Memorial Day Movies: Hollywood Pays Tribute To Our Heroes
Our troops have long been one of Hollywood's favorite subjects, and what better day to take a look at some of the greatest war movies ever made than this one, a day when we stop to reflect on those who've made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of Freedom.
Here's to the Heroes.
Ahhh, Glory. Just seeing the poster from the film gives me goose bumps.... Director Edward Zwick's retelling of the first all-black platoon called to active duty in the Civil War was one of the first movies I ever remember being truly riveted by. And incredible story of the human spirit vs. the human condition, a young Denzel opposite Morgan Freeman, and a baby faced Matthew Broderick make this movie unforgettable.
Platoon is undoubtedly one of the most emotional and raw portraits of the mental toll war takes on those who find themselves immersed in it. While it's been hailed as an anti-war film in it's time, I think it powerfully embodies the sacrifices made by those who volunteer to defend us.
For a decade not known for it's hard-hitting cinema, the 80's has an incredible lock on the War Movie genre (although I guess we largely have Oliver Stone to thank for that). My third pick is also the third 80's flick on the list, Born on the Fourth of July. Before Tom Cruise went completely nuts, he was actually a pretty darn good actor, as evidenced by his incredible turn as real-life Vietnam war vet Ron Kovic.
Moving ahead a few decades, Jarhead may be one of the genre's most underrated entrants. Based on Desert Storm vet Anthony Swofford's memoir of the same name, and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx, the tale had the misfortune of being told just as a new generation of young men was being shipped off to war and was skipped by many in the theaters. If you were one of the many who missed it, it's currently streaming on Netflix.
Who doesn't have a soft spot for Gary Sinese as Lieutenant Dan? (Or Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump for that matter?) Forrest Gump is a great starter war film - the fallout informs the backdrop of the faux-biography to a generation-defining soundtrack.
The star-studded 1962 epic The Longest Day takes audiences on a ride through D-Day as told through both German and Allied points of view. It's devoid of the grittiness that it's successors would become known for, but with the likes of John Wayne, Richard Burton, Sean Connery, and Paul Anka, it's a time capsule of a film that is not to be missed.
I don't think I'll ever forget the shock and devastation I felt when my high school theater teacher showed us The Deer Hunter. Aside from being one of the most incredible performances of Christopher Walken's career (which, c'mon, is saying a LOT - plus Streep, DeNiro, the gang's all here!) it's also a raw and unforgiving portrait of the toll of war.
And finally, Flags of our Fathers. I mean, c'mon. What are your go-to Memorial Day movies?