Movies on the Spanish Civil War: A List

Spirit of the Beehive

When I think of movies on the Spanish Civil War, Land and Freedom comes to mind. And Pan’s Labyrinth. And the abominable There Be Dragons. I was surprised to see that there are quite a lot and some of them seem to be well-worth watching. 

Do you have a favourite?

I might be watching one of these soon

War Movies Based on Novels – A Thursday Thirteen

A common feature on blogs is the so-called Thursday Thirteen in which you can share a list of thirteen things, books, movies and what not. I’ve never done this so far but since I’ve hit a dry movie-watching patch and don’t want to stop blogging entirely I thought, why not?

While a great many war movies are based on original screenplays, many, and even some of the best and most famous, are based on novels. Here are thirteen war movies based on novels:

  1. The Thin Red Line (1998) – based on the novel by James Jones
  2. Catch 22 (1970) – based on the novel by Joseph Heller
  3. 300 (2006) – based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller
  4. Ben Hur (1959) – based on the novel by Lewis Wallace
  5. Enigma (20019 – based on the novel by Robert Harris
  6. Behind the Lines aka Regeneration (1997) – based on the novel by Pat Barker
  7. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) – based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque
  8. Schindler’s List (1993) – based on the novel by Thomas Keneally
  9. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) – based on the novel by Pierre Boulle
  10. Dances with Wolves (1990) – based on the novel by Michael Blake
  11. Cold Mountain (2003) based on the novel by Charles Frazier
  12. War Horse (2011) – based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo
  13. Slaughterhouse Five (1972) based on the novel by Kurt Vonnegut

I have only read three of the books (Regeneration aka Behind the Lines, All Quiet on the Western Front and Cold Mountain) but seen almost all of the movies. Is there a book among my thirteen I shouldn’t miss or another novel/movie pair which is worth mentioning?

Canadian War Movies? or A Failed Attempt to Write a List

One  aim of this blog is to raise awareness of all the many conflicts that have been fought on this planet and another one to introduce people to movies from many different countries. My war movie lists are one of the means to achieve this. I’ve done a few lists on movies from different countries like Australia, France and Russia and thought it would be interesting to make such a list for Canada. Canadian soldiers are often depicted in WWI and WWII movies but I couldn’t think of a lot of Canadian movies.

I have been looking really hard but all I came up with are three movies, two of which I have reviewed. I haven’t seen the third, War Witch aka Rebelle, as it’s from 2012 but it looks interesting.

Passchendaele (2008) (My review)

Incendies (2010) (My review)

War Witch aka Rebelle (2012)

Additionally I found two War Romances for which Canada is one of several co-producing countries. I’ve seen Closing the Ring and as far as War Romances go it’s not bad at all. It’s a Richard Attenborough movie starring Shirley Mac Laine and Christopher Plummer and some other interesting actors. I might review it one of these days.

Head in the Clouds (2004)

Closing the Ring (2007)

But is that possible? Are there not more Canadian war movies?

Yahoo! Users’ Top-Rated War Movies

It’s really hot today and to cheer myself up I thought of something rather less serious for a change. If you are like me you like to read lists. The Yahoo! User’s Favourite Top-Rated War Movies is a list I’ve seen before but forgot about it. The complete list consists of a total of 31 movies as you can see here.

It contains 31 war movies from all sub-genres. I agree with quite a few of their choices from 31 – 11, some of those movies are outstanding, but when we look at the top 1o, apart from a few exceptions, I find the choices highly questionable. Especially position 3 – 1. The fact that it contains only American movies is dubious too.

Let’s’ look at the list.

No. 10 – Glory (1989) I can agree with this choice, It’s a very good movie and although I liked it far less the second time I watched it, I don’t mind that it’s among the top 10 but would personally not include it anymore.

No.   9 – Patton (1970) This is a truly excellent biopic but considering how many movies have been left out, I don’t think it should be among the top 10.

No.  8 – Full Metal Jacket (1987) I have two Vietnam war movies in my personal top ten but Full Metal Jacket is not among them. Maybe it’s superior from a purely cinematographic point of view but apart from that I think Hamburger Hill is much better.

