War movies aren’t much more dramatic than Steven Spielberg’s classic, Saving Private Ryan, but we have suggestions for films with similar themes.
Many films have been set during World War II, but one that stands over the rest is Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.
The film features Tom Hanks as the commander of a small band of soldiers that must go across the occupied territory to track down a soldier being returned home following the deaths of three brothers.
Spielberg reached the top of his filmmaking skills when he created an engaging adventure film that gives an authentic and terrifying display of the terrible effects of war. While the film is among the top war films, many other films have the same punch.
Here are some movies worth watching if you like the film, Saving Ryan.
15 Best Movies Like Saving Private Ryan
War Horse (2011)
Spielberg was back in the world of war, but he dealt with World War I. Based on the well-known stage show, War Horse is the story of a child in England; the horse he loves gets sold off to the cavalry after the war begins to break out. When the boy is enlisted in with the cavalry, we witness his journey in a way that is similar to the horse’s journey throughout war-stricken Europe.
Spielberg takes on his romantic type of storytelling in his film more than in the one he made during Saving Private Ryan. It’s an uninspiring war film but one that is packed with breathtaking moments of heartbreak, thrill, and happiness.
Christopher Nolan created a film with a sense of war to a new level with the stunning “Dunkirk” (2017). The story was set in 1940. the film is about the white-knuckle escape of Allied soldiers stuck on the beaches of Dunkirk while the Germans advance into France.
“Dunkirk” is divided into three parts: each for the sea, land, air, and land, and each timeline weaves and overlaps with the other. The land segment stars Fionn Whitehead in the role of Tommy Jensen, a British private and the sole survivor of his unit. He is found in Dunkirk and is greeted by many thousands of Allied soldiers waiting for their evacuation.
A civilian sailor named Dawson (Mark Rylance) is sailing toward Dunkirk along with his young son and his boat captain (Barry Keoghan) to aid in transporting soldiers. From in the sky, Spitfire pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) is assigned to defend evacuates from above.
Filmed using IMAX cameras, the stunningly impressive “Dunkirk” is vast and thrilling to look at. There were eight nominations for the Academy Awards, winning three. The Guardian called it Nolan’s most successful film; Quentin Tarantino called it his second most favoured film.
The small Army in the middle of Saving Private Ryan makes the story more personal. We form an emotional bond with them as they take on danger. Similar is the case of the characters in David Ayer’s WWII film, Fury.
Brad Pitt stars as the leader of a tank company in the last days of the conflict. However, with the end of the war in sight, the men are still facing the danger of death at every turn. The impressive group comprises Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena along with Jon Bernthal.
Sam Mendes’ “1917” (2019) is another recent film that pushes how immersive war films can be.
The story is set during WWI; George MacKay stars as Lance Corporal Will Schofield, who, along with Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), is assigned to convey an important message to call the end of a doomed attack that could save the lives of thousands and that includes Tom’s older brother (Richard Madden).
Cinematographer Roger Deakins and editor Lee Smith collaborated with Mendes by using long takes to show that the film is played out in two continuous frames. This, together with natural lighting methods and hard-hitting scenes of trench and battle warfare, gives a sense of immediacy and urgency that creates an emotional experience.
The narrative itself is a moving emotional journey. It’s not surprising that “1917” received nominations for 10 Academy Awards, winning three awards, including the best cinematography.
We Were Soldiers (2002)
While Saving Private Ryan is an ensemble movie, Tom Hanks is an excellent character. The character of Captain Miller appears to be a typical man, but he was destined to lead the men on this dangerous mission. Although it takes place in an entirely different conflict, We Were Soldiers is similar.
Mel Gibson stars as the leader of a battalion at the beginning of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. In the bloody and ferocious conflict he faces with his family, he is the constant leader of his troops.
Notes And Letters From Iwo Jima
In the context of the film “Flags of our Fathers” (2006), Clint Eastwood chose to create a World War II movie that depicts the war, particularly that of the Battle of Iwo Jima, through the eyes of the Japanese soldiers who participated in the battle. The result is heartbreaking “Letters From Iwo Jima” (2006).
