The Most Popular Wars for War Movies

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Which Wars are Most Popular With War Movies?


The second World War is, of course, hugely popular in the movies. As wars go, it's about five wars old, yet it still occupies most of our cinematic imagination. In a recent survey done of three hundred war movies, fully 46% were about the second World War. 

And why the hell not?! The second World War is, as the name implies, a world war. It's truly global. You can have movies afar afield as a film about Burma, a film about Africa, and a film about Europe, and they can all still be World War II films. You can have Air Force movies and Naval movies and films about the Underground Resistance. And, best of all, the second World War provides a truly evil nemesis in the form of Hitler and the Nazis.

But what's second and third place look like?

(Click here for the Top World War II war movies.)

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Medieval War Movies - 11.5%

Second place looks like a sword and sandal epic. The anonymously named "Medieval War" movies is second place with 11.5% of all war movies. This constitutes a wide breadth of film type though, to include Biblical films, Robin Hood films, and pretty much any film where the preferred weapon of combat is a sword or a bow and arrow.

(Click here for the Top Medieval war movies.)

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Wold War 1 - 8%


The first World War takes third place with just 8% of war movies.  Think about it:  How little mental real estate does the first World War hold in most of our brains?  We think of the horrors of trench warfare and that's about it.  Sad, that such a horrific, mighty, conflict that was so incredibly awful could be reduced to just 8% of war films and a tag for "trench warfare."

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Vietnam - 6.5%


In fourth place is Vietnam, with 6.5% of war films.  This surprised me.  Hollywood seemed, tome, to have a special hold on Vietnam films.  Perhaps though that was just a period in time, a period that has now elapsed.  And really, what else can be said about the Vietnam war that hasn't already been said multiple times?  The chances of a new Vietnam film being made that will offer new perspectives about the war we've never considered before is almost nothing.

(Click here for the Top Vietnam War Movies.)

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Civil War - 5.5%

And 5th place goes to the American Civil War.  Civil War films seemed relegated to the cinematic waste bin of war movies, the sort of films that play on PBS, or every once and awhile when HBO is recycling some 1980s film, when there was still something new to say about the Civil War.  The problem with the Civil War is that it's so ancient, it doesn't affect anything these days.  No one's grandfather was a veteran of that war.  No one knew someone that served in that war.  It's just history.

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Afghanistan - 3%

Lone Survivor.

Just 3% of Hollywood war movies have been about our war in Afghanistan.  Of course, time is not on the Afghanistan war movie's side.  The Civil War has had nigh near almost a century to have war movies made about it.  The second World War has had almost eighty years of films.  Afghanistan has only allowed for Hollywood to produce films for fifteen years.  And no Hollywood producer in his right mind is really going to start making movies about a war while it's still active and new.  Expect this 3% number to go up in the years to come.

(Click here for the Best and Worst War Movies about Afghanistan.)

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War on Terror - 3%

United 93.

And also with 3% - for the same exact time restricted reasons - is war movies about the War on Terror that are not about Afghanistan, but just about the War on Terror, more generally.

(Click here for 10 Films that Define the War on Terror.)

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Iraq - 2%

Just 2% of war movies have been about the second Iraq war.  Again, as with Afghanistan and as with War on Terror movies, Iraq as a war has only existed for fifteen years or so.  Which, when you're counting against eighty some years of movies, isn't going to be a whole lot.  Another number that will rise in the years to come.

(Click here for the Best and Worst War Movies about Iraq.)

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Various Wars - 1%

And 9th place?

9th place dissolves into an orgy of disagreement.  Of many smaller wars with single films fighting for recognition.  

Libya?  13 Hours and this documentary.

Syria?  A documentary.

Panama?  A documentary I haven't reviewed.

Lebanon?  Nada.

And on and on.

(Yes, I know that there are many foreign war films that would count.  I'm only able to register American and British war movies, though due to limited resources.)