Since the time humankind began to understand the concept of his own territory and his sole right over it, the concept of war has been brewing slowly within the species. And as human civilization progressed further, the tools of war began improving alongside it. However, most wars in history have been fought between two or more countries. Kings declared wars against other kingdoms to bring them under his control and create a larger empire than anyone else had managed to in their history.
However, there is another kind of war that is equally dangerous: one that happens intra-state, between people of a single country. And such wars are called civil wars. Here, the country gets divided into two groups that declare war on each other in an organized form. There have been two civil wars in history which have been the most notable – the American and the Spanish Civil Wars. The American Civil War was fought between the north of the United States and the south. It was mainly fought on grounds of the fact whether it was okay to boycott slavery. While the states of the North, called the Union, were of the opinion that slavery should be abolished, the Southerners disagreed and thus began one of the most brutal wars in all of history. The Spanish Civil War was just before the Second World War and was between a dictator and a republic government.
Civil wars have ravaged and plundered many countries over the years. Numerous African countries have fought civil wars throughout the twentieth century. Keeping all this in mind, we’ve managed to compile some of the finest civil war movies of all time. So here’s the list of really good civil war movies on Netflix that are available to stream right now.
7. ‘76 (2016)
‘‘76’ is a Nigerian period drama film set in 1976 and directed by Izu Ojukwu. It follows the pregnant wife of s young soldier who is accused of being responsible for conspiring against the military and planning a coup. Although the film is set six years after the end of the Nigerian Civil War, the narrative features some references to it. Moreover, it highlights how the Civil War created a period of discrimination and distrust in Nigeria and how various groups suffered due to it.
6. Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Directed by Spike Lee, ‘Da 5 Bloods’ is a war drama movie that follows a group of African American Vietnam War veterans who return to the country in search of their missing squad leader. However, the group’s true intention is to recover the gold they stashed away during their first trip. Although the film is not a typical civil war movie, it highlights the political tensions in Vietnam. It also underlines how the Vietnam War affected the soldiers involved and shaped their lives. Lee’s deft direction and powerful performances from the cast, including the late Chadwick Boseman, ‘Da 5 Bloods’ is one of the finest films to navigate war and politics in a single narrative.
5. First They Killed My Father (2017)
This movie was directed by Angelina Jolie and is surely her best work to date. It is a moving tale of a family caught in the crossfire during the Cambodian Civil War, the Cambodia Campaign, and the Vietnamese-Cambodian War. The movie is based on a true story written by Loung Ung, who also co-wrote the script with Jolie. Ung’s father was a soldier for the government against whom the Khmer Rouge, a communist organization of Cambodia had declared war. The family is captured by the rebels and made to work in labor camps with almost little to no food. They also banned the use of foreign products in the camps, including medicine, which led to a number of captives losing their lives in the abysmal conditions of the camp.
Inside the camps, the rebels keep up their propaganda, trying to make the captives understand why it was important to rebel against the government. Loung had escaped from the camp and recruited herself as a child soldier in another camp, helping them plant mines and getting better treatment than what she had gotten as labor. The movie follows the lives of the children of the family who survive the war. This movie was screened at the Telluride and Toronto International Film Festivals and was adored by critics.
4. Beasts Of No Nation (2015)
This 2015 movie is adapted from a 2005 book of the same name. Written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, it is the story of a boy soldier in the rebel army of a nation well into a civil war. Though the name of the nation is never mentioned, it is located somewhere in Africa. Abraham Attah and Idris Elba play the lead characters in the movie. This was Attah’s first film, and his impressive performance earned him a Marcelo Mastroianni Award at the Venice Film Festival.
Attah’s character is called Agu, and when his parents and siblings are killed by the government camp on accusations of being rebels, Agu escapes and joins a unit of the rebel soldiers headed by Commandant, played by Elba. Though Commandant takes Agu under his wings, he rapes him and then the soldiers give him a drug called brown-brown (a concoction of cocaine and smokeless gunpowder). Some events follow which makes Agu’s group lose contact with their parent organization and the situation keeps getting tougher for them. The movie was thoroughly praised by critics and Elba even won a Screen Actors’ Guild Award for his performance.
3. Sergio (2020)
Director by Greg Barker’s ‘Sergio’ is a biographical film based on the life of Sérgio Vieira de Mello, United Nations’ Special Representative in Iraq. The film details Sérgio’s harrowing experiences in Baghdad after a bombing traps him in a hotel. The narrative loosely touches upon the American troops’ withdrawal from Iraq and the ensuing Civil War in the country. However, the focus remains on Sergio and his colleague’s struggles. Thus, in contrast to most movies on this list, it provides viewers with a perspective on war outside that of the military.
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2. Dances With Wolves (1990)
Kevin Costner directed, produced, and acted in this Civil War classic, the story of which he adapted from Michael Blake’s similarly titled book. Costner plays the role of a Union soldier during the American Civil War who comes in contact with the Sioux tribe of native Americans while helping in the reconstruction of a fort. At first, the encounter between the Sioux and Dunbar is hostile, but Dunbar realizes this is their land and there should not be any hostility between him and the Sioux. Thus, he wants to sit down and talk to them. Slowly but steadily, he wins over the tribe’s trust who even take on soldiers who capture Dunbar. When Dunbar ultimately leaves, they give him a Sioux name. The money was a massive success, both critically and commercially. It received a total of 12 nominations at the Academy Awards and ended up bagging seven.
1. The Siege of Jadotville (2016)
‘The Siege of Jadotville’ is a war-action film directed by Richie Smyth that revolves around Commandant Pat Quinlan (Jamie Dornan) of the Irish Army, who leads a troop of peacekeepers against an overwhelming number of Congolese soldiers. The true story-based film is set in 1961, in the aftermath of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba’s execution which triggered a Civil War in the country. It features some stunning visuals aided by an inspiring and emotionally touching story that will appeal to an audience with a liking for historical dramas.
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