The 10 best battle scenes combine emotional depth and heavy action into a blend that effectively conveys the texture of war. Most of the best battle scenes are the most pivotal moments in the movies that contain them. They are often the scenes that people remember the most after walking out of the theater, and some of them are among the best scenes in the history of cinema.
- The Omaha Beach battle at the beginning of “Saving Private Ryan” is certainly among the best battle scenes depicting that moment in history. It has incredible intensity, perfect staging, and a lot of drama. One of the most effective aspects of the scene is the way it puts the audience into the battle. While watching it, you can actually get a feeling for the strategy being used, and challenges each soldier was facing.
- The battle at the end “Saving Private Ryan” is another of the best battle scenes. It’s almost as good as the first scene, and it works for totally different reasons. By the time we get to this point in the movie, we know the characters very well, and Spielberg uses this to play up the character drama very effectively.
- The Attack on Hidetora’s Castle in the Japanese film “Ran” is definitely one of the best battle scenes. The whole scene plays out in silence with only music, and there is an elegance to every moment. It almost feels like you’re watching history unfold.
- The great battle scene in Howard Hawk’s “Sergeant York” happens near the end, when we see the title character become a hero. The fact that his actions are based on a true story just makes the whole scene more amazing, and it is perfectly executed so that the audience is fully aware of the significance of everything.
- "Alexander Nevsky" is a medieval Russian movie by the great director Sergei Eisenstein, and it contains one of the all-time great battle scenes. The scene involves mounted knights with swords, and it takes place on a frozen river of ice. It is brilliantly filmed using camera depth effects to create the feeling that the air is thick with swords.
- The Battle of Stirling from “Braveheart” was an easy choice as one of the all-time best battle scenes. The scene is extremely violent, highly intense, and it has a great dramatic context.
- The battle of Rourke's Drift at the end of “Zulu” is a great example of what it takes to make one of the best battle scenes. We have a small group of soldiers against overwhelming numbers trying to use strategy and technology to keep themselves alive. The scene is filled with tension, and intelligently executed.
- The Battle of the Pelennor Fields at the end of “Return of the King” is the best example of a fantasy battle ever filmed, and an easy choice as one of the all-time best battle scenes. The scene works on a number of different levels, and it brings a great feeling of spectacle.
- “Barry Lyndon” by Stanley Kubrick is not really a war movie, but it does include one of the best battle scenes ever created. The film is set in the 1700's, and Barry enlists in the army. Eventually he is forced to fight in a war, and the scene shows the seemingly crazy way of fighting from that era, with soldiers marching slowly forward as their enemies fired musket volleys, killing hundreds of them at a time.
- Near the end of “Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World” we get to see one of the greatest naval battles ever filmed. The two ships face off with a lot of strategy, and the viewer gets a real feeling for the way ship battles were often fought during that time when the ocean was a place of total isolation.
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