I've been watching some excellent movies this week - all war-related of course - so i thought it was time to do a Friday list about war films!
There are so many to choose from, so todays will focus solely on English language war films. It was nearly impossible to narrow the list down, so I will revisit this subject in the not too distant future, and we will also be taking another look at foreign language war films.
On the subject of bad war films, there are again lots of candidates, and this is also a topic we will revisit. But there was one which I tried to re-watch again recently, to give it a fair crack of the whip and to see whether I was being unfair when I watched it the first time round... I simply couldn't finish it. Read on to find out what it was...
Without further ado, I give you the five best English language war films:
1.) Saving Private Ryan
Such an incredible sensory experience, the opening sequence has become world famous as a brutal assault on the senses and as a very authentic recreation of the intense fighting at the initial D-Day landings. This one strolled into the list - I can't believe it's sixteen years old!
2.) Henry V
Yes, I know it's a play. But it's been made into a film three times! The 1944 Laurence Olivier version is great, but I think I just prefer the later version, starring Kenneth Brannagh. It deals with the exploits of a seminal English warrior king, and is widely regarded as one of the best film adaptations of a Shakespeare play of all time!
3.) Oh What a Lovely War
Now I hate musicals, but this one is slightly different. Based on a stage musical of the same name, the film is a biting satire on the military leadership and political machinations in World War I. It's funny, slightly hallucinogenic and in the end rather sad. Uses contemporary songs and in some cases even older songs, to describe the wartime situation.
4.) Apocalypse Now
An exploration of psychological deterioration, this classic is a war film, and yet its' emphasis is much more on what war can do to the mind of a soldier than on the fighting itself. It follows US Army special operations officer Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) as he hunts a renegade Special forces Colonel (Marlon Brando) who has installed himself as a dsepot deep in the jungles of Cambodia during the Viet Nam war.
5.) The Blue Max
Although it's about German pilots in World War I, this one sneaks onto the list because it's in English! George Peppard stars as an infantryman fed up with the gruelling horror of the trenches who reaches out for glory in the skies by becoming a fighter pilot. His 'rough' character, born out of his experiences on the ground, set him at odds with the affected 'chivalry' of the other, more gentlemanly pilots in his squadron. His aerial skill is not to be denied, however, and he will stop at nothing to receive the German fighter force's most prestigious award of the time, the 'Pour le Merite' or 'Blue Max'
And now, the stinker that I just couldn't keep quiet about...
A horrific attempt to cover the combat history of the Tuskegee airmen. Terrible dialogue and historical inaccuracies abound - the whole thing is a catastrophic cheese-fest, which is such a shame as the subject is relly interesting.
For a much better treatment of the history of the Tuskegee pilots, check out the considerably lower budget, 1995 film 'The Tuskegee Airmen'
Let us know what you think of these selections. Are there any in here that you love or hate? What are your favourite, or least favourite, English language war films?