No. 7 – Hotel Rwanda (2004) This looks like some sort of “political correctness choice”. It’s not a bad movie but certainly not top ten material and not even as good as Shooting Dogs, another movie on the genocide in Rwanda,

No. 6 – The Pianist (2002) Very good but not top ten material.

No. 5 – Platoon (1986) Yes, that’s definitely among my top ten for many reasons.

No. 4 – Black Hawk Down (2001) This one too.

No.  3 – Schindler’s List (1993) If you like to be emotionally manipulated and go for tacky story telling, this is a good movie. In my book this is one of the highly overrated blockbusters. I really like the score though. It has a funereal appeal.

No.  2 – Braveheart (1995) Position no 2? For a movie that made me laugh from the beginning to end because Mel Gibson looks just too silly in it? No way. Not even top 100!

No. 1 – Saving Private Ryan (1998) I know this is a personal favourite of many but I’m not to keen on it. It has way too many corny elements and I’m not a Tom Hanks fan. Maybe in a top 50 because of its impact but certainly not among the top ten and even less as number 1.

I have moaned that this list is so heavy on US productions but even if we chose to make a top 10 US war movies list, I’m sure we could do better than this.

What do you think? Is it a good list? Which movies shouldn’t be on this list at all? Which would need to be included.

Movies on the American Civil War: A List

Quite a long time ago I have written a post with a list on the American Indian Wars, now is finally the turn of the American Civil War. In a few weeks you can expect a list of movies on the war of Independence. Like with most of my earlier lists, I haven’t seen all of he movies and I may very well have forgotten some. Do, as always, tell me which are the ones you like best and add those I have forgotten. I still need to review Ride With the Devil, which is together with Glory my favourite. I had a hard time watching Gettysburg and really needed the subtitles. I could hardly understand the accents. Gone with the Wind is an epic I’ve seen more than once as a child. It was one of those movies that was always on TV around Christmas. I’m curious to know whether Gods and Generals and Andersonville are any good. If you have seen them, let me know.

  • The Battle of Gettysburg (US 1913) directed by Charles Giblyn, starring Willard Mack, Charles K. French, Herschel Mayall
  • Birth Of A Nation (US 1915) directed by David W. Griffith, starring Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Henry B. Walthall
  • The General (US 1926) directed by Buster Keaton & Clyde Bruckman, starring Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Charles Henry Smith
  • Gone With The Wind (US 1939) directed by Victor Fleming, starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland
  • They Died with Their Boots On (US 1941) directed by Raoul Wals, starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Anthony Quinn
  • The Red Badge Of Courage (US 1951), directed by John Huston, starring Audie Murphy, Bill Mauldin
  • The Great Locomotive Chase aka Andrews’ Raiders (US 1956) starring Fess Parker, Jeffrey Hunter
  • Friendly Persuasion (US 1956) directed by William Wyler, starring Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, Anthony Perkins
  • The Horse Soldiers (US 1959) directed by John Ford, starring John Wayne, William Holden, Constance Towers
  • Major Dundee (US 1965) directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Charlton Heston, James Coburn, Richard Harris
  • Shenandoah (US 1965) directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, starring James Stewart, Doug McClure
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (US/IT/SP 1966) directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach, John Bartha
  • Alvarez Kelly (US 1966) directed by Edward Dmytryk, starring William Holden, Richard Widmark, Janice Rule, Patrick O’Neal
  • The Undefeated (US 1966) directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, starring John Wayne, Rock Hudson, Antonio Aguilar
  • The Andersonville Trial (US 1970, TV) directed by George C. Scott, starring William Shatner, Cameron Mitchell
  • The Beguiled (US 1971) directed by Don Siegel, starring  Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Hartman, Jo Ann Harris
  • The Outlaw Josey Wales (US 1976) directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Clint Eastwood, Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke
  • The Blue and the Gray (US 1982, TV mini-series) directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, starring  Stacy Keach, Lloyd Bridges, John Hammond, Rip Torn, Warren Oates, Gregory Peck
  • North and South (US 1985–1986 mini-series)  starring Patrick Swayze, James Read, Kirstie Alley
  • Glory (US 1989) directed by Edward Zwick, starring Matthew Broderick, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington
  • Dances with Wolves (US 1990) directed by Kevin Costner, starring Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnel, Graham Greene
  • Ironclads (US 1991, TV) directed by Delbert Mann, starring Virginia Madsen, Alex Hyde-White, Reed Diamond, Philip Casnoff
  • Gettysburg (US 1993) directed by F. Maxwell, starring Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen, Stephen Lang
  • Heaven & Hell: North & South, Book III (US 1994 TV mini-series) directed by Larry Peerce, starring Philip Casnoff, Kyle Chandler, Terri Garber, Lesley-Anne Down, Jonathan Frakes, Genie Francis, Terri Garber, Mariette Hartley
  • Andersonville (US 1996, TV) directed by John Frankenheimer, starring Jarrod Emick, Frederic Forrest, Ted Marcoux
  • The Hunley (US 1997, TV) directed by John Gray, starring Armand Assante, Donald Sutherland
  • Ride with the Devil (US 1999) directed by Ang Lee, starring Tobey Maguire, Skeet Ulrich, James Caviezel
  • Gods and Generals (US 2003) directed by Ronald F. Maxwell, starring Stephen Lang, Robert Duvall, Jeff Daniels
  • Cold Mountain (US 2003) directed by Anthony Minghella, starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Ray Winstone, Brendan Gleeson, Natalie Portman
  • The Battle of Gettysburg (US 2008, TV) directed by Michael S. Ojeda, starring Allen Brenner, Michael L. Colosimo

