In this post I would like to focus on war movies in which children have leading roles and are not just supporting actors like in The Hurt Locker to name but one example.
There are many movies whose sole focus are children. They come from different countries, show different conflicts and times but they have one thing in common: they are all good, very good or outstanding. This is quite remarkable. It is as if those film directors who aim for entertainment only would shy away from showing children in war movies. All the movies listed below are very different in tone. Some are light and almost playful, like Hope and Glory, some are depressing and raw like Come and See, others have the quality of a fairytale like Pan´s Labyrinth.
I am sure my list is not exhaustive. If you know of any others, let me know. I will try and review most of them in later posts, like I already did with Hope and Glory (see post), Welcome to Sarajevo (link to post), The Children of Huang Shi (see post) and Savior (see post). I am stating the name and the year and country in brackets. The conflict and where the war takes place follow behind. I did include a few movies with teenagers in it like The Bridge or Napola, but most of the others focus on much smaller children. I did also include Savior as the newborn is central to the story.
I am sure you will discover many you did not know yet as I did.
The Drum (GB, 1938): India
Mrs Miniver (US 1942): WWII, British Homefront
Since You Went Away (US, 1944): WWII, American Homefront (here is my review)
Roma, Città Aperta aka Rome, Open City (Italy, 1945): WWII, Italy
Kim (US, 1950): India
Forbidden Games aka Jeux interdits (1952, France): WWII, France
The Bridge aka Die Brücke (1959, Germany): WWII, Germany
Two Women aka La ciociara (1960, Italy/France): WWII, Italy
Ivan’s Childhood aka Ivanovo detstvo (1962, Soviet Union): WWII, Russia
Hornet´s Nest (1970, USA): WWII, Italy
Lacombe Lucien (1974, France): WWII, France
The Tin Drum aka Die Blechtrommel (Germany, 1979): WWII, Germany
Hope and Glory (1987, UK): WWII, Blitz (Here is my review)
Empire of the Sun (1987, USA) : Chinese-Japanese War WWII
Au-revoir les enfants aka Goodbye, Children (1987, France/Germany): WWII, Holocaust,France
Grave of the Fireflies aka Hotaru no haka (1988, Japan): WWII, Japan. Anime. (See my post)
Europa, Europa aka Hitlerjunge Salomon (1990 Germany/France/Poland): WWII, Germany (See my review)
Come and See aka Idi i smotri(1985, Soviet Union): WWII, Byelorussia
The Ogre aka Der Unhold (1996, France/Germany/UK): WWII, Nazi Germany
Welcome to Sarajevo (1997, USA) : Bosnia
Life is beautiful aka La vita è bella (1997, Italy): WWII, Holocaust (see post on La vita è bella)
Savior (1998, USA ): Bosnia
Silent Night (2002, USA): WWII, Germany (see my post on Silent Night)
Innocent Voices aka Voces inocentes (2004, Mexico/USA/Puerto Rico): El Salvador (see my post on Innocent Voices)
Turtles can fly aka Lakposhtha parvaz mikonand (2004, Iran/France/Iraq): Iraq
Before the Fall aka Napola (2004, Germany): WWII, Germany (see my review of NaPola)
Pan´s Labyrinth aka El laberinto del fauno (2006, Spain): WWII Franco´s Spain
Under the Bombs aka Sous les Bombes (2007, France/Lebanon): 2006, Lebanon (see my review of Under the Bombs)
Miracle at St. Anna (2008, US): WWII, Italy (here is my review)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008, UK/USA): WWII, Holocaust (see my review)
Escape from Huang Shi aka The Children of Huang Shi (2008, Australia, China, Germany, USA): Japanese occupation of China
Winter in Wartime aka Oorlogswinter (2008, Netherlans, Belgium): WWII, occupied Hollad in Winter, 1945 (here is the link to my post)
The Fortress of War aka Brestskaya krepost (2010, Russia): WWII, Russia 1941. Germans attack the Brest Fortress (here is the link to my post).
The Round-Up – La Rafle (2010, FR/GE/HU): WWII, Paris, the round-up of 13000 Jews in the Vel d’Hiv (here is my review)
This list is being updated regularly.