- War movies that show both sides of the conflict provide a more comprehensive and realistic portrayal of armed conflicts throughout history.
- By showcasing the experiences and struggles of opposing forces, these films challenge stereotypes and foster empathy among audiences.
- The depiction of both perspectives in war movies seeks to strike a balance between fact and fiction, offering a broader understanding of the complexities of war.
War movies that showed both sides of the war strive to present a balanced narrative, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of war and its impact on individuals from different backgrounds and allegiances. Notably, even the greatest war movies ever aren’t completely accurate depictions of warfare. Yet, by showing the two opposing sides of a given conflict, certain war movies succeed at painting more realistic battlefields for audiences.
In fact, many of the most historically accurate war movies of all time also depict both sides of the fight, which allow for a more nuanced perspective on war. By showcasing the experiences and struggles of opposing forces, these films move beyond a simplistic portrayal of heroes and villains.They delve deeper into the human aspects of war, illustrating the shared humanity that transcends manmade boundaries. Ultimately, war movies that showed both sides of the war seek to strike a balance between fact and fiction. This approach fosters empathy and challenges stereotypes, offering audiences a broader and more realistic view of the complexities inherent in armed conflicts throughout history.
10 We Were Soldiers: US Vs Vietnam
Battle of la Drang
- Release Date: 2002-02-25
- Director: Randall Wallace
- Cast: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear
- Runtime: 138 minutes
A war movie praised for its realism, We Were Soldiers portrayed the Vietnam War from multiple perspectives. It showcased the experiences of American soldiers led by Lt. Col. Hal Moore and their counterparts on the North Vietnamese side – led by Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An. Through intense combat scenes and personal narratives, the film depicted the challenges and sacrifices on both sides of the conflict. By humanizing characters on both ends, it aimed to convey the human cost of war. Conducive with the film’s goal of being historically accurate, We Were Soldiers highlights the complexities inherent in armed conflicts, providing a more comprehensive portrayal rather than a one-sided narrative.
9 Bridge of Spies: US Vs Soviet Union
Bridge of Spies
- Release Date
- October 16, 2015
- Steven Spielberg
- Alan Alda, Mark Rylance, Domenick Lombardozzi, Tom Hanks, Austin Stowell, Amy Ryan, Billy Magnussen
Bridge of Spies reveals both the American and Russian perspectives on the Cold War. The film follows James Donovan, an American lawyer, as he navigates the tense negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the exchange of captured spies. Through dialogue, cinematography, and character development, Bridge of Spies presents the contrasting ideologies and motivations driving each side. It humanizes characters on both ends, shedding light on the individuals caught in the political turmoil of the biggest geopolitical rivalry of the 20th century. This balanced portrayal contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the Cold War, showcasing the complexities and shared humanity underneath the global tension.
8 Braveheart: Scotland Vs England
First War of Scottish Independence
- Release Date
- May 24, 1995
- Mel Gibson
- Angus Macfadyen, Catherine McCormack, Patrick McGoohan, Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau
- 178 minutes
Braveheart has been criticized for being historically inaccurate, but it does provide both the English and Scottish perspectives on the First War of Scottish Independence. While the film predominantly featured the Scottish side – centered around William Wallace – Braveheart also captures King Edward I’s ruthlessness and strength as a stern military ruler. Braveheart depicted the English in a bad light, emphasizing Edward’s brutality – yet this was necessary in portraying the so-called Hammer of the Scots. Although Braveheart doesn’t exactly present a fully balanced or accurate perspective, it does show both sides in one of the most important historical conflicts in the UK’s history.
7 Enemy at the Gates: Soviet Union Vs Nazi Germany
Battle of Stalingrad
- Release Date: 2001-03-10
- Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
- Cast: Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz
- Runtime: 131 minutes
While it is a war movie that was criticized by military experts, Enemy at the Gates does provide a glimpse into the experiences of both the Germans and Russians in the Battle of Stalingrad. The film portrays the harsh conditions and internal struggles within the Russian army, showcasing the determination of soldiers like Vasily Zaytsev. It also depicts the tense rivalries among German officers, offering insights into the challenges faced by the enemy. Apart from the duel between Zaytsev and Wermact sniper Erwin Konig, the film is also known for not entirely vilifying the German soldiers, and presenting a more humanized view of individuals caught in the brutality of war.
