The Soul of The Great War (WWI)

by stephanieericsson | created - 30 Oct 2015 | updated - 28 Jan 2016 | Public

WWI was a war like no other ever fought in human history. The total number of military and civilian casualties was over 38 million. Right on the heels of it came the 1918 flu pandemic which killed another 50 to 100 million people—between 3-5% of the world's population. Boundaries that had defined empires dissolved and a new map of the world emerged.

You cannot understand WWII without knowing the history of WWI and you certainly cannot understand the world today without knowing the history of both wars. Movies don't have to stick to fact, but many remain very close. More importantly, the human stories give us a sense of what was won and what was lost.

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1. Gallipoli (1981)

PG | 110 min | Adventure, Drama, History

65 Metascore

Two Australian sprinters face the brutal realities of war when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War I.

Director: Peter Weir | Stars: Mel Gibson, Mark Lee, Bill Kerr, Harold Hopkins

Votes: 35,660 | Gross: $5.73M

2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1979 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 150 min | Drama, War

A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I.

Director: Delbert Mann | Stars: Richard Thomas, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Ian Holm

Votes: 7,480

3. Flyboys (2006)

PG-13 | 140 min | Action, Drama, History

47 Metascore

The adventures of the Lafayette Escadrille, young Americans who volunteered for the French military before the U.S. entered World War I, and became the country's first fighter pilots.

Director: Tony Bill | Stars: James Franco, Jean Reno, Jennifer Decker, Scott Hazell

Votes: 40,542 | Gross: $13.08M

4. The Red Baron (2008)

PG-13 | 106 min | Action, Adventure, Biography

German biopic loosely based on the World War I fighter ace Manfred Von Richthofen, nicknamed the Red Baron by friend and foe alike.

Director: Nikolai Müllerschön | Stars: Matthias Schweighöfer, Lena Headey, Til Schweiger, Joseph Fiennes

Votes: 11,467 | Gross: $0.04M

5. The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006)

Not Rated | 127 min | Drama, War

82 Metascore

Against the backdrop of the Irish War of Independence, two brothers fight a guerrilla war against British forces.

Director: Ken Loach | Stars: Cillian Murphy, Pádraic Delaney, Liam Cunningham, Orla Fitzgerald

Votes: 44,817 | Gross: $1.83M

6. Beneath Hill 60 (2010)

R | 122 min | Drama, History, War

In 1916, the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company is tunneling beneath German fortifications and bunkers to detonate massive explosive charges.

Director: Jeremy Sims | Stars: Brendan Cowell, Harrison Gilbertson, Steve Le Marquand, Gyton Grantley

Votes: 7,314

7. Behind the Lines (1997)

R | 96 min | Biography, Drama, History

Based on Pat Barker's novel of the same name, 'Regeneration' tells the story of soldiers of World War One sent to an asylum for emotional troubles. Two of the soldiers meeting there are ... See full summary »

Director: Gillies MacKinnon | Stars: Jonathan Pryce, James Wilby, Jonny Lee Miller, Stuart Bunce

Votes: 2,152 | Gross: $0.02M

8. My Boy Jack (2007 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 95 min | Biography, Drama, History

Author Rudyard Kipling and his wife search for their 18-year-old son after he goes missing during World War I.

Director: Brian Kirk | Stars: David Haig, Daniel Radcliffe, Kim Cattrall, Carey Mulligan

Votes: 5,056

9. Testament of Youth (2014)

PG-13 | 129 min | Biography, Drama, History

76 Metascore

A British woman recalls coming of age during World War I - a story of young love, the futility of war, and how to make sense of the darkest times.

Director: James Kent | Stars: Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Taron Egerton, Dominic West

Votes: 25,505 | Gross: $1.82M

10. Passchendaele (2008)

R | 114 min | Drama, History, Romance

The lives of a troubled veteran, his nurse girlfriend and a naive boy intersect first in Alberta and then in Belgium during the bloody World War I battle of Passchendaele.

Director: Paul Gross | Stars: Paul Gross, Michael Greyeyes, James Kot, Jesse Frechette

Votes: 7,822

11. Anzacs (1985)

165 min | Drama, History, War

Following the lives of a dozen Australian soldiers who served in the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War I which follows them from the 1915 battle of Galipoli, to ... See full summary »

Stars: Andrew Clarke, Paul Hogan, Jon Blake, Megan Williams

Votes: 661

12. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Approved | 228 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

100 Metascore

The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.

