While in the make-believe world of cinema, we have heroes and villains fighting each other, the army or military are people who lay down their lives for their jobs. They live lives way more dangerous than the heroes of our films. Their real-life stories are far more shocking than any fiction we can come up with. We have seen many movies, TV shows, and documentaries on war and the effects of war.
Most war movies have anti-war messages that acknowledge the sheer horror and brutalities that men involved in it are forced to face. They tell the world how war has ravaged and plundered the lives of many. The futility of so many sacrifices is laid bare in truly great war movies. In a similar vein, numerous TV shows have also been made on the army or military, and Netflix offers some of the best in the genre.
12. D.P. (2021-)
Based on the Lezhin webtoon ‘D.P Dog’s Day’ by Kim Bo-tong who has also co-written the screenplay with Han Jun-hee, ‘D.P.’ is a South Korean military action drama. It showcases the undesired nature of the Korean army from the POV of Private An Jun-ho (Jung Hae-in) and Corporal Han Ho-yul (Koo Kyo-hwan). These two young soldiers are given the responsibility to find the deserters i.e., those who have abandoned their military post or duty without any prior notice and without any intention of returning. This they do to rid themselves of the bullying that they are subjected to, which is a supposed part of their training and will make them mentally strong. The way the series handles the issue makes it a one-of-a-kind military show, one that feels personal. You can stream it here.
11. The Pacific (2010)
This 10-episode mini-series is based on the memoirs ‘With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa’ by Eugene Sledge and ‘Helmet for My Pillow’ by Robert Leckie. Both writers were former US Marines who served during World War II. The series follows the actions of three soldiers of the United States Marines Corps, namely, Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale) of the 1st Marines infantry, Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello) of the 5th Marines infantry, and John Basilone (Jon Seda) of the 7th Marines infantry, during the Pacific Theater of Operations aka the Asiatic-Pacific Theater which itself was a part of the Asia–Pacific War that occurred from 1941 to 1945. You can watch this critically acclaimed and Primetime Emmy-nominated series right here.
10. Medal of Honor (2018)
‘Medal of Honor’ is an 8-part anthology series showcasing the bravest of the brave whose actions earned them the highest decoration in the United States Armed Forces, either posthumously or after surviving. Each episode has one recipient speaking about their experience on the battlefield, which is seamlessly sewn with a dramatization of the events, archival footage, and interviews with officials, their loved ones, and peers. For the dramatized parts, the cast includes Joseph Cross, Ben Schwartz, Aldis Hodge, Oliver Hudson, Paul Wesley, Steven R. McQueen, and Jonny Weston. You can stream the series here.
9. Five Came Back (2017)
This three-part series has been adapted from a book written by Mark Harris called ‘Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War.’ John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens are the five important Hollywood filmmakers who have all served in the Second World War. This show covers their experiences during the war and mostly uses archived footage. The series is narrated by the great Meryl Streep. Interestingly, while we learn about the experiences of these directors on the battlefield, the show interviews five modern directors, each one describing the effects and influence of any one of the aforementioned directors. Steven Spielberg talks about Wyler, Francis Ford Coppola describes the works of John Huston, Guillermo del Torro explains the influence Capra has had on his work, Paul Greengrass discusses the impact John Ford has had on cinema while Lawrence Kasdan speaks about George Stevens. You may watch this series here.
8. Hitler’s Circle of Evil (2018)
Starring Guy Walters, Alisdair Simpson, Jonathon Michaels, and Richard Overy, ‘Hitler’s Circle of Evil’ is a British historical documentary television series that focuses on the men behind the horrors of World War II. The show revolves around Hitler’s closest allies and captures the establishment and subsequent rise of the Nazi Party in the 1920s. It then looks at the condition in which the ascent to power in the following decades under the leadership of some twisted men who planned to commit one of the evilest crimes in human history. As much as the show sheds light on the suffering that followed, it primarily gives viewers a chance to understand people in Hitler’s inner circle. You can stream the series here.
