Action/Adventure, Best Movies, Classics, Drama, Foreign-Language, History, War

The Best World War 1 Movies

“What are the best movies about World War 1?” We looked at 52 of the top WW1 films and ranked them so we could answer that very question!

The top 28 films, all appearing on 2 or more “Best WW1” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 20+ movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 28 World War 1 Movies



28 .) A Farewell to Arms (1932) directed by Frank Borzage

A Farewell to Arms (1932)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Ranker

A tale of the World War I love affair, begun in Italy, between American ambulance driver Lt. Frederic Henry and British nurse Catherine Barkley. Eventually separated by Frederic’s transfer, tremendous challenges and difficult decisions face each as the war rages on.



27 .) Flyboys (2006)

Flyboys (2006)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Movies Drop
  • Ranker

The adventures of the Lafayette Escadrille, young Americans who volunteered for the French military before the U.S. entered World War I, and became the country’s first fighter pilots.



26 .) Legends of the Fall (1994) directed by Edward Zwick

Legends of the Fall (1994)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Indiewire

An epic tale of three brothers and their father living in the remote wilderness of 1900s USA and how their lives are affected by nature, history, war, and love.



25 .) My Boy Jack (2007)

My Boy Jack (2007)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Movies Drop
  • Ranker

Author Rudyard Kipling and his wife search for their 17-year-old son after he goes missing during WWI.



24 .) Shoulder Arms (1918)

Shoulder Arms (1918)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Independent

An American doughboy, stationed in France during the Great War, goes on a daring mission behind enemy lines and becomes a hero.



23 .) The Blue Max directed by John Guillerman

The Blue Max

Lists It Appears On:

  • Ranker
  • Taste Of Cinema

A young pilot in the German air force of 1918, disliked as lower-class and unchivalrous, tries ambitiously to earn the medal offered for 20 kills.



22 .) The Fighting 69th (1940)

The Fighting 69th (1940)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Movies Drop
  • Ranker

Although loudmouthed braggart Jerry Plunkett alienates his comrades and officers, Father Duffy, the regimental chaplain, has faith that he’ll prove himself in the end.



21 .) The Lost Battalion (2001)

The Lost Battalion (2001)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Movies Drop
  • Ranker

Fact-based war drama about an American battalion of over 500 men which gets trapped behind enemy lines in the Argonne Forest in October 1918 France during the closing weeks of World War I. Based on a true story, The Lost Battalion is set in 1918 during the final months of WWI. Assigned to capture an enemy stronghold in Charlvaux at the height of the Argonne campaign, the men of the AEF 308th Battalion, 77th Division, are led by young American major Charles Whittlesey, an inexperienced but dedicated “citizen soldier.” Totally cut off from the other allied troops, unaware of their vulnerability, and barraged by “friendly fire,” the 500-plus men of the 308th bravely hold their position, suffering incredible losses and unspeakable deprivations in the process — while the battalion’s superior officers, far from the firing line, callously prepare to write off the men as expendable casualties.



20 .) The Red Baron (2008)

The Red Baron (2008)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Movies Drop
  • Ranker

Richthofen goes off to war like thousands of other men. As fighter pilots, they become cult heroes for the soldiers on the battlefields. Marked by sportsmanlike conduct, technical exactitude and knightly propriety, they have their own code of honour. Before long he begins to understand that his hero status is deceptive. His love for Kate, a nurse, opens his eyes to the brutality of war.



19 .) The Trench (1999)

The Trench (1999)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Empire Online
  • Movies Drop

The Trench tells the story of a group of young British soldiers on the eve of the Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916, the worst defeat in British military history. Against this ill-fated backdrop, the movie depicts the soldiers’ experience as a mixture of boredom, fear, panic, and restlessness, confined to a trench on the front lines.



18 .) Wooden Crosses (1932) directed by Raymond Bernard

Wooden Crosses (1932)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Empire Online
  • Taste Of Cinema

The young and patriotic student Demachy joins the French army in 1914 to defend his country. But he and his comrades soon experience the terrifying, endless trench war in Champagne, where more and more wooden crosses have to be erected for this cannon fodder.



17 .) Aces High (1976) directed by Jack Gold

Aces High (1976)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Empire Online
  • IMDB
  • Movies Drop

The first World War is in its third year and aerial combat above the Western Front is consuming the nation’s favored children at an appalling rate. By early 1917, the average life-span of a British pilot is less than a fortnight. Such losses place a fearsome strain on Gresham, commanding officer of the squadron. Aces High recreates the early days of the Royal Flying Corps with some magnificently staged aerial battles, and sensitive direction presents a moving portrayal of the futilities of war.



