Keira Knightley's new movie, "The Aftermath," takes place in postwar Germany, where she and her husband (played by Jason Clarke) move in with a German widower (played by Alexander Skarsgard) and a tumultuous love triangle ensues. In honor of the film's release on March 15, 2019, Wonderwall.com is rounding up some of the best love stories that take place during wartime. Keep reading to see our picks…
One of the war romances to end all war romances came in 1939 when "Gone With the Wind" hit the big screen. Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara's romance with black sheep Rhett Butler charmed critics and audiences alike as their relationship blossomed against the backdrop of the Civil War and events like the burning of Atlanta. The film famously ends with the two parting as Rhett leaves Atlanta and Scarlett asks, "Where shall I go?" to which Rhett responds, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
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The 2001 war film "Enemy at the Gates" sees Jude Law and Joseph Fiennes embroiled in a love triangle during World War II. Jude plays Vasily Zaytsev, a soldier in the Red Army, while Joseph plays his superior, Commissar Danilov. They both find themselves attracted to Tania Chernova (Rachel Weisz), a Stalingrad resident working as a private in the local militia. When Vasily and Tania get involved, Danilov gets jealous and spiteful. After a mission, he assumes Tania has been killed in battle. Fortunately, that's not the case — but Danilov ends up sacrificing himself to save Vasily, who eventually finds Tania recovering in a field hospital once Stalingrad is liberated — somewhat of a happy ending.
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One of the most famous wartime romances ever? 1942's "Casablanca," a classic World War II drama starring Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, an American expatriate who owns a nightclub in Morocco and still carries a torch for his former lover, Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Bergman. Though Ilsa has moved on and married, their paths cross once more when Ilsa and husband Victor come by in search of letters of transit to aid an escape to America during the war. Like many wartime love stories, this one doesn't exactly have a happy ending. Though Ilsa admits she still loves Rick, the two don't end up together — though Rick is instrumental in getting her to safety.
A love triangle featuring Josh Hartnett and Ben Affleck at the height of their heartthrob statuses? That's what 2001's WWII-set "Pearl Harbor" had to offer. Ben played Rafe McCawley while Josh played Danny Walker, best friends and soldiers in the early '40s. It's Rafe who meets pretty nurse Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) first, and sparks fly, though their romance is short-lived — Rafe joins the Eagle Squadron and ships out not long after they get to know one another. His plane is shot down and he's presumed to have been killed in action, resulting in Evelyn turning to Danny while she mourns. When Rafe returns alive, the two former friends duke it out over their shared love — all one day before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. As Danny is dying after being shot, Rafe confesses that Evelyn is pregnant with Danny's child. While taking his last breaths, Danny tells Rafe that the child is his now. Rafe and Evelyn go on to marry and name the child Danny.
Like "Pearl Harbor," "From Here to Eternity" is set shortly before the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II. It centers around three American soldiers played by Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra and their entangled love lives. Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed play the women involved with the soldiers. The film was a smash hit after its 1953 release, picking up eight Academy Awards after being nominated for 13.
The 2001 film "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" takes place during World War II and stars Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz. Captain Antonio Corelli is an officer occupying the Greek island of Cephalonia with his men. The unconventional soldier, who loves the mandolin and has taught his men to choral sing, quickly falls for local girl Pelagia, the daughter of the village doctor. When the doctor agrees to let the captain stay at his home in exchange for medical supplies, he's able to charm Pelagia — who at first was offended by his odd behavior. Despite Pelagia having a fiancé, their relationship blossoms, but war threatens to tear it apart when the Germans descend. The Italian soldiers are shot as traitors, but Corelli survives, only to be brought to Pelagia's doctor father by her fiancé. Corelli returns to Italy and sends Pelagia a record of the song he wrote for her before eventually returning to her.
"Life is Beautiful" tells the tale of a family desperately trying to survive a concentration camp during World War II. Shortly before the war, Jewish man Guido Orefice (played by Roberto Benigni) falls in love with teacher Dora (played by Nicoletta Braschi). The two marry, have son Giosue (played by Giorgio Cantarini) and are living happily and running a bookstore as the war breaks out. When Guido and Giosue are taken to a concentration camp, Dora, who's not Jewish, can't bear being separated from her family and decides to go with them. But the family is ripped apart: Dora is sent to the women's side of the prison and Guido tries to convince his son that the camp is an elaborate game in an effort to shelter him from the horrors of their reality. Though there's not quite a happy ending and Guido and Dora are never reunited (Guido is executed), his actions save Giosue's life. Their son is reunited with his mother when the Allies liberate the camp. It's a testament to a father and husband's love.
