Enemy at the Gates

  • Directors: Jean Jacques Annaud
  • Producers: Jean Jacques Annaud, John D Schofield
  • Writers: William Craig, Jean Jacques Annaud, Alain Godard
  • Genres: Drama, History, Thriller, War
  • Actors: Jude Law, Ed Harris, Rachel Weisz, Joseph Fiennes, Bob Hoskins, Gabriel Thompson

The story focuses on the exploits of Vassili Zaitsev (a character based on the real-life Vasily Zaytsev and played by Jude Law), a Ural peasant who was taught how to hunt and shoot by his grandfather, now fighting on the Eastern Front of World War II. A Red Army soldier, he is traveling in a train’s cattle truck along with other soldiers and civilians, where he notices a young woman (Rachel Weisz) before the train is converted into a military convoy headed for Stalingrad, a city that is now under attack by the German Army. Upon arriving on the city’s outskirts, the soldiers attempt to cross the Volga on unprotected river barges, bombarded by German Stuka dive bombers and artillery, resulting in many casualties. When the survivors disembark on the other side, only half of them are given Mosin-Nagant rifles; while the rest, among them Vassili, are given only a five round clip of ammunition. As their comrades are shot down, the men with the clips are to use the dead men’s rifles. In a hopeless charge against the well-armed Germans, the Red Army soldiers are massacred both by the enemy, and by several Soviet NKVD machine gunners who cut down anyone who attempts to retreat.

Two months later, it is revealed that Stalingrad is liberated and Zaitsev finds Tania in a field hospital, safely evacuated and recovering.

Meet the Spartans

  • Directors: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
  • Producers: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer, Peter Safran
  • Writers: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
  • Genres: Comedy, War
  • Actors: Sean Maguire, Carmen Electra, Diedrich Bader, Ken Davitian, Method Man, Nicole Parker

The film opens with a Spartan elder inspecting a talking baby ogre. The baby vomits on the inspector and is then discarded with a punt off the hill. Next, he inspects a Vietnamese baby, and Brangelina instantly adopts it. Baby Leonidas is then inspected, having a six-pack, biceps, and beard from birth. He is accepted as a Spartan and prepared for kinghood through his childhood training, from fighting his grandmother to enduring torture. Leonidas (Sean Maguire) is then cast out into the wild, and survives the harsh winter while killing a giant dancing penguin, who defecates on his face. Returning a king for his inauguration ceremony, Leonidas sees Margo (Carmen Electra) dancing and asks her to marry him, to which she responds by giving him the combination to her chastity belt.

Years later, Leonidas is training when Captain (Kevin Sorbo) informs him that a Persian messenger has arrived. The messenger has come to present Xerxes’ demands for Sparta’s submission. Leonidas arrives to greet the messenger in the Spartan way (high-fives for the women and open mouth tongue kisses for the men). After growing angry with both the messenger’s disrespect and making out with his wife, Leonidas kicks him, the messenger’s bodyguards, and then several other people he simply disliked, ranging from Britney Spears (Nicole Parker), Ryan Seacrest, and Kevin Federline (Nick Steele) to Sanjaya Malakar (Tony Yalda) and the American Idol judges into “the pit of death”. As Leonidas walks off he turns to a column that has a switch that reads “Garbage Disposal”, and flips the switch causing the celebrities to spiral to their “death”.

The film ends with a musical number set to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” performed on American Idol by all of the characters in the film. It also spoofs Britney Spears’ VMA comeback performance.

Glory

  • Directors: Edward Zwick
  • Producers: Freddie Fields
  • Writers: Kevin Jarre
  • Genres: Drama, History, War
  • Actors: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher

Captain Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) leads his company of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment in an attack on Confederates posted along the Hagerstown Pike at the Battle of Antietam, on September 17, 1862. The regiment’s Lieutenant Colonel (Dwight Wilder) is killed immediately in front of him, and the attack is beaten back with heavy losses. Shaw is wounded slightly in the neck, falls between two dead soldiers, and passes out. He is awakened by a black gravedigger named John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman). Later, while on leave in Boston, Shaw (whose father was a wealthy and socially prominent abolitionist) is offered command of the first all black regiment authorized to be raised as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 54th Massachusetts. After some hesitation, he agrees, and asks his childhood friend, Cabot Forbes (Cary Elwes), to be his second in command. Their first volunteer is another one of Shaw’s friends, an educated, free black man named Thomas Searles (Andre Braugher).

They soon have hundreds of men joining the regiment, including John Rawlins the gravedigger, a proud escaped slave named Trip (Denzel Washington), and a shy, stuttering, free black man named Jupiter Sharts (Jihmi Kennedy). While traveling to the camp, Sharts asks Thomas to teach him how to read. Once at camp, Thomas, Rawlins, Trip, and Sharts all share one tent along with a mute drummer boy. Immediately, Thomas’s and Trip’s relationship gets off to a bad start as they disagree over sleeping space in the tent. Trip ridicules Thomas’s educated and refined manner and, subsequently, Thomas mistakenly patronizes Trip, setting off a pattern of animosity between the two.

The final credits roll against the background of Saint-Gaudens’s memorial to Shaw and his men that stands today on Boston Common.

The Messenger

  • Directors: Oren Moverman
  • Producers: Benjamin Goldhirsh, Mark Gordon, Lawrence Inglee, Zach Miller
  • Writers: Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman
  • Genres: Drama, Romance, War
  • Actors: Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Jena Malone

A casualty notification officer for the United States Army enters an ethical dilemma when he gets involved with Olivia (Samantha Morton), the widow of a soldier.

Flags of Our Fathers

  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Steven Spielberg
  • Writers: James Bradley, Ron Powers, William Broyles Jr, Paul Haggis
  • Genres: Action, Drama, History, War
  • Actors: Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, Jesse Bradford, Neal McDonough, Barry Pepper, Robert Patrick, Paul Walker, Jamie Bell, John Benjamin Hickey, John Slattery

The story focuses on seven US Marines of the 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division, Sgt. Mike Strank, Pfc. Rene Gagnon, Pfc. Ira Hayes, Cpl. Harlon Block, Pfc. Franklin Sousley, Sgt. Hank Hansen, and Pfc. Ralph Ignatowski, as well as their Navy Corpsman, PhM2. John “Doc” Bradley.

In December 1944, U.S. Marines train at Camp Tarawa, Hawaii. They train by climbing a large mountain and getting in Higgins boats. The Marines then set sail across the Pacific, and it is revealed that they are headed to the small island of Iwo Jima, located less than 700 miles from the Japanese mainland. As Captain Severance puts it, they will be fighting on Japanese soil, and will expect tough resistance. A few days later, the armada arrives off the coast of Iwo Jima and the ships of the US Navy open fire on suspected Japanese positions. On the night before the landings, Mike is put in charge of second platoon.

The next day, February 19, 1945, the Marines hit the beach in landing craft and meet no resistance. Ralph, aka “Iggy”, suspects that the Navy killed all the Japanese defenders, as do most of the Marines. After several tense minutes the Marines advance forward and the Japanese open fire. The battle is extremely intense, and the Marines take heavy casualties. Japanese heavy artillery opens fire upon the Marines on shore, as well as the Navy ships. After several attempts, Second Platoon takes out a Japanese pillbox which was pinning them down. They advance forward, as do many other Marines. The battle begins to calm down and the beachheads are secure. Two days later the Marines attack Mount Suribachi under a rain of Japanese artillery and machine gun fire, as the Navy bombards the mountain. It is here that Doc saves the lives of several Marines under fire which later earns him the Navy Cross. Finally, the mountain is secure. For the next four nights, the Marines take cover in foxholes as Japanese soldiers charge through the mist.

In September the war ends and Doc, Rene and Ira go home. Ira tries to move on but is never able to escape his unwanted fame. One day in 1952 after being released from jail, he hitchhikes over 1,300 miles to Texas to see Harlon Block’s family. He tells Ed Block, Harlon’s father that Harlon was indeed at the base of the flag in the famous photograph. In 1954, the USMC War Memorial is dedicated and the three flag raisers see each one last time. In 1955 Ira dies of exposure after a night of drinking. That same year Doc drove to a town where Iggy’s mom lived and told her how Iggy died, though it is implied that he lied. Rene has little success as the business offers he received on the bond drive are no longer offered to him. He spends the rest of his life as a high school janitor, dying in 1979. Doc is the only successful one. He buys the funeral home he worked at before the war and runs it for the rest of his life. In 1995, as he is on his death bed, he tells his son James how after the flag raising Captain Severance took the men swimming. He then dies peacefully. In a final flashback to 1945, the men swim in the ocean after raising the flags.

