War is hell. It’s brutal and bloody. It destroys lives, countries, cultures. It shapes our past, our present, our future. And that is why it continues to be the fascination of filmmakers and movie-goers alike. Stories about war reveal the true nature of humanity in its darkest times.
And just because these are dramas often dealing with the military—telling stories of brave soldiers and great victories—these aren’t always flag-waving patriotic films. A war movie can be deeply pacifist, it can be revolutionary, it can be critical of our leaders who bring us into conflict.
Below we run down the 20 greatest war movies ever made. It includes some of the classics along with a few non-traditional choices to widen your expectations of what a war movie can be and do.
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