Historical Entertainment

The Best Movies About Historical Battles  

Ranker Film
6.2k votes 1.4k voters 65.6k views 35 items

Some battles are ones for the history books - and the historical films. The best historical war battle movies make the horrors and triumphs of war more immediate by spotlighting individual characters fighting for their lives. This is a list of the top movies about historical wars including everything from Braveheart to The Bridge on the River Kwai to 300.

What films will you find on this list of the best movies about historical battles? In Saving Private Ryan, the Invasion of Normandy comes to breathtaking life. Tom Hanks leads an all-star cast - including Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Vin Diesel and more - in this Steven Spielberg-directed hit. World War II is a popular choice for filmmakers: Pearl Harbor also focuses on this conflict, and The Longest Day follows a group of soldiers during the time leading up to D-Day. Other good movies featured here include Ben Hur, Kingdom of Heaven, and Letters from Iwo Jima.

Which battle movie do you like the best? Give your favorites a thumbs up and please add any historical war films that are missing. When you're done, be sure to check out our best ww1 movies list.

 

list ordered by
1
Letters from Iwo Jima is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Ken Watanabe, Ryan Kelley, Kazunari Ninomiya
Letters from Iwo Jima is a 2006 Japanese-American film directed and co-produced by Clint Eastwood, starring Ken Watanabe and Kazunari Ninomiya. The film portrays the Battle of Iwo Jima from the ...more
2
Gettysburg is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
alienman added Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott
Gettysburg is a 1993 epic film written and directed by Ronald F. Maxwell, adapted from the novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, about the Battle of Gettysburg. The film starred Tom ...more
3
All Quiet on the Western Front is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Fred Zinnemann, Lew Ayres, ZaSu Pitts
All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 American epic film based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel of the same name. It was directed by Lewis Milestone, and stars Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, John ...more
4
Gallipoli is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Mel Gibson, Bill Hunter, Robert Grubb
Gallipoli is a 1981 Australian film directed by Peter Weir and starring Mel Gibson and Mark Lee, about several young men from rural Western Australia who enlist in the Australian Army during the ...more
5
The Longest Day is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Sean Connery, John Wayne, Richard Burton
The Longest Day is a 1962 film based on the 1959 history book The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan, about D-Day, the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, during WWII. The film was produced by Darryl ...more
6
Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel
Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic drama war film set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat, the film is notable for ...more
7
A Bridge Too Far is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Gabriel Faris Constantine added Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford
A Bridge Too Far is a 1977 epic film based on the 1974 book of the same name by Cornelius Ryan, adapted by William Goldman. It was produced by Joseph E. Levine and Richard P. Levine and directed ...more
8
Zulu Dawn is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Ron Kelly0 added Peter O'Toole, Bob Hoskins, Burt Lancaster
Zulu Dawn is a 1979 film about the historical Battle of Isandlwana between British and Zulu forces in 1879 in South Africa. The screenplay was by Cy Endfield, from his book, and Anthony Story. ...more
9
The Bridge on the River Kwai is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins
The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 WWII epic film directed by David Lean, based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai by Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the ...more
10
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen
Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, ...more
11
Glory is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick
Glory is a 1989 American drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, based on ...more
12
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson
Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more
13
Spartacus is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis
Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Dalton Trumbo was based on the novel Spartacus by Howard Fast. It was inspired by the life ...more
14
Battle of Warsaw 1920 is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Jim_In_Texas added Daniel Olbrychski, Michał Żebrowski, Bogusław Linda
Battle of Warsaw 1920 is a Polish historical film directed by Jerzy Hoffman depicting the events of the Battle of Warsaw of the Polish–Soviet War. It was released in September 2011. It was ...more
15
Apocalypse Now is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Devon Piedemonte added Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall
Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic adventure war film set during the Vietnam War. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall. ...more
16
Kingdom of Heaven is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Edward Norton
Kingdom of Heaven is a 2005 epic historical drama directed and produced by Ridley Scott and written by William Monahan. It stars Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan ...more
17
Ben Hur is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
William Wyler, Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins
Ben Hur is a 2003 animated film based on the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, by Lew Wallace. It is the fourth film adaptation of the novel. Charlton Heston's production company, Agamemnon ...more
18
300 is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Gerard Butler, Michael Fassbender, Lena Headey
300 is a 2006 American fantasy war film based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Both are fictionalized retellings of the Battle of Thermopylae which took ...more
19
The Patriot is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Logan Lerman
The Patriot is a 2000 American epic historical fiction film directed by Roland Emmerich. Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is driven to lead the his own group of men during the ...more
20
The Charge of the Light Brigad... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Ron Kelly0 added Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud, Natasha Richardson
The Charge of the Light Brigade is a 1968 British war film made by Woodfall Film Productions and distributed by United Artists, depicting parts of the Crimean War and the eponymous charge. It ...more
21
The Siege of Jadotville is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Jim_In_Texas added Jamie Dornan, Mark Strong, Mikael Persbrandt
The Siege of Jadotville is a 2016 historical drama war film directed by Richie Smyth, based on Declan Power's book. Irish Commandant Pat Quinlan (Jamie Dornan) leads a stand off with troops ...more
22
The Eight Hundred is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Yi Zhang, Chen Yao, Haoming Yu
The Eight Hundred is a 2019 Chinese war film directed by Hu Guan. In 1937, eight hundred Chinese soldiers fight under siege from a warehouse in the middle of the Shanghai battlefield, completely ...more
23
Red Cliff is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Zhao Wei, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro
Red Cliff is a Chinese epic film from 2008-2009, based on the Battle of Red Cliffs and the events at the end of the Han dynasty and immediately prior to the Three Kingdoms period in ancient ...more
24
The Last Samurai is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Tom Cruise, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall
The Last Samurai is a 2003 American epic film directed and co-produced by Edward Zwick, who also co-wrote the screenplay with John Logan. The film stars Tom Cruise, who also co-produced, as well ...more
25
The Fall of the Roman Empire is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Sophia Loren, Omar Sharif, Christopher Plummer
The Fall of the Roman Empire is a 1964 epic film starring Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness, James Mason, Christopher Plummer, Mel Ferrer and Omar Sharif. It was directed by Anthony Mann ...more