Seven Years in Tibet

  • Directors: Jean Jacques Annaud
  • Producers: Jean Jacques Annaud, Iain Smith, John H Williams
  • Writers: Heinrich Harrer, Becky Johnston
  • Genres: Adventure, Biography, Drama, History, War
  • Actors: Brad Pitt, David Thewlis, Danny Denzongpa

The introduction shows the young Dalai Lama receiving gifts from Tibetan monks. One gift he receives, an ornate music box, has special meaning to him, as he is still a young child.

The progress of Heinrich Harrer through India and Tibet on his trek across the high plateau to Lhasa is interwoven with the story of the young Dalai Lama growing into an 8 year old boy who becomes the spiritual leader of Tibet, with a thirst for western knowledge and later into an adolescent. The Dalai Lama is portrayed by three different actors as he grows up.

Harrer (Pitt) and his pregnant wife Ingrid (Ingeborga Dapkunaite) are briefly shown being driven to the train station in Graz, for Harrer’s departure on an expedition to Nanga Parbat. It becomes evident that Ingrid resents his departure. At the station, Harrer barges through the crowds, dragging his wife by the hand and showing his resentment of Peter Aufschnaiter’s selection as leader of the expedition.

Harrer at the train station in 1939 appears hostile to the Nazi Party, taking their flag with reluctance. The real-life Heinrich Harrer admitted he had Nazi sympathies at the time which he later regretted. Harrer’s arrogance and self-sufficiency become apparent as he sits by himself on the train journey to India.

Harrer bids farewell to Aufschnaiter and Pema and returns to Austria in 1951 to visit his son Rolf, now a young boy. Although his son initially refuses to see him, Harrer leaves the musical box as a gift for him and watches him lovingly from the crack in the door. In the film finale, Harrer gradually comes to know the son he has thought about all the years while he was in Tibet and trains him like himself in the art of climbing mountains. Having reached the top of a mountain, Harrer is shown with a Tibetan flag planted beside him at the peak.

Gunga Din

  • Directors: George Stevens
  • Producers: George Stevens
  • Writers: Rudyard Kipling, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Joel Sayre, Fred Guiol
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, War
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Eduardo Ciannelli, Sam Jaffe, Joan Fontaine

On the Northwest Frontier of colonial India, circa 1880, contact has been lost with a British outpost at Tantrapur in the midst of a telegraph message. Colonel Weed (Montagu Love) dispatches a small detachment of British Indian Army troops to investigate, led by three sergeants of the Royal Engineers, MacChesney (Victor McLaglen), Cutter (Cary Grant), and Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), long-time friends and veteran campaigners. Although they are a disciplinary headache for their colonel, they are the right men to send on a dangerous mission. Accompanying the detail is a regimental bhisti (water-bearer), Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe), who longs to throw off his lowly status and become a soldier of the Queen.

They find Tantrapur apparently deserted and set about repairing the telegraph. However, they are soon surrounded by hostile natives. The troops fight their way out. Colonel Weed and Major Mitchell (Lumsden Hare) identify an enemy weapon brought back as belonging to the Thuggee, a murderous cult that had been suppressed for many years.

Ballantine is due to leave the army in a few days to wed Emmy Stebbins (Joan Fontaine) and go into the tea business, a combined calamity that MacChesney and Cutter consider worse than death. Meanwhile, Gunga Din tells Cutter of a temple he has found, one made of gold. Cutter is determined to make his fortune, but MacChesney will have none of it and has Cutter put in the stockade to prevent his desertion. That night, Cutter escapes with Din’s help and goes to the temple, which is all that Din had claimed. Unfortunately, they discover that it belongs to the Thugs when the owners return. Cutter creates a distraction and allows himself to be captured so that Din can slip away and sound the warning.

When the regiment comes to the rescue, the guru boasts that they are marching into the trap he has set, with the three sergeants as bait. He orders his men to take their positions, but when he sees that they are unwilling to leave him in enemy hands, he leaps to his death in a pit full of cobras to remove that obstacle. Thugs then climb the temple and overwhelm the soldiers, shoot and bayonet Cutter. Gunga Din is also bayoneted, but manages with the last of his strength to climb to the top of the gold dome of the temple and sounds the alarm with the bugle. He is then shot dead, but the British force is alerted and defeats the Thuggee forces. At Din’s funeral pyre, the colonel formally inducts Gunga Din as a British soldier and reads the last lines of the Kipling poem over the body:

Green Zone

  • Directors: Paul Greengrass
  • Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lloyd Levin, Paul Greengrass
  • Writers: Book, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Screenplay, Brian Helgeland
  • Genres: Drama, War
  • Actors: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Amy Ryan, Khalid Abdalla, Jason Isaacs

