Kamis, 16 April 2009

100 Movies to see before you die - part 1 (war)

Over the next few months, I'll be doing a run-down of my top 100 movies to see before you die. Rather than rate them and put them in order 1 - 100, I've decided to categorise them into genre. First up, we have the WAR section. It's a royal shame I can't put BAND OF BROTHERS into here, but with it being a mini-series, it'll have to hang about until I go through my favourite television episodes of all time. As I've said, these are in no order, but here are the eight war movies that make it into my top 100.

100. SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993)
Pulling no punches at number 100 is Spielberg's most thought-provoking film to date. I first watched this at school when I was 14. I didn't really understand everything that was going on but even then I was stunned by the mastery of the story, characters and direction. Liam Neeson delivers his best ever performance as Oskar Shindler, a businessman who witnessed the devastating terror of genocide and managed to save over a thousand Jews from certain death. It doesn't top IMDb's best war movies list for nothing - a true masterpiece and one of the most powerful films ever made.

Staying with Spielberg, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN is the most powerful film I've ever seen. I remember watching this at school in an English class. Take a bunch of 15-year-old boys and tell them they're going to watch a war movie. The reaction is pure delight - blood, shooting, death - just what teenage boys want. We watched the movie from start to finish and no-one uttered a single word. We all just sat there, completely shocked by what we saw. I don't generally cry but if any film is going to make me - it's this one. From the assault on Omaha Beach to the defence of the bridge with Private Ryan, this film is the most brutal, realistic and amazing film in the genre.

Taking a new look at the Vietnam war, Robin Williams plays a radio host whose job it is to boost the moral of the American troops. The film rests a lot on a good understanding of the conflict and if you're not a fan of William's humour, you'll probably hate this film. Nevertheless, GOOD MORNING VIETNAM alternates between black comedy and brutal death, taking the audience on a mixed journey through the invasion.

97. PLATOON (1986)
Again, concentrating on the Vietnam war, PLATOON follows an American Private as he joins up with his squad and makes his way through the pillaged country. The film pulls no punches in its accurate portrayal of the conflict, often showing brutal murders and near-rapes by American soldiers. The best thing about this film is that it doesn't end at the close of the war. We follow one soldier's journey and as he leaves, the war continues. The tense character conflict throughout builds up to the most iconic image in 80s cinema - Willem Defoe's desperate cry for help upon his death.

96. BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001)
This Ridley Scott war adventure tells the story of the famous near-disaster when an 'indestructible' Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Somalia in 1993. The unique thing about this film is that it never focuses on one particular character. Rather than following one soldier through the conflict, we see every soldier's point of view. It takes some getting used to but allows for much more depth in the storytelling.

95. TEARS OF THE SUN (2003)
TEARS OF THE SUN tells the story of a Special-Ops squad who go behind enemy lines in Nigeria to extract an important doctor. With amazing gunfire and brutal realism, this film produces on every level. While focusing heavily on action, the character development is what drives the story and makes it one of the most emotional war movies to date.

94. TROY (2004)
If you can get past the annoyance of Brad Pitt's American accent, TROY is actually a very good war film. Based on Homer's The Illiad, we follow legendary warlord Achilles as he battles through the Trojan War. To do an accurate portrayal of Homer's work would be unreasonable. What works well in an ancient Greek epic poem, doesn't always transfer well onto screen. What the film excels at is in capturing the true character of Achilles and the relationship with his men. Combine that with spectacular action and battle scenes, you have a truly epic war movie.

93. 300 (2006)
300 received a lot of stick for its inaccuracy but as someone who knows a fair bit about the ancient Spartans, it's quite accurate. Captured through the unique eye of Zack Snyder, 300 follows King Leonidas as he marches out of Sparta and stares down the nose of thousands of invading Persians. A perfect tale of honour and bravery, 300 has captured the spirit of ancient Sparta and (semi)educated a whole generation in the warriors that were the Spartans.

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