Many classic war movies are among the most celebrated films in the history of cinema. But there are a few historical periods that seem to be wildly overrepresented in the pantheon of great war flicks: the two World Wars, the Cold War, the US wars in Vietnam and Iraq.
The twentieth century, though, was chock full of small wars that, for one reason or another, are less frequently made into movies.
Why are they neglected? Maybe it’s because the history isn’t widely known. Or maybe it's because in some cases the history is familar, but it's still too close for comfort.
Maybe it's something else. The Second World War, for all its pain and suffering, is often shown as the great justified world war in which the forces of good teamed up against the evil of genocidal Nazi expansionism. A lot of these smaller wars, though, are more murky, prickly, and difficult to celebrate. It's harder to explain wars of colonial conquest or retreat in a way that makes them digestible as tales of good versus evil where the right people win.
Some of the movies that have been made about these controversial smaller wars are essential viewing. Some stink, too, but are still very much worth a look. Let's dive in...