7. Greatest Events of World War II in Colour (2019)
‘Greatest Events of WWII in Colour’ is a television docuseries that features Derek Jacobi, Geoffrey Wawro, and James Holland. The film recounts how the Allied forces were pushed back to Dunkirk by the German Blitzkrieg while the war continued in different parts of the world. By covering ten major events that happened during the war, the docuseries tries to offer a detailed overview of one of the bloodiest wars in history. What makes watching this a whole new experience is the addition of color, which brings everything to life and allows us to connect with that time by both taking us near it and bringing it closer to us. You may watch ‘Greatest Events of World War II in Colour’ here.
6. Rebellion (2016 – 2019)
Created and written by Colin Teevan, ‘Rebellion’ is a historical fiction series directed by Aku Louhimies. The Charlie Murphy and Ruth Bradley-starrer follows the incidents that occur in Dublin in the light of World War I, which erodes social stability and creates a period of uncertainty for the people. The horrific challenges and the testing times bring a group of friends from different parts of the United Kingdom closer together. As the social conditions slowly became favorable for Ireland’s independence, these friends played conflicting roles in the entire historical movement, which changed the United Kingdom forever. You may stream ‘Rebellion’ here.
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5. Churchill’s Secret Agents The New Recruits (2018)
This series is one of the most unique reality shows ever. Here, contestants participate to go through all the rigorous training that each British secret service agent had to go through during the Second World War. This naturally includes learning how to use firearms and explosives along with hand-to-hand combat. The exercises are so rigorous that most contestants don’t even manage to complete them. Performances in each round of this training determine whether one would proceed to the next round or not. The final round has a mission that the finalists must complete using the entire set of skills they have learned to date. To give the show a truly 1940s feel, the uniform of the participants and those of the hosts have also been designed in a retro style. You can watch ‘Secret Agent Selection: WW2’ here.
4. Fauda (2015 -)
Created by Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, ‘Fauda‘ is an Israeli television series that stars Lior Raz, Hisham Sulliman, Shadi Mar’i, and Laëtitia Eïdo. After serving for decades in the Israeli Defense Force, Doron retires and starts working on his vineyard. Just when he feels that he won’t be going back to fight again, he learns that the dangerous enemy that his squad had once killed is still alive and plans to attend his brother’s wedding. Without wasting any time, Doron springs into action and joins his squad again, hoping to take on his adversary while undercover. Unfortunately, when his team’s cover is blown, a series of events are set into motion that changes everything. You can check out the show here.
3. The Liberator (2020)
Based on Alex Kershaw’s book, ‘The Liberator’ is an adult animated war drama miniseries written by Jeb Stuart. The show centers upon Felix Sparks, a U.S. Army officer who leads the 157th Infantry Regiment comprised of Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and white cowboys in a five hundred days-long grueling struggle against the Nazis. The brave men fought along with the Allied forces and made crucial contributions in the battle in France, Italy and the subsequent liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. Feel free to check out the series here.
2. How to Become a Tyrant (2021)
A docu-series that aims to explore the minds of dictators and how they maneuvered and manipulated their listeners into believing them and following them, ‘How to Become a Tyrant’ is pretty much what the title means, and an effective one at that. Narrated by Peter Dinklage, the episodes also act as concise biographies of powerful dictators in world history, including Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Idi Amin. You may watch the show here.
1. Band of Brothers (2001)
Considered one of the greatest shows to be televised, ‘Band of Brothers’ is set against the backdrop of World War II and tells the tale of Easy Company, the 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, United States Army. Created by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, the miniseries explores the experiences of the soldiers, a.k .a. a band of brothers, as they move on from one mission to another. It is based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s non-fiction book of the same name that first came out in 1992. The book itself chronicles the interviews of Easy Company veterans. The cast of the show includes Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston, Michael Fassbender, Donnie Wahlberg, Michael Cudlitz, Scott Grimes, and Neal McDonough. You can watch the show here.
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