There have been a lot of wars in history, so there are, of course, a lot of war movies. Some say that every war movie is an anti-war movie, while others see them as a celebration of those who serve. Here's a collection of some based, however loosely, on or within real-life events. For online streaming options, check out the selections on Kanopy and Hoopla.

Compiled by:
Brandon R.
The 9th Company
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Nin

This Russian made film chronicles the real-life Battle for Hill 3234 during Operation Magistral in the Soviet-Afghan War in 1988; a fresh from boot camp, inexperienced Soviet paratrooper company struggles.

Adult Audiovisual DVD - Nin

This World War I film uses its impressive camerawork and staging to follow a single, two-person mission to deliver a message to British commanders of an impending German strategic use of the Hindenburg Line that could stop 1,600 British soldiers from falling into the trap. See also Journey's End; another recent British film from the perspective of British soldiers awaiting a pending, known German offensive.

The Battle of Algiers
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Bat

This influential political docudrama re-creates the Algerian struggle for independence against the occupying French in the mid 1950s. It was shot on the streets of Algiers in a newsreel documentary style using mostly non-professional actors, some of which participated in actual original events. Its focus on the insurgency of the FLN and the brutal, counter-terrorist responses of French paratroopers make this a notable example of urban guerilla warfare dramatized on film.

The Big Red One
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Big

Autobiographical, ensemble WWII film about the Army 1st Infantry Division, of which writer-director Samuel Fuller was a decorated Corporal.

Black Hawk Down
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Bla

Based on the Mark Bowden book, this recreates the 1993 incident of Operation Gothic Serpent Army Rangers dropped into Mogadishu, Somalia to battle local militia who had declared war on United Nations personnel.

Breaker Morant
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Bre

This Australian film centers on one of the first war crime prosecutions within the British military, served in 1902 on Australian soldiers, during the Second Boer War in South Africa.

The Bridge on the River Kwai
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Bri

Based on the Pierre Boulle novel, this David Lean adventure epic was written by uncredited, blacklisted screenwriters Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson (who were eventually given posthumous credit for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar it won in 1958), revolves around British POWs in a Japanese prison camp who are forced to work on the construction of the Burma Railway (against Geneva conventions). While a fictional story, the real-life POWs it is based on were subjected to far harsher conditions than the movie depicts.

A Bridge Too Far
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Bri

This ensemble WWII film depicts Operation Market Garden in September 1944 where Allied forces airdropped into Holland and capture important bridges in the Netherlands to break German supremacy of the area.

City of Life and Death

The first big-budget Chinese film to depict the Japanese Imperial Army's brutal invasion of the Chinese capital of Nanking that killed nearly 300,000 civilians in 1937.

Come and See
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Com

Set during the Nazi occupation of Belarus, this follows a young partisan boy who joins the resistance against his family's wishes. What follows is a harrowing experience of Nazi atrocities filmed with a mix of realism, surrealism, and philosophical viewpoints that depict the harshness of WWII even in the small villages away from the major battlefronts.

Das Boot
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Boo

This West German WWII submarine film that became an international hit in 1981 follows the deadly patrol of a U-96 boat as it challenges the British Navy during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Adult Audiovisual DVD - Com

Portrays the events up to and during Operation Dynamo by land, sea, and air to evacuate the beaches of Dunkirk to save the countless lives of soldiers in WWII otherwise open to impending German annihilation.

Adult Audiovisual DVD - Get

Based on Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels, this American Civil War film follows the struggle of Union and Confederate soldiers during the decisive title Battle.


Edward Zwick
- Director
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Glo

Story of the 54th Massachusetts regiment in the American Civil War, the Union Army's second African-American regiment, from its formation to the Second Battle of Fort Wagner.

The Hurt Locker
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Hur

Follows a Sergeant in command of a U.S. Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit during the Iraq War who is seen by some as reckless in his way of accomplishing his work. Written by journalist Mark Boal who was embedded with soldiers during the conflict. See also Director Kathryn Bigelow and Boal's follow-up film, about the intelligence community hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty.

The Last of the Mohicans
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Las

Set during the French and Indian War, this romantic re-working of the time (and original 1826 novel) features the Siege of Fort William Henry, a British-held installation under attack by the French and indigenous Wyandotte/Huron peoples.

Letters from Iwo Jima
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Let

Clint Eastwood film that depicts WWII's Battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of its Japanese soldiers (mostly in the Japanese language). See also his companion film, from an American perspective; Flags of Our Fathers.

Lone Survivor
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Lon

Based on the book by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the movie is a biographical account of his team's 2005 counter-insurgent mission Operation Red Wings during the war in Afghanistan.

The Longest Day
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Lon

Epic ensemble docudrama, based on the 1959 writing of Cornelius Ryan about the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944. Renowned for employing, and re-enacting the exploits of, many Axis and Allied military consultants that had been actual participants.


Stuart Cooper
- Director
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Ove

Set around Operation Overlord of the D-Day invasion, this British film follows a fictional solider but features real, documentary footage of the London Blitz; about half of the film is archival footage built around contemporary fictional footage shot on old film stock and lenses to best match it all together.

Adult Audiovisual DVD - Pat

Dense, biographic film of General George S. Patton, specifically featuring his WWII campaigns in North Africa and Sicily. General Omar Bradley consulted on the film (a former subordinate, later superior of Patton). See also The Desert Fox; a bio-drama of Patton's contemporary, German General Erwin Rommel.


Oliver Stone
- Director
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Pla

First in a thematic trilogy of Vietnam War films, written and directed by decorated Army veteran Oliver Stone (based on his own experiences as an infantryman). See also Born on the Fourth of July, Heaven & Earth. Also notable for being one of the first to use now-famed military consultant Dale Dye to put its actors through rigorous faux boot camp training before filming. See also Stone's film Salvador, on the Salvadorian Civil War.

Pork Chop Hill
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Por

Portrays the title Battle, during the Korean War, to recapture a Communist Chinese held location despite pending cease-fire negotiations in place. The Hill becomes a political point in the negotiations and the soldiers suffer for it. Supporting actor George Shibata was the first Nisei appointed to West Point, first Asian-American graduate of the United States Military Academy, and was actually a classmate of the the man Gregory Peck's character is based on.

Rescue Dawn
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Res

Dramatization of U.S. Navy fighter pilot Dieter Dengler being shot down in Vietnam and his subsequent capture, imprisonment, torture, and potential escape from a Pathet Lao prison camp. Based on director Werner Herzog's previous documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly.

Saving Private Ryan
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Sav

Steven Spielberg film with a particularly harrowing, extended Omaha Beach sequence of the WWII Invasion of Normandy involving up to 1,500 extras (including actual Irish Reserve Defence Forces). The screenplay was originally inspired by the Niland Brothers.

Sergeant York
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Ser

Patriotic biopic of Alvin C. York, a conscientious objector who became one the most decorated American soldiers in WWI, especially for his actions during the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

The Wind Shakes the Barley

Ken Loach
- Director
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Win

Beginning in 1920 this Irish film chronicles its characters involvement in the Irish War for Independence and subsequent Irish Civil War, choosing to frame its rival interpretations of Irish history as a social revolution more than a nationalist one. See also the much later '71 set during The Troubles.