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The Best Movies About Historical Battles

Updated September 15, 2020 8.8k votes 1.5k voters 70.6k views36 items

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.

 

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  • 1
    Letters from Iwo Jima is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    Letters from Iwo Jima

    Ken Watanabe, Ryan Kelley

    Released2006

    Directed byClint Eastwood

    Letters from Iwo Jima is a 2006 Japanese-American film directed and co-produced by Clint... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 2
    Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    Saving Private Ryan

    Tom Hanks, Matt Damon

    Released1998

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic drama war film set during the Invasion of Normandy... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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

    Sean Connery, John Wayne

    Released1962

    Directed byDarryl 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... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 4
    Gettysburg is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    16

    Gettysburg

    Martin Sheen, Tom Berenger

    Released1993

    Directed byRonald F. Maxwell

    Gettysburg is a 1993 epic film written and directed by Ronald F. Maxwell, adapted from the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 5
    All Quiet on the Western Front is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    All Quiet on the Western Front

    Fred Zinnemann, Lew Ayres

    Released1930

    Directed byLewis Milestone

    All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 American epic film based on the Erich Maria Remarque... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 6
    A Bridge Too Far is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    A Bridge Too Far

    Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins

    Released1977

    Directed byRichard Attenborough

    A Bridge Too Far is a 1977 epic film based on the 1974 book of the same name by Cornelius... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 7
    Gallipoli is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    Gallipoli

    Mel Gibson, Bill Hunter

    Released1981

    Directed byPeter Weir

    Gallipoli is a 1981 Australian film directed by Peter Weir and starring Mel Gibson and Mark... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 8
    The Bridge on the River Kwai is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    The Bridge on the River Kwai

    Alec Guinness, William Holden

    Released1957

    Directed byDavid Lean

    The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 WWII epic film directed by David Lean, based on the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 9
    Glory is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    Glory

    Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington

    Released1989

    Directed byEdward Zwick

    Glory is a 1989 American drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 10
    Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    217

    Gladiator

    Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix

    Released2000

    Directed byRidley Scott

    Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott,... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 11
    Zulu Dawn is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    Zulu Dawn

    Peter O'Toole, Bob Hoskins

    Released1979

    Directed byDouglas Hickox

    Zulu Dawn is a 1979 film about the historical Battle of Isandlwana between British and Zulu... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 12
    Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    Braveheart

    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau

    Released1995

    Directed byMel Gibson

    Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 13
    Spartacus is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    Spartacus

    Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier

    Released1960

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 14
    Ben Hur is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    Ben Hur

    William Wyler, Charlton Heston

    Directed byWilliam R. Kowalchuk Jr.

    Ben Hur is a 2003 animated film based on the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, by Lew... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 15
    The Patriot is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    149

    The Patriot

    Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger

    Released2000

    Directed byRoland Emmerich

    The Patriot is a 2000 American epic historical fiction film directed by Roland Emmerich.... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 16
    Apocalypse Now is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    121

    Apocalypse Now

    Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford

    Released1979

    Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola

    Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic adventure war film set during the Vietnam War. Produced... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 17
    Kingdom of Heaven is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    Kingdom of Heaven

    Eva Green, Liam Neeson

    Released2005

    Directed byRidley Scott

    Kingdom of Heaven is a 2005 epic historical drama directed and produced by Ridley Scott and... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 18
    Fatima is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
    0
    1

    Fatima

    Harvey Keitel, Goran Visnjic

    Released2020

    Directed byMarco Pontecorvo

    Fatima is a 2020 Portuguese drama film directed by Marco Pontecorvo. Two young cousins report... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 19
    300 is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    300

    Gerard Butler, Michael Fassbender

    Released2006

    Directed byZack Snyder

    300 is a 2006 American fantasy war film based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 20
    The Charge of the Light Brigad is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    The Charge of the Light Brigade

    Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud

    Released1968

    Directed byTony Richardson

    The Charge of the Light Brigade is a 1968 British war film made by Woodfall Film Productions... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 21
    The Siege of Jadotville is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
    35
    16

    The Siege of Jadotville

    Jamie Dornan, Mark Strong

    Directed byRichie Smyth

    The Siege of Jadotville is a 2016 historical drama war film directed by Richie Smyth, based on... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 22
    Midway is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    17

    Midway

    Woody Harrelson, Luke Evans

    Released2019

    Directed byRoland Emmerich

    Midway is a 2019 American historical action drama film directed by Roland Emmerich. The story... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 23
    Battle of Warsaw 1920 is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    15

    Battle of Warsaw 1920

    Daniel Olbrychski, Michał Żebrowski

    Released2011

    Directed byJerzy Hoffman

    Battle of Warsaw 1920 is a Polish historical film directed by Jerzy Hoffman depicting the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 24
    The Last Samurai is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    The Last Samurai

    Tom Cruise, Billy Connolly

    Released2003

    Directed byEdward Zwick

    The Last Samurai is a 2003 American epic film directed and co-produced by Edward Zwick, who... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 25
    Red Cliff is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
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    Red Cliff

    Zhao Wei, Tony Leung Chiu Wai

    Released2008

    Directed byJohn Woo

    Red Cliff is a Chinese epic film from 2008-2009, based on the Battle of Red Cliffs and the... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
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