Director: David Lean | Stars: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins

Votes: 257,655 | Gross: $44.82M

13. World War 1 in Colour (2003– )

372 min | Documentary, History, War

Documentary using computer colorized footage from World War I to give the audience the feel of how it really looked back during the war.

Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Arthur Barraclough, Arthur Halestrap, Harry Patch

Votes: 703

14. The Water Diviner (2014)

R | 111 min | Drama, History, War

50 Metascore

An Australian man travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli to try and locate his three missing sons.

Director: Russell Crowe | Stars: Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Isabel Lucas

Votes: 69,623 | Gross: $4.19M

15. Birdsong (2012)

165 min | Drama, History, Romance

As an English soldier fights in the horrific trenches of northern France, he is haunted by the memories of his forbidden love affair with a French woman.

Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Clémence Poésy, Matthew Goode, Rory Keenan

Votes: 5,306

16. Battle Ground (2013)

R | 95 min | Action, Drama, War

Three British soldiers find themselves stranded in No Man's Land after a failed charge on the German Trenches. Set in France 1916.

Directors: Johan Earl, Adrian Powers | Stars: Johan Earl, Tim Pocock, Martin Copping, Denai Gracie

Votes: 1,861

17. War Horse (2011)

PG-13 | 146 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

72 Metascore

Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert's hopeful journey takes him out of England and to the front lines as the war rages on.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch

Votes: 142,769 | Gross: $79.88M

18. Churchill's First World War (2013 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 90 min | Drama

As a young Winston Churchill masterminds British involvement in the First World War, his wife Clementine serves to temper his enthusiasm for war lust and lays the groundwork for molding the future statesman.

Director: Adam Kemp | Stars: H.H. Asquith, Clementine Churchill, Winston Churchill, John Fisher

Votes: 81

19. The First World War (2003)

500 min | Documentary, History, War

A comprehensive survey of the history of World War I.

Stars: Jonathan Lewis, Voja Tankosic, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Andrée Bernard

Votes: 1,167

20. Voices of the First World War (2014)

100 min | Documentary, History, War

From the beginning to the end, this is what happened during WW1. Told by genuine oral testimony recorded and saved by the Imperial War Museum. Presented as a complete history of the large ... See full summary »

Directors: Joseph Murphy, Rebecca Thompson | Star: Paul von Hindenburg

Votes: 6

21. Renoir (2012)

R | 111 min | Biography, Drama, History

64 Metascore

Set on the French Riviera in the summer of 1915, Jean Renoir -- son of the Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste -- returns home to convalesce after being wounded in World War I. At his ... See full summary »

Director: Gilles Bourdos | Stars: Michel Bouquet, Christa Théret, Vincent Rottiers, Thomas Doret

Votes: 5,097 | Gross: $2.29M

22. Medal of Honor (2009)

104 min | Comedy, Drama

Accidentally receiving a Romanian Medal of Honor, a 75-years-old retiree uses it to regain respect from his family.

Director: Cãlin Peter Netzer | Stars: Victor Rebengiuc, Camelia Zorlescu, Mimi Branescu, Florina Fernandes

Votes: 790

23. Blood and Oil: The Middle East in World War I (2006 Video)

Not Rated | 112 min | Documentary, History, War

Marty Callaghan's Synopsis: Except for the Dardanelles/Gallipoli campaigns, the extensive combat operations in the Middle East during World War I have been largely overlooked in documentary... See full summary »

Director: Marty Callaghan

Votes: 134

24. A Farewell to Arms (1932)

Unrated | 80 min | Drama, Romance, War

An American ambulance driver and an English nurse fall in love in Italy during World War I.

Director: Frank Borzage | Stars: Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou, Mary Philips

Votes: 4,844

25. 1918 (1985)

Not Rated | 94 min | Drama

It's 1918, the height of United States involvement in World War I - Liberty Bonds are sold, German immigrants are suspected as traitors or saboteurs, young men everywhere succumb to the ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Harrison | Stars: William Converse-Roberts, Hallie Foote, Matthew Broderick, Rochelle Oliver

Votes: 322

26. Paths of Glory (1957)

Approved | 88 min | Drama, War

After refusing to attack an enemy position, a general accuses the soldiers of cowardice and their commanding officer must defend them.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready

Votes: 169,407

27. The Blue Max (1966)

Approved | 156 min | Action, Drama, Romance

A young pilot in the German air force of 1918, disliked as lower-class and unchivalrous, tries ambitiously to earn the medal offered for 20 kills.