16 .) Beneath Hill 60 (2010)

Beneath Hill 60 (2010)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Movies Drop
  • Ranker
  • The Cinemaholic

The true story of Australia’s cat-and-mouse underground mine warfare – one of the most misunderstood, misrepresented and mystifying conflicts of WW I. It was a secret struggle BENEATH the Western Front that combined daring engineering, technology and science, and few on the surface knew of the brave, claustrophobic and sometimes barbaric work of these tunnellers.



15 .) Joyeux Noël (2005)

Joyeux Noël (2005)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Ranker
  • The Cinemaholic
  • The Culture Trip

In 1914, World War I, the bloodiest war ever at that time in human history, was well under way. However on Christmas Eve, numerous sections of the Western Front called an informal, and unauthorized, truce where the various front-line soldiers of the conflict peacefully met each other in No Man’s Land to share a precious pause in the carnage with a fleeting brotherhood.



14 .) King and Country (1964) directed by Joseph Losey

King and Country (1964)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Empire Online
  • Taste Of Cinema

During World War I a British soldier, charged with desertion, is defended by an officer who at first despises his actions and then grows to feel sympathy for him.



13 .) La Grande Illusion (1937) directed by Jean Renoir

La Grande Illusion (1937)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Empire Online
  • Taste Of Cinema

A group of French soldiers, including the patrician Captain de Boeldieu and the working-class Lieutenant Maréchal, grapple with their own class differences after being captured and held in a World War I German prison camp. When the men are transferred to a high-security fortress, they must concoct a plan to escape beneath the watchful eye of aristocratic German officer von Rauffenstein, who has formed an unexpected bond with de Boeldieu.



12 .) Sergeant York (1941) directed by Howard Hawks

Sergeant York (1941)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Empire Online
  • Ranker
  • Taste Of Cinema

Alvin York a hillbilly sharpshooter transforms himself from ruffian to religious pacifist. He is then called to serve his country and despite deep religious and moral objections to fighting becomes one of the most celebrated American heroes of WWI.



11 .) The Big Parade (1925) directed by King Vidor

The Big Parade (1925)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Empire Online
  • Taste Of Cinema

The story of an idle rich boy who joins the US Army’s Rainbow Division and is sent to France to fight in World War I, becomes friends with two working class men, experiences the horrors of trench warfare, and finds love with a French girl.



10 .) The Dawn Patrol (1938) directed by Howard Hawks

The Dawn Patrol (1938)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Empire Online
  • Ranker
  • Taste Of Cinema

In 1915 France, Major Brand commands the 39th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. The young airmen go up in bullet-riddled “crates” and the casualty rate is appalling, but Brand can’t make the “brass hats” at headquarters see reason. Insubordinate air ace Captain Courtney is another thorn in Brand’s side…but finds the smile wiped from his face when he rises to command the squadron himself. Everyone keeps a stiff upper lip.



9 .) La Grande Guerra (1959) directed by Mario Monicelli

La Grande Guerra (1959)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Independent
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • Ranker

Italy, 1916. Oreste Jacovacci and Giovanni Busacca are called, as all the Italian youths, to serve the army in the WWI. They both try in every way to avoid serving the army.



8 .) Wings (1927) directed by William A. Wellman

Wings (1927)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Independent
  • Indiewire
  • Ranker
  • Taste Of Cinema

Two young men, one rich, one middle class, both in love with the same woman, become US Air Corps fighter pilots and, eventually, heroic flying aces during World War I. Devoted best friends, their mutual love of the girl eventually threatens their bond. Meanwhile, a hometown girl who’s the lovestruck lifelong next door neighbor of one of them, pines away.



7 .) The African Queen (1951) directed by John Huston

The African Queen (1951)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Empire Online
  • IMDB
  • Movies Drop
  • Ranker
  • The Culture Trip

At the start of the first World War, in the middle of Africa’s nowhere, a gin soaked riverboat captain is persuaded by a strong-willed missionary to go down river and face-off a German warship.



6 .) War Horse (2011) directed by Steven Spielberg

War Horse (2011)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • Movies Drop
  • Ranker
  • The Cinemaholic
  • The Culture Trip

Follows a young man named Albert and his horse, Joey, and how their bond is broken when Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches of World War One. Despite being too young to enlist, Albert heads to France to save his friend.



