Ten of the Best War Movies Based on True Stories | Wealth of Geeks (2023)

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Some of the finest movies are based on actual events. People like true stories because they feel like they live vicariously through the big screen characters. They can immerse themselves in the story and feel all the emotions that come with it.

Watching war movies based on true stories opens our eyes to past tragedies and victories. Something about the action, suspense, and drama hook us in,like a good book.

We have compiled a list of the ten best war movies based on true stories that will keep you entertained.

The Best War Movies Based on True Stories List

  1. Platoon
  2. Saving Private Ryan
  3. Full Metal Jacket
  4. Black Hawk Down
  5. The Pianist
  6. We Were Soldiers
  7. Letters from Iwo Jima
  8. American Sniper
  9. Hacksaw Ridge
  10. Dunkirk

1. Platoon (1986)

IMDb Rating:8.1/10 stars

Running time:2h

Director:Oliver Stone

Writer:Oliver Stone

Stars:Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe

Platoonis a 1986 American war movie widely praised for its accurate representation of the war. Informed by director Oliver Stone's own experiences in Vietnam, Charlie Sheen and Willem Dafoe give standout performances as two men torn between duty and bloodshed.

The film tells the story of Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen), a young American who is drafted into the Vietnam War. He arrives in Vietnam and is thrust into the middle of the action. However, he soon realizes that the war is not what he expected it to be.

The animosity between Chris's two sergeants quickly develops into a battle among their soldiers as well as against the enemy.

All the actors had to complete a two-week basic training in the Philippines before filming began. Stone's goal was not for them to become closer and operate as a unit; instead, it was to deprive them of sleep and make them exhausted so that they would be burnt out and thus in character. Three cast members in the film were actual Vietnam war veterans.

2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

IMDb Rating:8.6/10 stars

Running time:2h 49 min

Director:Steven Spielberg

Writer:Robert Rodat

Stars:Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore

Saving Private Ryanis a war movieinspired by actual events. Set during the Second World War, the film follows a group of soldiers sent on a mission to save one man – Private Ryan. Ryan is the last of his four brothers to be still alive and fighting in the war, and they want to bring him home.

The film depicts the real-life brutality that occurred around the time of the Normandy Landings on June 6, 1944. It is inspired by actual footagefrom the 1940s,modeled by modern camera lenses.

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The movie is based on the Niland brothers, who served in the U.S. army when three of the four were thought to be killed in action. Fortunately, one was found escaping a Japanese prison camp, so two of the brothers actually survived the war.

3. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

IMDb Rating:8.3/10 stars

Running time:1h 56m

Director:Stanley Kubrick

Writer:Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr, Gustav Hasford

Stars:Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D'Onofrio

Full Metal Jacketis based on “The Short Timers,” a semi-autobiographical novel by Gustav Hasford. Hasford used his real-life experiences in Vietnam to write the story and help in its film adoption. The book was so brutally macabre that its third and final section never made it to the screen.

A war drama movie set during the Vietnam War, this partially true story follows a group of U.S. Marines going through rigorous training and then fighting in the war.

The film creates a realistic picture of the Vietnam War and how it affected the soldiers who fought in it. It includes several fictitious characters who encounter difficult circumstances and moral dilemmas.

The film combines the book'sthought-provoking languageand emotional aspects to produce a unique, visually compelling portrayal of the war.

4. Black Hawk Down (2001)

IMDb Rating:7.7/10 stars

Running time:2h 24m

Director:Ridley Scott

Writer:Mark Bowden, Ken Nolan

Stars:Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore

Black Hawk Downis a 2001 war film based on the 1999 non-fiction book of the same name by Mark Bowden. The movie tells the story of the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia during the U.S. military raid on October 3, 1993.

The book and film recount the events of a raid by 160 United States Rangers and Delta Force on a Somalian compound in the capital Mogadishu to capture two lieutenants of warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, who had proclaimed himself president.

The raid turned into a disastrous 15-hour battle that resulted in the deaths of 18 Americans and hundreds of Somalis.

Actual footage demonstrates that the film accurately depicted the events in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. Real militia and U.S. rangers shed light on the conflict when Aidid ruled Somalia.

5. The Pianist (2002)

IMDb Rating:8.5/10 stars

Running time:2h 30m

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Director:Roman Polanski

Writer:Ronald Harwood, Wladyslaw Szpilman

Stars:Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finlay

The Pianistis a war film based on the true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew who was a renowned pianist. The film follows his struggles during the Nazi occupation of Poland and how he managed to survive the Holocaust.

Szpilman hid for two years in Warsaw and was even helped by a German officer who rejected the Nazi policies. The film is a harrowing tale of survival and human nature.

Adrien Brody, the actor who played the pianist, suffered from depression, or what he described as “mourning,” for a year after filming the disturbing events of the movie.

