always had a hard time comprehending.
I hate using the words interesting and fascinating, that makes it like I enjoy what I read. I don’t know what word to use, but I am feeling something positive as I read up all this, even though most of it is depressing. So, this is all more or less how I got this sudden interest in learning more, and as for the movies question right here? Well, I’m a huge fan of movies. And when I have interests or things that intrigue me, it’s inevitable for me to eventually hunt down movies that may have been made on the subject.
So thanks everyone for the suggestions here, greatly appreciate it. (feel free to add more if you think of further suggestions)

That reminds me of this thing, when I was in school, like grade 7 or 8, we had a week where we studied WWII, and we got a visit by two Jews who managed to survive the Holocaust. They came to speak to us of their experiences and all, and explain about the war, too. They hid for 2 years in a building, living on fuckall but raw onions all that time. They got really sick too. One of them recovered good, and even though he was extremely old, he was pretty active and energetic. The other man was in a wheelchair and barely spoke a word, but his job was managing the many slides we saw on those projector things. So anyways the dude doing the talking tried an experiment with us kids. He said, so I want you to look at the person next to you, and tell them you hate them. So we went nuts telling one another we hated each other. Then he’s like, okay, now turn to that same person but tell them you love them. It was really awkward mostly, and nobody really did it, at least not with as much gutso as the hate part. So he says, you see how easy it is to say you hate someone? Haha I’ll never forget that. That experiment left something in my brain forever.

From what they described, and from what I’ve recently learned, I’m not surprised at all that your uncle would remember that period of history clearly. I mean it’s all fine reading or hearing about it, but imagine having to go through all that, gah. I’d really love to hear his story, or the stories of other people in WWII that were persecuted and otherwise oppressed. (there was a LOT)

Also this is getting too long and off topic lol, but yeah, a sudden interest. And thanks for asking, I was kinda wanting to share it. Just I didn’t think this thread may have been applicable, but eh, close enough I’m sure.

Kardamom's avatar

@Symbeline I’m so glad that you are actually researching the subject. It sounds like that cretin from your school has no idea what actually went on in WWII and you’re right that he does have some sort of sick delusions of grandeur. I would steer clear of him. Sounds like a serial killer in the rough.

Another thing that you might want to do is check with the Smithsonian Institute and see if they have a selection of online “living history” interviews with soldiers, prisoners, holocaust survivors and other people that experienced WWII first hand. I know the historical society in my town has a collection of audio recordings, but unfortunately they are not online.

Here is a site that has written interviews, but I think hearing them speak in their own voices is more evocative.

You might be able to get some audio interviews and a whole lot of pertinent information from the United States Holocaust Museum

Another good book that you may actually enjoy reading (yes, I said enjoy) is The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig. It is a lovely accounting of everything that was peaceful and good in the late 1800’s leading up to WWI and then he describes how the events unfolded that lead to the great divisions in Europe that lead directlly to WWI and then subsequently to WWII. It reads like a novel, but is full of historical information.

Here’s a little blurb about Stefan Zweig from wikipedia: Zweig fled Austria in 1934, following Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. He then lived in England (in London and from 1939 in Bath) before moving to the United States in 1940. In 1941 he went to Brazil, where in 1942 he and his second wife Charlotte Elisabeth Altmann committed suicide together in Petrópolis.[4][5] He had been despairing at the future of Europe and its culture. “I think it better to conclude in good time and in erect bearing a life in which intellectual labour meant the purest joy and personal freedom the highest good on Earth”, he wrote

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Symbeline I beg you to watch the documentary A Class Divided. While it came about due to the assignation of Martin Luther King Jr., it still has relevance to how so many people could be sucked up into the idea of cultivating the “Ayran race”.

Joker94's avatar

@Symbeline That story for some reason reminds me of my movie The Believer. It isn’t really a movie about WWII, but it is about Neo-Nazism.

Berserker's avatar

@Kardamom Yeah I’m not really wanting to hang out with that guy much anymore. I’d rather not befriend people who laugh at stuff like this. I mean sure in the movie it isn’t real, but it’s based on something that is. Well I laugh at people dying in horror movies, but to me it’s two different ball games altogether. :/
Again, thanks for the links. I don’t mind written interviews, either. Sure it’s better if you can hear them, but this works just as well for me, too. About the museum aye, it was also recommended to me by @Pied_Pfeffer so if I ever end up in the United States, I’d really love to go see that. Guess I’ll check out the website in the meanwhile. XD But thanks.

And a very interesting book I think. Describing the good and then the decline. and all the better it reads like a novel too, I’m sure that must grip the reader? It’s good to know though, that there are so many works on WWII, but that take different angles.

@Pied_Pfeffer All right, I’ll watch it if you reckon it. I just noticed I can watch it online right now, so that’s awesome. I’m guessing that yes, in many ways this is probably pretty relevant to some issues surrounding WWII. I’ll post back here after I see it. Thank you. :)

@Joker94 Well that works too. The only Neo Nazi movie I know about is American History X. (which I completely love, plus I love both Norton and Furlong)

Oh I saw part of a Neo Nazi movie looooong ago, but I don’t know what it was called. All I remember is a man and a woman having sex, and they were wrapped in a big ass Nazi flag. Anyone know what that is?

@JilltheTooth Thanks for your recommendations. Paradise Road sounds especially disturbing, although I’ll bet A Town like Alice is just as much. Oh and I didn’t know about that thread…never came up in my WWII Fluther searches. Thanks for the head’s up.

@meiosis An interesting take, yeah. I may have mentioned this here already, but Fiddle Playing Creole Bastard told me one of his books on WWII says that the SS offered psychological help to some German soldiers and camp guards, because they just couldn’t hack what they were doing anymore. :/

I denno why I didn’t think of this sooner, but I’m going to check out the library at uni to see if I can find some of these suggestions here. It’s probably bigger than the building that houses the library in my town lol.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Symbeline : Neither of those two are disturbing so much as uplifting. There is, of course, a disturbing factor, simply because of the content, but both taught me about aspects of Japanese actions in the Pacific Theater that I had never even contemplated before.

Berserker's avatar

Yeah, one of them seems to be a romance story, which is an interesting thing to have revolve around WWII. I guess the whole captivity thing is what makes it seem disturbing in the synopsis, but if it’s actually uplifting, it’s got my attention.

JilltheTooth's avatar

It’ll be worth your while, I promise.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther