100 Great War Movies

The Real History behind the Films

by Robert Niemi


What are the best war movies ever made? How historically accurate are they? These two questions continue to generate debate in classrooms and among film and history buffs.

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Cover image for 100 Great War Movies

April 2018


Pages 374
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Military History/General
  Popular Culture/Film

This book serves as a fascinating guide to 100 war films from 1930 to the present. Readers interested in war movies will learn surprising anecdotes about these films and will have all their questions about the films' historical accuracy answered.

This cinematic guide to war movies spans 800 years in its analysis of films from those set in the 13th century Scottish Wars of Independence (Braveheart) to those taking place during the 21st-century war in Afghanistan (Lone Survivor). World War II has produced the largest number of war movies and continues to spawn recently released films such as Dunkirk. This book explores those, but also examines films set during such conflicts as the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, World War I, the Vietnam War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The book is organized alphabetically by film title, making it easy to navigate. Each entry is divided into five sections: Background (a brief discussion of the film's genesis and financing); Production (information about how, where, and when the film was shot); Synopsis (a detailed plot summary); Reception (how the film did in terms of box office, awards, and reviews) and "Reel History vs. Real History" (a brief analysis of the film's historical accuracy). This book is ideal for readers looking to get a vivid behind-the-scenes look at the greatest war movies ever made.


  • Applies an internationalist perspective to the war film through entries from countries including Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Australia, Japan, Poland, Finland, and Latvia
  • Defines great war films as the most artistically accomplished, politically subversive, and thought-provoking, not merely as the most popular or commercially successful, and is therefore a relevant reference for students and film and history buffs
  • Provides clearly written and informative histories of the films themselves as well as of the cultural context surrounding the making and reception of them
  • Recounts critical controversies and analyzes the ideological biases implicit in these films in its examination of how the films shaped their source material and what they included, distorted, and added or left out
Author Info

Robert Niemi, PhD, is professor of English and American Studies at St. Michael's College, Colchester, VT. He is the author of Robert Altman: Hollywood Maverick and ABC-CLIO's History in the Media: Film and Television and Inspired by True Events: An Illustrated Guide to More Than 500 History-Based Films.



"By examining the historical context of the wars depicted, this volume effectively analyzes the films, describes their creation, and provides a wide sampling of the genre. VERDICT Highly recommended for film studies students and enthusiasts of the war genre."Library Journal

"Niemi writes clearly and very authoritatively, particularly in his comparisons of films and the historical facts. History, war, and film buffs in public libraries will appreciate his expertise."Booklist

"This work should be considered by public libraries that serve cinephiles, as this book not only serves as reference but also provides much fodder for spirited discussion as to the merits of the respective films. Academic libraries supporting film media or history programs would also benefit from acquiring this work."ARBAonline

"Concise and informative. . . . Recommended."Choice

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