Ever since the beginning of human history, our species has been skilled in two different activities: war and communication. Whatever your opinion about the statement is irrelevant because it is the truth. The Word of God speaks of wars between kings during the time of Abraham. Heck, the first two recorded siblings ended up with one brother killing the other. So, it is safe to say that one of the oldest traditions is that of the war story. The oldest known text outside of the Bible is The Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem about a mighty warrior king, Gilgamesh, who fights impossible creatures and overcomes enormous odds in the search for eternal life. Every culture has had their epics: Beowulf from the Anglo-Saxons, the Iliad from the Greeks, the Ramayana from the Indians, The Aeneid from the Romans, and the list goes on forever. We have carried on this tradition today in the form of the war film. These films can be big business if done right because of modern public’s fascination with stories of courage and commitment similar to how the ancients wanted to be entertained.
The film that inspired this list, American Sniper carrying on the age old tradition of war storytelling, is certainly receiving a lot of good and bad press. Many critics feel that its black and white view of Operation Iraqi Freedom does not belong in a recounting of the War in Iraq. I totally disagree, however, and I think the best war movies are either black and white or filmed with possibly a hint of gray in them. I said before in a previous post: We are the good guys! And that is how I like my movies where my values are the values of the good guys. Now, that we have gone somewhat deep with history and political discourse, let’s get to the list and lighten things up a little. One thing to note is that I have not seen every war film and there will probably be some films missed. For example, I have never seen Bridge on the River Kwai which is considered by many to be the greatest war film ever made; though, because of my lack of viewership, it will not be on this list.
Additionally, I want to note with my audience being mostly Christian, many of these movies contain a lot of violence and a lot of vulgar language and behavior. So, please watch at your risk if you are not a big fan of vulgarity and violence.
15. The Great Raid
First on the list of war movies is a little seen film from 2005 which is a travesty because it is based upon one of the United States’ greatest military triumphs. The Great Raid tells the story of the Raid at Cabanatuan in which U.S. Army rangers and Filipino Guerillas rescued 500 POWs from a Japanese camp near Cabanatuan City in the Philippines.
The film itself follows a few different subplots covering events inside the camp, Japanese oppression in Manila, and the story of the Rangers and Filipinos leading up to the raid. All of the subplots are interesting and one of the greatest parts of the film is the attention it paid to the role Filipinos played in all of the events in Manila and during the Raid. While the American rangers rushed the camp, Filipino guerillas fought the Japanese at an encampment on the Cabu River. Attention was given to each of these aspects of the raid which is a welcome departure from many other films that tend to westernize indigenous efforts.
I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to celebrate a real story of triumph from one of the darkest periods of the 20th century.