3 best Amazon Prime Video war movies you should watch on Memorial Day

Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now.
United Artists

To some Americans, Memorial Day is just another three-day holiday weekend. But for anyone who has been to war, or lost loved ones to overseas conflicts, Memorial Day has special significance as an opportunity to honor the fallen and reflect on the sacrifices they made on behalf of our country.

While the vast majority of civilians will never go to war, Hollywood has been making war movies for decades. The best war movies allow the rest of us to better understand the people who lived through it, as well as what they lost and left behind. That was the criteria we used to pick the three best Amazon Prime Video war movies you should watch on Memorial Day. Prime Video doesn’t have a lot of the classics in the genre, but it does feature a handful of the greatest war movies ever made.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now.
United Artists

Apocalypse Now nearly proved to be fatal for its leading man, Martin Sheen, who suffered a heart attack during the filming. It was a notoriously difficult shoot that resulted in an all-time classic. Director Francis Ford Coppola updated Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness with co-writer John Milius, and Michael Herr. They moved the story up in time almost a century to the Vietnam War, which was still in America’s recent past when the film came out.

Sheen plays Captain Benjamin L. Willard, a veteran warrior who is sent to assassinate Colonel Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando) because Kurtz has gone crazy and turned against his country while waging his own private war against the Viet Cong. Kurtz’s followers treat him like he’s a living god and they’re fanatical in their devotion. But getting close to Kurtz requires Willard to go on a dangerous journey that may destroy what’s left of his soul long before he comes face-to-face with his target.

Watch Apocalypse Now on Prime Video.

All Quiet On The Western Front (1979)

The cast of All Quiet on the Western Front.
ITC Entertainment

Erich Maria Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front has been adapted multiple times, most recently by Netflix. But the 1979 adaptation has already earned its place among the all-time great war movies. The story is set during World War I as a German teenager, Paul Bäumer (Richard Thomas), and his friends are swept up by romantic and patriotic rhetoric to join the war effort against the French.

Stanislaus “Kat” Katczinsky (Ernest Borgnine) mentors the younger troops, who soon discover that the war is far more brutal than they imagined. Death is their constant companion on the battlefield, as Paul is forced to watch the men around him fall one by one with the knowledge that he could be next at any given moment.

Watch All Quiet on the Western Front on Prime Video.

Glory (1989)

The cast of Glory.
Tri-Star Pictures

At the time Glory was released, Matthew Broderick was a bigger name than his co-star Denzel Washington. However, Washington’s performance and subsequent Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor went a long way toward establishing him as a star in the making. This film is based on the true story of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Broderick), the man who led the first all-Black regiment of troops during the Civil War.

Alongside his friend Major Cabot Forbes (Cary Elwes), Shaw attempts to mold Private Silas Trip (Washington), Sergeant Major John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman), and the rest of their men  into a united force. But they face racism within the Union army that threatens to keep them from proving themselves in battle. Shaw quickly realizes that he needs to support his men in order to earn their trust. Yet, even the bonds of brotherhood and bravery that emerge may not be enough to carry them to victory and the respect that they deserve.

Watch Glory on Prime Video.