15 Great Movies Set During World War I And How To Watch Them

Soldiers staring off into the distance in All Quiet on the Western Front
(Image credit: Netflix)

Some of the best movies of all time happen to be those that focus on military conflicts throughout human history. With a number of military dramas being Best Picture winners at the Academy Awards over the years, and even more being nominated for various other awards, it’s easy to see why Hollywood continues to make feature films with a war setting.

The most popular titles focus on famous battles and heroes who fought in World War II, but there are still plenty of other tremendous World War I movies like Paths of Glory, 1917, and All Quiet on the Western Front. If you have heard about either of those and want to know how to watch them, along with other all-time greats, sit back, because we’re about to break down several WWI movies and everywhere they’re available.

The Journey's End cast

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Journey’s End (2017)

The most recent adaptation of R.C. Sherriff’s beloved play, Journey’s End follows a group of British officers as they travel to the front line in the final year of World War I. Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted from the horrors they’ve experienced thus far in the war, the men attempt to come to terms with their present situation and the fact that they might not make it out of the trenches alive.

Directed by Saul Dibb, the movie sees Sex Education’s Asa Butterfield, Daisy Jones and the Six’s Sam Claflin, and a handful of other talented British actors bring to life one of the most beautiful yet traumatic depictions of the First World War. 

Stream Journey’s End on Freevee.
Stream Journey’s End on Plex.
Stream Journey’s End on Tubi.
Rent/Buy Journey’s End on Amazon.

Clara Bow in Wings

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Wings (1927)

An excellent silent film and the inaugural Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards, Wings has long been considered one of the best war movies of all time. Released in 1927, this William A. Wellman-directed picture follows two best friends – Jack Powell (Charles “Buddy” Rogers) and David Armstrong (Richard Arlen) – as they leave their quiet American town behind to become combat pilots during World War I.

In addition to featuring an inventive tracking shot and what were state-of-the-art aerial dogfights, Wings also has a tremendous story about bravery, friendship, rivalries, and romance involving the lovely Mary Preston (Clara Bow). 

Stream Wings on Tubi.
Rent/Buy Wings on Amazon. 

Tom Courtenay in King and Country

(Image credit: Allied Artists)

King And Country (1964)

Joseph Losey’s King and Country, an adaptation of James Lansdale Hodson’s Return to the Wood, centers on the case of a young British private, Arthur Hamp (Tom Courtenay) as he faces court-martial for desertion after being picked up walking away from the front line of World War I. Tasked with defending the accused deserter is Captain Charles Hargreaves (Dirk Bogard), an impatient yet compassionate attorney.

Both a great courtroom drama and war film, the movie dives into the psychological impact armed combat has on soldiers and how the mental stresses of life in the trenches can lead someone down a deadly path.

Stream King and Country on Plex.
Rent/Buy King and Country on Amazon.

The Big Parade cast

(Image credit: Loew's Incorporated)

The Big Parade (1925)

King Vidor’s 1925 silent film, The Big Parade follows the remarkable story of James “Jim” Apperson (John Gilbert) as he goes from a wealthy young man with no intentions of doing much of anything to a soldier experiencing trench warfare on the frontlines of World War I. Epic in both scope and scale, the dramatic war story is filled with battle sequences, tender moments, and a plethora of life lessons.

One of the earliest depictions of the First World War, The Big Parade is also one of the most influential war films of all time, and its influence can be seen in everything from classics like All Quiet on the Western Front to Born on the Fourth of July.

Stream The Big Parade on Plex.
Stream The Big Parade on Tubi.
Rent/Buy The Big Parade on Amazon. 

Felix Kammerer in All Quiet on the Western Front

(Image credit: Netflix)

All Quiet On The Western Front (2022)

Edward Berger’s 2022 adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s landmark 1929 anti-war epic, All Quiet on the Western Front, follows Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) as he goes from being a young and naive teenager to a battle-worn and broken down German soldier on the frontlines of World War I. 

