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1917
©Francois Duhamel / Accepted Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures

The 15 best Apple War I movies of all time

From ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ to ‘Gallipoli’: Abundant War films ranked by actual accuracy

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen
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World War I has aggressive not aloof some of the greatest war films, but a few of the greatest films anytime made. Maybe because they’ve wrestled with circuitous capacity of sacrifice, trauma, justice, amusing hierarchy, nationhood and the attributes of comradeship, and eschewed simpler heroics, films like Paths of Glory, All Quiet on the Western Advanced and La Grande Illusion accept alone developed in ability over the years.

And the war’s constant abode in the accessible alertness has apparent a new beachcomber of Abundant War films, with 1917, They Shall Not Abound Old and Journey’s End, and Germany bearing its better addition to the assize with Netflix’s new booty on All Quiet on the Western Front.

To rank these films is a catchy task, so we enlisted the advice of aggressive historian, columnist and podcaster Paul Reed to casting an able eye over them. A adept accuser of Abundant War veterans himself and the host of The Old Advanced Band podcast, he brings a different angle on their actual strengths – and weaknesses.

💥 The 50 best Apple War II movies
🔥 The 100 best movies of all-time

Best Apple War I movies

  • Film

Not aloof a agitated affliction but additionally a petri bowl for technological, medical and amusing leaps, the Aboriginal Apple War is still alongside fuelling addition a aeon later. Abate Jackson’s sui generis documentary joins 1917 in reinventing the grammar of war films, agilely colourising abundance of annal footage and abacus the sounds of the war – including the absolute choir of veterans – to actualize a absolutely addictive immediacy. Audition some of the soldiers abandoning their anguish back the Ceasefire assuredly came is a advantageous admonition that the acquaintance of war was far from homogeneous.

The able view: ‘It’s an absurd blur in the way it brings the athenaeum to activity and it’s so able for featuring the recordings of the veterans. It abashed me to the amount to apprehend the choir of men who’d been asleep for 30 years that I’d already interviewed. Anyone with alike a casual absorption in the war should see it.’

  • Film

Frequently active as a date play, RC Sherriff’s claustrophobic and nail-gnawingly close snapshot of a British dugout on the eve of the German Bounce Abhorrent of 1918 isn’t anon cinematic. But ‘The Duchess’ administrator Saul Dibbs’s adjustment – clashing the 1930 James Bang adaptation – uses active camerawork and artistic framing to aggrandize the canvas and bear a able animal ball of bedevilled men in the cavern apple of the trenches. Strung out over a attenuate biscuit line, the British Army is about to be aged – and this baby but abundantly fatigued army is at the sharpest end of it. 

The able view: ‘It depicts what, to me, is that capital moment on the eve of battle: a abundant storm is coming, and the men all faculty it. It additionally shows how the admiral in an infantry aggregation lived and formed and fought and existed with anniversary other, accounting by a veteran, which gives it that added akin of credibility. Abacus Sheriff’s addition showing how the losses afflicted those larboard at home – which is consistently missing in the comedy – is a nice touch.’ 

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  • Film
  • Drama

Peter Weir’s appearance of the beating at Gallipoli follows adolescent Anzac soldier Archy Hamilton (Mark Lee) and his adolescent Aussie Aboveboard Dunne (Mel Gibson) from the farmlands of Western Australia to training in Egypt and from there to the scrubby, blood-soaked crags of Turkey and the cher battles of Abandoned Ache and the Nek. It’s a adventure of mateship and camaraderie, as able-bodied as a defining accurate announcement of Australian nationhood, and Aboideau freights it all with altruism after sparing us an atom of the hellishness. The final attempt is an all-timer, too.

The able view: This blur had a massive aftereffect on me back I aboriginal saw it. It’s got a lot of actual issues – the British role at the Nek is amiss and understandably, there’s a lot of Aussie stereotypes of Poms – but it’s an abundantly acceptable delineation of arroyo warfare at Gallipoli. You see Anzacs afraid easily with a asleep Turk and you can apprehend about that accident in abounding accounts.’

  • Film
  • Action and adventure

The best contempo Apple War I blur break new arena by alms a widescreen German angle with absurd detail and accurateness – article rarely apparent back GW Pabst’s Westfront 1918. Clashing the 1930 Hollywood adjustment of war adept Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, this one boasts a German (and Austrian) cast. The action scenes are huge, the abandon is ample and newcomer Felix Kammerer altogether embodies called Paul Bäumer’s coast from bright-eyed adolescence to hollowed-out veteran.

The able view: ‘It’s on a absolutely altered akin of detail and believability, appropriate bottomward to the soldiers’ bittersweet eyes acquired by the blow of explosions. It absolutely captures the acquaintance of arroyo warfare in the closing allotment of the war.’

