The unpredictable backdrop of war movies provides the perfect setting for that most classic of movie tropes: the plot twist.
Dozens of offerings from the war movie genre have managed to do the unthinkable by producing a curveball that still lands with a seismic impact, despite the unforseeable and erratic nature of their wider environment. It's a testament to the skill involved in crafting a narrative U-turn in the midst of such chaos that these twists are still so shocking.
On paper, the notion of being shocked at an unexpected development in a war film is like being surprised at getting mildly burned after sticking one's head into a furnace. However, the following names underline the ineffable qualities of this brand of cinematic twist. Above all else, these offerings highlight that even in the midst of such volatile and turbulent surroundings, expecting the unexpected isn't always enough.
Warning: this article contains MAJOR spoilers!
10. Irina Is Shot By Her Fellow Russians - Stalingrad
The quintessential anti-war film, 1993's Stalingrad is unashamedly desolating. Following a platoon of German soldiers on the Eastern Front, Joseph Vilsmaier's picture captures the notion of war as hell in unflinching clarity. It's an exemplary movie, but it's an emotionally exhausting experience.
True to form, Stalingrad saves its most unexpectedly devastating gut punch for last. The soldiers form a tentative bond with Irina - a female Russian soldier - across the course of the film. This bond progresses to the point where Thomas Kretschmann's Hans von Witzland has literally sworn to protect her by the film's ending.
Stalingrad's conclusion sees the disillusioned pair along with Dominique Horwitz's Fritz Reiser silently trudging through the snow attempting to escape their hellish environs. They are finally alerted to a sign of human life as a Russian flare illuminates the winter sky. All initially appears to be well as Irina rushes towards the signal, shouting to her people in her mother tongue.
That is of course, until the young woman is gunned down and instantly killed by a volley of Soviet gunfire - there isn't even time to blink in shock. Even in the midst of Stalingrad's inescapably morbid aura, Irina's sudden and brutal death is more than worthy of inclusion on this list.