10 Best Italian War Movies

Monday, December 6 by Audrey Johnson

The 10 best Italian war movies demonstrate the strife of citizens of the country during the First and Second World War. The films’ realistic portrayals of the violence of the wars in Italy force viewers to truly understand the devastation every individual struggled to make sense of and, hopefully, survive. 

  1. "Captain Corelli’s Mandolin" The Italian officer arrived in 1941 to maintain order on the Greek Island, and does so not by brutality, but by establishing a mutual co-existence with the residents. But when Italy surrenders to the Allies he must leave the island and the woman he loves to fight Germany. Emotionally turbulent and a brilliant portrayal of the effect of the war on innocent Italian people, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is a great Italian war movie.
  2. "Open City" A resistance fighter tries to leave the country amidst the German crackdown on Italian resistance in Rome but is betrayed by his lover. Open City depicts the struggle of Italian citizens to trust each other, and retain their heritage and lives in Nazi occupied Italy. The movie is one of the best Italian war films because of its focus on the members of the underground fight against Nazism.
  3. "Paisa" The follow up to "Open City," this movie consists of six unrelated vignettes of Italians struggling to exist in war-torn Italy. The separate stories portray the desperation and sadness that plagued Italians coping with the war. It’s unusual style and emotional story lines make it one of the best Italian films.
  4. "Porzus" The Soviet iron curtain is falling slowly down when members of a communist group murder non-communists. The film follows Italians as they struggle to make sense of the aftermath of World War II.  
  5. "Tra Cielo e Terra" This Italian movie follows famous Padre Pio, who prayed during World War I that the soldier’s suffering to land on him. Progressing through his life, the film includes Pio’s decision to establish a home for those in pain. Moving for its depiction of one man’s willingness to protect others, Tra Cielo e Terra is one of the best Italian war movies.
  6. "Il cielo cade" Only 10 years old, Penny is in charge of her sister and, she believes, her uncle’s soul. Penny knows her uncle is Jewish, and what Germans do to Jews, so when the Germans arrive, she must worry too about his life. This moving Italian war movie demonstrates how every individual is affected by war.
  7. "A Walk in the Sun" This movie follows American soldiers as they land in Italy and begin to push the Germans backwards. What makes this movie brilliant is its depiction of soldiers trying to balance the sharp burst and slowness of warfare.
  8. "El Alamien" With a title that translates to “The Line of Fire”, this movie follows a young studen fighting in North Africa. Upon returning home, he must determine how he now fits in the world. This Italian movie is wonderful for showing the impact of war on innocence.
  9. "The  Miracle at St. Anna" One of the few films portraying African American soldiers fighting in Italy, this controversial film tells the story of the unprovoked murder of 560 civilians in a Tuscan village. Interestingly, the film implicates that Italian partisans may be partly to blame. A unique plot and rarely depicted characters make this one of the best Italian war films.
  10. "A Day for Lionhearts" On the day when Italy signs the armistice and hand Rome over to the Germans, four Italian resistance fighters find themselves trapped near German lines. With a group of American soldiers, the men destroy a bridge needed for the German takeover. The film’s portrayal of civilian resistance to German rule, A Day for Lionhearts is one of the 10 best Italian war movies.
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