Whether used as an establishing opening sequence or at the climax, bombardments and sieges are used to demonstrate our heroes’ strength (or helplessness), reenact a true event and even provide comic relief. Inspired by Ate de Jong’s Het Bombardement, here is a list of standout bomardments and sieges in film ranging from fantasy and war to family fun.
Saving Private Ryan – Stephen Spielberg (1998)
A classic to start. Spielberg’s 1998 war epic gave us many harrowing scenes blurring the public and private spheres of war. In this clip, what starts as a large scale military bombardment becomes a personal story of the reality (and helplessness) of losing comrades in war.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – Peter Weir (2003)
Not all attacks are on land, of course.
Weir’s Napoleonic sea adventure culminates in a battle of truly epic proportions featuring everything an audience would expect from a final battle scene; foreboding, bravado and overuse of mist. The use (and disuse) of sound gained Best Sound Editing Oscar for Richard King.
Letter’s from Iwo Jima – Clint Eastwood (2006)
The juxtaposition of the mundane task of emptying the ‘shit bucket’ and the on-coming bombardment from the ships makes for an uneasy tension for the audience in this scene. Our soldier is far more concerned with successfully returning the bucket to the hideout than the gunfire he must dodge. A simple, quiet scene in comparison to the rest and one that demonstrates the everyday priorities of war.
Legionnaire – Peter McDonald (1998)
The effects may be dated and it’s hard to imagine that depiction of North Africa in a film made today but the siege in Legionnaire is a classic example of the war tactic on film.
300 – Zack Synder (2006)
300 is the ultimate showground for battles on an epic scale. The opening siege establishes the bravery of the Spartan soldiers and the leadership of King Leonidas.
Dog Soldiers – Neil Marshall (2002)
Neil Marshall’s cult classic set in the Scottish Highlands climaxes in our heroes holed up in a rundown house surrounded (and secretly inhabited) by werewolves. The light-hearted dialogue that has been present throughout the film gives this particular siege a dark humoured edge.
Lord of The Rings – The Two Towers – Peter Jackson (2002)
Sieges, bombardments and battles of all kind lend themselves perfectly to fantasy and the Battle of Helms Deep is the one to rule them all. 10,000 Orcs lay siege to the fortress vastly outnumbering the men and elves inside. Despite the amazing graphics and the impressive stunts, the unimaginable odds against our heroes is what makes this siege so nerve-racking.
Home Alone – Chris Columbus (1990)
Not all sieges are part of a serious films. Home Alone is almost entirely a siege movie with Macaulay Culkin defending this home against the advances of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. Need I say more?
Het Bombardment – Ate de Jong (2013)
And finally, the film that inspired this list.