“Letters of Iwo Jima” stars Ken Watanabe as the garrison General Tadamichi Kuriyabayashi, who leads his soldiers, which include Private First Class Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), into the mountains, despite the hesitation of his officers like Lieutenant Colonel Baron Nishi (Tsuyoshi Ihara).
Kuribayashi realizing that his men have a slim chance of survival determines that the most effective option is to wait and fend off American forces for as long as is possible, which results in the death of the soldiers. Then, Saigo becomes bonded with another Private, Shimizu (Ryo Kase), and the two struggle to survive.
“Letters of Iwo Jima” It’s an original and essential American film in that it’s written almost entirely in Japanese. The film that has been praised by critics and film, which Steven Spielberg helped produce, was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best film and best director.
It requires a skilled and experienced filmmaker to create a true story from this period that is so well-known. Clint Eastwood is certainly an actor who can do the job, as proven by the letter from Iwo Jima.
It is the sequel to his earlier documentary Flags of Our Fathers, a story about Iwo Jima’s Battle of Iwo Jima from the American viewpoint. Letters from Iwo Jima is a unique war film because it tells the tale from the perspective of the Japanese, which makes for an even more compelling story.
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
Since the war was over, Hollywood has been producing WWII films, and several noteworthy films about the subject span many decades. Over the Bridge Too Far is another movie based on a straightforward task that transforms into an exciting journey.
The cast of stars for the film features Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Redford, and Gene Hackman, to name only some. They all play Allied officers that must collaborate to defend an essential bridge from attack by the Germans.
It’s The Thin Red Line
Filmmaker Terrence Malick provided a haunting, more philosophical, overtly philosophical approach to the war in his epic war-themed drama “The Thin Red Line” (1998).
The film features a powerful ensemble cast that includes Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Adrien Brody, Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, Woody Harrelson, John Cusack, John C. Reilly, and George Clooney,
“The Thin Red Line” is a wartime story that follows the journey of the C-company soldiers in the war in Guadalcanal at the end of World War II. They are confronted with many horor and life-threatening situations; soldiers face their ethical and philosophical convictions.
With beautiful cinematography by John Toll, a haunting score composed by Hans Zimmer, and memorable performances, “The Thin Red Line” is a lyrical tale of beauty, tragedy, and humanity as a war movie. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, film critic Gene Siskel called it “the best war film of the present I’ve seen, ” supplanting “Saving Private Ryan.”
Black Hawk Down (2002)
Black Hawk Down is a more contemporary war film that is also highly praised for its authentic depiction of combat. The film is based on a real-life incident in 1993 when a U.S. operation in Somalia became out of control and left a group of American soldiers in a state of siege.
The Ridley Scott movie is a harrowing and intense experience that takes the viewer into combat and keeps them there. Scott has some of his best work and effortlessly handles the complex story.
“Saving Private Ryan” is one of many films that focus on World War II that Steven Spielberg has directed during his long career. The awe-inspiring “Schindler’s List” (1993) is a historical drama that explores the horrific events of the Holocaust and about a real-life person, an entrepreneur Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson), who saved the lives of more than 1,000 Jews.
It is set in Krakow, Poland; the story is told through Schindler when he arrives in Krakow to make his fortune.
He established a factory and employed Jewish workers. However, when SS Lt. Amon Goth (Ralph Fiennes) comes and starts construction of Krakow’s concentration camp Krakow concentration camp, and murdering Jews, Schindler, partly in the spirit of a little girl dressed in red, is determined to do all that could be done to ensure that as many lives are saved as he can.
“Schindler’s List” clearly and without a pause depicts the horrific events of the Holocaust; however, showcasing one person’s bravery highlights the beauty and hope that humanity can provide. A must-see movie, “Schindler’s List” is an incredible cinematic experience.
It was nominated for 12 Oscars and won seven of them in the best picture category, including director, cinematography, and score.
History has proven that many of the horrors of WWII took place off-field. Spielberg explores this dark period in human history through his harrowing and frightening Holocaust film, Schindler’s List. Liam Neeson stars as Oskar Schindler, a German manufacturer who saved the lives of more than 1,000 Jewish people during this time.
