November 6, 2014 9:10 am
Updated: November 6, 2014 9:21 am

Lest we forget: 5 essential war movies

A scene from 'Saving Private Ryan.'


TORONTO — War and the horrors of combat have long been depicted by Hollywood.

Some of the most iconic films are those that focus on battles, either real or fictitious — from Apocalypse Now and Platoon to The Hurt Locker and Black Hawk Down.

In honour of Remembrance Day, here are 5 essential war movies worth seeing.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

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Directed by Steven Spielberg, this story about the search for a paratrooper (Matt Damon) is set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. Nominated for Best Picture, it won five other Oscars — and remains notable for its graphic 27-minute opening sequence. Watch for Canadian actors Barry Pepper and Nathan Fillion.

Flags of Our Fathers (2006)

Clint Eastwood’s film tells the story of the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima and the five marines and one navy corspman who raised the flag in the iconic photograph. Co-written by Canada’s Paul Haggis, the movie stars Canadian actors Adam Beach and Barry Pepper.

The Longest Day (1962)

This epic war movie has five directors and stars Canada’s Paul Anka as well as actors like Sean Connery, Peter Lawford, Roddy McDowall and John Wayne. The story of the events of D-Day, told from both the Allied and German points of view, won Oscars for cinematography and special effects (and was nominated for Best Picture). The movie glosses over the Canadian army’s landing on Juno Beach — it’s mentioned but not depicted.

Passchendale (2008)

Canadian actor Paul Gross directed and wrote this war story, in which he also stars. Shot in Alberta and Belgium, it is a love story centred around the World War I battle of Passchendaele. Starring homegrown talent like Joe Dinicol, Landon Liboiron and Gil Bellows, the movie didn’t fare too well at the box office but earned five Genie Awards, including Best Picture.

The Devil’s Brigade (1968)

William Holden and Cliff Robertson star in this story of an elite fighting unit made up of Canadian soldiers and U.S. Army misfits who trained in Montana prior to being sent to Italy to fight in World War II. The titular brigade is based on the real-life Black Devils, who suffered a 39 per cent casualty rate.

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