This weekend marks 76 years since D-Day, when more than 150,000 Allied troops rushed the beaches of Normandy to free Europe from Nazi German control.
It was a single day that completely changed the course of World War II and altered the course of the world forever.
There are so many movies and mini-series that focus on different parts of WWII, but these films below really capture not only the struggle and fight that the soldiers went through, but the aftermath of how one day could change everything.
So here are four movies, and one incredible mini-series, that you should watch sometime this weekend to remind yourself of the sacrifice these men made on that deadly day -- so that we may enjoy our freedom.
1. "Saving Private Ryan"
When “Saving Private Ryan” came out in 1998, audiences were shocked at how much it felt like you were in Normandy, watching the horror of the events unfold before your eyes. Director Steven Spielberg did everything he could to put viewers in the center of the action of D-Day. From random body limbs scattered along the beach to wounded soldiers spewing blood, “Saving Private Ryan” did not hold back. Once the D-Day fight is over at Omaha Beach, the rest of the movie shows a group of soldiers on the hunt for Private Ryan, whose brothers were killed in action. If you’ve never seen the film, it needs to go to the top of your list. You’ll learn some very important American history about such a significant day.
2. “The Longest Day”
If you’re looking for a movie that solely focuses on D-Day, you’ve found it. “The Longest Day” came out in 1962, but it’s still one of the best movies if you want a full education on D-Day. The film takes you through different viewpoints, showing viewers what the German, French and American troops were up to, leading up to the big day. The scenes depicting the attack at Omaha Beach might not be as realistic as those in “Saving Private Ryan,” but, for being shot in 1962, the film does a pretty impressive job.
“The Longest Day” was also one of the first epic war movies, so it kind of created this genre of films that we are used to today.
"Overlord" came out in 1975 and tells the story of a British soldier who is going through training to eventually fight on D-Day, where he dies at Sword Beach, one of the five main landing areas along the coast of Normandy. This movie is less about the war in general and what it meant for the world, and more about this one soldier and what the war means to him.
The movie “Patton” came out in 1970 and follows the American war hero General George S. Patton and his time fighting and leading during WWII. While the entire film is not centered around D-Day, the battle is an important part in the film because Patton was sidelined from fighting in it because he got in trouble with General Eisenhower. The film went on to win eight Academy Awards, and the opening scene of the movie, in which Patton gives a thrilling speech about war in front of a massive American flag, has gone down as one of the most iconic openings of a movie of all time.
5. “Band of Brothers”
OK, so this isn’t a movie about D-Day, but it is a mini-series about a group of men that fought during WWII, and one of those fights took place on D-Day. Spielberg teamed up with Tom Hanks again to tell this story, this time about a group of men called the Easy Company. These men were part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, so they jumped out of planes and into battle. The episode in which the Easy Company helps with D-Day is one of the best episodes of the series -- and really shows just how frightening it was to jump out of a plane while being shot at by enemy forces. The mini-series debuted two days before 9/11, so it will always be remembered as a shining example of the heroism our military members have when fighting for our freedoms.
If you have an HBO account, you can totally dive into "Band of Brothers," but unfortunately, the movies aren't streaming on services such as Netflix and Hulu. You can rent these movies on Amazon for a pretty cheap price or check your local listings to see if any channels are playing them in honor of D-Day.
And if you want to watch more movies about World War II in general, check out some of the suggestions below.
- “The Thin Red Line”
- “Schindler’s List”
- “Empire of the Sun”
- “Pearl Harbor”
- “Letters from Iwo Jima”