6. We Were Soldiers (2002)

IMDb Rating:7.1/10 stars

Running time:2h 18m

Director:Randall Wallace

Writer:Harold G. Moore, Joseph Lee Galloway, and Randall Wallace

Stars:Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear

We Were Soldiersis a war movie that follows the Battle of Ia Drang in 1965, the first significant engagement between the United States Army and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN).

While some details were changed for the film, it is still said to best capture the realism of the Vietnam war. Even some of the actors cast were members of the North Vietnamese army, which must have brought back some intense memories.

We Were Soldiersfollows Lieutenant Colonel Hal Moore (played by Mel Gibson) and the bloody battle between the U.S. and North Vietnamese soldiers. The movie is an emotional rollercoaster, depicting the horrors of war and the bond between soldiers.

7. Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)

IMDb Rating:7.9/10 stars

Running time:2h 21m

Director:Clint Eastwood

Writer:Iris Yamashita, Paul Haggis, Tadamichi Kuribayashi

Stars:Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuoyoshi Ihara

The movieLetters from Iwo Jimareveals the true story behind Japanese troops who fought the United States during the Second World War.

It is inspired by Kumiko Kakehashi's book of the same name, which contains actual letters sent home by the Japanese troops. The movie follows the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the Japanese soldiers.

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At the heart of the story is the maverick general Tadamichi Kuriyabashi (Ken Watanabe), a brilliant commander with extraordinary military skills and a devoted family man. He knew that the soldiers had no chance of survival.

The general was unique because he liked America and disagreed with going to war against them. He did everything in his power to delay the American troops from their attack.

Clint Eastwood also directed the movie Flag of Our Fathers, which tells the U.S. side of the story.

8. American Sniper (2014)

IMDb Rating:7.3/10 stars

Running time:2h 13m

Director:Clint Eastwood

Writer:Jason Hall, Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen

Stars:Bradley Cooper,Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner

American Sniperis an action drama that follows the story of Chris Kyle, played byBradley Cooper, who is considered the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history.

The film depicts his time as a Navy SEAL during the Iraq War and how he became known as “the Legend.” It also shows the toll war takes on a person and how it can affect their family and friends.

The film stays true to the relationship between Chris Kyle and his wife Taya (played by Sienna Miller) and the strains the war caused on their relationship.

9. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

IMDb Rating:8.1/10 stars

Running time:2h 19m

Director:Mel Gibson

Writer:Robert Schenkkan, Andrew Knight

Stars:Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey

Hacksaw Ridgeis a true story set during World War II. The movie follows the story of Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield, who vowed never to use violence again when he almost killed his brother in his youth. He becomes a medic in the army and is sent to the Battle of Okinawa.

Most of the movie was historically accurate, including Doss's objection to carrying a weapon and his heroic acts in saving the lives of others. Although he is a pacifist, Doss manages to save the lives of around 75 soldiers during the battle. He was even awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

The movie does an excellent job of depicting the horrors of war and how one man can make a difference.

10. Dunkirk (2017)

IMDb Rating:7.8/10 stars

Running time:1h 46m

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Director:Christopher Nolan

Writer:Christopher Nolan

Stars:Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance

Dunkirkis a war movie based on the Dunkirk evacuation during World War II. The film follows the story of stranded allied soldiers at the French beach of Dunkirk and how a fleet of civilian boats evacuated them.

Dunkirk veterans described the battle of Dunkirk as “hell on Earth” as German warplanes attacked the trapped soldiers every half hour with waves of ME109s and Stuka 87s. The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, occurred between May 27 and June 4, 1940. More than 330,000 French, British, Belgian, and Dutch soldiers were safelywelcomed on board.

The film was as historically accurate as the budget would allow. The city of Dunkirk gave its permission to use the beach where the real-life event occurred. A few living veterans of Dunkirk commended the film for its accuracy.

In Conclusion

Movies based on true stories provide an interesting perspective of horrific events that occurred in the past. They also offer viewers a chance to learn more about history. These factual movies are educational, entertaining, and frequently heart-wrenching.

The ten movies mentioned are just a few of the many excellent war movies based on true stories. Which movies have you seen?

More Articles From the Wealth of Geeks Network:

This article was produced byC Nationand syndicated byWealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Courtesy of Pexels.


Caitriona Maria

Website | + posts

Caitriona is a private language tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. Caitriona has been teaching the English language since 2016. She has taught in schools in Spain and the U.K., and she currently teaches online. On her blog, you will find tons of English language articles, worksheets, resources, tips, and advice for learners and teachers.

