20) The Last of the Mohicans- (78/100)- This is a great movie, but the fact that it is a fiction that varies widely without good reason from the book from which it is derived drives it down the list some. Still, the graphic examples of siege and Indian battles in pre-Revolutionary War America are superb. This one uses the whole screen for the battles. If you rent it, be sure to get it in letterbox, or you’ll have trouble making sense of the battle sequences.
19) Gallipoli- (79-100)- This is an excellent movie about the abortive British invasion of Turkey during WWI. It is probably the best movie set in WWI, and though the importance of the battle can be called into question, it is an excellent depiction of the true waste of life that was characteristic of armies during the First World War.
18) God’s and Generals- (80/100)- This prequel to Gettysburg follows the battle career of Stonewall Jackson. It is not nearly as great a film as Gettysburg, but has some of the best Civil War battle sequences that can be found in film.
17) El Cid- (81/100)- This is another epic made in the 1960s. It stars Charlton Heston, and recounts the story of a Spaniard, Rodrigo Diaz (El Cid) who succeeded in driving the Moors out of Spain and changing the destiny of Europe. There are some good battle scenes, and in the end, El Cid, who is dead by this time, is tied to his horse and leads his army to victory.
16) Battle of the Bulge- (81/100)- This fictionalized presentation of one of the most famous battles of WWII would have scored higher if it had stayed truer to history. It has good acting and battle scenes, but the terrain often does not look like a heavy forest, and there is a distinct lack of snow. Also, the lack of a mention of Patton in the movie is regrettable. He should have gotten a little credit. That being said, it is a very watchable war movie.
15) The Thin Red Line- (81/100)- This movie seems like a compilation of vignettes each of which is extremely well acted. The battle scenes are also very good. That being said, the editing and final composition of the movie is very much a hodgepodge. Also, the artistic sequences are terrible.
14) Kingdom of Heaven- (81/100)- Kingdom of Heaven is a refreshing fictionalized account of the Crusades. The battles and siege warfare found in this film are superb. It is also refreshing to find a movie about the Crusades that it fair to all sides. Neither Christianity nor Islam is the bad guy in this film. There are both good and bad people on each side, and unfortunately, as in real life there are often more bad people than good. This movie would have been better received if it had not been released at the height of anger toward the Iraq war.
13) Band of Brothers- (81-100)- HBO’s presentation of Stephen Ambrose’s books could have been done better. It was clear that producers Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg were most concerned with conveying the every day lives (and deaths) of the soldiers of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne as they moved across Europe during WWII. It seemed a little tedious at times, but it would be hard to compete with I terms of conveying the experience of WWII frontline soldiers. Of course, most movies do not have 10 hours plus to play with.
12) The Big Red One- (87/100)- The plot of this movie follows Lee Marvin’s character, the Sergeant from the end of WWI through the end of WWII. It centers on his platoon as they move from battle to battle. It also shows many of the issues faced by front line soldiers during WWII.
11) Black Hawk Down- (87/100)- It is hard to find fault with this as a war movie, but it is not for the faint of heart. It is easily the best war movie set in a time after Vietnam. I was not thrilled with the score, and the actual event pales in comparison to battles such as Midway, but these are minor criticisms. I recommend watching the documentary, The Real Story of Black Hawk Down to see how accurate the movie really is.
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