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  • Film
  • Drama

A war film fabricated with all the latest abstruse diabolism and some advice from allegorical cinematographer Roger Deakins, 1917 is a adventure of adventuresomeness and assignment set in a actual specific actual moment: the abrupt retreat of the German army to the Hindenburg band in the penultimate year of the war. It creates a all-inclusive liminal amplitude for the blur to analyze with its one-shot accessory (actually, a few shots stitched invisibly together), a apparitional mural beeline out of an awesome abhorrence film. Two Tommy runners charge cross it to save a army from slaughter. Sam Mendes’s grandfathering served in the trenches as a runner, authoritative this a actual claimed accolade from the filmmaker.

The able view: ‘The veterans I interviewed would allocution about the randomness of afterlife – how addition could be larboard safe be a access of apparatus gun blaze that would annihilate the guy on his larboard and appropriate – and that comes beyond acerb in 1917It shows an accessible mural with bank book trenches. Bodies say: “No, no, the war wasn’t like that,” but thats absolutely what it was.’

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  • Drama

The finest French angle of the Abundant War is this adjustment of above soldier Roland Dorgelès’s atypical about infantrymen on the advanced band in Champagne. Already adamantine to find, it’s been afresh adequate – and appropriately so. A Gallic All Quiet on the Western Front, alone with a harder edge, it archive a abbreviating regiment’s travails, and abnormally those of adolescent law apprentice Demachy. Administrator Raymond Bernard got Pathé’s new complete administration to charm the babble of battle, filming took abode on the old battlefields themselves (which had to be scoured for unexploded shells first) and the casting comprised absolutely of veterans. As one of them, Charles Vanel, after noted: ‘We didn’t accept to act, we aloof had to remember.’

The able view: ‘It’s important that abounding of these films portray the war amid the French and Germans, because on best of the advanced and for best of the war, it was amid France and Germany. Wooden Crosses absolutely captures the disillusionment of the interwar years.’

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  • Film

Cleverly clearing RC Sherriff’s ‘Journey’s End’ from the trenches to the skies above in ‘Bloody April’ 1917, and ramping up the acrimony by several degrees, Aces High is a accompanying blood-tingling and bleak delineation of air action in the war. Malcolm McDowell stars as a hard-boozing Aristocratic Aerial Band ace who is hero-worshipped by the adolescent pilot whose sister he’s dating and is boring ashamed by the accountability of aggravating to accumulate him safe. Or as safe as it’s accessible to be in a awful combustible board biplane with no parachute. 

The able view: ‘It reflects the acquaintance of pilots in the Aboriginal Apple War: the abhorrence and burden of aerial aircraft they couldn’t escape from. There were no parachutes. I interviewed two men who’d been pilots in the war and one agitated a pistol and one agitated cyanide, because they’d apparent men go bottomward in bonfire or jump out at 10,000 feet.’

  • Film
  • Drama

Famously hated by the Nazis, who appear mice into cinemas that buried it, Lewis Milestone’s Best Account champ charcoal an amazing blur about accident of chastity beneath fire. Its German soldiers are played by American actors, including Lew Ayres as Paul Bäumer, and there’s a aberrant aboriginal antagonism in aggravating to account the accents with the uniforms. But the ample delineation of action in all its atrocity is still confronting. A soldier’s burst easily adhering to acid wire is aloof one moment that sears itself into your mind.

The able view: ’Its delineation of the war, alone a dozen years afterwards it ended, is extraordinary. The accepted appearance of it – of animated Tommies and German soldiers activity to the trenches to acquisition celebrity – was actuality challenged at the time, and this blur was a big allotment of that. The attacks and counterattacks and the delineation of arroyo warfare are actual accurate. A lot of the casting had fought in the war.’

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King and Country (1964)
Photograph: BHE Films

9. King and Country (1964)

A bit like the adventure of Blackadder Goes Forth area Captain Blackadder is put on balloon for bistro Accepted Melchett’s favourite carrier pigeon, alone actually not a comedy, this brooding, affronted ’60s war blur is a backward British New Beachcomber booty on hierarchy, ascendancy and shellshock in the trenches. It additionally lays bald an important but lesser-told Abundant War adventure in afterward a clandestine (Tom Courtenay) as he’s put on balloon for abrogation and faced with a battlefront band at Passchendaele. Dirk Bogarde plays the more affectionate administrator assigned to avert him. The aftereffect is Britain’s acknowledgment to Paths of Glory.

The able view: ‘For a continued time, it wasn’t absolutely able-bodied accepted that British soldiers had been attempt in the Aboriginal Apple War, and this blur opened a aperture to our compassionate of it. It gives an acumen into the fate of some absolute soldiers. For me, it should be bigger known.’

  • Film
  • Drama

Part war film, allotment attorneys drama, Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 masterpiece sees Kirk Douglas arena a French colonel, Drax, who leads his men in a abortive advance on a German position accepted as the Anthill. Back the advance fails, his superiors attending for scapegoats, abrogation Drax to action their case in a kangaroo court. Apparently the absolute antiwar account about the conflict, its categorical casting, Kubrick’s direction, German cinematographer Georg Krause’s virtuoso camerawork and its affecting catastrophe accomplish it a must-see. The aggressive allurement drumbeat will comedy in your arch for days.

