Braveheart

Mel Gibson

The film is set in the highlands of medieval Scotland, where legendary warrior William Wallace (Mel Gibson) rallies the war weary clans to unite in an uprising against their English overlords. The brutal savagery that runs riot in this historical film portrays the fact that ‘Life without freedom is no life at all’. The story of betrayal, the blood spilt grasslands and the cry for freedom from the oppressed Scotsmen is the core of Braveheart. This sweeping saga is both directed and acted by Mel Gibson in the lead role. A winner of five Academy Awards, including for best picture and director, this blockbuster enthrals.

Saving Private Ryan

Steven Spielberg

When you think of a ‘war’ movie you think of this one in particular. An epic film that describes the exploits of a combat man, it is shot through the eyes of eight men under their captain, John Miller (Tom Hanks) who risk their lives to save one brave man, Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) the sole survivor of four brothers killed in action. The cinematography brings alive war-torn France and World War II battlefields. The visual effects that feature blood, guts and gore are enough to make stomachs churn. The sound of bullets whizzing, and the momentary shell shock leave you breathless. A winner of five Oscars, including for best director, Saving Private Ryan is one of the best war flicks ever made.

Gladiator

Ridley Scott

The most ruthless form of entertainment in ancient Rome was the fight between gladiators at the Colosseum. Gladiator is the story of Roman general, Maximus Decimus (Russell Crowe) who seeks vengeance against the emperor, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) who banished him to a life of slavery. The extensive use of CGI for bringing alive the Roman Empire is remarkable. Joaquin Phoenix received critical acclaim for his portrayal of the villainous emperor, including an Academy Award nomination. A haunting score composed by Hans Zimmer, and performed by Lisa Gerrard, adds to the setting. The film won five Oscars, including for best picture and best actor for Crowe.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Peter Jackson

This is the third and final film in the Lord of the Rings fantasy trilogy and only the third movie ever in the history of film making to garner eleven Oscar awards. Based on renowned author J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, the cast and crew bring forth a fantastic creation of Middle-Earth. The exotic spots and diverse races that exist in the book are brilliantly brought to life on screen. Memorable characters such as the mysterious Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the vicious Gollum (Andy Serkis), the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood) delight the audience with their acting.

The Great Escape

John Sturges

This film tells the tale of airmen who plan their escape from a German POW camp during World War II. Based on a true event, the ‘war’ movie, has a comic story running through it. The rigorous task of building three escape tunnels, forging false identities, acquiring new uniforms and the sacrifices they make to gain freedom, form the plot of the movie.

Those that almost made it

Blood Diamond: Edward Zwick

The Bourne Ultimatum: Paul Greengrass

The Sound of Music: Robert Wise

Forrest Gump: Robert Zemeckis

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Sergio Leone

Ashwin Ivan Jacob is a student of History at Loyola College, Chennai. He enjoys watching films based on war and history.