Historical Entertainment

The Best Movies About Historical Battles  

Ranker Film
6.7k votes 1.4k voters 67.4k 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.

 

1
Gettysburg is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
alienman added
Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott

Released: 1993

Directed by: Ronald F. Maxwell

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

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2
Letters from Iwo Jima is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Ken Watanabe, Ryan Kelley, Kazunari Ninomiya

Released: 2006

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

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

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#31 of 383 The Best War Movies Ever #15 of 220 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
All Quiet on the Western... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Fred Zinnemann, Lew Ayres, ZaSu Pitts

Released: 1930

Directed by: Lewis Milestone

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

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#9 of 383 The Best War Movies Ever #39 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
A Bridge Too Far is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Gabriel Faris Constantine added
Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford

Released: 1977

Directed by: Richard Attenborough

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

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#28 of 383 The Best War Movies Ever #14 of 220 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #1,116 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

5
The Longest Day is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Sean Connery, John Wayne, Richard Burton

Released: 1962

Directed by: Darryl F. Zanuck, Ken Annakin, Bernhard Wicki, Andrew Marton, Gerd Oswald

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

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#7 of 383 The Best War Movies Ever #6 of 220 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel

Released: 1998

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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

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#1 of 383 The Best War Movies Everfeaturing 17 Surprising Facts You Probably Didn't Know About 'Saving Private Ryan'listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
Gallipoli is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Mel Gibson, Bill Hunter, Robert Grubb

Released: 1981

Directed by: Peter Weir

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

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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

Released: 1979

Directed by: Douglas Hickox

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

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9
The Bridge on the River ... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins

Released: 1957

Directed by: David Lean

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

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#2 of 383 The Best War Movies Ever #1 of 220 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

10
Glory is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick

Released: 1989

Directed by: Edward Zwick

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

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#18 of 383 The Best War Movies Ever #189 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

Released: 2000

Directed by: Ridley Scott

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

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#17 of 383 The Best War Movies Everfeaturing Gladiator Might Be One of The Most Historically Inaccurate Movies Everlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

12
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

Released: 1995

Directed by: Mel Gibson

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

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#12 of 383 The Best War Movies Ever #59 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
Spartacus is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis

Released: 1960

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

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

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#63 of 383 The Best War Movies Ever #119 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

14
Ben Hur is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
William Wyler, Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins

Directed by: William R. Kowalchuk Jr.

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
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

Released: 1979

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

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

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#3 of 383 The Best War Movies Everfeaturing Behind-The-Scenes Stories About Marlon Brando In 'Apocalypse Now'listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
Kingdom of Heaven is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Edward Norton

Released: 2005

Directed by: Ridley Scott

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

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The Patriot is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Logan Lerman

Released: 2000

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

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

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#32 of 383 The Best War Movies Ever #113 of 291 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Cry #135 of 582 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

18
300 is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Gerard Butler, Michael Fassbender, Lena Headey

Released: 2006

Directed by: Zack Snyder

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

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#310 of 630 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #23 of 383 The Best War Movies Everfeaturing This Is Sparta and These Are The Best Quotes From '300'

19
Battle of Warsaw 1920 is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Jim_In_Texas added
Daniel Olbrychski, Michał Żebrowski, Bogusław Linda

Released: 2011

Directed by: Jerzy Hoffman

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
20
The Charge of the Light ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Ron Kelly0 added
Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud, Natasha Richardson

Released: 1968

Directed by: Tony 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

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#30 of 46 The Best 60s War Movies #66 of 211 The Best Historical Drama Movies of All Time, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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

Directed by: Richie Smyth

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

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22
The Green Berets is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
RockChalker90 added
John Wayne, George Takei, Vera Miles

Released: 1968

Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy, John Wayne, Ray Kellogg

The Green Berets is a 1968 American film set in Vietnam, featuring John Wayne, George Takei, David Janssen, Jim Hutton and Aldo Ray, nominally based on the eponymous 1965 book by Robin Moore, ...more

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#79 of 383 The Best War Movies Ever #946 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #20 of 80 The Most Patriotic Movies of All Time

23
Midway is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Woody Harrelson, Luke Evans, Mandy Moore

Released: 2019

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Midway is a 2019 American historical action drama film directed by Roland Emmerich. The story of the battle of Midway, told by the leaders and the soldiers who fought it.
24
Red Cliff is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Zhao Wei, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro

Released: 2008

Directed by: John Woo

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

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#286 of 383 The Best War Movies Ever #281 of 302 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #246 of 582 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

25
The Eight Hundred is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Yi Zhang, Chen Yao, Haoming Yu

Released: 2019

Directed by: Hu Guan

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