A few years ago we were studying World War 2, and we watched a lot of World War 2 movies with my kids. I wrote down all of the movies I watched with my kids (the movies for all ages, because my oldest were in 1st grade). I wrote down all of the World War 2 movies I knew about and shared it with everyone. Apparently, I’m not the only one searching out good movies to watch with my family, and y’all have a lot of suggestions.
As of June 2017, I’ve gone in and added in the other suggested movies, and then added in a few more I remembered watching. I’m adding your suggestions at the bottom with the caveat of I haven’t personally watched them to give comment on what’s going on. I also only included the movies I could find on Amazon.
Just as we did when learning about the Depression we watched several movies, and I know of several more that are a great way to learn about the era. Many of these I haven’t watched for years, so my memory may be a little fuzzy.
*These are affiliate links, it does not change your price.*
World War 2 Movies for All Ages
- Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front– based off the books and doll, this movie as it says in the title covers what it’s like here in America. It uses terms from the period and you get a glimpse of a child’s life at the time.
- Miracle of the White Stallions – This is a classic Disney movie, and has the pacing of the 60s, so it’s a bit slower, but well worth it. It covers how Patton (who I learned from this movie competed in the Olympics and did quite well) helped save the Lipinzzaner stallions. I have to admit I first watched this solely for the horses, and it’s still my main reason for watching it, but it does give you a bit of a glimpse into life behind Axis lines in Austria.
- The Sound of Music– Who wasn’t expecting this one to show up? We didn’t watch this one, much to Jeff’s relief, but it’s a great look at the opposition to annexation in Austria, and how quickly people turn on each other.
- Bedknobs and Broomsticks Enchanted Musical Edition– I include this one not because it has anything to do with fact, but it shows a bit of the feeling of the era in Britain. How the children were sent far away from London to keep them safe, and how everyone was quite sure and paranoid of a German invasion of Britain. **as a warning, there is witchcraft and fantastical creatures in it, if that concerns you.** You can also use the beginning part of “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” for this as well.” Which when we watched it a few weeks ago, we did discuss.
Movies y’all said down in the comments that I was able to find and I think might fit into the everyone category
- Miracle at Midnight
- The Only Way
- Hidden in Silence
- Mrs. Miniver
- Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines
- Father Goose
- Since You Went Away
Because I’m curious how many movies I have now, I’m changing this over to a numbered list. That makes 11
World War 2 Movies for Elementary Age and UP
Movies here are often here because they’re a bit longer and require more attention, there are many many movies made during the 50s and 60s that fit here. Many of these you could watch with your preschooler, but they will be born.
- Casablanca– Life under occupied French Morrocco, some great lines, but will be rather dry for younger elementary however, the girls will all love the star-crossed lovers.
- Battle of Britain– This is one I haven’t watched yet, but was going to watch with the kids until Jeff brought up that they won’t have the attention span for it.
- Bridge On The River Kwai– I know this movie from reading George Takei’s auto-biography back in high school/college (somewhere in there). This one takes place in the Pacific Theater, so it’s not one the kids and I covered as much
- The Diary of Anne Frank– I believe this is the version I watched in 8th grade. I would not show this to anyone younger than 10 because it is a hard subject, but it should be shown to a child in junior high. They are the perfect age because they are within a few years of her.
- A League of Their Own– I watched this in the movie theaters, and was reminded of it the other day and knew I had to add it into this list. It could almost move into the everyone category, but I remember it having a few scenes, and possibly being a bit slow for younger kids.
This next section are the ones Jeff added in, that are for upper elementary/middle school, I haven’t seen these, but basing it off of the time period they were made (1960s), you’re fairly safe having your upper elementary/middle school kids watch these.
- The Battle of Midway– This also covers the Pacific Theater, and gives a great view of life.
- The Great Escape– This details the escape from an internment camp in Germany lines. It’s described as a great prison escape movie AND war movie, I have since seen large parts of this and my boys were quite amused by it.
- Von Ryan’s Express – Set behind Germany lines during late of World War 2, as an American tries to lead a group of British POWs to escape, and along the way they try to sabotage German armies.
- A Bridge Too Far– The story of Market Garden, which to listen to Jeff was one of the great failures on the part of the Allies. It’s fun to listen to him rage on about the idiocy of it.
- The Desert Fox– A tribue to Erwin Rommel, a German military strategist, and according to Jeff one of the better movies on the period.
That’s 10 more movies, bringing us up to 21 movies.
World War 2 Movies for High School
Movies in this category either have violence or sex, or are just very heavy in content. I will freely admit I haven’t seen many of these because I don’t do well with violence, if I have not seen it I will note it.
- Saving Private Ryan– This would be the movie that convinced me I can’t really handle violence. It gives a very realistic portrayal of war, there is a lot of violence, blood, and language.
- Schindler’s List– Because of seeing Saving Private Ryan, I just wasn’t willing to go see Schindler’s List, I am sure when we cycle back to modern history I will be showing this movie or parts of it to my kids. What little of this I’ve seen is heartbreaking.
- Band of Brothers– I have not seen this one yet. It’s an HBO series, so it’s going to be more violent and probably contain language. Jeff said the boys are on the verge of being able to handle this. When I asked Jeff he said if you watch one, watch this one.
- Pearl Harbor– I didn’t go see this one because the previews emphasized the love story involved, and I wasn’t interested in that. So, my caveats are it’s produced in the last 10 years, so it will have more realism and since there’s a love interest probably sex scenes.
- Enemy At The Gates– This is set in Stalingrad after Germany’s invasion of Russia, when the Russians weren’t doing so well. It follows a sniper who had tremendous successes in killing German officers and the hope it gave them. Definitely violence and there is one sex scene (that I remember, though not much skin is shown, it’s winter in Russia, but much is implied).
- Hacksaw Ridge– I’m going to tell you right now, I have been warned I cannot handle this movie. My husband saw it and loved it, and said when our boys are in high school he’s showing it to them.
- The Zookeeper’s Wife– If you have a very mature junior higher, they might be able to handle it. The previews looked less emotionally suspenseful and we started to watch it with our kids (at age 12 and 10), part of the way into it we decided to stop watching it with them. I think in a few years, 13 for my youngest we will reassess.
Okay, I had significantly fewer movies than I thought, I’m only up to around 30 movies. I guess it seems so much more when I originally wrote this and put it in one crazy long list.
What movies would you suggest watching to learn about this subject?
For more US history ideas check out my pinterest board:
More movieschooling ideas
- Great Depression era movies
- American Revolution movies
- Shakespeare at the movies
- Books made into a movie by grade level (I have over 200 movies so far on that list, and I add it to each year)
I originally published this April 1, 2013, but I’m updating and republishing