As classic cinematic masterpieces - like Saving Private Ryan and Apocalypse Now - are war movies, you probably want to introduce your kids to the genre so they can one day appreciate great films. Unfortunately, the aforementioned movies, and many others depicting war, are not really child appropriate. War movies can be tricky seeing as they depict conflicts in an accurate, frightening, and gory fashion. Fortunately, there are plenty of classic war movies kids can watch. The below films are a great middle of the road option to get kids into war films.
These war movies for tweens, teens, and younger children aren't without violence and other questionable material, so use your discretion based on your kid's age and overall maturity. Films like Red Dawn come with a PG-13 rating, and therefore may not be great for very young children. However, the foreign film Life is Beautiful has a whimsical enough feel and avoids gratuitous violence, so it could be a great war movie for beginners.
Browse this list of war movies below and vote up the best movies to introduce kids to the genre. Then, check out our list of the best ww1 movies.
This film is a 2011 American drama film directed by Steven Spielberg based on British author Michael Morpurgo's 1982 children's novel of the same name. After his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry, Albert (Jeremy Irvine) enlists to serve in World War 1, taking him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on. ...more on Wikipedia
Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Emily Watson, Liam Cunningham, David Thewlis, + more
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Red Dawn is a 1984 American film directed by John Milius and co-written by Milius and Kevin Reynolds. It stars Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, and Jennifer Grey. The film is set in an alternate 1980s in which the United States is invaded by the Soviet Union and its Cuban and Nicaraguan allies. However, the onset of WWIII is in the background and not fully elaborated. The story follows a group of American high school students who resist the occupation, calling themselves Wolverines, after their high school mascot. ...more on Wikipedia
Actors: Charlie Sheen, Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, C. Thomas Howell, + more
Directed by: John Milius
Memphis Belle is a 1990 film directed by Michael Caton-Jones and written by Monte Merrick. The film featured an all-star cast with Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz and Harry Connick Jr. in leading roles. Memphis Belle is a fictionalization of the 1943 documentary Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress by director William Wyler, about the 25th and last mission of an American Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, the Memphis Belle, based in England during WWII. ...more on Wikipedia
Actors: John Lithgow, Sean Astin, Harry Connick, Jr., Billy Zane, + more
Directed by: Michael Caton-Jones
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (released as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) is a 2008 British historical-drama film directed by Mark Heyman, based on the novel by John Boyne. During World War II, the eight-year-old son (Asa Butterfield) of the commandant at a German concentration camp begins a forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy (Jack Scanlon) on the other side of the camp fence, which has startling and unexpected consequences. ...more on Wikipedia
Actors: Asa Butterfield, Jack Scanlon, Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis, Rupert Friend, + more
Directed by: Mark Herman