5 .) A Very Long Engagement (2004) directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

A Very Long Engagement (2004)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Empire Online
  • IMDB
  • Independent
  • Indiewire
  • Ranker
  • The Cinemaholic

In 1919, Mathilde was 19 years old. Two years earlier, her fiancé Manech left for the front at the Somme. Like millions of others he was “killed on the field of battle.” It’s written in black and white on the official notice. But Mathilde refuses to believe it. If Manech had died, she would know. She hangs on to her intuition as tightly as she would onto the last thread of hope linking her to her lover. A former sergeant tells her in vain that Manech died in the no man’s land of a trench named Bingo Crepescule, in the company of four other men condemned to die for self-inflicted wounds. Her path ahead is full of obstacles but Mathilde is not frightened. Anything is possible to someone who is willing to challenge fate…



4 .) Gallipoli (1981) directed by Peter Weir

Gallipoli (1981)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Empire Online
  • IMDB
  • Independent
  • Indiewire
  • Ranker
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Culture Trip

As World War I rages, brave and youthful Australians Archy and Frank, both agile runners, become friends and enlist in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps together. They later find themselves part of the Dardanelles Campaign on the Gallipoli peninsula, a brutal eight-month conflict which pit the British and their allies against the Ottoman Empire and left over 500,000 men dead.



3 .) Lawrence of Arabia (1962) directed by David Lean

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Lists It Appears On:

  • Empire Online
  • IMDB
  • Independent
  • Indiewire
  • Movies Drop
  • Ranker
  • The Culture Trip

The story of British officer T.E. Lawrence’s mission to aid the Arab tribes in their revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Lawrence becomes a flamboyant, messianic figure in the cause of Arab unity but his psychological instability threatens to undermine his achievements.



2 .) All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) directed by Lewis Milestone

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Empire Online
  • IMDB
  • Independent
  • Indiewire
  • Ranker
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Culture Trip

A young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I. Together with several other young German soldiers, he experiences the horrors of war, such evil of which he had not conceived of when signing up to fight. They eventually become sad, tormented, and confused of their purpose.



1 .) Paths of Glory (1957) directed by Stanley Kubrick

Paths of Glory (1957)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • Empire Online
  • IMDB
  • Independent
  • Indiewire
  • Movies Drop
  • Ranker
  • Taste Of Cinema

During World War I, commanding officer General Broulard orders his subordinate, General Mireau, to attack a German trench position, offering a promotion as an incentive. Though the mission is foolhardy to the point of suicide, Mireau commands his own subordinate, Colonel Dax, to plan the attack. When it ends in disaster, General Mireau demands the court-martial of three random soldiers in order to save face.




The 20+ Additional Best Movies Taking Place During World War One


# Movie Director Lists
30 37 days (2014) [Mini-Series]   Movies Drop
31 Admiral (2008)   The Cinemaholic
32 Behind the Lines (1997)   The Cinemaholic
33 Hell’s Angels (1930)   BFI
34 J’accuse Abel Gance Taste Of Cinema
35 Johnny Got His Gun Dalton Trumbo Taste Of Cinema
36 King of Hearts Philipe de Broca Taste Of Cinema
37 Max (2002)   The Cinemaholic
38 Oh! What A Lovely War (1969)   Empire Online
39 Passchendaele (2008)   The Cinemaholic
40 Regeneration (1997)   Empire Online
41 The Battle Of The Somme (1916)   Empire Online
42
The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse (1921)
  Empire Online
43 The Lost Patrol (1934)   BFI
44 The Ode to Joy (2006)   The Cinemaholic
45 The Road to Glory (1936)   BFI
46 The Water Diviner (2014)   The Cinemaholic
47 The White Ribbon   Indiewire
48 The Wind That Shakes the Barley Ken Loach Indiewire
49 The Wiper Times (2013)   Movies Drop
50 They Shall Not Grow Old   Ranker
51 White Ribbon (2009)   Independent
52 Yankee Doodle Dandy   Ranker


10 Best WW1 Film Sources/Lists



Source Article
BFI 10 great First World War films
Empire Online Battle Of The Somme centenary: World War 1 movies to watch
IMDB The 10 Best World War I films
Independent Remembrance Day: The 10 best First World War films
Indiewire Here Are 9 Great WWI Movies In Honor of the War’s 100th Anniversary
Movies Drop Best World War 1 Movies Based On True Stories And Events
Ranker World War 1 Movies | List of the Best WW1 Films
Taste Of Cinema The 15 Best Movies About World War I
The Cinemaholic World War 1 Movies | 10 Best WW 1 Films of All Time
The Culture Trip Classic Films About The First World War

You Might Also Like