10 War Movie Moments You'll Never Forget

"Super six-one is down, we've got a bird down in the city."

The Bridge on the River Kwai Alec Guinness
Columbia Pictures

Films can leave behind an impression that lasts a lifetime, and that's no less true when it comes to those situated within the war genre. Since the 1930s, war movies have produced some of the most legendary examples in the medium, conjuring immortal frames and memories that have invoked awe, sorrow, and sometimes bewilderment in equal measure.

Tragic deaths, famous last-stands, and noble moments of self-sacrifice are all part and parcel of the genre, so it takes something special for those scenarios to be elevated to truly legendary status.

Thankfully, some of the greatest auteurs to have graced the medium have crafted some of the war genre's finest efforts - people like David Lean, John Sturges, Ridley Scott, and Steven Spielberg, to name just a few - leading to movie moments that live long in the memory.

Whether it was a beautiful moment of cinematic artistry or a depiction of combat that cut deep to the bone, there are some war movie moments film lovers won't be forgetting anytime soon...

10. "Super Six-One Is Down" - Black Hawk Down

The Bridge on the River Kwai Alec Guinness
Sony Pictures Releasing

Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down arrived like a visceral, high-contrast bolt of lightning when it premiered in 2001. Depicting the ill-fated 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, in which U.S. forces attempted to capture two key lieutenants working under Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, Scott's film rendered modern warfare in stark clarity, taking the lessons Spielberg imparted in Saving Private Ryan and in doing so leaving a reminder that the horrors of combat were never old history. Technology had made war more efficient, and in turn, no less deadly.

What Scott achieves with Black Hawk Down is a true assault on the senses, showing the discombobulating nature of urban, close-quarters fighting and the scale of the damage modern weaponry can leave behind. Violence is grimy, bloody, and unceasingly shocking, but, in a way, the film is at its most effective when it lingers on moments of quiet. Imagery of U.S. Army Rangers being blown in half or getting picked off a Humvee-mounted 50. cal is ruthless, but we're left with such little time to process the machinery of terror unfolding that those moments of decompression soon take on greater significance.

Bullet casings, glass, and body parts stain the interior of a Hummer; Rangers stand desolate in a dilapidated building, night falling like a shroud of uncertainty - all of it filtered via satellite for the top brass to stare at in disbelief.

It is that very kind of satellite imagery that affords Black Hawk Down its most iconic image. Super Six-One, the first Black Hawk helicopter, is shot down by an RPG, and ends up crash-landing at a crossroads. We're treated to a birds-eye view of the chopper's last moments, as its rotor slowly comes to a halt and the last remnants of dust are kicked into the air, before the filter changes to surveillance footage beamed through to the U.S. base in Mogadishu's airport. Distant, and yet so real. This is modern warfare.

Content Producer/Presenter
Content Producer/Presenter

Resident movie guy at WhatCulture who used to be Comics Editor. Thinks John Carpenter is the best. Likes Hellboy a lot. Can usually be found talking about Dad Movies on his Twitter at @EwanRuinsThings.