7 Best Civil War Movies on Netflix (Dec 2023)

Since the time humankind began to understand the concept of territory and one’s sole right over it, the concept of war has been brewing within the species. And as human civilization progressed further, the tools of war improved alongside it. One of the forms that war takes is one that happens intra-state, between people of a single country. Civil wars have ravaged many countries over the years. They have permanently changed the political and social structures in countries. For some, it has been a positive change; for others, it has been the darkest period in their history. Netflix features many movies that deal with civil wars in different countries. They educate you about the history of that place while also giving you ample space to connect it with your own history.

7. ‘76 (2016)

‘76’ is a Nigerian period drama film set in 1976 and directed by Izu Ojukwu. It follows the pregnant wife of a 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. You can watch the movie here.

6. Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Image Credit: David Lee/Netflix

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. You may watch the film here.

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 in 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 several captives losing their lives in the abysmal conditions of the camp.

Inside the camps, the rebels kept 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 a laborer. 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. Feel free to check out the movie here.

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 rebel soldiers headed by the Commandant, played by Elba. Though Commandant takes Agu under his wing, 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 make 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. You can watch ‘Beasts Of No Nation’ here.

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. You may watch it here.

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2. The Endless Trench (2019)

Set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War of 1936, the Spanish-French historical drama ‘The Endless Trench’ or ‘La trinchera infinita’ follows Higinio Blanco (Antonio de la Torre), who has recently married a seamstress named Rosa (Belén Cuesta). He is forced to go into hiding for criticizing the Nationalist government. The film is split into chapters like a book. In the first chapter, Blanco is on the run from the Falangists (hence the chapter is titled ‘campeada’ or ‘to run’) and eventually hides under the floor of his home. In chapter 2, ‘seconder or ‘to hide,’ Blanco has little choice but to move under the kitchen after his neighbors betray him. As the film progresses, he becomes accustomed to life in his hole, making his family wonder whether he will come out when the danger has passed. You may watch ‘The Endless Trench’ here.

1. The Siege of Jadotville (2016)

Image Credit: Karen Ballard/Netflix

‘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. You can stream the film here.

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