As we transition into the fall, we inch ever closer to Veteran’s day. Over the years, there have been a multitude of movies produced in an effort to honor our military by offering realistic portrayals of survival and brotherhood. Below is a randomly compiled list of some of the top movies that rightfully honor our veterans.
Sands of Iwo Jima
Starring John Wayne in one of his most iconic roles as Sergeant Stryker, this movie follows a harrowing story about a drill sergeant and his defiant recruit. Beginning stateside, the movie depicts many hardships experienced by main characters and portrays Sergeant Stryker himself as a man who lacks empathy and sympathy for his recruits both at home and on the beaches of Japan.
As the movie progresses, Stryker is left with impossible decisions regarding the safety of his platoon. Additionally, the sergeant himself battles his own personal demons throughout the film. Overall, the movie speaks to the bravery of a commander as he faceless multiple dilemmas while trying to keep the men surrounding him alive. An emblematic ending regarding Sergeant Stryker can bring tears to all viewers; as the overall camaraderie and brotherhood formed in this movie perfectly resembles the lasting photo of four soldiers raising the american flag on Iwo Jima.
This movie focuses more on the trials and tribulations of coming home after war; as well as tackling the difficulty women face when their husbands deploy. The movie surrounds two main characters throughout the film; with Jon Voight playing a victim of war who was paralyzed overseas and Jane Fonda playing a hospital volunteer whose husband is currently deployed in Vietnam.
Voight and Fonda’s relationship blossoms throughout the film, and this suddenly leaves Fonda in a tough position once her husband returns home from Vietnam unexpectedly. This movie incredibly depicts all the hardships men and women involved in the war deal with and is absolutely worth a watch.
Born On the Fourth of July
An inspiring true story, Born On the Fourth of July tells the tale of Ron Kovic; a paralyzed Vietnam vet whose strength and will, both mentally and physically, are tested during his recovery. A powerhouse performance by Tom Cruise perfectly encapsulates the lack of support our country gave Vietnam Veterans upon their return home.
As the movie progresses Kovic begins to lose his initially optimistic attitude upon returning home. Startling discoveries amongst the Veteran Health Care System and the public’s overall perception of the Vietnam war eventually leads to Kovic becoming an anti-war and human rights activist. It’s a powerful story representing the psychological warfare soldiers deal with even after they return home safely. The move is definitely worth viewing if you have the time.
A Clint Eastwood flick, Gran Torino follows the story of an elderly Korean war veteran and the ever-awkward yet kindred relationship with his Korean neighbors. At the beginning of the film, Eastwood’s character is seen as a tough-nosed, racist war veteran who lives in a town swarming with Asian gang members. With the recent passing of his wife and now facing his own health concerns, Eastwood finds himself perpetually upset and commonly takes out his frustrations on his neighbors.
The crux of the movie is when Eastwood’s neighbor attempts to steal his most prized possession, an old Gran Torino, and subsequently gets caught. An unsuspecting relationship eventually blossoms between the car thief and Eastwood, as Eastwood overcomes his personal prejudices and health concerns for the greater good of his neighbors’ family. It is a well-done film that shows how even the most stubborn personalities can change over time. Be warned, you’ll be taken on an emotional rollercoaster in this one.
Another movie with Clint Eastwood at the helm, this excruciatingly realistic movie follows the life of heavily decorated US Navy Seal Chris Kyle during his four tour duty in Iraq. Played by Bradley Cooper, Kyle struggles throughout the film with both keeping his servicemen alive tour after tour, and dealing with the fallout of being an absentee father and husband.
This movie pulls at the heartstrings of its audience in a multitude of ways, and this is definitely one of the movies where you keep a tissue box nearby. From Navy Seal training to his final return home, Eastwood gives you a front row seat into the trials and tribulations that accompany Kyle both during and after his military service. It’s a fantastic representation of what our service men and women deal with as they deploy multiple times.
The Hurt Locker
This movie follows the story of a bomb squad in Iraq, with a heavy focus on a character played by Jeremy Renner. The Hurt Locker explores life out on the battlefield as well as at home, while masterfully adding suspenseful moments throughout. You’ll find yourself at the edge of your seat a lot of the time, while simultaneously being sucked into the raw emotional power of the film.
Providing a perfect blend of suspenseful bomb defusions and a heartfelt journey back home with these men, The Hurt Locker offers the whole package to any moviegoer. The internal conflict that Renner’s character suffers from throughout the film has the ability to leave you speechless as his decision-making unfolds. All in all, this is one of the more emotionally engaging war movies there are.
In totality, with fall fast approaching and Veteran’s day getting closer and closer, it’s the perfect time to pop on a military movie. With a plethora of options, including many more films than the six I’ve listed here, you can be sure to find the right movie for you. Whether you are searching for a drama, action/adventure, biography, or thriller, there have been countless classic films representing our military already created. Make sure to check some out over the coming month, and maybe you’ll gain a greater understanding of what service men and women individually sacrifice to defend our country.