Much like the novel and various film adaptations released over the years, it doesn’t hold back in its depiction of bloodshed and misery in the trenches along “No Man’s Land,” as well as the price young men pay for the pride and glory of older and more foolish men. Still, the All Quiet on the Western Front cast is wonderful with its beautiful and tragic characters, and the movie features some eye-popping visuals.

Stream All Quiet on the Western Front on Netflix.
Also try: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) on Amazon.

George MacKay in 1917

(Image credit: Dreamworks)

1917 (2020)

The winner of multiple Academy Awards, Sam Mendes' harrowing and white-knuckle 2019 World War I thriller, 1917 (inspired by his grandfather’s experiences in the war), follows two young British soldiers in a race against time as they try to reach the frontlines and prevent a colonel from sending 1,600 men to their deaths.

With the use of multiple long takes, Richard Deakins’ cinematography, and outstanding performances by George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman, it’s easy to see why 1917 was immediately thrown into the conversation of most realistic war movies upon its release.

Stream 1917 on Paramount+.
Rent (or buy) 1917 on Amazon.

Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory

(Image credit: United Artists)

Paths Of Glory (1957)

One of Stanley Kubrick’s best movies, Paths of Glory centers on Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas in one of his greatest performances), a high-ranking member of the French army who becomes at odds with the top military brass after he refuses to send his men to their deaths during a foolish and ill-advised mission on the frontlines of the war.

When the soldiers under his command are court-martialed after being charged with cowardice, Colonel Dax does his damnedest to defend the men and prevent them from being executed for their supposed transgressions. Much like Doctor Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket in the decades that would follow, Kubrick doesn’t hold back with his depiction of war in this military classic.

Stream Paths of Glory on Pluto TV.
Stream Paths of Glory on Tubi.
Rent (or buy) Paths of Glory on Amazon.

British soldiers sitting for a meal in They Shall Not Grow Old

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

They Shall Not Grow Old (2019)

Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old is one of the highest-rated titles on this list (CinemaBlend gave it 5 out of 5 stars upon release), and even still, it doesn’t feel like we’re giving this movie enough credit. Similar to what Jackson would go on to do with The Beatles: Get Back, this 2018 documentary features the painstaking work of Jackson and his team, who went through and digitally restored hundreds of hours of video footage and combined it with audio interviews with World War I veterans.

The documentary was eventually released in honor of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day (November 11, 1918), and serves as a touching tribute to the British soldiers who fought and gave their lives in the mud and blood-filled trenches on the battlefield.

Rent (or buy) They Shall Not Grow Old on Amazon.

Benedict Cumberbatch in War Horse

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

War Horse (2011)

Steven Spielberg’s 2011 film adaptation of the 1982 novel, War Horse, follows Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) as he searches the battlefields of Western Europe in search of his beloved horse that has been sold to the British cavalry.

In standard Spielberg fashion, War Horse takes an enchanting, powerful, and wholesome story and combines it with dazzling action-adventure set pieces to create an exciting and emotional experience. The cast, which also features Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch, doesn’t hurt either.

Rent (or buy) War Horse on Amazon.

A nurse tends to Joe Bonham (Timothy Bottoms) in Johnny Got His Gun

(Image credit: Cinemation Industries)

Johnny Got His Gun (1971)

There are anti-war films and then there are titles like Johnny Got His Gun. Written and directed by Dalton Trumbo, the 1971 drama centers on American soldier Joe Bonham (Timothy Bottoms) in the fallout of an artillery attack during WWI. After losing his eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and limbs, the young soldier is trapped in a state of living death, where he relives memories from his life while also trying to find a way to communicate with the outside world.

Johnny Got His Gun was a hit with the late Roger Ebert (he gave it four stars) and would later go on to inspire Metallica’s Grammy Award-winning 1989 track “One.” The band would also use footage from the movie in the “One” music video 

Stream Johnny Got His Gun on Freevee.
Stream Johnny Got His Gun on Plex.
Stream Johnny Got His Gun on Tubi.
Rent (or buy) Johnny Got His Gun on Amazon. 

