Saving Private Ryan (1998)
When Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece first premiered, the veterans who actually stormed the beach on D-Day said the movie got it right. Spielberg recreated the World War II beach battle so realistically that watching the movie was like living through history as it happened, giving civilians a small taste of what war is really like. The filmmakers aimed to reproduce historic details with painstaking accuracy right down to the tanks and weapons. Tom Hanks portrays Captain Miller, an English teacher by trade who’s tasked with finding and returning the last surviving Ryan brother home to his mom. After gut-wrenching battles, Miller tells Matt Damon (as Private Ryan) to “earn this.” It’s a message for us all.
Tracing the history of this Second World War photo helped bring it to life.
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
James Cagney’s charisma as a song-and-dance man shines in this classic musical set in the early days of World War II. Cagney plays real-life Broadway legend George M. Cohan, known for penning the beloved tune “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Musical highlights also include “Over There” and “It’s a Grand Old Flag.” The Broadway numbers show the pageantry and opulence of military uniforms and formations at their best. Stirring visuals, sparkling costumes, and epic set-pieces deliver patriotism galore. Cohan’s music captured the spirit at the time, and the film shows exactly how music can unite us. When Cagney joins the marching soldiers at the end and sings the rousing tune (“prepare, say a prayer,”), you might just find yourself singing along as well.
Help children comprehend the bravery of Canadian soldiers with these three tips.
The Hurt Locker (2009)
Kathryn Bigelow was the first and only woman to win an Oscar for Best Director. Her Iraq war thriller, The Hurt Locker, also took the prize for Best Picture. The Hurt Locker gives a searing look at the lives of soldiers sent in to dispose of bombs and booby traps in Baghdad. Jeremy Renner’s performance personifies “grace under pressure.” He gives the impossibly tense ticking bomb scenes a human centre. In all, The Hurt Locker depicts the psychological costs of war as it repeatedly jolts the audience with tense explosions.