These are the top 12 movies to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, by the film experts of the Met Film School
London's MetFilm School shares its favourite movies set in World War II to mark 75 years since Victory in Europe
Film experts at the MetFilm School, based at Ealing Studios, have gathered a list of their top recommended World War II films to entertain viewers. As we prepare to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day on Friday 8 May, the school’s director, film producer Jonny Persey, hopes the list will “entertain and enlighten” audiences who are unable to mark the bank holiday in other ways during lockdown.
“I know the national celebration for the 75th anniversary of VE Day is going to be somewhat different to what most of us expected, I don’t think a global lockdown was on anyone’s horizon,” Persey said. “But, with the ability to watch almost any film we want to see these days, we thought we’d share what we consider the best WWII inspired films to watch while staying at home this bank holiday weekend.”
Among those films are modern British blockbusters including Oscar-winning Dunkirk, classic dramas such as The Great Escape starring Steve McQueen, non-traditional films such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and short dramas by MetFilm students.
“It was a tough job,” said Persey. “Narrowing the selection down to just 10 (plus two noteworthy shorts by a couple of our graduates) was really difficult, but I think we’ve come up with a cracking selection. Our top picks include British classics, box office hits, old familiars, non-traditional choices and one from the German point of view.”
Starring Gary Oldman as Sir Winston Churchill, Darkest Hour is set in May 1940, when the fate of World War II hangs on the British Prime Minister, who must decide whether to negotiate with Adolf Hitler, or fight on knowing that it could mean the end of the British Empire. This film was partly filmed at Ealing Studios.
The Imitation Game
During World War II, the English mathematical genius Alan Turing – portrayed beautifully by Benedict Cumberbatch – tries to crack the German Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians, including Keira Knightley. >>
related: Amanda Nevill reflects on her 17 years as CEO of the BFI and tells Tempus why cinema is Britain's greatest export
Christopher Nolan’s epic retelling of the battle of Dunkirk, from the perspectives of air, land and sea, is a tense and gripping blockbuster. Starring Tom Hardy, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy and many more.
In Which We Serve
This David Lean film starring Noël Coward and John Mills is the "story of a ship" –British destroyer H.M.S. Torrin – and told in flashbacks by survivors as they cling to a life raft.
Bridge On The River Kwai
An undeniable classic, Bridge on the River Kwai follows the story of British POWs who are forced to build a railway bridge across the river Kwai for their Japanese captors. Starring Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins.
The Great Escape
The Great Escape stars Steve McQueen, James Garner and Richard Attenborough as Allied prisoners of war who plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II. Based on a true story, this is part war epic, part crime caper, and will leave you breathless with determination.
The Longest Day
This John Wayne and Robert Mitchum partnership tells the events of D-Day on a grand scale, covering both the Allied and Axis points of view. A classic watch that shaped war films to come. >>
Related: Knightfall star Tom Cullen talks Templar training, on-set injuries and his leading man philosophy
Yes, it’s the film that launched a thousand memes – that of a very ‘shouty’ Adolf Hitler. German-made Downfall is a remarkable, powerful film that tells the story of Hitler’s final day in his Berlin bunker at the end of World War II. While by no means sympathetic, this disturbing and revealing film shows an all-too-human side of the Nazi leader.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
David Thewlis and Sheila Hancock star in this devastating story of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a Nazi concentration camp. When he forges a forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.
Charlotte Grey is the story of a young Scottish woman (Cate Blanchett) who joins the French Resistance to rescue her RAF beau who is lost in France. Directed by Gillian Armstrong, this is a powerful film that puts the spotlight on the forgotten woman who took up arms.
And, finally, two noteworthy short films directed by two MetFilm School’s graduates:
Carrying The Light by Guy Natanel is a documentary film following Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg on his walk from Frankfurt to London. Joined by his dog Mitzpah, Jonathan carries the light from his grandfather's synagogue to his own community in Finchley.
Auschwitz On My Mind, by Assaf Machnes, is the story of an Israeli teen on a school trip Auschwitz-Birkenau, who is torn between the tragic past of history and his lust for his classmate in the most unlikely of places.