Gary Cooper in A Farewell to Arms

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

A Farewell To Arms (1932)

After American ambulance driver Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper) is separated from the woman of his dreams, Red Cross nurse Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes), during the middle of World War I, he thinks he’ll never see her again. But as the fates would have it, Henry is injured on the battlefield and sent to a hospital where his long-lost love now works.

Frank Borzage’s 1932 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s novel, A Farewell to Arms, is not only a wonderful World War I movie (one that is less punishing than others on this list) but also a tremendous book-to-film adaptation that does the source material justice.

Stream A Farewell to Arms on PlutoTV.
Stream A Farewell to Arms on Prime Video
Stream A Farewell to Arms on Tubi.
Rent/Buy A Farewell to Arms on Amazon.

Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)

David Lean’s 1962 epic (both in scope and runtime), Lawrence of Arabia, centers on the life and exploits of T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) a junior officer in the British Army who is sent on a mission to look into Prince Faisal (Alec Guinness) to see what could come from his revolt against the Ottoman Empire

Over time, Lawrence becomes something of a cult icon in the desert as he carries out an unorthodox manner of military strategy against the Turks, which draws the attention of the Ottoman Empire, the British Army, and the world as he leads the Arab Revolt during World War I.

Rent (or buy) Lawrence of Arabia on Amazon.

Gal Gadot and company in Wonder Woman

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Wonder Woman (2017)

Although it probably isn’t the first movie that comes to mind when discussing World War I, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is more than deserving of its spot on this list. After Diana Prince’s (Gal Gadot) hidden island of Themyscira becomes the center of a skirmish between US pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and the German Army, Wonder Woman comes to the aid of the Allied Forces in their quest to end the war.

One of the most iconic moments of the movie, and perhaps the entire DCEU, takes place when Wonder Woman crosses into “No Man’s Land” to rescue an occupied village and help turn the tide in the war. To this day, it’s still one of the better depictions of the hellish stretch of land between the two sides.

Stream Wonder Woman on Max.
Stream Wonder Woman on Netflix.
Rent (or buy) Wonder Woman on Amazon.

Mel Gibson in Gallipoli

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Gallipoli (1981)

Directed by Peter Weir, the 1981 war drama Gallipoli follows two Australian teenagers — Archy Hamilton (Mark Lee) and Frank Dunne (a young Mel Gibson) — as they go from competitors in a foot-race to fast friends fighting side-by-side during World War I. The pair, though friendly, never let go of their competitive nature, and continue to push one another to the next day’s adventure.

Like a lot of military dramas, Gallipoli has its fair share of action, adventure, and heartfelt moments with its focus on the meaning of friendship in the depths of war.

Rent (or buy) Gallipoli on Amazon.

Gary Cooper in Sergeant York

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Sergeant York (1941)

The 1941 military drama, Sergeant York, which is based on a true story, follows Alvin C. York (Gary Cooper), a born-again Christian who becomes a remarkable soldier and sharpshooter despite being against war and killing.

Over the course of the movie, York is seen as an unlikely hero as he comes through for his fellow soldiers time and time again on the battlefield, but never lets his fame and reputation get the better of him.

Stream Sergeant York on Tubi.
Rent (or buy) Sergeant York on Amazon.

These World War I movies should be more than enough to help you explore the cinematic history of “The War to End All Wars.” But if you’re looking for even more to watch, there are still plenty of great 2024 new movie releases set for the coming months. 

Philip Sledge
Content Writer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or chatting about professional wrestling to his wife. Writing gigs with school newspapers, multiple daily newspapers, and other varied job experiences led him to this point where he actually gets to write about movies, shows, wrestling, and documentaries (which is a huge win in his eyes). If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.