The best World War 2 movies remind us that perhaps no single event has had a greater impact on the future of filmmaking than World War II. It arrived at the dawn of a new era in glossy, professional mainstream filmmaking, and it affected literally every facet of daily life in North America, Europe and Asia, where most of the world's films were being produced. World War 2 has remained a constant subject of fascination for filmmakers from the 1940s to the present day.
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Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Surrounded by the brutal realties of war, while searching for Ryan, each man embarks upon a personal journey and discovers their own strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency and courage.
It is the first year of Germany's occupation of France. Allied officer Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) assembles a team of Jewish soldiers to commit violent acts of retribution against the Nazis, including the taking of their scalps. He and his men join forces with Bridget von Hammersmark, a German actress and undercover agent, to bring down the leaders of the Third Reich. Their fates converge with theater owner Shosanna Dreyfus, who seeks to avenge the Nazis' execution of her family.
Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) arrives in Krakow in 1939, ready to make his fortune from World War II, which has just started. After joining the Nazi party primarily for political expediency, he staffs his factory with Jewish workers for similarly pragmatic reasons. When the SS begins exterminating Jews in the Krakow ghetto, Schindler arranges to have his workers protected to keep his factory in operation, but soon realizes that in so doing, he is also saving innocent lives.
A German submarine patrols the Atlantic Ocean during World War II, manned by a crew that must contend with tense conflicts and long stretches of confined boredom. While war correspondent Werner (Herbert Grönemeyer) observes day-to-day life aboard the U-boat, the grizzled captain (Jürgen Prochnow) struggles to maintain his own motivation as he attempts to keep the ship's morale up in the face of fierce battles, intense storms and dwindling supplies.
In 1942, young Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara) lands her dream job -- secretary to Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz) at the peak of his power. Three years later, Hitler's empire is now his underground bunker. The real-life Traudl narrates Hitler's final days as he rages against imagined betrayers and barks orders to phantom armies, while his mistress, Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler), clucks over his emotional distance, and other infamous Nazis prepare for the end.
Long-buried missives from the island reveal the stories of the Japanese troops who fought and died there during World War II. Among them are Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), a baker; Baron Nishi (Tsuyoshi Ihara), an Olympic champion; and Shimizu (Ryô Kase), an idealistic soldier. Though Lt. Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) knows he and his men have virtually no chance of survival, he uses his extraordinary military skills to hold off American troops as long as possible.
Adaptation of the Pierre Bouelle novel about POWs in Burma forced to build a bridge to aid the war effort of their Japanese captors. British and American officers plot to blow up the structure, but the commander of the bridge's construction has different plans.
In this adaptation of the autobiography "The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945," Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody), a Polish Jewish radio station pianist, sees Warsaw change gradually as World War II begins. Szpilman is forced into the Warsaw Ghetto, but is later separated from his family during Operation Reinhard. From this time until the concentration camp prisoners are released, Szpilman hides in various locations among the ruins of Warsaw.
In 1944, the U.S. Army and Allied forces plan a huge invasion landing in Normandy, France. Despite bad weather, General Eisenhower gives the okay and the Allies land at Normandy. General Norma Cota (Robert Mitchum) travels with his men onto Omaha Beach. With much effort, and lost life, they get off the beach, traveling deep into French territory. The German military, due to arrogance, ignorance and a sleeping Adolf Hitler, delay their response to the Allied landing, with crippling results.
In 1942, Private Witt (Jim Caviezel) is a U.S. Army absconder living peacefully with the locals of a small South Pacific island. Discovered by his commanding officer, Sgt. Welsh (Sean Penn), Witt is forced to resume his active duty training for the Battle of Guadalcanal. As Witt and his unit land on the island, and the American troops mount an assault on entrenched Japanese positions, the story explores their various fates and attitudes towards life-or-death situations.
Imprisoned during World War II in a German POW camp, a group of Allied soldiers are intent on breaking out, not only to escape, but also to draw Nazi forces away from battle to search for fugitives. Among the prisoners determined to escape are American Captain Virgil Hilts (Steve McQueen) and British Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett (Richard Attenborough). Outwitting their captors by digging a tunnel out of the prison grounds, the soldiers find the stakes much higher when escape becomes a reality.
In February and March of 1945, U.S. troops fight and win one of the most crucial and costly battles of the war on the island of Iwo Jima. A photo of U.S. servicemen raising the flag on Mount Suribachi becomes an iconic symbol of victory to a war-weary nation. The individuals themselves become heroes, though not all survive the war and realize it.
As D-Day approaches, Colonel Breed hands the roguish Major Reisman (Lee Marvin) an important assignment: He must train a team of soldiers to parachute across enemy lines and assassinate German personnel at a French chateau. The soldiers, recruited from murderers, rapists and criminals on death row, are promised commuted sentences. In spite of their history, the 12 men prove a spirited and courageous unit. Led by Major Reisman, they will exact revenge.
Vassili (Jude Law) is a young Russian sharpshooter who becomes a legend when a savvy polical officer (Joseph Fiennes) makes him the hero of his propaganda campaign. Their friendship is threatened when both men fall in love with a beautiful female soldier (Rachel Weisz). As the battle for the city rages, Vassili faces the ultimate challenge when the Nazi command dispatches its most elite marksman (Ed Harris) to hunt down and kill the man who has become the hope of all Russia.
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who owns a nightclub in Casablanca, discovers his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) is in town with her husband, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid). Laszlo is a famed rebel, and with Germans on his tail, Ilsa knows Rick can help them get out of the country.
Biography of controversial World War II hero General George S. Patton. The film covers his wartime activities and accomplishments, beginning with his entry into the North African campaign and ending with his removal from command after his outspoken criticism of US post-war military strategy.
Late in 1944, the Allies seem to have the upper hand in the European land war. A combined British and American paratrooper force, led by American general Gavin and British general Urquhart (Sean Connery), plans to take a highway leading from the Netherlands into Germany, so that British ground troops led by Lieutenant General Horrocks (Edward Fox) and Lieutenant Colonel Vandeleur (Michael Caine) can enter enemy territory. But the Allies soon learn that they may be overconfident.
A crack team of Allied soldiers stages a daring rescue during World War II. A U.S. general is being held captive in an imposing castle fort, high in the Bavarian Alps. The audacious plan calls for Lt. Schaffer (Clint Eastwood), Maj. Smith (Richard Burton) and other operatives to parachute down wearing Nazi disguises. They'll penetrate the mountain outpost while undercover operatives assist them from within. But their mission changes when they discover that there's a traitor in their midst.
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