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War Movies of the 1990s

Updated on February 8, 2015
tillsontitan profile image

Mary has been a movie fan since she was a little girl. She watched movies every night of the week on Million Dollar Theater..

The Sullivan Brothers
The Sullivan Brothers

Not your typical hub for an old gal, but such an interesting genre. As we get to the 1990s technology has improved along with film quality. I won't say acting because actors in the forties, fifties and up were all good and exhibited tremendous talent.

So what makes the nineties different? I think there is a new depth beyond the soldier fighting in the field. Over the decades we've watched the horrors of war as seen through the eyes of soldiers, humor in war as perpetrated by soldiers, and bravery beyond imagination. Two movies in the nineties have expounded on these themes and given us superb and moving entertainment, though war movies, they showcase different qualities. I only picked two for this hub because there is so much to write about these two movies adding a third would make this novel length!

War Movies of the 1990s

The Thin Read Line
Inglourious Basterds
Letters from Iwo Jima
Black Hawk Down
The Pianist
The English Patient
Memphis Belle
Legends of the Fall
Last of the Mohicans
Courage Under Fire
Crimson Tide

Background for Saving Private Ryan

During the Civil War, it was purported that five sons were killed while fighting for the Union. In actuality, only three had died in battle, the other two survived. President Lincoln wrote the infamous "Letter to Mrs. Bixby" honoring her deceased sons.

On December 7, 1941 three brothers who were aboard the USS Arizona were also killed. Then there was the Niland brothers in WWII. It was believed three of the brothers were killed and the fourth was brought home. Later it was found out one of the three believed dead was a prisoner of war in Japanese camp in Burma.

In November of 1942, the five Sullivan brothers were killed aboard a Navy ship, the Juneau. It seems the five brothers wanted to serve together and were aboard the Juneau and did so at their own request. Four of the brothers were killed outright during the ship's explosion. The fifth was injured and managed to get on a raft but died after five days on the raft. The exact cause of death is not known. The government used these five boys as a cry for support during this war.

As a result of these tragedies The United States Naval Bureau of Personnel sent out a formal letter which stated in part:

1. In recognition of the sacrifice and contribution made by a family which has lost two or more sons who were members of the armed forces and has only one surviving, and he is serving in the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, consideration will be given to his return to, or retention in, the continental limits of the United States, except when he is engaged in nonhazardous duties overseas.

Why am I giving you these facts? Background for "Saving Private Ryan" as stated above. Everyone's heard stories but I wasn't sure everyone knew where those stories originated.

Capt. Miller and his men
Capt. Miller and his men | Source

Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan begins very graphically at the Battle of Omaha Beach during the Invasion of Normandy. You are immediately assailed with the devastating debarkation. The Germans are in control of Omaha Beach and as the Americans land they are met with assault after assault. The first 27 minutes of this film are very intense and not for those with a weak stomach, it is raw and said by veterans to be the first movie that actually shows it really is like.

Meanwhile General Marshall is informed that three of four brothers have died in action. He learns that the fourth brother, Private First Class James Francis Ryan of Baker Company, is missing in action somewhere in Normandy. General Marshall reads President Lincoln's Letter to Mrs. Bixby to his staff and then orders that Pvt. Ryan be found and returned home. (Though the Letter to Mrs. Bixby seems a pivotal point in the movie, the movie is more likely based loosely on the Sullivan Brothers or the Niland brothers.)

Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) is given the order to find Pvt. Ryan. He conscripts six soldiers from the 2nd Rangers to assist him and sets out through France to find Ryan. War is raging all over France. Miller seems a reluctant leader though he is a veteran of other battles. Throughout most of the movie he hides his civilian occupation -- teacher -- from his men. The stress of doing this is seen in his shaking hand. He tries to keep it from shaking but can't seem to stop it.

Their trek across France to find Pvt. Ryan is fraught with raids and bombings, and shootings, all the trappings of war...and although you don't get to learn the background of the soldiers looking for Ryan, you begin to feel for them.

It is not my habit to give away details ore endings of a movie so, in case you haven't seen it, you can see it for yourself and make your own judgments. If you have already seen it, I'm sure you have your own very strong opinions about this film. In closing on this film I have to say if you haven't seen it you should give it a try. It is very realistic, but also a moving story.

