World War II Through Film (The Railway Man Feature)

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THE RAILWAY MAN tells the true story of Eric Lomax, a brave, British POW in the pacific theatre during WWII – as he struggles to come to terms with his experience in later life. War does terrible things to people, and it’s important that our cinema serves as a record of the pain and heroism. These are some of the best WWII films.


Directed by the great Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan is an American epic war film set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. The film follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) and a squad as they search for Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon) who is the last-surviving brother of four servicemen. Robert Rodat conceived the film’s story in 1994 when he saw a monument dedicated to eight siblings killed in the American Civil War. Saving Private Ryan received critical acclaim. The film grossed $481,840,909 worldwide and was nominated for eleven Academy Awards wining 5, including Best Director.


Once again, Steven Spielberg directs an Oscar winning World War II movie. Schindler’s List is an American epic historical drama film based on the novel Schindler’s Arc by Thomas Keneally. The film is based on the life of Oskar-Schindler, a German Businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. Spielberg decided not to plan the film with storyboards and to shoot in a documentary style. The decision to shoot in mainly black and white lent to the documentary style of cinematography. Schindler’s List won seven out of twelve Oscars at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film is featured on a number of the “best of” lists, including the Time magazine’s Top Hundred. In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked the film 8th on its list of the 100 best American films of all time. Schindler’s List is one of the most powerful and realistic World War II movies, it provides an honest insight into the tragic times of the Holocaust.


Adrien Brody made audiences sob worldwide in one of the most heart wrenching World War II biographical dramas. Based on the autobiographical book of the same name, The Pianist follows Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish-Jewish pianist and composer, as he struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. The Pianist was met with momentous positive critical praise. Overall, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning three, including, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. Adrien Brody became the youngest person to date to win the Academy Award for Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal as Szpliman.


Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg work together to write and produce the ten part, 11 hours World War II HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers. The series follows the history of ‘Easy Company’, a Parachute Infantry Regiment. All of the characters in the miniseries are based on actual members of the Easy Company, some of the episodes start with a recorded interview with the real soldiers. The events in the series are based on the novel of the same name by Stephen E. Ambrose as well as interviews with the veterans. Band of Brothers received extremely positive reviews. The series was nominated for three Golden Globes, winning the award for Best Mini-Series of Motion Picture Made for Television.


Based on the novel by James Jones, The Thin Red Line tells the story of the Battle for Mount Austen, which was a part of the Guadalcanal Campaign in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. Featuring a large ensemble cast including Sean Penn, Jim Caviezzel, John Cusack and John Travolta, and cameos from notable actors such as Adrien Brody and Viggo Morteson, the film grosses $98 million against its $52 million budget. The Thin Red Line was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography.

The Railway Man (2014)

Harrowing scenes from the Pacific theatre give way to a story of emotional turmoil and forgiveness in The Railway Man. This is the true story of Eric Lomax (Jeremy Irvine/Colin Firth) who in later life still awakes trembling in pain from the experiences in a Japanese POW camp. This war film is about the struggle of PTSD, and finding the compassion to face the source of your pain and ultimately forgive and reconcile.

The Railway Man is in cinemas January 10th.