So long as we’re donating some cash to Cadets Canada and donning a red poppy, why not watch a movie or two to remind us of the sacrifices others have made on our behalf?
Where to Watch: Tubi, CBC Gem
Set in Kandahar province, Hyena Road depicts Canadian snipers defending troops building a road deep into Taliban territory. Things frequently go sideways, and the Canadians find themselves exploring moral grey areas. After all, they call Afghanistan the graveyard of empires for a reason.
Where to Watch: Disney+, Crave
Patton’s opening monologue against a giant American flag is one of the most iconic images in film. George C. Scott shines as General Patton in one of cinema’s greatest performances.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Brad Pitt leads a tank crew in the European theatre during the final weeks of the Second World War. Come for the white-knuckle tank duels, stay for Shia LaBeouf’s raw portrayal of PTSD.
Paths of Glory
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Lots of war movies end up inadvertently glamorizing war. Paths of Glory takes a different route, through the trenches and into a courtroom drama where three men are accused of cowardice and executed.
Where to Watch: Rent it on Apple TV, Amazon Prime
Dunkirk tells three stories over three different time periods. The first follows stranded soldiers over a week. The next follows a boat attempting to rescue soldiers over the course of a day. The last follows an RAF pilot strafing the beach over the course of an hour. What we get is a mesmerizing tour de force.
One of the most important documentary series ever made in Canada, Canada at War consists of 13 half-hour episodes. Rich archival footage brings the war to life, and chances are you’ll learn a thing or two.
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Where to Watch: CTV
If you’ve never seen this classic, it’s time to make time. Alec Guinness, a POW in Japanese-occupied Burma, begins to treat building a rail bridge as a test of British courage to the point of madness.
Where to Watch: Netflix
Two British privates in the First World War are given an impossible task: deliver a message overnight and across enemy lines to prevent a pointless sacrifice of thousands of British troops. Made to look as though it’s filmed in two long shots, 1917 is a rich and arresting experience.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime, Acorn TV, CBC Gem
Okay, we’re cheating a bit. Bomb Girls is actually a TV series. In two seasons (with a feature-length series finale) they explore what life was like at home during the war through the eyes of a group of women building bombs on a production line. Smart, funny, and boundary pushing, it’s a war show without fighting. Well, without fighting with the enemy, anyway.
Band of Brothers
Where to Watch: Crave
Cheating once again, Band of Brothers is one of the best war series ever made. Following the real exploits of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne, an ensemble cast brings the war to life in ways that are heroic, frustrating, devastating, and heart-breaking. Of course, the fact that episodes begin with interviews from the surviving members of Easy Company makes this series all the more poignant.