Something which really surprised me when I linked the titles to the IMDb page was the fact that none of these movies has a rating which is lower than 7+. That’s quite amazing. Most movies are rated 7.5 – 8.2. Usually when I compile such lists I have quite a few with 5* ratings. Are they really all that good or were some die-hard Civil War fans voting?

15 WWI Movies You Should Watch

It’s an interesting thing that while there is a huge amount of American movies on WWII, the really outstanding WWI movies mostly come from other countries. It’s no coincidence but I’m not going to elaborate on the reasons, it may suffice to say, that the leading film making countries for WWI are Australia, France and the UK. There are many movies but those below are the ones I consider to be must-sees if you want to delve into the topic. I have reviewed all of the below mentioned movies with one exception. You can find the links at the end of each entry.

While I usually arrange these lists chronologically I did split them into countries of origin in this case.

Australia

Gallipoli (1981). One of the classic WWI movies. A Peter Weir film starring the young Mel Gibbson. The focus is on two friends who enlist more in a spirit of adventure than patriotism. They will take part in one of WWI’s most futile battles, at Gallipoli, in Turkey. The end of the movie is harrowing and gives a good impression of the absurdity of the war.

The Lighthorsemen (1987) This is one of the very rare cavalry combat movies. It has a nice “band of brothers” feel. Highly watchable. The Lighthorsemen were fighting in Africa and their achievement is legendary. Something the Australians are still proud of. Review

Beneath Hill 60 (2010).  Another movie which shows an outstanding and truly amazing Australian victory. The movie is set in the trenches and beneath them and shows how much the miners contributed to the war. Review

France

La Grande Illusion – Grand Illusion (1937) This is a classic. One of Jean Renoir’s great movies starring the unforgettable Jean Gabin. It has a very surreal touch which should emphasize the absurdity of war. It’s a prisoner of war movie. Review

La vie et rien d’autre – Life and Nothing But (1989). Beautiful movie focussing on the time after the war. So many men were lost on the battle fields, so many dead soldiers not identified. One woman is looking for her husband in this bleak but beautiful Tavernier movie. Review

La Chambre des officiers – The Officer’s Ward (2001). WWI is notorious for the facial wounds. No other war has scarred men like this one (due to the specific explosives). This is a movie which focuses on these wounds. Of all the war movies I have seen (many), this was one of the best but also one of the hardest to watch. I had nightmares. Review

UK

The Blue Max (1966). An air combat movie with a German POV. Themes are class and the arrogance and sporting mind of the combat pilots. Most pilots in WWI were aristocrats, not so Lt Stachel. Review

Aces High (1976). An air combat movie, not one of the best but not bad either. Less character driven than the last one. Review

