Jonathan Teplitzky’s wartime drama The Railway Man, which hits Blu-ray and DVD on May 5th 2014 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, tells the story of Eric Lomax (Jeremy Irvine), a British officer who is captured by the Japanese in Singapore and sent to a POW camp. There he is forced to work on the Thai-Burma Railway. Years later, Lomax (Colin Firth) still suffers from the psychological trauma of this experience and with the aid of his wife Patti (Nicole Kidman) returns to the scene of his torture to let go of a lifetime of bitterness.
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
All Quiet on the Western Front is perceived to be an extremely realistic and harrowing account of warfare in WW1. Directed by the Oscar-winning Lewis Milestone, the film was met with controversy in Europe, many viewing it as a piece of propaganda. However, audiences mostly came round to the fact that the film is a masterpiece, with a sequel has a sequel entitled The Road Back following seven years later, directed by James Whale.
Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)
This John Wayne classic follows a group of US Marines from their initial training to the Battle of Iwo Jima during WWII. Seen as the flagship World War II film, perhaps due to John Wayne’s appearance, Sands of Iwo Jima was notable for starring real-life marines - namely three survivors of the marines who raised the second flag on Mount Suribachi during the actual battle. A number of the film’s cast were reunited decades later in the 1970 western Chisum.
Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle, Bridge on the River Kwai was brought to the screen by visionary David Lean - and akin to The Railway Man - features the construction of Burma Railway , despite being a work of fiction. Winner of seven Oscars, the film stars William Holden who plays a US Navy Commander whilst Alec Guiness appears as British Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson. Filming took place in Ceylon - which is now known as Sri Lanka - and is a regular fixture in best film top tens the world round.
Paths of Glory (1957)
As much an anti-war film as an out-and-out war film, Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory is set during WWI. The plot follows Kirk Douglas’ Colonel Dax, a commanding officer of French soldiers who stand trial for refusing to carry out a suicidal attack. The only female character in the film was portrayed by German actress Christiane Harlan who later married Kubrick and remained so right up until his death in 1999.
Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
Oliver Stone’s 1985 Vietnam film Born on the Fourth of July stars Tom Cruise in a seminal performance as Ron Kovic, a real-life paraplegic whose autobiography the film is based on. Stone, himself a Vietnam veteran, directed Cruise in what became his first Oscar nominated performance, and is the second in what is considered to be his Vietnam trilogy after Platoon (1986) and preceding Heaven and Earth (1993). Filmed in the Philippines as relations between Vietnam and America hadn’t yet been fully restored, the film won 2 Oscars (for Directig and Editing).
Schindler’s List (1993)
Adapted from the novel Schindler’s Ark, based on Oskar Schindler, a German businessman responsible for saving the lives of more than a thousand refugees during the Holocaust, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is in no small terms a modern classic. Shot (mostly) in black and white, with a cast comprising of Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley, the film won Spielberg his first Directing Oscar and won the top prize of Best Picture also.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Steven Spielberg’s wartime epic is set during the invasion of Normandy in WWII. Notable for its graphic and realistic portrayal of war, the film’s opening 27 minutes - in which the documented Omaha Beach assault of 1944 - is deemed to be not only the standout scene in a hugely acclaimed film, but the most memorable in a war film from any time. With a cast headed by Tom Hanks and featuring Matt Damon, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel and Giovanni Ribisi, Saving Private Ryan won Spielberg his second Oscar, his first being for Schindler’s List (1993).
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)
Holocaust drama The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is based on the John Boyne novel of the same name, and explores the horror of a WWII Nazi concentration camp through the eyes of two young boys - one the son of the camp’s Nazi commander and the other a Jewish inmate. Starring Hugo’s Asa Butterfield, alongside Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel), David Thewlis (Harry Potter) and Rupert Friend (Homeland), the film is hugely affecting and was acclaimed upon release.
The Hurt Locker (2009)
Kathryn Bigelow’s breathtaking film about a three-man Explosive Ordnance Disposal team led by Jeremy Renner’s William James during the Iraq War was groundbreaking for leading Bigelow to become the first female Oscar winner in the ceremony’s history. Rightly so, as The Hurt Locker is an incredible slice of filmmaking which is as tense as the tensest of them, heightened by Mark Boal’s script; Boal being a freelance writer who was embedded as a journalist with a U.S. Army bomb disposal team back in 2004.
The Railway Man is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 5th May 2014 courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
Top 10 War Dramas
2nd May 2014