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FAQs

What movie depicts war the best? ›

The 15 best war movies of all time, ranked
  • Full Metal Jacket (1987) 76 % ...
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  • Saving Private Ryan (1998) 91 % 8.6/10. ...
  • Apocalypse Now (1979) 94 % 8.5/10.
25 Oct 2022

What is the most realistic Civil war movie? ›

The Red Badge of Courage (1951), directed by John Huston and starring Audie Murphy, is one of the most serious and realistic films about the Civil War.

What is statistically the best movie ever? ›

Statistically Greatest Films of all Time (according to 15...
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What movie has the most realistic battle scenes? ›

Real battles aren't entertaining. And while many movies show realistic detail, not many show realistic battles, which are not the same as trench life and localized ambushes and skirmishes and firefights. Probably the most realistic battle scenes are in Sergei Bondarchuk's seven-hour version of War and Peace (1968).

Which movie has best battle scene? ›

Let's look at some of the best movies and television have to offer.
  • Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Battle of the Hornburg. ...
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  • 300 - First Battle Scene. ...
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  • The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies.

How many war movies have won Best Picture? ›

In the over 90-year history of the Academy Awards, 16 war movies have won Best Picture at the Oscars.

What movie has the most realistic sword fights? ›

Rob Roy (1995)

The final sword fight between Neeson and Roth became an instant classic. It is done with no music and shot mostly from wide angles. Roth and Neeson go all in. The swords look heavy and the two men tire during the long and fierce battle that has become one of the most realistic in movie history.

What movie has the most realistic gun sounds? ›

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  • Lone Survivor. ...
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  • Lone Survivor, Slide Lock.

What is considered the most realistic Vietnam war movie? ›

Platoon (1986)

This "best war movie" is often mentioned by Vietnam veterans of one of the most accurate depictions of the war, thanks in no small part to its Vietnam veteran director, Oliver Stone.

What was the most peaceful country in ww2? ›

Switzerland. Switzerland – As in World War I, Switzerland maintained its historic neutrality.

Who is the best soldier of ww2? ›

Audie Leon Murphy (20 June 1925 – 28 May 1971) was an American soldier, actor and songwriter. He was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II. He received every military combat award for valor available from the United States Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism.

Who has the most kills in ww2? ›

While serving in Germany's Luftwaffe in World War II, Erich Hartmann flew more than 1,400 missions in the Messerschmitt Bf 109, enabling him to score an astonishing 352 kills.

What movie has a 100% rating? ›

To date, Leave No Trace holds the site's record, with a rating of 100% and 251 positive reviews.

What is the greatest movie ending of all time? ›

Best Movie Endings of All Time, Ranked
  • 8/10 The Notebook.
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Is Saving Private Ryan a True Story? ›

While the characters are fictitious, many of its events are inspired by actual historical records. Screenwriter Robert Rodat was first inspired to craft the narrative upon reading Stephen Ambrose's nonfiction retrospective D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II.

Is Fury a True Story? ›

While the storyline is fictional, the depiction of Fury and its commander Wardaddy parallels the experience of several real Allied tankers, such as the American tank commander Staff Sergeant Lafayette G.

What is it called when movies are based on true stories? ›

Because the figures portrayed are actual people, whose actions and characteristics are known to the public (or at least historically documented), biopic roles are considered some of the most demanding of actors and actresses.

What is the greatest fight scene of all time? ›

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What was the scariest battle in history? ›

The Most Deadly Battle In History: Stalingrad

Running from August 23, 1942 to February 2, 1943, Stalingrad led to 633,000 battle deaths. Furthermore, Clodfelter points out that this does not even include deaths sustained by Italian, Romanian and Hungarian troops on the flanks of the battlefront.

What is the most decorated film of all time? ›

As of October 2022, three films tied for most Academy Award wins of all time. "Ben-Hur" (1959), "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003), and "Titanic" (1997) each received 11 Oscars. The musical with the most Oscar wins was "West Side Story" (1961), with ten trophies.

What war movie won an Oscar? ›

'All Quiet on the Western Front' (1930)

Besides the top prize, its only other Oscar win was for Director (Lewis Milestone). Its two losses were for Cinematography and Screenplay.

What two silent films have won Best Picture? ›

Wings was the only silent film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. Wings also won the Academy Award for Engineering Effects.

Who was the greatest sword fighter of all time? ›

1. Miyamoto Musashi—Japan's Sword Saint. The life of Japanese samurai Miyamoto Musashi is obscured by myth and legend, but this “sword saint” reportedly survived 60 duels—the first of which was fought when he was just 13 years old.

Who is the most skilled swordsman in fiction? ›

Who is the best fictional swordsman? The best swordsmen are Athos, Porthos and Aramis as well as their sidekick D'Artagnan from “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas first published in 1844.

