WWII Films and Documentaries?

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    I have discovered that one of the best ways that I learn is through film. While one film may be very misleading historically, in my experience, watching a few documentaries and several films set during a particular time period is extremely effective in providing both an overview of and a feel for the era in question.

    When I did this for the Civil War years ago, I began to realize that the war was more complicated than simply quashing a rebellion, “saving the union”, and freeing the slaves. I came to see Lincoln as quite the opposite of the demigod presented to me throughout my life, and I began to sympathize with the South before I even realized that there was a school of thought out there that shared — and legitimized — my new leanings (I was still a George Bush Republican who had never heard of Ron Paul). I discovered Thomas DiLorenzo, Ron Paul, Tom Woods, and the rest is history. 🙂

    Having subsequently completed the WWI and Prohibition eras, I began WWII this week with Episode 1 of Ken Burns’ “The War,” followed by the extremely moving film “The Flowers of War”. As I began building a spreadsheet of the films I want to watch, trying to organize them in an order that makes sense, I realized that I have this wonderful tool at my disposal: I have all you experts at my fingertips (I hope ALL of the history professors read this and contribute, so I will be posting this in both the Western Civ and US History forums).

    1) Since I happen to be on WWII right now, would ye be so kind as to suggest first any documentaries you could recommend and an order for watching them that would be most helpful in providing me with a thorough overview of the history?

    2) Second, could you also list all of the films from the era you consider worth a viewing, again in an order that would help my linear mind connect all the dots?

    3) Please consider doing this for each time period you cover in your various lectures. And perhaps the lot of you could eventually come to a consensus on the official Liberty Classroom rubric of documentaries and films for each time period.

    Thank you so much.

    Jason Jewell

    Juan, I am actually not that familiar with the universe of documentaries on WWII. I suspect that documentaries focusing more on specific battles or campaigns will be better than a series that tries to encompass the whole war.

    As for “regular” films, off the top of my head, “Das Boot” is quite good, and the first thirty minutes or so of “Enemy at the Gates” gives a taste of the brutality of Stalingrad.


    Thank you. Das Boot is one movie I haven’t seen I’ve always wanted to see. I’ll be sure to watch that one. I remember the first time I saw Enemy at the Gates and I know the scene you’re talking about. It blew me away when I saw it. I’m planning to watch Ken Burns’ documentary, the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers and The Pacific, then all the highly rated films, either chronologically by setting or by chronologically in the European theater and then chronologically in the Pacific theater.

    Perhaps over time you could amend the courses so that with each lecture you could mention any films, documentaries, or series that fit the subject matter along with any positive or negative opinions you might have.

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