2016's "Allied" starred Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard and was also set during World War II. Royal Canadian Air Force pilot Max Vatan is sent to Casablanca, Morocco, alongside French resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour on a mission to assassinate a German ambassador. While traveling, the two pose as a married couple, and life imitates their ruse — they fall for each other and end up marrying, settling in England and welcoming a daughter, Anna, once they complete their mission. But there's no happily ever after here — Marianne turns out to be a German spy whom Max is ordered to kill. Though he can't bring himself to shoot his own wife, Marianne confesses and actually kills herself, asking him to take care of Anna.
The 2003 Civil War drama "Cold Mountain" paired Jude Law and Nicole Kidman on the big screen. Jude plays Inman, a deserting Confederate soldier headed back home to his love, Ada (Nicole), in Cold Mountain, North Carolina. While he's trying to get back, Ada is trying to manage her deceased father's farm and dreaming of the day Inman returns.
Juliette Binoche plays a World War II nurse caring for a pilot in 1996's "The English Patient." While taking care of the airman, she learns his backstory and realizes he's Count Laszlo Almasy (played by Ralph Fiennes) — but the love story doesn't come from these two. It's as he recounts his history that the audience learns of an incredibly dramatic romance. During Laszlo's time mapping the Sahara, he met a married British couple, Geoffrey and Katharine Clifton (Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas), and fell for Katharine. When her husband found out, he deliberately tried to crash his plane into Laszlo in an attempt to kill them all, yet only kills himself. Katharine, however, is harmed, and Laszlo escapes to try to find help, only to return too late. Touched by his story, nurse Hana reads Katharine's final letter to Laszlo and helps him die compassionately after he makes his wishes clear.
"Dr. Zhivago" takes place in Russia during World War I. The 1965 film stars Omar Sharif as the titular character, Yuri Zhivago, and Julie Christie as Lara Guishar. The two fall in love, but things are complicated — and we're not just referring to the Russian Revolution. Lara is involved with her mother's lover, Victor (played by Rod Steiger), and Yuri marries his cousin Tonya (played by Geraldine Chaplin), but they can't seem to quit each other. They reunite, but the situation gets more and more dire as civil war takes place. Both end up tragically passing away, but their love child — Tanya — survives.
In 2007's "Atonement," Keira Knightley's character, Cecilia, find herself embroiled in a budding romance with James McAvoy's Robbie that's ruined by a devastating lie and World War II. The upper-class beauty and the housekeeper's son have a flirtation and passionate fling that's misconstrued by Cecilia's little sister Briony (a young Saoirse Ronan) as an attack. The ordeal — which also includes Briony's false claim that Robbie raped a visiting cousin — ends up tearing them apart. Robbie is sent to prison and released to join the British army, while Cecilia works as a nurse — never to be reunited, as Robbie dies at Dunkirk and Cecilia perishes in a tube station bombing during the Blitz. Briony, a successful novelist as an adult, fails to make amends but before her death writes the people she wronged the happy ending they deserved.
"The End of the Affair" features flashbacks to an affair that began during World War II. The 1999 film starred Ralph Fiennes as novelist Maurice Bendrix and Julianne Moore as Sarah Miles, a married woman with whom he had an affair during the war. The two have since moved on now that the fighting is over, but Sarah's husband, Henry (Stephen Rea), enlists Maurice to help him discover whether or not his wife is cheating on him, leading to the rekindling of their romance and a dramatic, tragic end. The tale of deceit and lost-and-found love earned many Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.
World War I sets the scene for 2004's "A Very Long Engagement." The French film centers around a woman, Mathilde (played by Audrey Tautou), who's desperately searching for her fiancé, Manech, a soldier she fears was killed in the war. Though we don't get to see much romance actually unfold onscreen, Mathilde's love for Manech is palpable. As she searches, she uncovers a corrupt system the French have in place for when soldiers try to evade duty. She eventually finds her fiancé, who, though alive, has amnesia and no recollection of her, making for a bittersweet ending.
The Nicholas Sparks-penned "Dear John" tells the story of Channing Tatum's character, soldier John Tyree, falling for college student Savannah Curtis, played by Amanda Seyfried, in pre- and post-9/11-era America. When the two meet, John is getting ready to be discharged from the Army and is planning to start his life with Savannah, but after terrorists attack America on Sept. 11, 2001, he decides to re-enlist and heads to Afghanistan. The two keep their romance going via letters, but life gets in the way. John deals with the death of his father while Savannah moves on and begins a relationship with her neighbor, who later dies of lymphoma. But there's hope for a promising future at the end when John finally leaves the Army and the two reunite at a coffee shop.