Top 10 Battle Scenes in Movies
This has been quite a difficult list to make because there are so many brilliant battle scenes around. Despite that, I have managed to cull the list down to the 10 best. If you think I have left a great scene off the list – be sure to add it to the comments (preferably with a link to YouTube so everyone can watch). From good to great, here are the top 10 battle scenes in movies.
10. Gladiator Battle in Germania
Classical chaos in the thrilling Germania opening battle, as the Romans pitch a mudfight against hairy, scary forest-dwelling barbarians. Russell Crowe single-handedly revived epic sword-and-sandal films; thousands of movie extras cheered, then were digitally replaced.
This scene is probably the greatest scene filmed by Japanese filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa. Ran was Kurosawa’s last great epic. With a budget of $12 million, it was the most expensive Japanese film ever produced. The film was hailed for its powerful images and use of color – costume designer Emi Wada won an Academy Award for Costume Design for her work on Ran. The distinctive Gustav Mahler-inspired film score, written by Toru Takemitsu, plays in isolation with ambient sound muted (most notably during the battle at the third castle).
8. Tora! Tora! Tora! Attack on Pearl Harbour
There are two good films about Pearl Harbor. If “From Here to Eternity” dealt brilliantly with the human drama of the event, “Tora! Tora! Tora!” captures the sheer audacity of the Japanese aerial raid on the naval base. Massively expensive for its time (it cost an estimated $25 million) and featuring three directors, one American and two Japanese, this is truly filmmaking on an epic scale.
“They may take our lives, but they will never take our FREEDOM!” Woaded-up Mel Gibson plays Scottish rebel William Wallace and tries nobly to overthrow the beastly English. His victory at the Battle of Stirling is scarcely a model of historical accuracy, but tremendous fun nonetheless and, if there were one, Gibson’s rousing taunts would have won him the Oscar for best battlefield banter.
6. The Two Towers Helm’s Deep
The battle of Helms Deep begins, and the Elves manage to hold the Uruk-hai at the wall, but it is blown up and many are killed during the ensuing attack through the breach. The Uruk-hai also manage to break the Gate despite Aragorn and Gimli’s best efforts, and they fall back to the Keep.
5. Henry V The Battle of Agincourt
Before the Battle of Agincourt, victory looks uncertain, and the young king’s heroic character is shown by his decision to wander around the English camp at night, in disguise, so as to comfort his soldiers and find out what they really think of him. Before the battle begins, Henry rallies his troops with his famous speech: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile […]”.
Thousands of doomed Allied troops are dispatched behind enemy lines in an awe-inspiring parachute drop, followed by the climactic tank and infantry battle over the bridge at Arnhem. Richard Attenborough’s cast is stellar (including Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Sean Connery, Dirk Bogarde, Ryan O’Neal and Robert Redford) and his pre-CGI achievement staggering.
3. Glory The Storming of Fort Wagner
Glory is a 1989 Academy Award-winning drama based on the history of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment during the American Civil War. The Battle of Fort Wagner, Morris Island, was the Union attack on July 18, 1863, led by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first major American military units made up of black soldiers. Colonel Robert Gould Shaw led the 54th Regiment on foot while they charged and was killed in the assault.
2. 300 The Battle of Thermopylae
In the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian Empire at the pass of Thermopylae in central Greece. Vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the Persians for three days in one of history’s most famous last stands. A small force led by King Leonidas of Sparta blocked the only road through which the massive army of Xerxes I of Persia (Xerxes the Great) could pass.
1. Saving Private Ryan Omaha Beach Landing
The graphic depiction of the Omaha beach D-Day landing shocked audiences and even induced flashbacks in Normandy veterans. The shaky, hand held cameras, the desaturated color and the unflinching portrayal of the near-suicidal assault all add up to a sickening sense of realism that remains unmatched in war films.
Notable Omissions: Battle of Rourke’s Drift from Zulu, Enemy at the Gates