6 Battle of the Bulge: Allies Vs Nazi Germany
- Release Date: 1965-12-16
- Director: Ken Annakin
- Cast: Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Robert Ryan
- Runtime: 170 minutes
Battle of the Bulge depicts the famous WWII counteroffensive by offering insights into both the Allied and German perspectives. The film presented the challenges faced by the American forces as they confronted the surprise German attack. It explored the strategic decisions, camaraderie, and struggles within the Allied command. Simultaneously, the movie delved into the German side, showcasing the motivations, doubts, and conflicts among German officers. While focusing on specific characters, it aimed to humanize individuals on both sides of the conflict, which was unusual for the time. By weaving these narratives, Battle of the Bulge strived to provide a more nuanced understanding of this pivotal historical event.
5 My Way: Soviet Union Vs Japan & Germany
World War II
- Release Date: 2011-12-21
- Director: Kang Je-gyu
- Cast: Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri, Fan Bingbing
- Runtime: 137 minutes
My Way provides a unique perspective on World War II by following a Korean man who becomes a soldier for the Soviet Union, Japan, and Nazi Germany throughout World War II. A unique take on war film tropes, My Way presents the war through the eyes of an almost mythical character who navigates different fronts and allegiances. It portrays the brutality and camaraderie experienced by Soviet soldiers, the discipline and conflicts within the Japanese military, and the complexities faced by German soldiers. By exploring these diverse viewpoints, the movie offers a comprehensive look at the global nature of World War II and the individuals caught in its tumult.
4 Letters From Iwo-Jima & Flags of Our Fathers: US Vs Japan
Battle of Iwo Jima
- Release Date: 2006-12-20 (Letters From Iwo-Jima) / 2006-10-20 (Flags of Our Fathers)
- Director: Clint Eastwood
- Cast: Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara / Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach
- Runtime: 140 minutes / 132 minutes
Two of the best movies directed by Clint Eastwood, the companion war films Letters From Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers provide a dual perspective on the Battle of Iwo Jima. Letters From Iwo Jima focuses on the Japanese side, offering a humanizing portrayal of the soldiers defending the island. It explores their fears, camaraderie, and the harsh realities of war. Meanwhile, Flags of Our Fathers delves into the American perspective, examining the experiences of the US Marines who fought in the battle. Together, these films present a much more balanced narrative than most war movies, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of this pivotal World War II battle.
3 Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War: South Vs North Korea
- Release Date: 2004-02-05
- Director: Kang Je-gyu
- Cast: Jang Dong-gun, Won Bin, Lee Eun-joo
- Runtime: 148 minutes
Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War offers a dual perspective on the Korean War by following two brothers, Jin-tae and Jin-seok. It portrays the complexities of the conflict from both the North and South Korean viewpoints. The film vividly captures the emotional journey of the brothers as they find themselves on opposing sides of the war. By humanizing characters on both fronts, Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War sheds light on the impact of the war on individuals and families. The narrative doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities faced by soldiers on either side, contributing to a more nuanced and empathetic portrayal of the Korean War.
2 The Flowers of War: Japan Vs China
- Release Date: 2011-12-16
- Director: Zhang Yimou
- Cast: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Zhang Xinyi
- Runtime: 146 minutes
Not for the faint of heart, The Flowers of War unfolds the Nanjing Massacre during the Second Sino-Japanese War, offering perspectives from both Chinese and Japanese viewpoints. The film captures the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army as they invade Nanjing. From the Chinese side, it portrays the harrowing experiences of civilians seeking refuge in a church. Simultaneously, it explores the internal conflicts and humanity within some Japanese soldiers. By presenting the atrocities through dual lenses, the movie highlights the shared suffering and individual struggles amid the chaos of one of the most brutal massacres in World War II.
1 The Battle of Algiers: France Vs Algerian National Liberation Front
- Release Date: 1966-09-08
- Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
- Cast: Brahim Hadjadj, Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi
- Runtime: 120 minutes
An influential war movie that changed the genre, The Battle of Algiers is a masterful portrayal of the Algerian War of Independence – from the perspectives of both the French and Algerian sides. The film captures the urban warfare and guerilla tactics employed by the Algerian rebels as they resist French colonial rule. Simultaneously, it explores the strategies and dilemmas faced by the French military in suppressing the insurgency. Through a documentary-style approach and a focus on individual characters, the movie humanizes both the occupiers and the occupied. It avoids easy categorizations of villains and heroes, presenting a complex and empathetic view of the historic struggle for independence in Algiers.