20+ Best Hollywood War Movies Based On True Stories

Updated On April 15, 2017 by Shreya Vaid | Short URL: http://movie.sc/2of5F5s  

A state of armed conflict between two parties, known as War to us. Many wars have been fought over the years, from ancient times to modern times. But stories of such wars are always reaching us as facts or statistics. Some of the best filmmakers make sure that the human side of the stories reaches to us. Movies that make us feel the pain our soldiers went through.

RECOMMENDED READING: Best World War 1 Movies Based On True Stories And Events!

Here’s a list of best Hollywood War Movies based on true stories and events:

1. The Great Escape (1963)

The Great Escape (1963)

Imprisoned in German POW camp during World War II, a group of allied forces soldiers plan to break out from the prison. But not just break out, they want to divert German soldiers attention as well so that allied forces can take over. But when their escape becomes reality, they realize that the stakes are much higher than they thought.

2. Platoon (1986)

Platoon (1986)

Chris Taylor, a student gives up his studies to enlist for Vietnam war. But when he gets to the ground, his courage and idealism fades. A growing hidden conflict between his two staff sergeants turns the soldiers against each other and then, all hell breaks loose!

3. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

What happens when two friends come under training for Vietnam war? One of them takes a detour, and another one graduates to Marine Corps and is shipped to Vietnam as a journalist. But even he gets stuck covering and eventually participating in Bloody Battle of Hue. Will he survive to see another day?

4. Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler's List

Oskar Schindler wants to make money from the brimming World War II. He wants to open a factory in Krakow but lacks workers. Thanks to his political expediency, he hires Jewish workers in his factory. But when SS begins the extermination of Jews in Krakow Ghetto, Schindler pulls up his sleeves to help his workers and save them.

5. The Enemy at the Gates (2001)

The Enemy at the Gates (2001)

Based on true story of a Russian sniper Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev, The Enemy at the Gates features the battle of Stalingrad which was fought for 5 and a half months between Nazi’s and Russian Army. During this battle, a sniper caught everyone’s attention that killed 225 Nazi soldiers using his skills.

6. Pearl Harbour (2001)

Pearl Harbour (2001)

Based on real life historical events, the movie captures the story of two best friends who fall for the same girl. Rafe and Danny both enter World War II as pilots. Rafe is so eager to fight that he joins England’s Air Force command. Back at home, his girlfriend, Evelyn finds comfort in arms of Danny. But when Rafe comes back, he confronts Danny. But everything changes when Japanese troops drop bombs on Pearl Harbour station of Navy.

7. We Were Soldiers (2002)

We Were Soldiers (2002)

Based on the best-selling book and true story, We Were Soldiers is a war drama which shows the story of the first battle between the United States and Vietnam forces. A film that depicts bonds of soldiers among their troops truly. The valor, loyalty, and heroism is something which attracted many viewers to this film.

8. The Pianist (2002)

The Pianist

Adaptation of an amazing autobiography, Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew plays Piano on the radio station. He sees his town Warsaw change gradually during the World War II. Now take into a ghetto, Szpilman is separated from his family due to Operation Reinhard. To escape Nazi’s, Szpilman hides in various locations of rubble till the time concentration camp prisoners are released.

9. Downfall (2004)

Downfall (2004)

An adaptation from the famous book, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, Traudl Junge gets a dream job as Hitler’s secretary. But three years pass and now Hitler’s empire is now based in an underground bunker. Traudl gives a narration of Hitler’s final days and also share stories about his mistress, Eva Braun and infamous Nazi preparation for the coming end.

10. Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Some heroes are not Soldiers; they are simply men and women living their life. Hotel Rwanda is a story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager. During Rwanda genocide, he gave refuge to thousand Tutsi people to save them from Hutu militia during the Rwanda Genocide.

11. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

Old buried letters from an Island reveal a tale of struggle and survival at a small Japnese Island during World War II. Letters reveal that General, Tadamichi Kuribayashi knows that he and his men won’t be able to survive on the Island, but gives his all using his amazing military skills to keep off American Troops from them.

12. Defiance (2008)

Defiance (2008)

Based on true life story of Bielski brigade, Defiance is a story of a time when Nazi soldiers slaughtered European Jews in the year 1941. Three brothers Tuvia, Zus, and Asael manage to escape the genocide and take refuge in the forest. Seeking revenge, they turn their daily life into battle against Nazi and also establish a mobile establishment where many other refugees joined them.

13. Valkyrie (2008)

Valkyrie (2008)

Based on a true story to assassinate Hitler in July 1944, Operation Valkyrie was a joint effort of Hitler’s soldiers to kill him and overthrow the Third Reich. Col. Claus Von Stauffenberg is loyal towards his country and Nazi party, but fears that Hitler will eat the country. He joins a group of like minded and high ranking people to overthrow Nazi regime from within. Stauffenberg becomes the main man to assassinate the evil dictator.

14. Lincoln (2012)

Lincoln (2012)

Not just a story about America;s most famous President, Abraham Lincoln. It is a story about when America was torn due to Civil war and Slavery was an issue that was eating up Lincoln’s mind. His deep insights, political smartness and courage that made him end the civil war and abolish slavery from America is what the film is about, and a must watch!

15. Lone Survivor (2013)

Lone Survivor (2013)

Many soldiers gave up their life in the fight against terrorism. Lone Survivor is one such movie. Afghanistan, the year 2005, four Navy SEALS officers go to a mission to do surveillance and kill Taliban Leader Ahmad Shah. Dring their mission, they come across goat herds but decide not to kill them. But one of the Afghans alert the Taliban group and what comes next is a battle in which SEAL’s find themselves out gunned and out numbered.

16. The Railway Man (2013)

The Railway Man (2013)

What happens when someone tries to hunt their past? Eric Lomax is a former prisoner of war and an ex-British Army officer. One day he gets to know that his torturer is still alive. He along with his wife then sets out to confront the man who changed his life forever.

17. The Wind Rises (2013)

The Wind Rises (2013)

Based on the life of a person created A-6M World War II fighter plane, Japnese aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi always wanted to fly. Tired of these longings, he sets on a path to create A-6m fighter plane. And the list of creations is endless. One movie that can teach you to be an innovator for yourself.

18. Unbroken (2014)

Unbroken (2014)

Based on true life story of an Olympic qualifying runner, Louis Zamperini was always in trouble since a kid. On the advice of his elder brother, he started channeling his energy into running. A day comes when he qualifies for 1936 Olympic. But World War II changed everything. He enlists in Army but on a mission, his plane crashes into Pacific. After surviving on an adrift raft for 47 days, he got captured by Japnese Navy and then turned into prisoner of war.

19. American Sniper (2014)

American Sniper (2014)

Some soldiers come back from war to their home, but some of them get the war home with them. American Sniper is a true story about Navy SEAL Sniper, Chris Kyle, whose accuracy and skill in the battlefield turned him into a legend. When he comes back from four tours of Iraq, he realizes that he cannot leave the War behind.

20. The Imitation Game (2014)

The Imitation Game (2014)

Based on the life of Alan Turing, one of the most celebrated and famous British Scientist, the movie is set in the year 1939, when Turing was hired by MI6 to crack Nazi codes including one of the toughest codes, Enigma- which is still unbroken. Turing’s team succeeds in doing so and also builds a machine that can decipher the codes. But in the year 1952, an unfortunate incident disgraced this genius and authorities accuse him of being Gay and send him to prison.

21. Fury (2014)

Fury (2014)

Adapted from a collection of short stories from real life army veterans, Fury is a story about Army Sergeant named War Daddy. In April 1945, when allies were working their way through Europe, Wardaddy commands his band of soldiers and an army veteran on a deadly mission. Outnumbered, no weapons and a rookie soldier in their brigade, they face all kinds of odds to win the battle.

22. Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Child soldiers are something that we have always heard of but never paid much attention to the issue. Beasts of No Nation is a Netflix original story based on the civil war of Africa. A fierce warlord trains a young orphan boy to join his group of Gorilla Soldiers.

These are some of the best Hollywood war movies based on true stories. Though the list is a little short, but these are the best ones that we have personally watched and loved. In case, you have come across anything more amazing, be it a film or documentary, feel free to share with us and we shall update the list as well.

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Shreya Vaid is a Bibliophile, food lover and a wild child! Currently working as an HR professional and trying to make a name in this big world!

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30 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. jaspreet singh October 26, 2015 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    great Hollywood war movies list my favorite one is American Sniper (2014)

  2. Bubba Tophat February 21, 2016 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    Best Movie LONE SURVIVOR!!!

  3. ooO BlueFist Ooo March 5, 2016 at 12:18 am - Reply

    i agree… lone survivor is by far the best one

  4. antoni April 8, 2016 at 9:25 pm - Reply

    One if the best ” 13 HOUR – SECRET SOLDIER FROM OF BENGHAZI”

  5. shashank April 23, 2016 at 10:40 am - Reply

    unbroken is the best

  6. Sudheer.S April 23, 2016 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    The list should contain the movie “Bridge too far” too which featured a large number of prominent Hollywood stars.

    The best movie is certainly “The great escape”. An outstanding plot with a great performance by Steve Mac-Queen and well supported by Richard Attenborough, James Garner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Donald Plesence etc

  7. Mike Anderson April 25, 2016 at 1:31 am - Reply

    What about “The Great Raid?”

  8. Deep raval May 2, 2016 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    All this movies are the best… But I guess you forget to mention one best movie in your list that is ” saving private Ryan”

  9. swapnil May 8, 2016 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Did anybody hve watch FuRy ,saving the private ryan and The pianist…..you will forget lone survivor nd sniper

  10. DC Naval May 9, 2016 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    How about black hawk down?

  11. anne May 30, 2016 at 11:26 am - Reply

    13 hour- secret soldiers of Benghazi no doubt one of the best.

  12. Warjunkie June 21, 2016 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    13 hours is my favorite, honorable mentions sniper, lone survivor….

    Is spr based on true events?

  13. Rantu Das June 26, 2016 at 10:53 am - Reply

    The Lost Battalion – another great war movie is not in the list

  14. alisha July 1, 2016 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    I like fury

  15. Rizwan khan July 1, 2016 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    The enemy of the gates

  16. Chloe July 4, 2016 at 6:24 am - Reply

    Saving private ryan was based on a true story. Albeit I haven’t seen many of these so I can’t really speak to how good they are, but it disappoints me that Saving Private Ryan did not make the list.

  17. Mohammed hack July 5, 2016 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Black hawk down is the best but is not on the list

  18. Michael Burns July 24, 2016 at 12:57 am - Reply

    I agree with these but you have to include black hawk down and saving private ryan

  19. andreaborling August 4, 2016 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    lone survivor and 13 hours

  20. Henry August 7, 2016 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Although not a film, the mini-series Band Of Brothers is true and absolutely amazing.

  21. Saurabh yadav August 18, 2016 at 7:27 pm - Reply


  22. krushna chandra nayak August 19, 2016 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Lone survivor is best movie.

  23. Dannidoo August 21, 2016 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    My favourite recent movie best on a real story is 13 hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – about the assassination of the US Ambassador in Libya. So so good, would recommend it to anyone who loves this genre.

  24. ajit August 22, 2016 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Sir I think without ‘tears of the sun ,your list is incomplete

  25. hitendra August 24, 2016 at 11:28 am - Reply

    pearl harbour&lone surbiour

  26. Rishav raj August 26, 2016 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    “SAVING PRIVATE RYAN ” must have been in the list

  27. nand August 30, 2016 at 11:56 am - Reply

    i thik american sniper is great

  28. JimiT September 1, 2016 at 12:13 am - Reply

    Good list and yes there are some movies not listed that perhaps should have been. Stories based on true stories ? Mmmm a bit to hollywooded if you get my drift.
    Lone Survivor is about as close as it gets to real, well crafted into a story/movie , my fav by far.
    One thing about Saving Private Ryan has always had me wondering though, did they have felt tip markers in the 2nd world war ?? ( The tins of dirt the sergeant carries of the countries the group had fought in) Anyone help out there,

  29. Shailesh Bikram Paudel September 8, 2016 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    you forget one of thr best movie “The Hurt Locker” stars Jeremy Renner….awesome movie

  30. Manoj mahar September 11, 2016 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Battleships movie ? is the best movie in the world

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