Hollywood has regularly revisited the Second World War for cinematic inspiration

Oct 26, 2014, 06:06 IST | Shakti Shetty

No military event has spawned more Hollywood films than the World War II. With 'Fury', starring Brad Pit, releasing on Friday, we revisit others from the war genre...

For decades, the USA's idea of war has been foreign invasion, which, on most occasions, backfired.


For the record, there has been no full-blown confrontation between the US and any other country — at least not on the former's soil — since the Declaration of Freedom was signed in 1776.

Against such a historical context, it's a no-brainer why American war films have very little to do with the country itself. So the filmmakers often end up travelling back in time for material.

Of course, in recent times, there have been movies based on American army's beleaguered invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But no military event has spawned more Hollywood films than the World War II. With Fury, starring Brad Pit, releasing on Friday, hitlist revisits others from the war genre...

Band of Brothers (2001)
Band of Brothers
David Frankel
Lowdown: Before downloading and binge-watching TV shows became a matter of pride, this spectacular mini-series walked us through the turmoil and the angst that soldiers — and soldiers alone — experienced.

Enemy at the Gates (2001)
Enemy at the Gates
Jean-Jacques Annaud
Lowdown: In their bid to be the finest war sniper ever, two sharpshooters — one from Russia and another from Germany — engage in a battle of their own. Snowfall adds drama to the blood-soaked snow.

The Pianist (2002)
The Pianist
Roman Polanski
Lowdown: His performance as a Jewish pianist who is given shelter by a Nazi officer made Adrien Brody the youngest recipient of the Oscar for Best Actor. Even the outdoor shelling couldn't drown out his love for music.

Hart's War (2002)
Hart's War
Gregory Hoblit
Lowdown: Throughout the six years that the war lasted, prisoners of war (PoW) in Europe, especially Germany, had it bad. However, in this film, the American PoW attempt to outwit the system — quite legally.

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Letters from Iwo Jima
Clint Eastwood
Lowdown: On the Pacific front, American soldiers and their Japanese counterparts were engaged in their bloody pursuit. But everybody involved was a common man with an uncommon story.

Defiance (2008)
Edward Zwick
Lowdown: European Jews have often been criticised for the non-violence stance they took during the war. This movie highlights their violent side.

Valkyrie (2008)
Bryan Singer
Lowdown: It's conveniently assumed that everybody in Hitler's camp held up their hand and saluted him. Well, there were detractors — like the one played by Tom Cruise here — who wanted Hitler to fail.

Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Inglourious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino
Lowdown: Expect the unexpected from this gifted filmmaker. He spins a story around a Jewish girl who won't stop at anything — not even at killing Hitler — to avenge the brutal loss of her family. The way everything comes together in the climax is a cinematic marvel.

The Monuments Men (2014)
The Monuments Men
George Clooney
Lowdown: A war film of a different kind. Here, a group of dedicated aficionados are waging a dangerous battle to save as many works of art as possible before the Nazi plunderers steal them for good.

Get, set, Europe
When it comes to WWII, European films, too, have explored the subject as deeply as American films have

Black Book (2006)
Black Book
Paul Verhoeven
Lowdown: A Jewish girl in the Netherlands does more than just dye her hair blond to make it without getting caught by the Nazi soldiers. But she has a past that would interfere with her future — provided she gets one.

Atonement (2007)
Joe Wright
Lowdown: A British love story set against the backdrop of WW2 carries arguably the finest long shot from a war film. Interestingly, the movie features the Dunkirk landing by the Allied Forces like never before.

Katyn (2007)
Andrzej Wajda
Lowdown: A massacre secretly took place in Poland that historians still debate on. This Polish film throws light on that particular Stalinist cruelty towards those who refused to agree with his ideology during the war.

Downfall (2004)
Oliver Hirschbiegel
Lowdown: An awe-inspiring scene involving Hitler and his acolytes inside his bunker might have given birth to a thousand memes but it's not just that scene. This entire German film is a masterpiece in war genre.

A remarkable decade
The '90s saw a spring of fabulous films based on the Second World War and set pace for future war films too

Europa Europa (1990)
Europa Europa
Just like in Black Book, a Jewish boy goes to extreme lengths — even damaging his circumcised penis — to hide his origin from the German invaders only to find hope.

Schindler's List (1993)
Schindler's List
Steven Spielberg's masterpiece focuses on a German businessman who didn't think twice before saving innocent Jewish lives from concentration camps.

Stalingrad (1993)
Conveyed by a German officer, this film gives us a peek into Nazi foolhardiness that led them to their downfall on the Russian front and eventually over all of Europe.

Saving Private Ryan (1997)
Saving Private Ryan
The opening scene of this full-fledged on-the-battlefield film by Spielberg contributed to filmmaking — keeping it as real as humanly possibly — like never before.

The Thin Red Line (1998)
The Thin Red Line
If you thought philosophy and a devastating war can't go hand in hand, think again. Terrence Malick's epic film proved there are angles to human suffering that conveniently get overlooked.


Blast from the past
Classic WWII-inspired films in the Cold War era

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Directed by David Lean, a bridge in Burma ends up becoming a metaphor for friendship and humanity in this remarkable film otherwise soaked in hatred, horror and blood.

Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
Ashes and Diamonds
WWII wasn't just about the Allied and the Axis forces. Like this Andrzej Wajda film shows, the communists and the resistance fighters weren't really seeing eye to eye either.

The Dirty Dozen (1967)
The Dirty Dozen
Were a courageous film like this one — where a sharp mind makes all the difference — never made, there wouldn't have been an Inglourious Basterds or a Fury.

The Great Escape (1963)
The Great Escape
A group of Allied soldiers have a plan to escape their German prison. Now, all they have to do is ensure that the plan is known to the occupying forces. Strange, but true.

The Longest Day (1962)
The Longest Day
One of the finest films to have been made on the historic D-Day, an event that not only effectively changed the course of the war but also gave birth to several future film scripts.

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