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Military Movies and Shows on Netflix: March 2017

ken burns the civil war

Gear up for Ken Burns’ massive 18-hour documentary The Vietnam War (airing this fall on PBS) by reviewing The Civil War and The War, both finally available again for streaming.

1. The Civil War

Ken Burns’ 10-hour epic changed the way people thought about both documentaries and television viewing habits. In fact, you might even say that Burns was the guy who made people realize that viewers like to binge-watch for hours at a time. It’s the standard for every historical documentary made in the last quarter-century and always worth watching again. (1990)

2. The War

Ken Burns' 14-hour documentary was originally shown on PBS and it's very much like "The Civil War," only there was a wealth of actual film footage for him to use. There's not much of that "slow panning shot over a pile of photos" effect here and quite a few living witnesses to the events are interviewed on camera. Burns' great insight for this movie was to focus on the experiences of four American towns (Luverne, MN; Mobile, AL; Sacramento, CA and Waterbury, CT) and how the war affected each through the stories of the men and women who served around the world during the era. It's a great piece of history and a far better use of your time than spending a weekend re-watching a season of "The Walking Dead." (2007)

3. The White Helmets

This British film won the Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 2017 Academy Awards. The 40-minute film follows follows the daily operations of a group of volunteer rescue workers of the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets. It’s a powerful tale of hope and humanity in the face of that country’s ongoing civil war. (2016)

4. Camp X-Ray

Kristen Stewart plays a small-town girl who joins the Army to be a part of something bigger than herself. She’s sent to be a guard at Camp X-Ray, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. She develops a relationship with Tunisian detainee Ali Amir and is forced to deal with a new perspective on her beliefs. (2014)

5. Above & Beyond

More proof that the popular narratives about World War II barely scratch the surface. This documentary details the role of WWII veterans (many of them American) in the early days of Israel’s air force. The United States was technically neutral in those early days and men who aided the Israeli military risked prison back home. The filmmakers get in under the historical wire, since there are enough men still alive to tell a tale they wouldn’t have dared share publicly at the time. Bonus: Pee Wee Herman’s dad was one of the pilots and he shows up with his mom to talk about that legacy. (2015)

6. The Submarine Kid

A Marine (Finn Wittrock) returns home and tries to readjust through a relationship with a girl called Alice, but he finds he’s struggling with his grip on reality. Wittrock co-wrote the screenplay and talked to us about the film when it was first released. (2015)

7. Brothers in War

This National Geographic documentary, narrated by Charlie Sheen, combines archival and news footages with audio recordings and home movies made by the members of Charlie Company during their 1967 tour of Vietnam. The film offers a great perspective on the war, told by the troops who fought it.(2014)

8. Army Dog

A bomb-sniffing dog named Conner retires from service with his handler Sgt. Tom Holloway (Casper Van Dien). They both return to the states, but Holloway’s young daughter is jealous of his relationship with Conner but they all bond during a crisis on a father-daughter camping trip. This one’s safe for family movie night. (2016)

9. The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch plays pioneering computer genius Alan Turing, who led the effort to break Nazi Germany’s Enigma code during World War II. Turing is socially awkward, difficult and brilliant and the film details his struggles to communicate with his colleagues. After the war, Turing was prosecuted under Britain’s anti-homosexuality statues and committed suicide in 1954. (2014)

10. The Longest Day

Producer Darryl F. Zanuck was determined that his movie was going to be the definitive movie about D-Day and it probably was before the release of “Saving Private Ryan.” While “Ryan” focused on the personal stories of men on the ground, “The Longest Day” aims to tell the WHOLE story. There’s a massive cast that includes Henry Fonda, Sean Connery, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger, Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, Gert Fröbe, Eddie Albert and Curd Jürgens. If you’re under 40, you might wonder how anyone could watch a 3-hour movie with so much talking, but “The Longest Day” is the greatest generation’s most ambitious tribute to itself. (1962)

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