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The Best Movies About Historical Battles 

Ranker Film
Updated November 12, 2019 7k votes 1.5k voters 70k 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.

 

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1
Saving Private Ryan is listed (or ranked) 1 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 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #1 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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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#27 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #19 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
The Longest Day is listed (or ranked) 3 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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#4 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #3 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
All Quiet on the Western... is listed (or ranked) 4 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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#11 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #217 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 5 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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Gladiator Might Be One of The Most Historically Inaccurate Movies Ever #17 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
Glory is listed (or ranked) 6 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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#16 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #874 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
The Bridge on the River ... is listed (or ranked) 7 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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#18 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #127 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Bookslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

8
Gallipoli is listed (or ranked) 8 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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#56 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #445 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #204 of 334 The Greatest Movies in World Cinema History

9
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 9 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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#23 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #12 of 69 The Best Movies That Are Super Longlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

10
A Bridge Too Far is listed (or ranked) 10 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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#14 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #9 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time #1,122 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

11
Gettysburg is listed (or ranked) 11 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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#24 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #49 of 69 The Best Movies That Are Super Longlisted on Civil War Movies List

12
300 is listed (or ranked) 12 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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This Is Sparta and These Are The Best Quotes From '300' #68 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #100 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

13
Kingdom of Heaven is listed (or ranked) 13 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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#92 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #103 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #331 of 481 The Greatest Movies for Guys

14
The Patriot is listed (or ranked) 14 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 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #147 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #62 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

15
Spartacus is listed (or ranked) 15 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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#51 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #132 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Bookslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
Ben Hur is listed (or ranked) 16 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
17
Apocalypse Now is listed (or ranked) 17 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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Behind-The-Scenes Stories About Marlon Brando In 'Apocalypse Now' #20 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

18
Zulu Dawn is listed (or ranked) 18 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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19
The Last Samurai is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Tom Cruise, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall

Released: 2003

Directed by: Edward Zwick

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

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#63 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #361 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #75 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

20
Red Cliff is listed (or ranked) 20 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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#285 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #238 of 299 The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time #578 of 598 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

21
The Fall of the Roman Em... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Sophia Loren, Omar Sharif, Christopher Plummer

Released: 1964

Directed by: Anthony Mann

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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#540 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #6 of 54 The Best Roman Movies #29 of 47 The Best Sword and Sandal Films Ever Made

22
Quo Vadis is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies About Historical Battles
Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Deborah Kerr

Released: 1951

Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy

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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#300 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #15 of 39 The Greatest Biblical Movies Ever Made #10 of 54 The Best Roman Movies

23
The Charge of the Light ... is listed (or ranked) 23 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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#57 of 179 The Best Historical Drama Movies Of All Time, Ranked #26 of 46 The Best 60s War Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

24
The Siege of Jadotville ... is listed (or ranked) 24 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
25
Battle of Warsaw 1920 is listed (or ranked) 25 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