War is ugly.

There are centuries-old legacies of the great wars we’ve all read about in history. Stories of bravery and honour ring loud through the passages of time even today. We all know the names and the horrors associated with them. But to imagine it is one thing, to see it is another.

Cinema has recreated some of the bloodiest battles to show us the dire reality of the destructive eras bygone, buried in violence and bloodshed. We’re told the stories of fearless soldiers who fought on till the end despite all odds.

Some survived the anarchy and explosions to tell tales of victory or defeat while most were immortalised for their sacrifices. There’s evidence of how common lives were torn apart. This is what the films listed here have captured with detailed truth.

So much so that it gets hard to watch sometimes. Get set.

1. The Hurt Locker (2008)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Hailed as one of the greatest war films of the modern age, The Hurt Locker follows Sergeant William James as he trains a bomb disposal team during the Iraq war, taking us to the core of the life-threatening action.


2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Director: Steven Spielberg

One of the most gut-wrenching war films of all time, this emotional masterpiece became an unforgettable journey of search through the atrocities of bloodshed and destruction. We all wanted to find Private Ryan safe.


3. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Director: Mel Gibson

This is the incredible story of army medic Desmond T. Doss, the man who refused weapons even for self-defence and won a Medal of Honor for saving 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa without firing a single shot.


4. Flags Of Our Fathers (2006)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood is a passionate war filmmaker. Here, he takes us to the historic moment 6 men raised the American flag over Iwo Jima. A young man sets out to interview his father’s fellow comrades who were responsible for this turning point in WW2.


5. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Eastwood tells us the tale of the battle over the little island called Iwo Jima from the perspective of the Japanese who defended it for 36 days against the Americans by devising innovative plans and strategising till the end.


6. American Sniper (2014)

Director: Clint Eastwood

A shell-shocked sniper, who served in Iraq for years, saves many lives with his point-on accurate shooting on the battlefield, but returns home unable to forget the horrors he witnessed. He’s a legend to the people and a terrified victim in his head.


7. Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Directors: Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth

A daring group of Jewish soldiers conspires to wipe out the Nazi leaders in France and put an end to their government. A woman scheming to take down a cruel German officer who murdered her family is on the same mission.


8. The Pianist (2002)

Director: Roman Polanski

Wladyslaw Szpilman’s devastating struggle of survival won high acclaim from critics. A talented musician, he’s forced to flee when the Nazis take his Jewish family to the camps. He barely makes it out alive by hiding and scavenging food.


9. Fury (2014)

Director: David Ayer

Wardaddy, a tough commander, leads his five-men crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines as they attempt to break into Germany and defeat the Nazis, even though they stand outnumbered with few weapons.


10. The Thin Red Line (1998)

Director: Terrence Malick

Based on James Jones’ semi-autobiographical novel, this war drama sees a group of soldiers caught in conflict at Guadalcanal during World War II. As they move ahead, they lose each other to their own destinies, hoping to win.


11. Glory (1989)

Director: Edward Zwick

A white officer fights objection from all ends for leading the first all-black battalion of soldiers during the Civil War. Initially, they’re denied privileges and made to face heavy prejudices. But they don’t quit till they prove their worth.


12. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

War icon, Captain Willard, is sent to the dangerous Cambodia to kill a colonel who has made himself a god to a local tribe. The movie is set in the Vietnam War and exposes its many confusions and terrors as he tries to focuses on the assassination.


13. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

The title refers to the intensive U.S. marines training men must undergo to serve. From the first day of the backbreaking boot camp to direct encounters on streets, they all go through one dehumanizing change at a time.


14. Platoon (1986)

Director: Oliver Stone

A young soldier gets caught in the jungles of Vietnam and must find a way to last. Along with him, an entire recruit swings between the shared immoral games of the political commanders, facing extreme situations that take down their numbers one by one.


15. Schindler’s List (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg

This is the incredibly inspiring legacy of Oskar Schindler, a German factory owner, who went through great personal risk to save his Jewish employees after he witnesses their brutal persecution by the Nazi Germans. He ended up saving more than a thousand. 


Get ready for some eye-opening, gut-wrenching action. It’ll be worth it.