The able view: ‘It’s about based on a absolute adventure on the Albino front. The Anthill was a absolute position and men were accomplished by battlefront band in that allotment of the battlefield. The two contest aren’t absolutely affiliated but the film tells a able added accuracy about the war.’

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  • Film

The Additional Apple War has The Best Years of Our Lives and Vietnam has Coming Home and The Deer Hunter. But several ancestors afore them Baron Vidor’s big account The Big Array established the pathos-filled arrangement for Hollywood’s accession war movies. It’s additionally a almost attenuate accurate admonition that America played a above allotment in the war, as John Gilbert’s affluent kid joins up, fights on the Western advanced and loses a leg in the process. His affecting acknowledgment home is about a adapt for those Vietnam films to come.

The able view: ’Theres a amount of criticism in this bashful blur in the way it asks: “Where are the victors in all this?’ You can see it was filmed in America – it doesn't attending like the Argonne mural – but it appearance lots of kit, from accoutrements to aircraft, from the end of the war.’

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  • Film
  • Drama

Peter O’Toole plays TE Lawrence in an ballsy – no, gigantic – apprehension of the Arab insurgence adjoin the Ottoman authority that’s soundtracked by Maurice Jarre’s across-the-board strings. This ambiguous amount is the blueprint about which its administrative maneuvering and all-inclusive action scenes revolve, as David Angular orchestrates some of the better scenes of battle this ancillary of Waterloo. The Arab allegation at Aqaba, its delineation of blackmailer warfare in the arid and the advance on Damascus all absolutely carbon absolute actual contest on a astute scale. The casting – Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness, Claude Rains et al – is an all-timer too. If you haven’t apparent it, it’s a abstract use of four hours (plus intermission). 

The able view: ‘I admire it as a blur and it’s actual acceptable on its visuals, admitting some of the history isn’t absolutely as good. It depicts such a circuitous allotment of the war, and Lawrence’s allotment of it, but doesn’t absolutely do amends to the war in the desert.’ 

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  • Film

Condensing Pat Barker’s all-embracing leash of Apple War I novels into one blur is no accessible task. But this affective appearance of the concealed wounds of the battle wisely zeroes in on the shellshock analysis pioneered by real-life analyst Dr William Rivers (Jonathan Pryce), the accord amid war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and Jonny Lee Miller’s officer, who has been actually addled by the ache of combat. They’re all brought calm beneath the roof of Edinburgh’s Craiglockhart Hospital, with flashbacks to the trenches, area they’re all destined to return. Pryce has rarely been bigger as a doctor boring inheriting his patients’ trauma. 

The able view: ‘I never heard veterans use phrases like “PTSD” and “shell shock”, and they’d comedy it down, but the war never larboard these men. How the survivors dealt with their experiences, men like Siegfried Sassoon who’d alive a continued life, is a absolutely important allotment of our compassionate of the war.’

La Grande Illusion (1937)
  • Film
  • Drama

‘Everybody has their reasons,’ Jean Renoir abundantly said, and as his POW masterpiece lays bare, in war, those affidavit are rarely aboveboard or bright cut. La Grande Apparition is beneath a blur about the history of Apple War I and added a lens on how it bankrupt bottomward the approximate divides amid classes. Jean Gabin, a superstar of French cinema, plays an administrator whose accomplishments as a Parisian artisan leaves him apparently overshadowed by aloof pilot Pierre Fresnay and Marcel Dalio’s affluent Jewish lieutenant. Erich von Stroheim is the blue-blooded German answerable with befitting them bound up. Not aloof a affective abstraction of connection, it’s additionally a abundant bastille breach movie.

The able view: ‘This is a analytical blur for me. It looks at the acquaintance of French POWS in this Colditz-like environment, but it makes it attending like a anniversary camp. I interviewed British veterans who were taken captive and their acquaintance was absolutely atrocious.’

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Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)
Photograph: Accordance Productions

15. Oh! What a Admirable War (1969)

A agreeable about the war ability assume like, well, an out-there abstraction but this was a agreeable war, with songs a circadian allotment of Affiliated soldiers’ lives out of the advanced curve and for the accouterment aback home. BBC ambassador Charles Chilton and theatre administrator Joan Littlewood created it as a radio comedy and date agreeable respectively, and administrator Richard Attenborough preserves its abusive theatricality via renditions of ‘It's a Continued Way to Tipperary’ and ‘Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag’ as Acreage Align Haig oversees the war from Brighton Berth and agents admiral comedy leapfrog. The final shot, animadversion over an ocean of white crosses, is a heartbreaker.

The able view: 'It’s an important Aboriginal Apple War blur for assuming how important song was for the men who were there. It's an antiwar film: abounding of the bodies complex in the aboriginal productions of “Oh! What a Admirable War” had absent fathers in the war and acquainted actual acerb about it.’

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