films The Best Movies About Historical Battles  

Ranker Film
1.4k votes 537 voters 26.4k views 23 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.

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Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Gladiator 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

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Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Saving Private Ryan 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

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300 is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
300 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

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The Longest Day is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
The Longest Day Sean Connery, John Wayne, Richard Burton The Longest Day is a 1962 war film based on the 1959 history book The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan, about D-Day, the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, during World War II. The film was ...more

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The Last Samurai is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
The Last Samurai Tom Cruise, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall The Last Samurai is a 2003 American epic war 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 ...more

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Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Braveheart 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

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Kingdom of Heaven is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Kingdom of Heaven 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

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All Quiet on the Western Front is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
All Quiet on the Western Front Fred Zinnemann, Lew Ayres, ZaSu Pitts All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 American epic war film based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel of the same name. It was directed by Lewis Milestone, and stars Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, ...more

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The Bridge on the River Kwai is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
The Bridge on the River Kwai Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 World War II 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 ...more

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Letters from Iwo Jima is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Letters from Iwo Jima Ken Watanabe, Ryan Kelley, Kazunari Ninomiya Letters from Iwo Jima is a 2006 Japanese-American war film directed and co-produced by Clint Eastwood, starring Ken Watanabe and Kazunari Ninomiya. The film portrays the Battle of Iwo Jima from ...more

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The Patriot is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
The Patriot Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Logan Lerman The Patriot is a 2000 American epic historical fiction war film directed by Roland Emmerich. Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the ...more

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Glory is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Glory Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick Glory is a 1989 American drama war film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, ...more

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Spartacus is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Spartacus 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

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Apocalypse Now is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Devon Piedemonte added Apocalypse Now 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

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Red Cliff is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Red Cliff Zhao Wei, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro Red Cliff is a Chinese epic war 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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Gallipoli is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Gallipoli 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

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Ben Hur is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Ben Hur 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

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The Fall of the Roman Empire is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
The Fall of the Roman Empire 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

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King Arthur is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
King Arthur Keira Knightley, Clive Owen, Ray Winstone King Arthur is a 2004 action adventure film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by David Franzoni. It stars Clive Owen as the title character, Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot, and Keira Knightley as ...more

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Pearl Harbor is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Pearl Harbor Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck Pearl Harbor is a 2001 American war film with romance and action elements directed by Michael Bay, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and written by Randall Wallace. It features an ensemble cast, ...more

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The Eagle is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Seth Haldane Casden added The Eagle Channing Tatum, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong The Eagle is a 2011 historical adventure film set in Roman Britain directed by Kevin Macdonald, and starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland. Adapted by Jeremy Brock from ...more

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Quo Vadis is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Quo Vadis Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Deborah Kerr Quo Vadis is a 1951 American epic film made by MGM in Technicolor. It was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and produced by Sam Zimbalist, from a screenplay by John Lee Mahin, S. N. Behrman and Sonya ...more

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Centurion is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Centurion Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, Imogen Poots Centurion is a 2010 British historical action-war film directed by Neil Marshall, loosely based on the legend of the massacre of the Ninth Legion in Caledonia in the early second century AD. The ...more