Some ancient 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 epic historical wars coming out of Hollywood including everything from Braveheart to The Bridge on the River Kwai to 300.
What films will you find on this list of the best period 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.
This list is far more than just the top ten historical war movies. Vote up your favorites and vote down any that you never want to watch again. When you're done, be sure to check out our best WW1 movies list.
- In February and March of 1945, U.S. troops fight and win one of the most crucial and costly battles of the war on the island of Iwo Jima. A photo of U.S. servicemen raising the flag on Mount ...more
- This war drama depicts one of the biggest events of the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg. The massive three-day conflict begins as Confederate General Robert E. Lee (Martin Sheen) presses ...more
- This dramatic retelling of the Pearl Harbor attack details everything in the days that led up to that tragic moment in American history. As United States and Japanese relations strain over the U.S. ...more
- In 1805, aboard the H.M.S. Surprise, the brash Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) and his trusted friend, the ship's scholarly surgeon, Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany), are ordered to hunt down and ...more
- In 1879, the Zulu nation hands colonial British forces a resounding defeat in battle. A nearby regiment of the British Army takes over a station run by a missionary (Jack Hawkins) and his daughter ...more
- Late in 1944, the Allies seem to have the upper hand in the European land war. A combined British and American paratrooper force, led by American general Gavin and British general Urquhart (Sean ...more
- Marine Sgt. Thomas Highway (Clint Eastwood) is a decorated veteran of two wars. On his last posting before retirement, he is surrounded by officers with no combat experience who view him as an odd, ...more
- Long-buried missives from the island reveal the stories of the Japanese troops who fought and died there during World War II. Among them are Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), a baker; Baron Nishi (Tsuyoshi ...more
- The film follows a group of German schoolboys, talked into enlisting at the beginning of World War I by their jingoistic teacher. The story is told entirely through the experiences of the young ...more
- In 1944, the U.S. Army and Allied forces plan a huge invasion landing in Normandy, France. Despite bad weather, General Eisenhower gives the okay and the Allies land at Normandy. General Norma Cota ...more
- Sir Henry Bartle Frere's (John Mills) vastly outnumbered garrison makes a stand against natives at Isandhlwana in 1879.
- 1917 is a 2019 British war film directed by Sam Mendes. Two British soldiers are tasked with delivering a message to the frontlines and experience a particularly harrowing day during World War I.
- Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Surrounded by the brutal realties of war, while searching ...more
- Archy (Mark Lee) and Frank (Mel Gibson) are two young Australian sprinters who want to join the army to fulfill their sense of duty. Turned down because they are too young, the pair hop a freight ...more
- On Sept. 11, 2012, Islamic militants attack the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith, an officer for the Foreign Service. Stationed less than ...more
- Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) leaves his university studies to enlist in combat duty in Vietnam in 1967. Once he's on the ground in the middle of battle, his idealism fades. Infighting in his unit ...more
- The true story of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who won the Congressional Medal of Honor despite refusing to bear arms during WWII on religious grounds. Doss was drafted and ostracized by ...more
- In 1836 Gen. Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid) organizes a rebel army to liberate Texas from the brutal rule of Mexican dictator General Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarría). Though vastly outnumbered, Gen. ...more
- As D-Day approaches, Colonel Breed hands the roguish Major Reisman (Lee Marvin) an important assignment: He must train a team of soldiers to parachute across enemy lines and assassinate German ...more
- The last members of a dying Native American tribe, the Mohicans -- Uncas (Eric Schweig), his father Chingachgook (Russell Means), and his adopted half-white brother Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) -- live ...more
- Over the course of 10 days in May 1969, an infantry squad led by Lt. Frantz (Dylan McDermott) and composed of both seasoned troops and new recruits, attempts to take a hill during the Vietnam War. In ...more
- A sweeping epic charting the early years of the Civil War and how the campaigns unfolded from Manassas I to the Battle of Fredericksburg, this prequel to the film "Gettysburg" explores the ...more
- Adaptation of the Pierre Bouelle novel about POWs in Burma forced to build a bridge to aid the war effort of their Japanese captors. British and American officers plot to blow up the structure, but ...more
- 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 against ...more
- 12 Strong (also known as 12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers) is a 2018 American war drama film directed by Nicolai Fuglsig. Following the September 11 attacks, Task Force ...more