The 101 War Movies You Must See Before You Die is a guide to the best, and the most interesting and thought provoking war movies ever made.
Like his similar guide to The 101 Gangster Movies You Must See Before You Die, Steven Jay Schneider concentrates on picking a wide selection of from the full spectrum of war movies released. Rather than deal with a type of person, this book deals with the much wider subject of war and conflict from the standpoint of the aggressor, the soldier and the innocent, or not so innocent victims.
Arranged in chronological order the book starts with the somewhat controversial ‘Birth of a Nation’ – an important but ultimately abhorrent movie that essentially holds up the Ku Klux Klan as heroes during the American Civil War. The early films also selected include the somewhat lighter ‘The General’ – Buster Keatons late appreciated final work – and ‘The Great Dictator’ a hilarious film about Hitler written by, directed and starring Charlie Chaplain. Through the middle part of the 20th century we rather unsurprisingly start to see more second world war movies especially the popular and somewhat lighter British movies like ‘The Dambusters’, ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’, but also the critically acclaimed ‘The Cranes Are Flying’ which was one of the most honest Russian films about the war following Stalins death. The 70’s and 80’s sees the darker side and the consequences of war examined with films like ‘Apocolypse Now’ and ‘Platoon’ and the 90’s are represented by films like ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Schindler’s List’ and more recent conflicts are covered by ‘Black Hawk Down’ and ‘Hotel Rwanda’.
For war film fans looking to get a good all round perspective on war and the causes of, and effects from different viewpoints there is a good selection of foreign films like the Czech film ‘Divided We Fall’ and the fascinating German film about the last days if Hitler: ‘Der Untergang (Downfall)’.
The book sets itself an ambitious target to select only 101 films but it manages to list a wide variety of the less well known films whilst also including the popular favourites. Presented in a compact format and with every film well illustrated, The 101 War Movies You Must See Before You Die by Steven Jay Schneider is an essential guide for fans of war films and movies in general.