Liam Nisson and Oscar Schindler

Liam Nisson playing Schindler on the left, Oskar Schindler on the right.
Liam Nisson playing Schindler on the left, Oskar Schindler on the right. | Source

Oskar Schindler

Oskar Schindler (28 April 1908 – 9 October 1974) was an ethnic German industrialist born in Moravia, which was that time part of Austria-Hungary. He is credited with saving over 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories, which were located in what is now Poland and the Czech Republic respectively. He is the subject of the novel Schindler's Ark, and the film based on it, Schindler's List.

I'm sure most of you already knew that Oskar Schindler really did exist. Did you know that in 1939 Schindler became a member of the Nazi party? However, the basis of the movie, Schindler's List, and the actions of Oskar Schindler once he bought his factory in Poland are very close to accurate.

Quotes from Schindler's List

Stern: “The list is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf.”

Oskar Schindler: Stern, if this factory ever produces a shell that can actually be fired, I'll be very unhappy.

Itzhak Stern: By law I have to tell you, sir, I'm a Jew.
Oskar Schindler: Well, I'm a German, so there we are.

  • Oskar Schindler:

    I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don't know. If I just...

    I could have got more.

  • Itzhak Stern

    Oskar, there are 1,100 people who are alive because of you. Look at them.

  • Oskar Schindler

    If I'd made more money...I threw away so much money.

    You have no idea.

    If I had just...

  • Itzhak Stern

    There will be generations because of what you did.

  • Oskar Schindler

    I didn't do enough.

  • Itzhak Stern

    You did so much.

Schindler's List

Steven Spielberg was fascinated with the story of Oskar Shindler as told by one of Shindler's survivors, Poldek Pfefferberg. Upon first hearing about the story he tried to pass it off on other directors. When he finally decided to do the film himself, MGM demanded that he make Jurassic Park first. After doing Schindler's List he realized he couldn't have made Jurassic Park after making Schindler's list...

The film was shot in Poland at real life locations. They were not allowed to enter Auschwitz so they filmed around it by building a replica. Spielberg became very emotionally involved in this film as part of his heritage. One interesting fact I didn't know until researching this film, Spielberg did not take a salary for making this film...if that doesn't amaze you not much will. Additionally, he thought this film would be a flop. The film was shot documentary-style, with many hand held cameras and as you know, it was filmed in black and white except for the little girl in the red coat which was symbolic.

The movie was made in 1993 but begins in 1939. Schindler arrives in Poland and bribes SS and Nazis to help himself open his plant. Ironically Jewish businessmen lend him the money to open his plant. He hires "Jewish Poles" rather than "Catholic Poles" because they cost less.

The part of Schindler's accountant Itzhak Stern is played by Ben Kingsley. (Itzhak Stern was Oskar Schindler's accountant in real life.) Stern is responsible for proving that the 'worker Jews' are essential to Schindler's plant and production...most of which is lies but saves the workers from concentration camps and death. At first, Schindler is unaware of this.

Schindler doesn't begin to actively save the Jews until a young Jewish girl, posing as a Gentile, begs him to employ her parents. He is not happy with what Itzhak was doing but before long he gives Itzhak his gold watch so that he can get the girl's parents into his factory. This is the beginning. Throughout the film he gives Itzhak more and more of his personal belongings to secure safety for more Jewish people. Schindler transforms into a man willing to sacrifice everything...including his life, to save other people, a complete transformation of his originally selfish character.

The will to survive is so prominent in this film along with the constant face of possible death at every turn. This horror (the Holocaust) is unfortunately made very evident in this film. The range of emotions you experience watching these splendid performances is unbelievable. You get angry, you cheer, you cry, you cringe, you are stricken with horror...a complete range! You feel the pain of the Jews in all of Poland, not just on Schindler's List. This movie is not kind to the Nazis, as it shouldn't be. One shoots Jews off his balcony for target practice...absolutely no humanity!

This movie could have been more violent but it focuses on Schindler and his good deeds. I could keep writing for hours...I loved this movie and it's message and have seen it several times, but I think the best thing to do now is end this piece and recommend you see this wonderful movie.

Steven Spielburg: “There are three movies that I am exceptionally proud of in my life, ... and I rarely commit to a list of films that I like, that I've made -- but these are the three films that I was passionately connected to -- the first was 'ET,' the second 'Schindler's List,' and third is 'Saving Private Ryan.'”

