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1 . Das Boot 1981 Wolfgang Petersen
AGerman film which brilliantly conveys the danger and claustrophobic grimness of being in a uboat for a considerable time . Starring Jurgen Pochnow as the young captain of a younger crew ( he was the English Patient )the British viewer takes an ambivalent position because it is allied ships they are attacking but the real achievement of this film is to make you feel you are on the boat.

2 Closely Observed Trains 1966 Zdenek Oves
This charming Czech film depicts an adolescent train worker who cannot make it with his loved one but achierves fame through an attack on the occupying Germans.

3 Downfall 2004 Oliver Hirschbiegel
Another excellent German movie with a terrific depiction of Adolf Hitler. The Germans may have lost 2 world wars but they made superb films about them.

4 Tea with Mussolini 1999 Franco Zeffirelli
Some might question its provenance as there is galaxy of English female acting talent on parade in war time Florence: Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench but director Zeffirelli is an Italian and himself joined the Scottish Guards as a kid possessing  a sensitivity to both cultures.

5. The Battleship Potemkin 1925
Eisenstein played some wonderful war movies: Ivan the Terrible parts one and two but I’ve chosen this. It’s a landmark film about the 1905,conflict regularly chosen as the Greatest Film ever made

6 Soldier of Orange 1977
Paul Verhoeven has a successful Hollywood career with Robocop, Basic Instinct and Total recall. He revisited Dutch resistance in Black Book but this film before them all which established his reputation is a fast tempo tale of intrigue in the Dutch resistance.

7 Le dernier Metro 1969 Truffaut
Truffaut ‘s final film starring Catherine Deneuve and a young Depardieu features as ever with French films a ménage a trois as Deneuve secrets her Jewish husband in the theatre she runs whilst having an affaire with actor Depardieu. Truffaut died aged 59, what a loss.

8 Armee des Ombres 1969 Jean Melville
I am a huge fan of Jean Pierre Melville whose work is mainly noir thrillers or resistance movies . This in the later category and a fine movie of betrayal . What I like about Melville like Fred Zinnemann is  his priority is to entertain the film goer not to be indulgent but he was master of detail and demanding director who deserves a better acclaim

9 La Grande Illusion 1937
This Renoir film is very much a rite of passage as the courtly Erich Von Stroheim as a German officer extends every courtesy to his fellow French captive officer . Beautifully acted with Jean Gabin, himself a war hero Pierre Fresnay and rightly regarded as a classic.

10 Battle of Algiers 1966 Gille Pontecorvo
A wonderful documentary of the Algerian conflict . That is it true does not detract from f its pace and excitemient.

11 Le Chagin et La Pitie 1969
This documentary about the resistance has phased into film lore. It’s brilliancec like the best documentaries is that Marcel Ophuls like the best documentary makers does not interpose himself and let’s the interviewers do the talking .

12 El Lobo 2004
A masterly depiction of a true story set in Spain when Franco’s goverment intruded a a mole into an ETA cell. Its exciting, but also a graphic look at the tensions in a terrorist cell. When you see french actress Melanie Dautey you will wonder why she is not a bigger star.

When I can asked for contributions, film critic Neil Young favoured Went the Day Well. The director is Italian but it’s very much a British propaganda movie though very good . a Russian dental colleague Vladimir Nikitin on me asking him if he preferred Battleship Potemkin to Ivan the Terrible as the best Russian film said neither War and Peace with the biggest ever filmed battle scene

As ever I appreciate your comments and contributions.


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About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts