Category: War Movies
Taglines: Survival. Resilience. Redemption.
Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie directs and produces Unbroken, an epic drama that follows the incredible life of Olympian and war hero Louis Louie Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII-only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s (Seabiscuit: An American Legend) enormously popular book, Unbroken brings to the big screen Zamperini’s unbelievable and inspiring true story about the resilient power of the human spirit.
Starring alongside O’Connell are Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Wittrock as Phil and Mac-the airmen with whom Zamperini endured perilous weeks adrift in the open Pacific-Garrett Hedlund and John Magaro as fellow POWs who find an unexpected camaraderie during their internment, Alex Russell as Zamperini’s brother, Pete, and in his English-language feature debut, Japanese actor Miyavi as the brutal camp guard known only to the men as The Bird.
Unbroken is an American historical biographic war-sports drama film, produced and directed by Angelina Jolie, and based on the 2010 non-fiction book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The film revolves around the life of USA Olympian and athlete Louis “Louie” Zamperini, portrayed by Jack O’Connell. Zamperini survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber was downed in World War II, then was sent to a series of prisoner of war camps.
The film had its world premiere in Sydney on November 17, 2014, and received a wide release in the United States on December 25, 2014. The film grossed $115.6 million in North America, with a worldwide total of over $161 million.
Directed by: Angelina Jolie
Starring: Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, Domhnall Gleeson, Jack O’Connell, Morgan Griffin, Maddalena Ischiale
Screenplay by: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Production Design by: Jon Hutman
Cinematography by: Roger Deakins
Film Editing by: William Goldenberg, Tim Squyres
Costume Design by: Louise Frogley
Set Decoration by: Lisa Thompson
Art Direction by: Bill Booth, Jacinta Leong, Charlie Revai
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for war violence including intense sequences of brutality, and for brief language.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Release Date: December 25, 2014
Taglines: Unlock the secret. Win the war.
Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.
The film portrays the race against time by Alan Turing and his team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. The motley group of scholars, mathematicians, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers had a powerful ally in Prime Minister Winston Churchill who authorized the provision of any resource they required.
The film spans the key periods of Turing’s life: his unhappy teenage years at boarding school; the triumph of his secret wartime work on the revolutionary electro-mechanical bombe that was capable of breaking 3,000 Enigma-generated naval codes a day; and the tragedy of his post-war decline following his conviction for gross indecency, a now-outdated criminal offence stemming from his admission of maintaining a homosexual relationship.
The Imitation Game is a British-American historical thriller film about British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, a key figure in cracking Nazi Germany’s Enigma code that helped the Allies win World War II, only to later be criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing and is directed by Morten Tyldum with a screenplay by Graham Moore, based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges.
The film’s screenplay topped the annual Black List for best unproduced Hollywood scripts in 2011. After a bidding process against five other studios, The Weinstein Company acquired the film for $7 million in February 2014, the highest ever amount paid for US distribution rights at the European Film Market.
The film had its world premiere at the 41st Telluride Film Festival in August, it also featured at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival in September where it won “People’s Choice Award for Best Film,” the highest award of the festival. It had its European premiere as the opening film of the 58th BFI London Film Festival on October 2014. The Imitation Game will have a general release in the United Kingdom on 14 November 2014, and will be released theatrically in the United States on 28 November 2014.
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Allen Leech, Tuppence Middleton, Hayley Joanne Bacon, Hannah Flynn, Grace Calder
Screenplay by: Graham Moore
Production Design by: Maria Djurkovic
Cinematography by: Oscar Faura
Film Editing by: William Goldenberg
Costume Design by: Sammy Sheldon
Art Direction by: Nick Dent, Rebecca Milton, Marco Anton Restivo
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking.
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Release Date: November 28, 2014
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Taglines: War never ends quietly.
April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.April, 1945.
As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.
Fury is an American war film set during World War II written and directed by David Ayer. The film stars Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Michael Peña, Jason Isaacs, and Scott Eastwood.
Rehearsing for the film began in early September 2013 in Hertfordshire, England, followed by principal photography began on September 30, 2013, in Oxfordshire. Continuing filming for a month and half at different locations including Oxford, shooting for the film concluded on November 15. The film was released on October 17, 2014.
About the Story
The film is set during the last month of the European Theater of war during World War II in April 1945. As the Allies make their final push into Nazi Germany, a battle-hardened U.S. Army sergeant in the 2nd Armored Division named Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) commands an M4A3E8 Sherman tank called “Fury” and its five-man crew, consisting of Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LeBeouf), Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Jon Bernthal) and Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Michael Peña). After losing the assistant driver in battle, he gets a recently enlisted typist, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), as a replacement.