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

"Bringing you movies that are part of your memories."

Like what you've read? I've written about a lot of different topics with a focus on old movies and nature. If you want to see more of what I've written stop by my profile page.


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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I appreciate your opinion and agree with you. Hopefully the newer, more brutal movies will not glorify war but let people see it for what it is! Thanks for stopping by AND for leaving your opinion!

    • billips profile image

      billips 5 years ago from Central Texas

      You've picked a couple of great ones - having lived through one world war, I've seen first hand what war actually achieves - some say it brings out the best in men/women - unfortunately it also brings out the worst - men I know, who made it back, carry their scars, mental and physical for life - some won't ever speak about what they saw, and, out of necessity did - my beef with war movies is that they make war - especially to young people who are as Judge Judy says 'not cooked yet' - seem romantic, exciting, and sometimes downright fun - watch kids play at war and you'll see what I mean - anyway, that's my opinion for what it's worth - B.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks for the great comment Midget. I agree with you about the sad are things of war.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Mary, I loved both films...very evocative movies. Saving Private Ryan was moving...especially the part where the Italian soldier whom they mercifully set free turned around to kill the captors in return (one of the last scenes) That was so poignant. In war, mercy becomes an intolerable commodity. Thanks for refreshing our memories of these movies!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Vinaya, Braveheart was outstanding though it was a war movie, many don't relate it as such.

      DDS, I agree...our current war movies are more realistic and don't glorify war.

    • DDS profile image

      David Sproull 5 years ago from Toronto

      It's interesting to watch the genre develop, especially as our relationship with conflict/combat evolves..

    • profile image

      gaby12 5 years ago

      What you doing

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      I have watched five movies on your list and I thing Braveheart is the best.

      PS: tillsontitan, congrats for winning best avatar award.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thank you for the 'hub' compliments and the Avatar congrats! It is always nice to have you read no matter how soon or how late! Few actors today can compare to those of the past, but you have to admit, they're trying ;)

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Mary Loved Private Ryan and Schlinder's list. Thanks to Steven Spielberg, we can go back in time, as though we were there. Technology improved the depth of the message, but the final say came from the actors. You cannot compare Patton or Sir Lawrence Olivier with Christian Bale, with all the modern armored Batmobile. You overdid yourself as usual, and sorry for the lateness! Congrats for the hubbie Avatar!!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thelyricwriter thanks for the for Black Hawk Down (made in 2001).

      Deborah, seems these two movies are on a lot of people's favorite's list! Have a good one.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow I love this hub.. Schindlers list was my favortite . I cried so hard in Private Ryan. You are so right great war movies in the 90's



    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      This was such a cool hub:) I have always been into war movies. I loved Saving Private Ryan, such a great movie. Also enjoyed Black Hawk Down as well. I haven't see a few of the others, might have to find the time to do so. Voting this up, awesome, and useful.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      So glad you stopped by xstatic. I've tried to capture just a few movies to keep the hub within reading limits. Schindler's List is difficult to watch but also so amazing to see what Schindler wound up doing.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      I loved Private Ryan, so realistic, as it should be. I always avoided Schindler's List, holacaust movies are so hard to watch. I may give it a try now.

      I will mention one that just came to mind, though actually made in the 80s as a TV miniseries, Winds of War (1983) and War & Remembrance (1988). We watched both again a year or two ago, well done from Herman Wouk novels. You may hve mentioned these in the 80s Hub, I missed it so will visit today.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Okay, having comment issues here. I replied to b.Malin and Josh but it didn't show up so here I go again:

      I will look for that movie b.Malin...I love a good movie almost as much as a good book.

      Josh, glad you liked my reviews. No hub on war movies could be complete without Saving Private Ryan, an awesome, though sometimes difficult to watch more hub to go on war movies!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I loved Lord of the Rings too Manatita. Thanks for stopping by.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 5 years ago from london

      Well written Hub, tillsontitan. Shows that you are good at diversity. My favourite films are Gladiator; Lord of the Rings and ..

      Terrible thing war. Who knows why? Blessings.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania


      Yes! When I read the title, I just knew Saving Private Ryan was going to be here! I loved these movies because they are realistic right to the core! They don't beat around the bush, but instead show what really did and does happen in war. Thanks for sharing these awesome reviews Mary!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 5 years ago

      Wonderful Hub on War Movies of the 90's, Tillsontitan. We saw a Movie, which we got from the Library last year, called "Boy In The Stripped Pajamas"...Not sure what year it was made, but what a Movie, rent it.

