The spectacle of war lends itself perfectly to the medium of film, with the in-built drama and scope of conflict providing emotionally involved action and self-evident stakes. Since the birth of the medium, the war film has been a staple of cinema's history.
Everything from blatant propaganda to intense anti-war protest movies have seen success over the years, with both World Wars providing a slew of films depicting heroic soldiers triumphing over adversity. Meanwhile, the likes of America's Vietnam invasion and later attacks on Iraq balanced this patriotic jingoism with more realistic depictions of war's amoral brutality.
This massive list of no less than twenty war films ever cinema fan needs to see dips into other genres as diverse as drama, satire, and even surreal horror, but they all have one thing in common: Each of these twenty classics brings to light the horror of war for a new generation through the incomparable artistry of film.
20. The Deer Hunter
Heaven's Gate director Michael Cimino broke the mould with his 1978 classic The Deer Hunter.
A war film which spends much of its runtime acting as a dramedy about a group of old friends attending the wedding of one of their number, the film lulls the viewer into a sense of security and leads them to care about these characters and the minutiae of their everyday lives.
Then the war changes everything.
Depicting the horrors war inflicts on unsuspecting everyday men drafted into a conflict which isn't theirs to fight, this brutal ordeal of a film will leave you shook by its tragic close, a sobering reminder that many veterans carry the horrors of home with them.