The crew, which has been together since the North African Campaign, initially despises Norman for his lack of experience and excessive compassion towards Germans (Norman refuses to shoot a captive German artilleryman, and cannot bring himself to shoot at Hitlerjugend teenagers because of their age), so Wardaddy makes Norman shoot a captive German soldier to break him of his innocence.
The bond between Norman and Wardaddy becomes stronger after capturing a small German town, where Wardaddy and Norman meet a German woman named Emma and her cousin. Norman (presumably) sleeps with Emma, then joins Wardaddy and Emma’s cousin for breakfast. However, the rest of the crew barge in and cause tensions while at the table. Shortly afterwards, a German bombardment hits the town, killing Emma and some of the American forces.
The platoon of tanks, led by Wardaddy, gets a mission to hold a vital crossing (protecting a clear way to supply trains), but after encountering a German Tiger I, only “Fury” remains. The vehicle is immobilized after hitting a landmine; shortly afterwards, a German column of three hundred Waffen-SS infantry approaches. Wardaddy refuses to leave, and the rest of the crew, initially reluctant, decides to stay and plan an ambush.
Directed by: David Ayer
Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs, Scott Eastwood, Alicia von Rittberg
Screenplay by: David Ayer
Production Design by: Andrew Menzies
Cinematography by: Roman Vasyanov
Film Editing by: Jay Cassidy, Dody Dorn
Costume Design by: Anna B. Sheppard, Owen Thornton
Set Decoration by: Lee Gordon, Malcolm Stone
Music by: Steven Price
MPAA Rating: R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: October 17, 2014
After its victory over Leonidas’ 300, the Persian Army under the command of Xerxes marches towards the major Greek city-states. The Democratic city of Athens, first on the path of Xerxes’ army, bases its strength on its fleet, led by admiral Themistocles. Themistocles is forced to an unwilling alliance with the traditional rival of Athens, oligarchic Sparta whose might lies with its superior infantry troops. But Xerxes still reigns supreme in numbers over sea and land.
Based on Frank Miller’s latest graphic novel Xerxes and told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster 300, this new chapter of the epic saga takes the action to a fresh battlefield–on the sea–as Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. 300: Rise of an Empire pits Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Artemesia (Eva Green), vengeful commander of the Persian navy.
The film centers on Themistocles and Artemisia I of Caria, as well as Xerxes I of Persia. The Battle of Artemisium was a naval engagement, concurrent with the battle of Thermopylae, and was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states and the Persian Empire in September 480 BC, in the straits between the mainland and the northern tip of the island of Euboea (modern Evvia).
The film will probably also focus, in part, on the Battle of Salamis, in which Artemisia played a major role, as well as possibly the Battle of Marathon. The Battle of Salamis (home of the mythical hero Ajax) was fought after the Persian Empire had advanced into southern Greece and occupied Athens.
About the Story
At the end of the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas I and his legion of 300 lie dead at Thermopylae. Xerxes I then beheads King Leonidas, symbolizing his victory over the Spartans
Queen Gorgo of Sparta tells her men about the Battle of Marathon, in which King Darius I of Persia was killed by General Themistocles of Athens 10 years earlier. Darius’ son, Xerxes, witnesses his father’s death, and is advised to not continue the war, since “only the gods could defeat the Greeks”. Darius’ naval commander, Artemisia, claims that Darius’ last words were in fact a challenge and sends Xerxes on a journey through the desert. Xerxes finally reaches a cave and bathes in an otherworldly liquid, emerging as the “God-King”. He returns to Persia and declares war on Greece.
As Xerxes’ forces advance towards Thermopylae, Themistocles meets with the council and convinces them to provide him with a fleet to engage the Persians at sea. Themistocles then travels to Sparta to ask King Leonidas for help, but is informed by Dilios that Leonidas is consulting the Oracle, and Gorgo is reluctant to side with Athens. Themistocles later reunites with his old friend Scyllas, who infiltrated the Persian troops and learned Artemisia was born Greek, but defected to Persia as her family was raped and murdered by Greek hoplites and she was taken as a sex slave, who left her for dead in the streets. She was rescued and adopted by the Persians. Her lust for vengeance gained the attention of King Darius and he made her a naval commander after she killed many of his enemies. Themistocles also learns that Leonidas has marched to fight the Persians with only 300 men.
Themistocles leads his men, which include Scyllas, Scyllas’ son Calisto and Themistocles’ right-hand man Aeskylos to the Aegean Sea, starting the Battle of Artemisium. They ram their ships into the Persian ships, charge them, slaughtering several soldiers before retreating from the sinking Persian ships. The following day, the Greeks feign a retreat and lead a group of Persian ships into a crevice, where they become stuck. The Greeks charge the Persian ships from the cliffs above and kill more Persians. Impressed with Themistocles’ skills, Artemisia brings him onto her ship where she has sex with him in an attempt to convince him to join the Persians as her second-in-command. He refuses, causing her to push him aside and swear revenge.
The Persians spill tar into the sea and send suicide bombers to swim to and board the Greek ships with their flame bombs. Artemisia and her men fire flaming arrows and torches to ignite the tar, but an Athenian manages to kill one of the Persians, who falls into the tar carrying a torch, causing ships from both sides to explode. Themistocles is thrown into the sea by an explosion and nearly drowns before being rescued by Aeskylos, and stands by Scyllas’ side as he succumbs to his injuries. Believing Themistocles to be dead, Artemisia and her forces withdraw.
Daxos, an Arcadian general, tells Themistocles that Leonidas and the his 300 men have been killed after Ephialtes betrayed the Greeks to Xerxes. Themistocles returns to Athens and confronts Ephialtes. The deformed Spartan traitor reveals that Xerxes plans to attack and burn Athens to the ground. Ephialites is regretful of his actions, and is welcoming death. Themistocles spares him instead, so he can warn Xerxes that the Greek forces are gathering at Salamis. He then visits Gorgo in Sparta while she is mourning Leonidas’ death to ask for her help, but she is too overcome with grief. Before leaving, Themistocles returns Leonidas’ sword, which had been delivered to him by Ephialtes under Xerxes’s orders, and urges Gorgo to avenge Leonidas.
In Athens, Xerxes’ army is laying waste when Ephialtes arrives to deliver Themistocles’ message. Upon learning he is alive, Artemisia leaves to ready her entire navy for battle. Xerxes suggests a more cautious plan but she still leaves for battle against Xerxes’ objection. The Greek ships crash into the Persians ships, and the two armies battle, beginning the decisive Battle of Salamis. Themistocles and Artemisia fight, which ends in a stalemate with both receiving injuries.
At this moment Gorgo, who had been narrating the tale to the Spartans, arrives at the battle along with ships from numerous Greek city states including Delphi, Thebes, Olympia, Arcadia, and Sparta, all of them uniting against the surrounded Persians. Daxos leads the Arcadian army while Themistocles urges Artemisia to surrender. Xerxes, watching the battle from a cliff, turns his back on her while the Greek ships advance. Artemisia tries to kill Themistocles one last time but is killed as he stabs her through the stomach. Themistocles and Gorgo take a moment to silently acknowledge one another’s alliance as the remaining Persians charge while Dilios leads the assault. The three then charge at the opposing Persians with the whole army of Spartans.
300: Rise of an Empire
Directed by: Noam Murro
Starring: Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro, Sullivan Stapleton, Mark Killeen, Jack O’Connell, Lena Headey
Screenplay by: Kurt Johnstad, Frank Miller, Zack Snyder
Production Design by: Patrick Tatopoulos
Cinematography by: Simon Duggan
Film Editing by: David Brenner, Wyatt Smith
Costume Design by: Christine Bieselin Clark, Alexandra Byrne
Set Decoration by: Jenny Oman, Simon Wakefield
Music by: Junkie XL
MPAA Rating: R for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: March 7, 2014
An unlikely World War II platoon is tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 — possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.
About the Film
“The story of the Monuments Men is one that really very few people know,” says George Clooney, who returns to the director’s chair for the story of a small group of artists, art historians, architects, and museum curators who would lead the rescue of 1000 years of civilization during World War II in his new film, The Monuments Men. “Artists, art dealers, architects – these were men that were far beyond the age that they were going to be drafted into a war or volunteer. But they took on this adventure, because they had this belief that culture can be destroyed. If they’d failed, it could have meant the loss of six million pieces of art. They weren’t going to let that happen – and the truth of the matter is, they pulled it off.”
The chance to make a World War II movie was extremely attractive to Clooney and his writing and producing partner, Grant Heslov. “There’s a certain romance around these movies – The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, The Guns of Navarone, The Bridge on the River Kwai,” says Clooney. “In those movies, you fell in love with the characters and the actors as much as the story. And we thought The Monuments Men was a great chance to cast interesting contemporary actors together for our version of that kind of movie – it’s a fun and entertaining way to do it.”
Part of the drama of the film is that all of the Monuments Men are so unsuited to serving as soldiers in wartime. “Wars are fought by 18-year-olds,” says Clooney. “Once you get to the John Goodmans and the Bob Balabans and the George Clooneys, you know – these guys are not getting drafted.” Heslov adds: “They did it because it was clear that they were the only people who could do it.”
“Actually, we never really fully thought of this as a war film – it was a heist film,” says Clooney. “And then, the first day, we got to the set, and everybody put on their uniforms and helmets.”
