6 Of The Best War Documentaries Of All Time

Wednesday, October 12 by
I wonder where he bought that kick-ass shirt? 

I will hazard a guess that you know next to nothing about the War of 1812. Don’t feel bad. I don’t either. It was a stupid war. “The Second War for Independence?” That’s dumb. It inspired the national anthem, which is pretty important, but that song is really a pain in the ass to sing. Christina Aguilera had trouble with it, and she sang the hell out of “Genie in a Bottle.”

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes. The War of 1812. Well, it’s time to educate yourself because PBS (the channel you programmed your TV to skip over when you’re browsing) has just aired the aptly-named documentary The War of 1812 which shows how each party involved, Canada, US, Britain, and Native Americans, recount the conflict to serve their own purposes.

I know! I’ve got an erection just thinking about a PBS portrayal of how Canada practices revisionist history. It’s like Real Steel for historians. Now that we’ve all got blood lust on the brain, let’s take a look at some other war docs that convey the brutal truths about some of our favorite wars.

Vietnam! WWII! Operation Enduring Freedom!

In the comments, feel free to list your favorite war(s) and why you like them more than other wars.

6. Restrepo

This doc grabbed last season’s Oscar for Best Documentary with its look at the war in Afghanistan. It was co-directed by author Sebastian Junger (A Perfect Storm) and photojournalist Tim Hetherington. The two were embedded in Afghanistan for a year, on assignment from Vanity Fair.

The name Restrepo references an observation post the platoon is tasked with defending, named after medic Juan Sebastian Restrepo, who was killed in duty prior to the start of the documentary. The film made hundreds of “best-of” lists by year’s end, most notably for its brutal portrayal of soldier’s lives. It also offers compelling and dangerous footage of skirmishes as the platoon attempts to clear insurgents from their designated area over 15 months.

Finally, it warrants mentioning that I got a handjob in the theater during a press screening of this film last year.

(Editor’s Note: No, he didn’t.)

Yeah, I did. It was awesome.

(Editor’s Note: Shut up. That’s disrespectful.)

That may be, but it happened.

(Editor’s Note: We all know it didn’t.)

Ok. Fine. It didn’t.

(Editor’s Note: Jesus Christ.)

5. The War

Better set aside a few weekends for this one, as Ken Burns, known for his looooooooooong looks at his topics tackles WWII over the course of seven parts (14 hours). The doc takes a “bottom-up” approach to the war, examining it through American cities effected by many different aspects of the war. The doc moved forward chronologically week after week following its premiere on PBS Sept. 23, 2007.

While the footage is obviously all original, Burns used famous actors to provide their voices in reading headlines and correspondence. The line-up of voices included Sam Jackson, Adam Arkin, Tom Hanks, and no one’s favorite Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson.

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