Top 10 World War I Movies

Script written by Nolan Moore. It claimed millions of lives, changed the world, and left us with some powerful, heartbreaking films. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 World War I movies. Often eclipsed by World War II, the war to end all wars was a devastating conflict that gave way to several iconic films. Special thanks to our users jwiking62, Supermanguy, lv, wx30th, Scotty Arbour, Andrew A. Dennison, Emily JoAnn Warden, James Hadley and Yeppikayee yee for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Nolan Moore.

Top 10 World War I Movies


It claimed millions of lives, changed the world, and left us with some powerful, heartbreaking films. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 World War I movies.

Often eclipsed by World War II, the war to end all wars was a devastating conflict that gave way to several iconic films. For this list, we’re looking at the classic, iconic and important movies that take place in a time of trenches, barbed wire, and improved Maxim guns. These are the movies that impacted cinema and memorialized a war that many have forgotten.

#10: “Johnny Got His Gun” (1971)

Based on a novel by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, “Johnny Got His Gun” is one of the most disturbing movies ever made. After he’s hit by an artillery shell while fighting in the First World War, a patriotic young man wakes up to find he’s lost his arms, legs, and pretty much his entire face. Unable to see, hear, or speak, he’s locked inside his own mind and desperately trying to reach the outside world. Devastatingly bleak, “Johnny Got His Gun” is more than just an anti-war drama…it’s a genuine horror movie.

#9: “The African Queen” (1951)

Set in East Africa at the onset of World War I, “The African Queen” centers on Rose Sayer, a plucky missionary who’s tired of turning the other cheek. After the German army attacks her mission, Rose decides to take revenge by sinking their most fearsome gunboat. But to make it down the rapids, she’ll need the help of Charlie Allnut, a drunken riverboat captain who knows a thing or two about explosives. More lighthearted than our other entries, this odd couple comedy is the perfect blend of laughs, romance, and classic adventure.

#8: “A Farewell to Arms” (1932)

When an American ambulance driver stumbles across an English nurse, it’s love at first sight…or second sight anyway. Their one-night stand turns into a full-blown romance, but the duties of war and a conniving friend try their best to keep them apart. Featuring emotionally-powerful performances from the usually stoic Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes—who actually had a real-life crush on the Coop—this adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel is far less pessimistic than the original book and surprisingly sexual for a 1930s film.

#7: “King & Country” (1964)

Similar to Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory,” “King & Country” is the story of a soldier on trial for cowardice. After a shell-shocked private wanders away from his command, he finds himself facing an unforgiving army tribunal. With the military hoping to make an example of him, the private’s life rests in the hands of an unsympathetic officer who eventually comes to side with his client. With unsettling images of life in the trenches, “King & Country” is a harsh reminder that war really is hell.

#6: “The Big Parade” (1925)

In Hollywood’s early days, war movies focused on gallant officers leading their troops into battle, but this silent drama changed everything. Not only was “The Big Parade” one of the first films to follow average soldiers, it was also one of the first to depict warfare realistically. The movie centers on three American GIs in France, and while there’s plenty of romance and comedy, the movie was praised by veterans for its authenticity. “The Big Parade” was also one of the first commercial successes for the-then brand new movie studio MGM.

#5: “La Grande Illusion” (1937)

The first foreign language film to be nominated for Best Picture, “La Grand Illusion” has influenced movies from “The Great Escape” to “Casablanca.” When a group of French soldiers ends up in a fortress-like prison, they decide to break out, but this isn’t a mere escape film. It’s a study on the nature of class, and how WWI ended the European aristocracy. And thanks to its pacifist themes, “La Grand Illusion” was banned in Nazi Germany. So if Hitler hated it, you know it’s good.

#4: “Gallipoli” (1981)

When most people think of WWI, they picture American and British forces shooting it out with the Germans. But this was a world war, and Peter Weir’s epic drama focuses on a disastrous battle between Ottoman and ANZAC troops. When two Australian runners enlist in the mounted infantry, they quickly discover war isn’t an adventure. Featuring a young Mel Gibson during the same year as his star turn in “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,” “Gallipoli” is a touching tale of friendship and an agonizing glimpse at trench warfare.

#3: “Paths of Glory” (1957)

A searing look at the military and patriotism, Stanley Kubrick’s anti-war masterpiece is one of the grimmest movies ever put to film. After a failed attack on a German stronghold, a cruel French general sentences three random soldiers to death. Fortunately, a compassionate colonel comes to their defense, but despite his best efforts, it seems they’re headed toward the firing squad. Shot in haunting black and white, this dark drama was as controversial as it was critically acclaimed and was not shown theatrically in France for almost twenty years.

#2: “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930)

While most war movies are about the victors, this Oscar-winner takes a different approach. One of the few movies to view the war through German eyes, “All Quiet on the Western Front” was the first major talkie to take an anti-war stance. Based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel, the story is simple. A group of students is encouraged to join the war effort only to find a nightmare world of pain and death. But with stunning tracking shots and grisly moments, this is one of the most heart-wrenching war films of all time.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- “Hell’s Angels” (1930)
- “The Lost Patrol” (1934)
- “A Very Long Engagement” (2004)
- “Wings” (1927)
- “War Horse” (2011)

#1: “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962)

Considered one of the all-time best movies, “Lawrence of Arabia” takes place miles away from the muddy trenches of Europe. Set in the golden sands of the Arabian Peninsula, David Lean’s classic film follows T.E. Lawrence, an eccentric soldier with a flair for theatricality, as he tries to unite the Arab tribes against the Turks. Only as Lawrence’s legend grows, he starts to lose touch with his humanity. With a tour de force performance by Peter O’Toole, this WWI epic will definitely be remembered for years to come.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite World War I movie? For more amazing Top 10s published, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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