Top Ten Films about the First World War

There have been many great films on the First World War.  Here is our Top Ten.

1. Paths of Glory (1957)  Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Powerful anti war film, featuring Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, a French commander, who leads his soldiers on a suicidal attack on the western front.


2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) Directed by Lewis Milestone

Based on the classic novel by Erich Remarque, this film follows the gradual disillusionment of a German soldier with the futility of trench warfare on the western front.


3. The Trench (1999)  Directed by William Boyd

This film, starring pre-007 Daniel Craig, explores the mind-set of a group of soldiers in the trenches in France who are preparing for the bloody Battle of the Somme.


4, La Grande Illusion- “The Great Illusion”- (1937) Directed by Jean Renoir

A powerful psychological film examining the mentality of a group of French officers towards the First World War as they are held as prisoners of war. Orson Welles described it as “the greatest film ever made”.


5. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Directed by David Lean

A stunning film that looks at the conflicted loyalties faced by the British officer T.E.Lawrence, played by Peter O’Toole during the First World War in Arabia.


6. Gallipoli (1981) Directed by Peter Weir

Follows two Australians, played by Mel Gibson and Mark Lee, who volunteer to serve in the army during World War one and take part in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign.


7. Oh What a Lovely War (1969) Directed by Richard Attenborough

A musical that uses popular contemporary songs to make critical and satirical comments on the key events and the conduct of the First World War.


8. A Very Long Engagement (2004) Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

A poignant and heart-rending French film that follows the story of a young women who searches for her fiancé who goes missing during the Battle of the Somme).


9. A Farewell to Arms (1932) Directed by Frank Borzage

Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway, this film follows a love affair between a soldier serving in the ambulance corps of the US army in Italy (played by Gary Cooper) and a nurse (played by Helen Hayes) that is disrupted by war.


10. The Red Baron (2008) Directed by Nicolai Müllerschön

This German biopic examines the adventures of Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the most flamboyant and highly decorated pilot in the German air force during World War 1.

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