Who made the best sword ever? ›

Gorō Nyūdō Masamune (五郎入道正宗, Priest Gorō Masamune, c. 1264–1343), was a medieval Japanese blacksmith widely acclaimed as Japan's greatest swordsmith. He created swords and daggers, known in Japanese as tachi and tantō, in the Sōshū school.

What is the most famous movie weapon? ›

The lightsaber from Star Wars is one of the most iconic weapons in all of fiction. The blade is made of plasma, capable of cutting through nearly anything, and wielded by the Jedi Knights and their adversaries in the Sith.

What movie used the most bullets? ›

The Gauntlet(released Dec/77-geesh,has it been THAT long?) stars good old Clint Eastwood and his real life lover of the day Sandra Locke,in this ultra shoot 'em up,which unofficially has to hold some record for the number of shots fired in one movie....

What is the quietest gun ever? ›

The De Lisle carbine or De Lisle Commando carbine was a British firearm used during World War II that was designed with an integrated suppressor. That, combined with its use of subsonic ammunition, made it extremely quiet in action, possibly one of the quietest firearms ever made.

What was the most feared unit in the Vietnam War? ›

Tiger Force (Recon) 1-327th was a highly decorated small unit in Vietnam, and paid for its reputation with heavy casualties. In October 1968, Tiger Force's parent battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation by President Lyndon B.

What was the most feared army in the Vietnam War? ›

What was the most feared army in the Vietnam War? ROK Army. The VC knew that the ROKs meant what they said. If they took fire from a village….

What was the toughest battle in Vietnam? ›

The 1968 Battle of Khe Sanh was the longest, deadliest and most controversial of the Vietnam War, pitting the U.S. Marines and their allies against the North Vietnamese Army.

Is 1917 an accurate depiction of ww1? ›

Is 1917 based on a true story? In short: Yes, but with extensive dramatic license, particularly in terms of the characters and the specific mission at the heart of the film.

Is 1917 an accurate depiction of war? ›

1917 also depicts several black soldiers among the British forces, which is also historically accurate. Around 15,000 soldiers from the West Indies enlisted for services, including men from Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago (Mendes' grandfather was from Trinidad).

Is Jarhead the most realistic war movie? ›

Jarhead is one of the most accurate war movies to date. Here's the true story behind it's accuracy to Anthony Swofford's book and the Gulf War. Jarhead, based on the book Jarhead by Anthony Swofford, is considered one of the most accurate war movies to date.

What was the nickname for US soldiers in World War 1? ›

Indelibly tied to Americans, “Doughboys” became the most enduring nickname for the troops of General John Pershing's American Expeditionary Forces, who traversed the Atlantic to join war weary Allied armies fighting on the Western Front in World War I.

Why 1917 is a masterpiece? ›

Sam Mendes' 1917 is a masterpiece. It is a fantastically directed, gorgeously shot and beautifully acted cinematic experience that truly immerses the audience in the horrors of war. It combines the technical brilliance of Nolan's Dunkirk with the emotional weight of Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan.

Is Passchendaele a true story? ›

This film was inspired by Gross's relationship with his maternal grandfather, Michael Joseph Dunne, who served in the 56th, 5th, 14th and 23rd Reserve Battalions, CEF, in the First World War. Like many veterans, he was reticent about sharing his experiences with his family.

Is Saving Private Ryan a true story? ›

While the characters are fictitious, many of its events are inspired by actual historical records. Screenwriter Robert Rodat was first inspired to craft the narrative upon reading Stephen Ambrose's nonfiction retrospective D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II.

Is the movie 917 based on a true story? ›

While Alfred Mendes' true story helped to give birth to his grandson's idea for the 1917 movie, whose official synopsis reads, "In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers," it seems that much of the film's story has been imagined.

Is Dunkirk based on a true story? ›

Although some events are based on true history, the characters and the storyline are fictional; Branagh's role is a composite character. When the beach scenes were shot, the weather was worse than during the real evacuation; Nolan explained that this helped to understand the danger faced by the pleasure boats.

What is considered the most realistic Vietnam War movie? ›

Platoon (1986)

This "best war movie" is often mentioned by Vietnam veterans of one of the most accurate depictions of the war, thanks in no small part to its Vietnam veteran director, Oliver Stone.

Is Full Metal Jacket training realistic? ›

The filming and editing take the place of plot and character, creating a stark, but effective Vietnam War narrative. Full Metal Jacket calls attention to realism as a convention; that it is a representation rather than a reality. Open acknowledgement of its "fakeness" is the key to its believability.

Is Full Metal Jacket drill sergeant accurate? ›

'Full Metal Jacket'

The entire film is great, but the representation of Marines in the first act of the film is (mostly) accurate. This can be attributed to the legendary R. Lee Ermey. He was actually a drill instructor and Stanley Kubrick was dedicated to making everything as authentic as possible.

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