American War Movies Must-See on Veteran’s Day

To honor Veteran’s Day this coming November 11, one author, Robert Demar, has made up a list of good American war movies to watch – five movies ranging from the WWII to the Persian Gulf to the Battle of Mogadisu and Iraq.

Flags of Our Fathers
Flags of Our Fathers

Flags of Our Fathers (2006)

This WWII war film under the direction of actor Clint Eastwood centers on five Marines and one navy Corpsman who were linked to the raising of the American flag in Iwo Jima and how that event affected the rest of their lives post-WWII.

Flags of Our Fathers was nominated twice for the Academy awards and made it to the National Board of Review’s Top Ten List. Rotten Tomatoes, a well-known movie-rating site, has also given it a “Fresh” rating of 73%.

Flags of Our Fathers is a patriotic film in that it honors those who fought in the Pacific, but it is also patriotic because it questions the official version of the truth, and reminds us that superheroes exist only in comic books and cartoon movies,” film critic Richard Roeper was quoted saying about the movie.


Platoon (1986)

Platoon, directed by Oliver Stone, starred Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger and Willem DaFoe and was based on Liver’s actual experience as a US infantryman stationed in Vietnam and was meant to counter the war picture John Wayne’s The Green Berets portrayed.

The film was the recipient of four Academy awards including Best Director and Picture. Well-known American film critic Roger Ebert gave it a four-out-of-five-star rate, called it one of the best pictures ever produced as well as the ninth best for films produced during the 1980s. It also got a satisfying 87% rate from Rotten Tomatoes.

“Platoon is the best work of any kind about the Vietnam War since Michael Herr’s vigorous and hallucinatory book Dispatches,” Vincent Canby wrote in his New York Times review about the film.


Jarhead (2005)

This bio-drama picture was directed by Sam Mendes and had Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Fox and Chris Cooper in the lead roles. It was based on the memoirs of U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford – his experiences while in boot camp up to his being stationed in the Persian Gulf as part of the “Desert Shield” operation. Jarhead was a slang used in reference to US Marines as their heads resembled jars with their military-cut hair.

The film received a mixed reception from film critics. Ebert gave it a three-and-a-half stars out of four giving credit to its…

“…unique portrayal of Gulf War Marines who battle boredom and a sense of isolation rather than enemy combatants.”

Rotten Tomatoes, on the other hand, credited it with a 61% rate.

Black Hawk Down
Black Hawk Down

Blackhawk Down (2001)

Directed by Ridley Scott, this war picture chronicled the events during the Battle of Mogidashu, a raid which was part of US’ efforts to get Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The film had a large cast of actors and had won two Oscars – Best Film Editing and Best Sound.

It was also the recipient of many positive reviews, though it was not lauded by the Somalis.

“…the film extols the sheer professionalism of America’s elite Delta Force – even in the unforeseen disaster that was 1993’s Battle of Mogadishu,” USA Today’s film critic Mike Clark’s words about the movie.

The Hurt Locker
The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker (2009, in America)

Under the direction of Kathryn Bigelow and casting Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, The Hurt Locker centers on a three-man Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team during the War in Iraq. The film was the recipient of of worldwide acclaim when it premiered and Rotten Tomatoes had given it a whooping 97% film rate.

Roger Ebert in his review about the movie in Chicago Sun Times lauded it as 2009’s best film and the second best for the whole decade:

The Hurt Locker is a great film, an intelligent film, a film shot clearly so we know exactly who everybody is and where they are and what they’re doing and why.”

In fact, The Hurt Locker won six Oscars in 2009 including Best Picture and Director.

Fun fact: Many Americans believe Veterans Day is for honoring American military individuals who died in action. However, that is not the case. There’s the Memorial Day (commemorated every last Monday of May) for that. Veterans Day, November 11 of every year, is set aside to give honor to ALL OF AMERICA’S VETERANS – whether they are living or have passed away.

– The San Juan Islander reports


Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE