Historical movies are one of my favorite high school tools. Students aren’t merely entertained by them; they also learn facts about history that would otherwise get lost in a dry lecture. Below are ten of my favorite history movies that complement The Mystery of History Volume IV.
Please note, a couple of these movies are rated R. I personally have reviewed them and found them to be acceptable for my family. When dealing with topics of war, it’s impossible to sugar-coat the atrocities levied against individuals. An example is World War 2. An accurate depiction of Hitler’s demoralization of the Jews typically cannot be portrayed in movie with a PG rating.
Set in South Carolina, The Patriot depicts the struggle of a colonial farmer played by Mel Gibson who supports the crown but eventually fights for freedom. This movie is rated R for war violence.
Chariots of Fire
The story is of missionary Eric Liddell and his 1924 Olympic win as well as his struggle as a missionary. It won four Oscars in 1982 and is rated PG.
Sir Ben Kingsley plays the lead role in this inspiring film of a simple Hindu lawyer, Mohandas Gandhi, who brought freedom to India. It won six Oscars in 1983 and is rated PG.
Louis Zamperini was a participant in 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Several years later, he finds himself in a Japanese POW camp. This movie shows his determination to survive no matter the adversity. Angelina Jolie directed this PG13 rated movie.
This is one of my favorite movies. It tells the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, an accomplished composer and pianist and a Polish Jew. The only reason he survived World War 2 was because of the kindness of an officer in the German army. Directed by Roman Polanski, with Adrian Brody portraying Szpilman, this movie won three Oscars in 2003. This movie is rated R for subject matter and war violence.
This action-packed World War 2 film centers around the Tuskegee Airmen and the discrimination they faced until they proved their abilities. There is alcohol consumption and some language. Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Terrance Howard star in this PG13 rated movie.
Flyboys is fighter pilot movie set in World War 1. Before America entered The Great War, American men volunteered with France to pilot a new war instrument—airplanes. Flyboys tells the story of one group of young men taking on this extremely perilous role as pilots. This movie is rated PG13. There is alcohol consumption.
End of the Spear
This movie is the continuation of Through Gates of Splendor. In 1956, Steve Saint’s father, along with four other missionaries were murdered by a native tribe in Ecuador. As an adult, Steve is able to reconnect with the tribe. This movie is rated PG.
Black Hawk Down
Black Hawk Dawn recounts the true story of the 1993 crash of an American black hawk helicopter in Somalia. The pilot was taken captive and then rescued. This movie is very accurate and rated R. There is a lot of bad language.
This Disney movie tells the true story of an East German family and their 1979 escape to West Germany in a homemade hot-air balloon. I remember seeing this movie as a child, and it has stayed with me all these years. This movie is rated PG.