World War I Movies

Study World War I with these engaging WWI movies for high school students.

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WWI Movies

The Greatest Game Ever Played

Francis Ouimet is an amateur golfer with a big dream and a lot of talent, which leads him to the US Open Golf Championships. It’s set in 1913, the year before WWI began and offers an introduction to the period.

Sergeant YorkFlyboys (Widescreen Edition)War Horse (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in DVD Packaging)

 

Sergeant York

Based on the heroic story of Sgt. Alvin York, this flick won 2 Academy Awards (including Best Actor) and was nominated for several more. Alvin York became a war hero during WWI, despite his newly found pacifist Christian beliefs. For his bravery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, and became the most decorated soldier of WWI. With a feel similar to It’s a Wonderful Life, it was made in the 1940s so may be slow for some, however it’s a great, classic film worth viewing at least once.

Flyboys

Inspired by true events, Flyboys follows a group of Americans who join a French air squadron during WWI, before America officially entered the war. The squadron consisted of five French officers and 38 American volunteers.

War Horse

Directed by Steven Spielberg, this is a charming story of loyalty and friendship between Joey, a horse, and Albert, his trainer. War tears them apart, but Albert is determined to reunite with Joey.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

Based on the classic novel, All Quiet on the Western Front is the anti-war story of a group of young German soldiers on the Western Front.

A Farewell to Arms

On the Italian front during WWI, an ambulance driver called Henry and nurse Catherine Barkley fall in love. Despite the peril and fighting all around them, the two will go to any length to be together. 

Nurse Edith Cavell

In German-occupied Brussels, brave nurse Edith Cavell worked in an underground private hospital that aided the Allied forces. 

Lawrence of Arabia

Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence becomes the go-between for the Arab and British people when the British government learns of his affinity for the Bedouin tribes. He unites the Arabs against the Turks and goes rogue, leaving his assigned mission to take a perilous journey across the harsh desert to bring down an attack upon a Turkish fortress. 

Darling Lili

Julie Andrews stars in this WWI-era tale about an English army entertainer who is also a German spy. An American flying ace becomes her target, but she doesn’t anticipate falling in love with him. In the end, she will betray one: her country or the man she loves. 

Gallipoli

The ill-fated Battle of Gallipoli is not very well known, but to the Turkish people it remains significant to this day. This film follows two young, zealous soldiers as they walk into a disastrous war zone with only their friendship to hold them together. 

Tolkein

As the world is on the cusp of WWI, a young Tolkein navigates love, friendship, and studies among a group of eccentrics. This period of Tolkein’s life proved to be extremely formative and was the catalyst for his authoring of the Middle Earth novels. 

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Children’s author A.A. Milne wrote the beloved “Winnie the Pooh” books because of his own young son, Christopher Robin. In the aftermath of WWI, the world needs hope and the 100-acre wood housing Christopher and his animal friends helps restore a sense of wonder to the people of war-torn England. 

Joyeux Noel

“Joyeux Noel,” French for “Merry Christmas,” is inspired by a true story. On Christmas Eve in 1914, German, French and Scottish soldiers had a single night of a cease-fire. For that single night, the three sides traded songs and dances, beer, chocolate, and companionship. This is their story. It’s largely fictionalized, but is a great starting point for looking into this Christmas miracle further. (PS if you enjoyed the story, you’ll probably enjoy Silent Night, set during WWII)

Downton Abbey

Upperclass and lower class collide in the periodic drama series Downton Abbey. Although entirely fictional, being so popular, it leads into a great introduction to the time period, including WWI. Books like The World of Downton Abbey and the show Upstairs, Downstairs can really bring the time’s period to life.

WWI Movies rated R

These films are for more mature students and are rated R.

All Quiet on the Western Front (2023)

Young German soldier Paul goes off to war with stars in his eyes, but as soon as he hits the trenches his glorious visions of battle fade with every fatal fall of his comrades. Exhilaration quickly morphs into a desperate, gnawing fear and the only goal becomes survival as Paul experiences the true realities of war. 

1917

Two young soldiers must weave their way through enemy territory to stop a doomed attack before time runs out. This remarkable film was shot in one continuous take, which places the viewer in an intensely intimate position as a front-row-seat participant in the story’s drama. 

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