      Your list here is impressive. Yes, I've seen them all. Of course "Schindler's List" was most memorable. Thanks for sharing.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Effer your love of war movies is legendary ;) I cannot believe you went to the Auschwitz Museum ... I'm surprised you made it through ;) If you do watch Schindler's List, which is a remarkable movie, keep the pillow for over your eyes,, and a box of tissues!

      Jools, I waited months to see the first Twilight Movie and then fell asleep! Not the movie's point is I can understand. Last of the Mohicans is my husband's favorite.

      I am humbled by your comments Docmo but definitely agree these two movies certainly 'tell it like it is' unlike many other war movies.

      Steve, now I have to get the Sgt. Ryan DVD...I've never played it with my surround sound! I'm surprised the movies I listed weren't all from the nineties...I thought they were. Always glad when you stop by and leave me some of your unending knowledge.

      Ah Billy, how nice of you, as always, to impart some personal knowledge along with your comment. Thank you.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, the scene in "Ryan" on Omaha Beach is one of the greatest movie scenes ever filmed. It was exactly as my dad described it and it was remarkable. The only fault to that movie is that it couldn't sustain that brilliance the entire film.

      I was rejected from active service in Vietnam because of the sole surviving son statute based in part because of the Sullivan boys loss.

      Great hub my friend!

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Good work Mary on another interesting war movie article . Two of Spielberg's greatest films, I didn't know he waived his directors fee to make Schindler's List, his passion project. Not an easy film to watch and for that reason I can't include it among my favourite Spielberg films.

      I've watched Saving Private Ryan a number of times and at the cinema too, that half hour during the D-Day landings is just incredible, the editing and sound effects sheer perfection.

      On disc Private Ryan was and still is an excellent way of showing off someone's surround sound system.

      There weren't that many war movies released in the 1990s and some of the films you've listed in the box were released recently.

      The Thin Red Line was the other big WWII film released in the 1990s, the same year as Private Ryan and both films were nominated for a bunch of Oscars.

      Voted Up, Awesome and Interesting.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Mary .. These are my favourite war films as they tell it like it is. While previous decades glorified war more and seemed more like conscription advertisements, these two told us the raw realities of war. The opening sequence of Ryan had me breathless with tears in my eyes, palpitating for the sheer loss of lives being ripped apart. The holocaust sequences in Schindler's list depicted the grim realities of Hitler's propaganda. You were right to pick these two in my opinion as they pay homage to mankinds deep dark horrors. Awesome.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Mary, great hub. I am ashamed to admit that I have not seen Saving Private Ryan all of the way through (fell asleep both times, not the movie's fault) but I thought Schindler's List was an amazing movie - awful to watch at times but that was the whole point! I am not much of a fan of Speilberg but that movie blew me away. Of the other 90s war movies on your list - I like Inglorious Basterds and Last of the Mohecans.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Oh...boy.....War favorite. Have not seen either movie, which I'm sure, at this point, you would have guessed.

      Went out of my way to avoid Private Ryan.....even people talking about the movie. I confess to being an "ostrich," at times.......if-I-don't-see-it-it-doesn't-exist? Logically & rationally, I know this is nonsense.

      You can be very proud of this hub, as with each and every hub you write. More importantly, you will be proud to know, you have actually persuaded me to rent Schindler's made it very compelling. (I can always keep a small pillow handy to cover my eyes with) (BIG baby!)........

      Did I ever tell you that I actually visited the Auschwitz Museum while in Germany with my parents to visit my sister and family who were stationed in Germany at the time? I was 18 years old. Mammoth blk and wht photos throughout, of scenes from the holocaust.......I spent the rest of the trip refusing to go anywhere to "sightsee" unless I was informed beforehand exactly WHERE we were going!!

      Also went to "Eagle's Nest (Hitler's Hide-away in the mountains) where he also carried on his torrid affair with Eva Braun.....allegedly, it is their original bed that sits in what was their bedroom!.....That, I could handle. Imagining Hitler "loving" anyone was a bit of a stretch!

      Excellent, as ever, Til. UP+++