Memorial Day is a day of remembrance that recognizes those who served our country in the military armed services. Soldiers and the bravery and courage they have shown on battlefields near and far has inspired filmmakers around the world to tell stories, both true and fictional that both educate and entertain the masses about what war and the men that fight them experience when they serve in wartimes.

What follows are some of the movies I think best represent and honor those who serve their countries on the frontlines. Some based on true stories and others the product of the imagination of the filmmakers. All worth watching on Memorial Day or any other you’re in the mood for.

If you’re looking for a movie that shows the enemy with the same reverence of our troops, look no further.

Tora! Tora! Tora!

This movie is an amazing achievement. It is one of the rare war movies that gives both sides of the conflict equal time and lets the viewer decide who to cheer for. One of the smartest decisions the director made was to have the Japanese soldiers depicted in the movie to speak their native tongue. So, everything from them is accompanied by subtitles.

Sarge might should oughta ease up on this guy.

Full Metal Jacket

This movie, directed by Stanly Kubrick is a masterpiece. The first 45 minutes of the film are widely considered to be the best beginning of any war film ever made. When you watch the hauntingly disturbing performance by a young Vincent D’onofrio, you’ll see why.

Anybody else love the smell of napalm in the morning?

Apocalypse Now

Based on the novel “Heart Of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, this epic film is a masterpiece, renowned as much for its heart wrenching examination of the human psyche as it is for it’s amazing acting and Oscar-winning exceptional cinematography. The film is nearly as well-known for the difficulty involved in getting it made as it was for how well-made it is.

Looks like someone woke up on the wrong side of the bunker.

We Were Soldiers

This movie is about the first major battle of the American involvement in the Vietnam War and dramatizes the Battle of la Drang which took place on November 15, 1965. Starring Mel Gibson and directed by Randall Wallace it’s is a film about uncommon valor and courage under fire, diehard loyalty that exists among soldiers, and the heroism and bravery of soldiers at home and abroad.

If you’re looking for a war movie that’s easy to watch, keep looking.

Saving Private Ryan

This epic film was directed by Steven Spielberg. It’s an uncompromising look at World War 2 that pulls no punches. The opening D-Day scene is one of the most powerful and devastating scenes ever captured on film. Unflinching does not even begin to describe it. No wonder it was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Tom Hanks and Best Director and Best Cinematography, for which it won for Spielberg and Janusz Kaminski, respectively.

You won’t believe how good this movie is, from beginning to end.

A Midnight Clear

This excellent war movie flew under the radar and is one of the few films on this list that you may not have heard of. That said, with a cast that included Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise, Peter Berg, and Kevin Dillon. It should be no surprise that this World War 2 film is so beloved by history buffs and cinefiles alike.

What war looks like when all hell breaks loose.

Blackhawk Down

Blackhawk Down was directed by Ridley Scott. It’s a film about the Battle of Mogadishu, a conflict between the U.S. military and the Somali militia. It’s the story about what happened when the U.S. sent special forces into Somalia to destabilize the government and bring food and humanitarian aid to the starving local population as a part of Operation Restore Hope. Using Black Hawk helicopters to lower the soldiers onto the ground, an surprise attack by Somalian forces brings two of the helicopters down under heavy attacks.

These gentlemen are a major reason this movie is a must watch.

A Bridge Too Far

This is a classic film based on the novel of the same name by Cornelius Ryan. It was written by William Goldman and stars Sean Connery, Michael Caine and was directed by Richard Attenborough. Even though it’s more than 40 years old it still holds up to today.

Sometimes the scariest threat in war some from your own side.

Platoon

This is the story of a young U.S. soldier in Vietnam who faces a moral crisis when he learns about the true horrors of war, both against the enemy and within his own unit. It stars Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe and was written and directed by Oliver Stone. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards  and won four including Best Picture, and Best Director for Stone.

Don’t get too used to that bridge. Just sayin.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai is an epic 1957 World War II film directed by the legendary David Lean, based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai by Pierre Boulle. It’s a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa.

And there you have it. Those movies ought to keep you occupied for the time being, private.

 

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