Regeneration – Behind the Lines (1997). Based on Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy it looks into shell shock, the war experience of some famous poets and the birth of a medical discipline, namely psychiatry. Review

All the King’s Men (1999). The movie tells the story of a company who seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth. As if they had been swallowed. It illustrates how badly prepared some of the troops were, especially at the beginning of the war. The English had a hard time in some terrain, notably Africa. The story begins like a ghost story but you will find out what happened to the company. It’s all too real. Review

My Boy Jack (2007). The movie tells the true story of Rudyard Kipling’s son Jack. The story is exemplary. Misguided patriotism makes Kipling push his only son who is very illfitted and as visually impiared as a mole to join. At first I had a problem with Daniel Radcliffe as Jack but other than that this is an excellent and very emotional movie. And so heartbreaking. Tissues might be needed. Review

US

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). One of the first war movies ever. Quite ground breaking. Based on Erich Maria Remarque’s eponymous novel. It has one of the best scenes I’ve seen in a war movie. Review

Paths of Glory (1957). Kubricks’ classic look at the short comings of French high command and the horror of trench warfare. Review

Germany/France/UK

Joyeux Noël – Merry Christmas (2005). This is one of my personal favourites for more than one reason. It shows an incredible true story, the story of the little peace during the great war. During the first Christmas the troops stopped fighting and got together to play football in no mans’ land. The actors are all great and chosen from their respective countries. Review

The Red Baron (2008). This is one of those guilty pleasure movies. It was criticized in Germany because it didn’t emphasize the “hunting and sport” spirit that drove the aristocratic pilots like von Richthofen, called the Red Baron, to join up. He is shown like a hero. The negative side is not touched. Funny enough this is only true for the German version, the English got it better. Review

13 Holocaust Movies You Should See

I recently saw a list on which there were 100 Holocaust movies you need to watch. The number seemed slightly excessive. Maybe they counted each and every WWII movie in which there were Jewish people. No idea. I wouldn’t call a movie a Holocaust movie unless it focusses on Jewish life during WWII, either in ghettos, concentration camps or, like in Defiance as a Resistance group or on the run. Everything else is just a WWII movie.  I just watched Jakob the Liar which I will review soon and that gave me the idea to make a list of the 13 Holocaust movies I consider to be the best. My favourite of the movies below is The Round Up – La Rafle. If you think I missed one that is extremely good and should be added, let me know.

Holocaust (1978, TV mini-series US) The story of a Jewish family and their struggle to survive in Nazi Germany.

Sophie’s Choice (1982, UK/US) The horrible story of a Polish mother who has to make a terrible choice that will scar her for life.

Triumph of the Spirit (1989, US) The true story of box champion Salamo Arouch who survives Auschwitz. See my review

Schindler’s List (1993, US) The true story of the courageous man Schindler who saved a great number of Jews.

La vita è bella – Life is Beautiful (1997, Italy) An family of Italian Jews is deported to a concentration camp where the father pretends it’s all a game. See my review

Jakob the Liar (1999, US) Jakob Heym pretends to have a radio in the ghetto and makes up stories about the war going to end very soon. See my review

Anne Frank – The Whole Story (2001, TV mini-series US/ Czech Republic) The whole story of Anne Frank including her stay at the concentration camp.

The Grey Zone (2001, US) Story of Jews who work in the crematoria of Auschwitz.

The Pianist (2002, FR/PL/GE/UK) The true story of a Polish pianist who hid in the Warsaw ghetto.  See my review

Ghetto (2006, Germany/Lithuania) A sadistic Nazi commander rules over a ghetto in Lithuania.

Die Fälscher – The Counterfeiters (2007, AU/GE) True story of a famous Jewish counterfeiter who gets caught by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp where he should help forge foreign currency. See my review

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008, UK/US) Uncanny story of a boy who befriends a Jewish boy in a concentration camp not knowing that his father is in charge of that camp or what the camp is. See my review

The Round Up – La Rafle (2010, FR/GE/HU) In the night of July 16 1942, 13000 Parisian Jewsare arrested and confined in the Vel d’Hiv before being sent to Drancy and later exterminated in Auschwitz. True story. See my review

Have you seen them? Did you like them?