10 Films to Watch If You Like Dunkirk: One week at the hauntingly beautiful beach, one hour in the treacherously serene skyline, and one day riding over the hurricane tides at sea; Christopher Nolan stirred the ingredients in a potion of survival and hope, giving us the monumentally mounted and astoundingly ambitious magic known as Dunkirk (2017). The Rescue of Allied Forces is saddled with Nolan’s signature blend of juggling alternate timelines, a nerve-wracking background score by Hans Zimmer, and beautiful shots through a 70 mm reel. Dunkirk, in its totality, is a knockout stunner.

If you were thrilled by the sound of its explosions and bullets, dug the intimate anti-war narrative, were grasping for breath because of the heart-pounding warfare tension, and then felt the tingling all over your spine for mankind’s infinite will to survive against odds, here are 10 more films to munch down if you like Dunkirk.

10. The Hurt Locker [2009]

The Hurt Locker [2009]: Movie like Dunkirk

An unflinching and brutal take of an Explosive Defusal Squad in the midst of a horrid Middle Eastern War, Katheryn Bigelow was virtually shot from dust to skies with The Hurt Locker. Overhead sniper hawks, the rubble of cities lying in the wake of war, and the silence of death hanging over every roadside bomb, Bigelow grabs us from our collars and pushes us headfirst into chaotic warfare.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Its nail-biting buildups, the de-politicized execution, and knack of sending icy shivers down the viewers’ spines ensured that Bigelow’s disquieting vision cemented The Hurt Locker as one of the best war movies of the 2000s.

9. The Bridge on the River Kwai [1957]

The Bridge on the River Kwai [1957]: Movie like Dunkirk

When British soldiers are captured and caged as prisoners of war during the Japanese military in World War II, the task of constructing a bridge across the river Kwai catapults into a moral dilemma. Colonel Nicholson requires the British soldiers to build the bridge as a shining testament to the willpower of his forces. However, the task in itself can be seen as supporting the enemy if we view it from the other end of the spectrum.

Boasting top-notch writing and a thematically complex narrative arc, this adaption of Pierre Boulle’s novel by David Lean refuses to take any side nor offers any explanations for its characters’ eccentric decisions. The Bridge on the River Kwai is like an old wine that gets even better as it ages.

8. Rescue Dawn [2006]

Rescue Dawn [2006]: Film like Dunkirk
When an American fighter plane crashes in the Vietnamese wilderness, its pilot Dieter is captured by local tribesmen. Narrating the incidents in a near documentary methodology, Werner Herzog scraps the survival instinct of the human spirit against natural hurdles, clubbing them with the ones caused by warfare.

With Christian Bale giving an electric central performance, Rescue Dawn might not lie in the top echelons of Herzog’s works but is still an eccentric and often poetic take upon the necessity of hope in times of crisis.

7. Land of Mine [2015]

Land of Mine [2015]: Film like Dunkirk

Zandvliet takes us to the scenic beauties of Denmark with its golden sand and sun-soaked beaches and then reveals man’s inherent traits of violence. He ensures we absorb the atmosphere of peace and serenity, which he then blows to the treacherous winds. Every breath awaits an explosion with dreaded regrets; every day awaits death with an open welcome.

On the same lines as Dunkirk, Land of Mine is harrowing and brutal, leaving no stone unturned to gut-punch the air out of you. It plays around with moral boundaries, injecting sympathies in the least expected places, and values the price of survival in a war-torn landscape jeweled with mines.

6. Hacksaw Ridge [2016]

Hacksaw Ridge

It rained like a grand meteor shower, as if the fire had descended down from the mighty skies to wreak havoc. The blood and ground became one, and the dance of madness was staged upon them in all its bloodcurdling horror and savagery. As the cavalry marched into Hacksaw Ridge, war became one with men. It penetrated their skins, hinged its claws behind their necks, and compelled their actions. It felt as if all of existence had collapsed into a single warfare moment. And this moment is to last till eternity.

Also, read: Every Christopher Nolan Movie Ranked

In ways similar to Dunkirk, Mel Gibson’s film is destruction personified. It weighs the fragility of life against the concreteness of faith. It is a pristine vision of devastation so harrowing that it’ll make the bravest of our kind look away.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Read the complete review of Hacksaw Ridge here

5. Platoon [1986]

Oliver Stone put all his nightmares into his art resulting in a complex psychological study of men at war in this harrowing tale of a green soldier who volunteered to go to the Vietnam War. Stone covers loss of innocence, polar opposite reactions of men when faced with dire circumstances, and existential dilemmas in this blood-soaked visceral look at the violence of the battlefield.

As a result of Oliver Stone’s purging, the final result gives such a fever rush that it is as close to war as you can get. With the urgency, the bitter battle truths, and then the poetic angst when insanity bites, Platoon is a maniacal laughter from the throats of darkness.

4. The Thin Red Line [1998]


Haunting, meditative, and deeply reflective, Terrence Malick digs deeper into the black heart of war by crafting a somber exploration of its consequences over the soul of its soldiers. Staggeringly intimate and immensely personal, The Thin Red Line takes a step back from the meaningless violence outside to focus on the chaos and destruction within.

Related Read to Films Like Dunkirk: Here’s Why The Non-Linear Narrative Didn’t Work in Dunkirk 

With the long winding shots, the cinematography, and the impact of soldiers having a rendezvous with death and eventually surviving it, Christopher Nolan might surely have taken a leaf or two from The Thin Red Line. This is a rare cinematic moment when a director, in his full glory, philosophizes the very nature of conflicts

3. Paths of Glory [1957]


An often neglected work in Kubrick’s much-praised filmography, Paths of Glory captures the consequences of rationality in times of a chaotic war. Kubrick guides our hands into stranger darkness and leaves us there, sobbing over the lack of empathy of one man towards another. He parallels survival with cowardice, balancing moral complexities in a swirl of emotions in war.

Clinical, unforgiving, and ironic to a fault, Paths of Glory melts the best of Kubrick’s qualities into one nightmarish grim vision of the French Army’s authoritative regime during the heights of World War I. The acts are sharply pieced together, the tone remains coldly formal, and the result is simply spirit-breaking.

Read the complete review of Paths of Glory

2. Saving Private Ryan [1998]


The first 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan are arguably the most unflinching war field moments cinema has witnessed. They are unhinged, unforgiving, unforgettable, and the purest form of an adrenaline rush this art form can provide.

Saving Private Ryan is a testament to the art of a craftsman in full command of his material. Steven Spielberg throws us a live hand grenade and expects us to come out unharmed by this experience. The rescue of Private Ryan by Captain Miller from Omaha Beach will probably go down as the greatest American attempt to capture the harrowing events of World War II.

1. Apocalypse Now [1976]


Madness, madness, madness. That’s what Apocalypse Now preached four decades back. That’s what Apocalypse Now preaches today. Sheer barbaric nature of men, the insatiable lust for power, domination, and servitude.

Adapted from a nearly un-adaptable novel, The Heart of Darkness, Francis Ford Coppola takes a look at the Vietnam jungles and stumbles upon the impenetrable wildness inside man’s psychology. Destructive, dark, and thematically complex, Apocalypse Now is and will remain the benchmark against which the cinephile will weigh the genre’s entries.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté
Dunkirk (2017) Links: IMDb, Wikipedia


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