Clooney was inspired to tackle The Monuments Men as a feature film not only because of its exciting and dramatic subject matter, but because it marked a sharp, decisive break from his most recent film, The Ides of March. “We were very proud of that film, but it was contemporary, and very small – and also cynical,” says Heslov.
“We’ve made some cynical films, but in general, we really aren’t cynical people,” Clooney continues. “We wanted to do a movie that wasn’t cynical, a movie that was straightforward, old-fashioned, and had a positive forward movement to it.”
In their search for material, Heslov mentioned that he had recently read the book The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter, and brought the subject matter to Clooney. Here was a chance to tell an optimistic story on an epic scale – a true story with huge stakes.
“I was living in Florence, walking across the Pontevecchio Bridge – the only bridge that wasn’t destroyed by the Nazis as they fled in 1944 – and I wondered, this was the greatest conflict in history…how were all of these cultural treasures saved, and who saved them?” Edsel asks. “I wanted to find out the answer.”
The answer was the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives group, which would go to the front lines and, for the first time, try to save the treasures that could be saved. “Culture was at risk,” says Clooney. “You see it time and time again. You saw it in Iraq – the museums weren’t protected, and you saw how much of their culture was lost because of that.”
“Even today, people are still trying to get back the art that was looted from their families by the Nazis,” Heslov says, noting that just recently, a treasure trove of looted art was discovered in a Munich apartment – 1,500 works worth $1.5 billion, paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Dix, and other artists that had been thought to be lost.
“I think what that goes to show is that this is not a story that ended in 1945 – the search for missing art goes on today,” Heslov continues. “There are still thousands of works that are still lost. There are paintings that are hanging in people’s homes or hidden in plain sight on the walls of museums. Can you imagine if all of that had just been destroyed? It would have been a catastrophe.”
“This story opens up the Second World War in a way that gives you a different perspective on it,” says Cate Blanchett, who plays a key role as Claire Simone, a woman who holds the key to the secret location of thousands of priceless pieces of stolen art.” “These men were spurred on by a higher ideal.” So many of the works that we take for granted in the great museums of the world were returned by this band of men – it was a near impossible task. “Absurd, in a way: non military men going to the front lines and asking generals to stop bombing a certain church or area to save a window, or a sculpture or mural – you wonder how “they were able to save anything at all.” It’s an extraordinary, selfless thing that they did, done to preserve history.”
Though the Monuments Men had the support of FDR and General Eisenhower, they did face a challenge in embedding themselves in the field. “Eisenhower was very keen on the idea – he wanted to make sure that there was something left when the war was over – and the war was going to be over very soon,” says Clooney. “It was something he came to, after Allied bombing destroyed an ancient abbey that really didn’t need to be destroyed. So it was important not just to protect the art from the Nazis, but from the Allies’ own exploits as they pushed toward the end of the war. The Allies were blowing everything up, so they had this realization that culture can be destroyed – not just by the Germans, but by us.”
Edsel says that many museum directors in the US had concerns about the art and cultural treasures that could be lost in the war, but that they were working at cross purposes – each director with his own plan – rather than in concert. “George Stout – who would later become the unofficial leader of the Monuments Men – made some efforts, but he gave up on it – he figured no one was going to approve the idea of a bunch of middle aged art historians, architects, and artists running around with combat soldiers.” But then Roosevelt approved the idea – and not a moment too soon. “In August 1943, the Allies nearly destroyed The Last Supper inadvertently,” Edsel continues. “I think that set off the alarm bells and accelerated getting the monuments officers into the field.”
Edsel says that one might expect that soldiers fighting a war would not be receptive to being told what they could and could not blow up – but it’s just the opposite. “Much to their surprise – and we found this in their letters home, over and over again – there was only mild resistance at the beginning, and that quickly gave way to soldiers asking, ‘How are we doing? Have we saved any churches? Have we found any paintings?’ The military started getting pretty engaged.”
The Monuments Men were also working against a ticking clock. As the Allies closed in on Berlin, Hitler was unwilling to accept unconditional surrender – and if he couldn’t have Germany, no one else would either. “It became known as the ‘Nero Decree,’ Clooney explains. “Hitler said, ‘If I die, destroy everything’ – bridges, railroad tracks, communications equipment – and that was taken to mean the art, too. Everything.”
The Monuments Men
Directed by: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Matt Damon, John Goodman
Screenplay by: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Robert M. Edsel
Production Design by: James D. Bissell
Cinematography by: Phedon Papamichael
Film Editing by: Stephen Mirrione
Costume Design by: Louise Frogley
Set Decoration by: Bernhard Henrich
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking.
Studio: Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox
Release Date: February 7, 2014