Despite the heroism in the true-life tale, Spielberg never shies away from the crimes that were perpetrated during the time of the Nazis. Nazis towards Jewish people. Jewish community. It’s a tough film to watch, but it is essential to be remembered.
Empire of the Sun
A few years before “Schindler’s List,” Steven Spielberg told a World War II tale entirely different. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by J.G. Ballard, “Empire of the Sun” (1987) is the tale that follows Jamie (Christian Bale), who is a British child who is living in the British occupation of Shanghai along with his family during the conflict.
When the Japanese attack, Jamie becomes separated from his parents and is taken to a prison camp, reuniting with an American prisoner named Basie (John Malkovich).
Cinematographer Allen Daviau shot the film, a recurring Spielberg collaborator, “Empire of the Sun, ” a stunningly produced and emotional coming-of-age story with a massive scope and featuring an unforgettable performance by then 13-year old newcomer Bale.
The film is a call to keep optimism and dignity even in the face of hardship and is an underrated Spielberg film worth watching.
Quentin Tarantino’s genre-mixing “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) is an intense, dramatic, and violent but darkly humorous historical account of World War II; there are two distinct historical accounts in the film of World War II, two different films plots to defeat the Nazis come together dramatically.
In German-controlled France, Lieutenant. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is the leader of a group of Jewish-American soldiers dubbed “The Basterds” that are charged in the killing of and scalping Nazis, and brutal SS officer Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) is determined to track the group down. While the other side of the story,
Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) is a French-Jewish theatre owner plotting her revenge on the Nazis for the murder of her family members. Their stories eventually cross paths in a thrillingly elegant way.
“Inglourious Basterds” was awarded 8 Academy Award nominations, including for the best picture, best director, and the top supporting actor Christoph Waltz, which he received. Waltz won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival and a BAFTA for his unforgettable performance.
Many excellent films were produced during World War I and II. However, some of the most memorable war films focus on the Vietnam War, including Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” (1979).
This film is about the adventures of Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen), who is tasked to hunt down and kill the rebellious Colonel Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has become insane.
Living off-grid in the wilderness and claiming to be an incarnation of God, Kurtz has created his private commune of devoted followers and has been killing people who are not under the authority of the Army.
On his quest to locate Kurtz, Willard is exposed to numerous bizarre and bizarre experiences. And when he finds Kurtz, the situation gets more bizarre.
Apocalypse Now” suffered a series of delays in its production. It was also famously costly to produce. However, the result is a visionary epic that brings to light the absurdity of war. The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and was nominated for eight Academy Awards.
Full Metal Jacket
Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” (1987) is a different film that focuses on the absurdity of war. At the same time, it’s like “Saving Private Ryan” in that it’s considered one of the greatest anti-war movies, Kubrick’s interpretation in this film is far more brutal and focuses more on the effects of war that dehumanize people as well as the risks of educating children.
“Full Metal Jacket” is split into two distinct pieces. The first is the story of Marine Private “Joker” (Matthew Modine) as he and fellow recruits, which includes private “Pyle” (Vincent D’Onofrio), is forced to endure the hardships in boot camps under the constant brutality of Sergeant of Guns Hartman (R. Lee Ermey).
The second installment follows Joker through Vietnam and into the battle he becomes involved in during The Battle of Hue.
“Full Metal Jacket” is a dark and intense film, and critics were divided. Some felt that the second half of the film lacked focus, but many were awed by Ermey and D’Onofrio.
Path Of Glory
Before he even made “Full Metal Jacket”, Kubrick directed “Paths of Glory” (1957), and can be considered to be one of the early prototypes of war films that were immersive.
Filmed in World War I, the film follows Dax, a French Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas), who receives instructions to organize an attack against a German trench and a task similar to suicide to his soldiers.
If the plan is not as planned, Dax’s boss, General Mireau (George Macready), has to judge three of Dax’s men on charges of cowardice. Dax takes up the responsibility of defending the three men before the court.
With long-running shots of the trenches and drawn-out scenes of combat, “Paths of Glory” is an intensely emotional film that, like Kubrick’s more recent “Dr. Strangelove,” also reveals the absurdity of the war. The highly-acclaimed “Paths of Glory” is often described among the best war films ever created and one of the most memorable Kubrick films.