10 Gut-Wrenching Moments In War Films

"For though the world stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again."

Rialto Pictures

When all communication and empathy breakdown and no longer a means in carrying weight in their expressions, conflict is sadly the inevitable result. The world of cinema over the past century has seen its share of depiction of war. Somewhat inevitably, films and directors vary in their depictions of it; from jingoist romanticizing to showboating glorifications of violence as entertainment, depicting violence as a necessity in combating evil, to films outright decrying it.

There isn't a shortage of war movies in film history, but there are a few well-crafted films that display human suffering through an articulated lens. These films depict war not for the sake of drama, but convey the consequences of violence with some truly horrendous scenes that resonate on a human level.

These 10 films are a microcosm in a sea of war movies, but they all stand out as some of the most truly gut-wrenching scenes in cinema.


10. The Deer Hunter - Russian Roulette

EMI/Universal Pictures

The feeling of letting down someone you care for can haunt like a waking nightmare. In Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter, protagonist Mike Vronsky lives with this failure for the remainder of his life by breaking his promise to his friend Nick Chevotarevich that they'd both come home together from Vietnam alive.

The two manage to survive the Vietnam war, but are not left unscarred; their battered souls stained from conflict and misery. After the war, Mike returns to his hometown and tries to reintegrate into society with little luck. For Nick, Vietnam never ended. Mike learns from another mutual friend who served how he's been receiving money from Vietnam as a means of support. Mike puts two and two together and suspects Nick is still alive. He then sets out to find his lost friend and eventually finds him playing in underground Russian roulette circuit of Vietnam.

At first, Nick doesn't remember Mike's face at all and not the least bit phased by his presence. Mike then decides to play a game against Nick in order to convince him to leave and return to Pennsylvania. After pulling empty chamber after chamber, he tries to stir up old memories in Nick about deer hunting with "one shot". Slowly, Nick comes-to and a faint semblance of his former self reappears behind his gaunt eyes as he mutters Mike's mantra.

Smiling, Nick grabs the gun from Mike and pulls the trigger, no longer taking a half-measure of flirting with death. Mike holds Nick's head as he passes and begs Nick to cling on to life. He's left feeling defeated and a failure for breaking his promise of bringing him back home.


Filmmaker and film enthusiast who dabbles in photography and music.