Prison escapes are brief and unglamorous, espionage is gruelling and perilous and emotions, speeches and friendships remain suppressed at all times. A cold, meticulous drama about the pressures of propping an entire country on your shoulders.
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A story of mistaken identities, backstage hi-jinks and theatrical misunderstandings set in occupied Poland, the film is genuinely funny. But if you actually stop to think about it, you may start screaming. Maybe the most flat-out enjoyable WWII film of them all, this bank holiday classic continues to win fans, inform ad campaigns and drown out England football matches every time an impromptu rendition of its impossibly chipper theme tune sounds. I love that film. Buy, rent or watch 'The Great Escape'. Saul is a member of the Sonderkommando, the Jewish concentration camp prisoners tasked with dealing with the bodies of those murdered in the gas chambers.
Buy, rent or watch 'Son of Saul'.
The place is a wreck. Sadly for these guests, history was about to gatecrash. Buy, rent or watch 'Downfall'. By the early s, the bloom was off the war — WWII movies no longer needed to focus exclusively on square-jawed men nobly battling fascism. Heck, they might even suggest that the conflict took a toll on both sides. Dreamlike and devastating, this was a new kind of war movie. Buy, rent or watch 'Ivan's Childhood'. Those directors had personal experience with the Nazis, and obviously they had to be worried about their loved ones back home.
Buy, rent or watch 'Hangmen Also Die! Buy, rent or watch 'From Here to Eternity'. Ten years after the liberation of the concentration camps, Alain Resnais made this mournful minute documentary that offers as clear-sighted and painful an insight into the National Socialist mindset as any film before or since. Austerely constructed, the film simply juxtaposes German newsreel and films shot by the Allies as they liberated the camps with newly filmed shots of disused railway sidings, empty fields and husks of buildings where thousands lost their lives.
The former, co-directed with Stewart McAllister, is more sedate, a sort of Radio 4 with pictures, all twittering songbirds and the smack of leather on willow. It was just a different breed of man. Buy, rent or watch 'The Dirty Dozen'. Spaghetti realism The wounds of European conflict and Nazi occupation were still tender in Rome in late , which chimed with the documentary instincts of Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini.
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Needless to say, the brutality of the occupying regime is presented with a shocking frankness, not only its indifference to class, age, gender and religion, but its total lack of logical purpose. Rossellini shot the film using leftover celluloid from other movies, which not only lent it a gritty newsreel aesthetic, but a real sense of urgency and anguish. Buy, rent or watch 'Rome, Open City'. I saw it the day it opened. I guess it went over my head, but I learned to appreciate it later. Buy, rent or watch 'Cross of Iron'.
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Left with no other option they take refuge in the sewers, where one by one they succumb to malnutrition, madness and death. Watch them closely in the remaining hours of their lives. Buy, rent or watch 'Kanal'. Buy, rent or watch 'Schindler's List'. Roger Ebert rightly named it the one of the greatest war movies ever made: once seen, it will never be forgotten. Buy, rent or watch 'Grave of the Fireflies'. Buy, rent or watch 'The Big Red One'. In the hands of just about any other filmmaking team this would probably have resulted in something fairly traditional: a lads-together-behind-enemy-lines actioner, perhaps.
But in the hands of the most imaginative filmmakers this country has ever produced, such a straightforward narrative was unlikely. Buy, rent or watch 'A Matter of Life and Death'.
The Task of Winning the War
The story — of young lovers torn apart and dragged where the currents of war pull them — bucked the prevailing trend towards willing sacrifice and noble collective spirit. Buy, rent or watch 'Dunkirk'. Buy, rent or watch 'Went the Day Well?
The film is a masterclass in economical, tight-space storytelling, piling the pressure on both characters and audience until the sprockets squeak. His subjects range from Jewish concentration camp survivors to former Nazi guards. This is sweeping oral testimony as conducted by a filmmaker who is ever-present in his film, bespectacled and smoking, pushing for detail and honesty above emotion and inexactitude.
What emerges is an unprecedented form for an unprecedented tragedy. Buy, rent or watch 'Shoah First Era '.
Buy, rent or watch 'Shoah Second Era '. The fundamental things apply Is there anything left to say about this Hollywood melodrama? Of course, ivories are tinkled and old flames rekindled, with Bergman and Bogie as the quintessential doomed couple. Buy, rent or watch 'Casablanca'. So it was no surprise that on his return to filmmaking the Hollywood elite would line up to volunteer. Malick paints the disputed island as a lost Eden, the two opposing armies as insignificant in the face of eternal nature. The soldiers are viewed as individuals, questing souls on their own ultimately destructive spiritual journeys, but also as mere facets of the natural world, no more important than the plants, birds and insects that surround them.
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Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon! Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long The best World War II movies: Quentin Tarantino kicks things off with a riveting obscurity Quentin Tarantino says PF Buy, rent or watch 'Escape to Victory'. Read more. PDS Buy, rent or watch 'Stalingrad'. TH Buy, rent or watch 'The Keep'. TH Buy, rent or watch 'Days of Glory'. Tinkling the ivories Roman Polanski kicked off the twenty-first century with a sophisticated, Oscar-winning WWII survival drama which not only offered an authentic depiction of the Warsaw ghetto, but proved that — controversy aside — the director could still deliver when it mattered.
DJ Buy, rent or watch 'The Pianist'.
TH Buy, rent or watch 'Black Book'. TH Buy, rent or watch 'Kelly's Heroes'.