Director: John Guillermin | Stars: George Peppard, James Mason, Ursula Andress, Jeremy Kemp

Votes: 6,144

28. La Grande Illusion (1937)

Not Rated | 113 min | Drama, War

During WWI, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are eventually sent to a seemingly inescapable fortress.

Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim

Votes: 32,792 | Gross: $0.17M

29. Max (I) (2002)

R | 106 min | Drama, War

56 Metascore

A film studying the depiction of a friendship between an art dealer named Rothman and his student, Adolf Hitler.

Director: Menno Meyjes | Stars: John Cusack, Noah Taylor, Leelee Sobieski, Molly Parker

Votes: 6,855 | Gross: $0.53M

30. An Accidental Soldier (2013 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 92 min | Drama

Based on the novel, Silent Parts, by John Charalambous, An Accidental Soldier is about an Australian soldier who flees the carnage of the Western Front and finds refuge with a French woman ... See full summary »

Director: Rachel Ward | Stars: Marie Bunel, Dan Spielman, Julia Zemiro, Bryan Brown

Votes: 274

31. The Lark Farm (2007)

Not Rated | 122 min | Drama, History

A stirring and stunning story of an aristocratic family who is unexpectedly swept into the ravages of World War I and a forbidden passion that may be the family's only hope.

Directors: Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani | Stars: Paz Vega, Moritz Bleibtreu, Alessandro Preziosi, Ángela Molina

Votes: 2,025

32. Fraulein Doktor (1969)

M | 104 min | Drama, History, Romance

During the First World War, a female German spy Fraulein Doktor and her team of saboteurs plan to kill Lord Kitchener, obtain the Allied defense plans and steal the new French mustard gas formula.

Director: Alberto Lattuada | Stars: Suzy Kendall, Kenneth More, Nigel Green, Alexander Knox

Votes: 381

33. Life and Nothing But (1989)

PG | 135 min | Drama, War

Intense character study of men and women driven by an overpowering obsession with the past.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier | Stars: Philippe Noiret, Sabine Azéma, Pascale Vignal, Maurice Barrier

Votes: 1,495 | Gross: $0.43M

34. The Wipers Times (2013 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 92 min | War

Just after World War I, Captain Fred Roberts (Ben Chaplin) goes for a job as a newspaper journalist and tells the sub-editor how, in the trenches in 1916, he discovered a printing press in ... See full summary »

Director: Andy De Emmony | Stars: Ben Chaplin, Patrick FitzSymons, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Steve Oram

Votes: 1,041

35. Parade's End (2012)

TV-MA | 287 min | Action, Drama, Romance

Revolves around a love triangle between a conservative English aristocrat, his mean socialite wife and a young suffragette.

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall, Roger Allam, Adelaide Clemens

Votes: 9,217

36. Our World War (2014– )

Not Rated | Action, Drama, War

Three true stories of British soldiers fighting in World War 1. Each one takes place at a different time and place in the war, focuses on a different unit and shows a different aspect to the war.

Stars: Nicki Vickery, Rob Townsend, Gerard Kearns, Ross Armstrong

Votes: 1,581

37. 37 Days (2014– )

60 min | History

A TV mini-series that unveils the behind-closed-doors story of the final weeks before the outbreak of World War I.

Stars: Ian McDiarmid, Nicholas Farrell, Tim Pigott-Smith, Sinéad Cusack

Votes: 1,290

38. Great War Diaries (2014– )

Biography, War

Dramdocumentary based on letters and journals, many of which have never been published before, this tells the story of 1914-18 solely through the eyes of those who lived through it. ... See full summary »

Stars: Eva-Marie Becker, Varij Ekelund

Votes: 137

39. The Passing Bells (2014)

TV-14 | Drama, War

An epic historical drama spanning the five years of the First World War, as seen through the eyes of two ordinary young soldiers.

Stars: Patrick Gibson, Jack Lowden, Ben McGregor, Matthew Aubrey

Votes: 974



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