Best historical films

I like to watch ‘historical’ films and these are my recommendations. I welcome additions. This will be non-periodically updated. I’ve indicated the topic where it might be unclear. This is NOT meant to be an exhaustive list!


The Kite Runner – Afghanistan 1990s

Waltz With Bashir – Palestine/Lebanon

Lawrence of Arabia


Battle for Algiers – imperialism

**All Quiet on the Western Front – WWI

**Lawrence of Arabia – WWI

Strike – Russian Revolution

*Triumph of the Will – Nazi propaganda

**Schindler’s List

**Casablanca – WWII

The Bicycle Thieves – postwar Italy

Goodbye Lenin – reunification


The Last of the Mohicans



Amistad – slavery

They Died With Their Boots On – Indian conquest

Dances With Wolves – ditto

**Little Big Man – ditto

The Great Gatsby – Roaring 20s

Inherit the Wind – Scopes Monkey Trial

Of Mice and Men – 1930s

Pennies From Heaven – 1930s

The Wizard of Oz – Bryan, silverites, class conflict

The Cradle Will Rock – WPA/1930s

Iron-Jawed Angels – Women’s suffrage

Patton – WWII (all of the following are WWII until Manchurian Candidate)

Flags Of Our Fathers

*Letters From Iwo Jima

Saving Private Ryan

*The Longest Day

*Tora Tora Tora

Bridge Over the River Kwai

*The True Glory – US propaganda

**Judgment At Nuremberg

Doctor Atomic (okay, this is an opera, not a film – but one day it will be on DVD!)

Nixon in China (ditto)

The Manchurian Candidate – Red Scare


13 Days

The Right Stuff – Apollo 13 mission

Platoon – Vietnam

*Apocalypse Now – Vietnam

Missisippi Burning – civil rights

**Milk – Gay Rights 1970s


*Charlie Wilson’s War – the rise of the Taliban

*Stop-Loss – Iraq and redeployment

Okay, so this is supposed to be just movies, but here are some of the best historical books of all time:

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

All Quiet On the Western Front

The Things They Carried

Everything Is Illuminated

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