The War Films That Gripped the London Film Festival

Farhana Gani 30 November -0001

As four out of nine of the 2014 London Film Festival’s gala screenings turned to themes of war, we ask why the war film has remained a hot ticket and ask whether this year's war films will one day become classics.

War! What is it good for? Watching on the big screen!

Among the hottest tickets at the 2014 London Film Festival were films about war with three lavishly produced new features, and a restored documentary included in the gala screenings.

The Imitation Game

The opening night saw Benedict Cumberbatch steal the show as mathematician and WWII codebreaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.  Cumberbatch is hottly tipped for all the top awards as his depicition of Turing in this biopic will soon be fixed in the popular consciousness. It’s a fascinating portrait of a brilliant mind challenged by personal ambition, secrecy and insurmountable contradictions. With a fine supporting cast including Keira Knightley, Charles Dance, Mark Strong and Rory Kinnear.


Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth is a timely adaptation of Vera Brittain’s enduring WWI memoir about the brutally shattered hopes of men at the front and the women and families they left behind. Alicia Vikander is mesmerising as free-spirited Vera, who gave up a cherished place at Oxford to nurse the wounded at home and in the field, where she witnessed the atrocities and defiant human spirit that would inform her subsequent years as a peace campaigner.


great archive battles

For a more rarified audience, the archive gala presented a restored version of a 1927 reconstruction of two of the most important sea battles of the Great War. The Battle of Coronel and Falkland Islands is a monumental silent documentary filmed in Malta on battleships supplied by the Admiralty, presented with a newly commissioned score performed live on the night by The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, ahead of its general release with a recorded soundtrack.


Finally,  the closing gala premieredFury. Brad Pitt brought his passion, energy, integrity and formidable Box Office clout to a story of the last month of WW2, in which the Allied forces make a final push into Germany. The dramatic conflict and moral dilemmas within the confines of a single tank are played out against the vast, messy and incomprehensible theatre of battle beyond.


Each of the new productions is sure to be a contender in future lists of great war films. But which films would you include in today’s top 20? Take a look at our favourites.

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