The best WWII movies ever made

WWII was a pivotal period in history, with countless social, political, and scientific consequences that endure to this day. The six year period has inspired countless films, from older WWII films that laid the foundation for the cinematic format to modern masterpieces that recontextualize and illuminate unknown details of the era.

There is no shortage of options when it comes to excellent movies about WWII, whether you’re looking for award winning classics or hidden gems. These films often explore the timeless theme of good vs. evil, offering viewers a compelling narrative that resonates across generations and making for some of the best movies about WWII. 

The cultural impact

WWII completely transformed the world, remaining one of the most tragic and traumatic events in living memory. Most people begin learning about WWII in middle or high school, but those with a true interest in WWII may find the information included in the general curriculum lacking.

Movies and documentaries are a fantastic way to expand your knowledge about WWII. Films from the 1950s and 1960s offer the perspective of a society rebuilding itself in the wake of a massive conflict, while those made in the 1990s and 2020s may aim to draw parallels and connections between this historic war and other modern day conflicts. 

Other films choose to highlight lesser known figures and events that impacted the war. There are even WWII movies told through the eyes of children navigating the new normal that they must endure until the war comes to an end. No matter what aspect of the war is most interesting to you, there is a movie that discusses it with nuance and detail. 

World War II films frequently adapt historical events for dramatic effect, yet some aim for a strong adherence to factual accuracy. Movies such as Saving Private Ryan and Hacksaw Ridge combine compelling narratives with a precise representation of war’s brutal truth. Films like Dunkirk and Tora! Tora! Tora! deliver accurate depictions of historical occurrences through varied viewpoints, whereas Downfall explores the intricate details of Adolf Hitler’s last days.

Reading your way through the war

While movies offer a visual and emotional exploration of World War II, literature provides another avenue for understanding the complexities of the conflict. Thriller novels set against the backdrop of WWII offer gripping tales of espionage, heroism and sacrifice. 

From the daring exploits of Allied spies to the harrowing experiences of Jewish families trying to survive in Nazi-occupied Europe, these novels transport readers to a time of unparalleled turmoil and courage. Whether you’re a history buff or a casual reader, WWII literature offers a poignant reminder of the human cost of war and the resilience of the human spirit.

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