Green Zone is a thriller that takes place in the Green Zone in Iraq before the surge by the United States.[1]

Breaker Morant

  • Directors: Bruce Beresford
  • Producers: Matt Carroll
  • Writers: Screenplay, Jonathan Hardy, David Stevens, Bruce Beresford, Story, Kenneth G Ross
  • Genres: Drama, History, War
  • Actors: Edward Woodward, Jack Thompson, John Waters, Bryan Brown

Breaker Morant concerns the murder trial of three Australian Army officers of the Bushveldt Carbineers serving in South Africa during the Second Boer War (1899-1902). Lieutenants Harry “Breaker” Morant, Peter Handcock, and George Witton are accused of the murder of one Boer prisoner and the subsequent murders of six more. In addition, Morant and Handcock are accused of the sniper-style assassination of a German missionary, the Rev. H.C.V. Hesse. Their defence counsel, J.F. Thomas, has had only one day to prepare their defence.

Lord Kitchener, who ordered the trial, hopes to bring the Boer War to an end with a peace conference. To that end, he uses the Morant trial to show that he is willing to judge his own soldiers harshly if they disobey the rules of war. Although, as Major Thomas mentions in court, there are great complexities associated with charging active-duty soldiers with murder during battle, Kitchener is determined to have a guilty verdict, and the chief of the court, Lt. Colonel Denny, supports him.

The causes and occurrences relating to the trial are developed. Morant’s execution of the Boer prisoners was revenge for the mutilation and death of his friend and commanding officer, Captain Hunt. Enraged by the incident, Morant led an attack on a Boer camp, where a Boer, Visser, wearing Captain Hunt’s khaki battle jacket was captured. Morant had him executed on the spot. (It was later proved that the mutilation of Hunt’s body was done by black witchdoctors, and not Boers as Morant believed, and that Visser did not wear any of Hunt’s clothes.)

A summary at the end of the film reveals what later happens to some of the characters. Major Thomas returns to his native Australia and continues his civilian law practice, which is confined to estate planning and wills. Witton serves three years of his sentence, then is released after a national outcry. In 1907 he writes a book entitled Scapegoats of the Empire, an account of the Breaker Morant affair (it was reprinted in 1982). Witton’s book proves so inflammatory and anti-British that it is suppressed during both world wars.

Au revoir les enfants

  • Directors: Louis Malle
  • Producers: Louis Malle
  • Writers: Louis Malle
  • Genres: Drama, War
  • Actors: Gaspard Manesse, Philippe Morier Genoud, Francine Racette

During the winter of 1943, Julien Quentin, a pampered mother’s boy, leaves his home in Paris at the end of Christmas break. Saddened to be returning to the tediousness of boarding school, Julien’s classes seem uneventful until Père Jean, the headmaster, introduces three new pupils. One of them, Jean Bonnet, is the same age as Julien. Julien at first despises Bonnet, a standoffish intellectual who is being picked on by the rest of the class.

After a game of capture the flag, however, they bond and a very close friendship develops between them. One night Julien wakes up and discovers that Bonnet is wearing a kippah and is praying in the Hebrew language. After ransacking his new friend’s locker, Julien learns the truth. His new friend’s name is not Bonnet, but Jean Kippelstein. Père Jean, a dignified, sacrificing priest of the old school, has agreed to grant a secret asylum to hunted Jews.

When Julien’s mother visits, he arranges for Bonnet to accompany them to lunch at a gourmet restaurant. As they sit around the table, the talk turns to Julien’s father, a factory owner. When Julien’s brother asks if he is still for Marshall Pétain, Madame Quentin responds, “No one is anymore.” However, the Milice arrives and attempts to expel a Jewish diner. When Julien’s brother calls them, “Collabos,” the Milice commander is enraged and tells Madam Quentin, “We serve France, madam. He insulted us.” However, when a Wehrmacht officer coldly orders them to leave, the Milice officers grudgingly obey. Julien’s mother comments that the Jewish diner appears to be a very distinguished gentleman. She insists that she has nothing against Jews, but would not object if the socialist politician Léon Blum were hanged.

In a voiceover epilogue, an older Julien reveals that the passage of forty years still has not dimmed his memory of that horrible day. The children, he states, were all murdered at Auschwitz. Père Jean was imprisoned with other anti-Nazi priests at Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, where he died shortly after the Americans took over the camp.