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Top 15 Greatest Epic History Movies

I love historical movies – they really manage to drag us away to another time and, for the most part, teach us a little about our ancestors – though I admit that some are so awful that they teach myths rather than reality – you won’t find any of those on this list. The criteria for entry to this list is that the film must be an epic movie (a film which emphasizes human drama on a grand scale) and it must be based on real people or events or, if fictional, must depict accurately the period in which it is set. Every movie on this list is a must-see movie.



Kundun E.Jpg

In 1937, in a remote area of Tibet close to the Chinese border, a two year old child is identified as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the compassionate Buddha. Two years later, the child is brought to Lhasa where he is schooled as a monk and as head of state amidst the color and pageantry of Tibetan culture. The film follows him into adulthood: when he is 14, the Chinese invade Tibet and he is forced into a shaky coalition government; he travels to China to meet with a cynical Mao; and, finally, in 1959, ill and under siege, he flees to India. Throughout, he has visions of his people’s slaughter under Chinese rule.




As the story opens, King Henry II, who ruled England from 1154 to 1189 has entered Canterbury Cathedral to do penance at the tomb of his former friend, Thomas Becket. Bare to the waist, the king kneels to receive a flogging from Saxon monks. He begins to reminisce, recalling at first the carefree, promiscuous adventures with Becket, then his favorite drinking and wenching companion. A violently emotional drama that probes the changing relationship between two young men – between two close friends bound together by similar pride of flesh and spirit who become deadly enemies as they pursue their separate destinies . . . that of king . . . and saint.


Hotel Rwanda


Ten years ago some of the worst atrocities in the history of mankind took place in the country of Rwanda–and in an era of high-speed communication and round the clock news, the events went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world. In only three months, one million people were brutally murdered. In the face of these unspeakable actions, inspired by his love for his family, an ordinary man summons extraordinary courage to save the lives of over a thousand helpless refugees, by granting them shelter in the hotel he manages.


Judgement At Nuremberg


It has been three years since the most important Nazi leaders had already been tried. This trial is about 4 Judges who used their offices to conduct Nazi sterilization and cleansing policies. Retired American Judge, Judge Dan Haywood has a daunting task ahead of him. The Cold War is heating up and no one wants any more trials as Germany, and allied Governments, want to forget the past. But is that the right thing to do is the question that the tribunal must decide.


La Battaglia di Algeri

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A film commissioned by the Algerian government that shows the Algerian revolution from both sides. The French foreign legion has left Vietnam in defeat and has something to prove. The Algerians are seeking independence. The two clash. The torture used by the French is contrasted with the Algerian’s use of bombs in soda shops. A look at war as a nasty thing that harms and sullies everyone who participates in it.


The Great Escape

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Based on a true story, “The Great Escape” deals with the largest Allied escape attempt from a German POW camp during the Second World War. The first part of the film focuses on the escape efforts within the camp and the process of secretly digging an escape tunnel. The second half of the film deals with the massive effort by the German Gestapo to track down the over 70 escaped prisoners who are at this point throughout the Third Reich attempting to make their way to England and various neutral countries.


Der Untergang

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It’s the last days of Adolf Hitler, April 1945, and Hitler’s personal secretary Traudl Junge finds herself in the Der Fuhrer’s bunker. Facing inevitable defeat, Hilter’s moods range from defiance to fight or flee, remain loyal or opt for self-preservation. Eva Braun parties while Magda Goebbels kills her children. The movie goes on to show how Hitler and Eva lived their last hours in the Bunker.


Schindler’s List


Oskar Schindler is a vain, glorious and greedy German businessman who becomes unlikely humanitarian amid the barbaric Nazi reign when he feels compelled to turn his factory into a refuge for Jews. Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler who managed to save about 1100 Jews from being gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. A testament for the good in all of us.


The Last Emperor

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A dramatic history of Pu Yi, the last of the Emperors of China, from his lofty birth and brief reign in the Forbidden City, the object of worship by half a billion people; through his abdication, his decline and dissolute lifestyle; his exploitation by the invading Japanese, and finally to his obscure existence as just another peasant worker in the People’s Republic.


Das Boot


It is 1942 and the German submarine fleet is heavily engaged in the so called “Battle of the Atlantic” to harass and destroy English shipping. With better escorts of the Destroyer Class, however, German U-Boats have begun to take heavy losses. “Das Boot” is the story of one such U-Boat crew, with the film examining how these submariners maintained their professionalism as soldiers, attempted to accomplish impossible missions, while all the time attempting to understand and obey the ideology of the government under which they served.




In 1983, Gandhi is thrown off a South African train for being an Indian and traveling in a first class compartment. Gandhi realizes that the laws are biased against Indians and decides to start a non-violent protest campaign for the rights of all Indians in South Africa. After numerous arrests and the unwanted attention of the world, the government finally relents by recognizing rights for Indians, though not for the native blacks of South Africa. After this victory, Gandhi is invited back to India, where he is now considered something of a national hero. He is urged to take up the fight for India’s independence from the British Empire. Gandhi agrees, and mounts a non-violent non-cooperation campaign of unprecedented scale, coordinating millions of Indians nationwide.


The Ten Commandments


To escape the edict of Egypt’s Pharoah, Rameses I, condemning all first-born Hebrew males, the infant Moses is set adrift on the Nile in a reed basket. Saved by the pharaoh’s daughter Bithiah, he is adopted by her and brought up in the court of her brother, Pharaoh Seti. Moses gains Seti’s favor and the love of the throne princess Nefertiri, as well as the hatred of Seti’s son, Rameses. When his Hebrew heritage is revealed, Moses is cast out of Egypt, and makes his way across the desert where he marries, has a son and is commanded by God to return to Egypt to free the Hebrews from slavery.


Ivan The Terrible (films I and II)
1944, 1958

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In 1547, Ivan IV (1530-1584), archduke of Moscow, crowns himself Tsar of Russia and sets about reclaiming lost Russian territory. In scenes of his coronation, his wedding to Anastasia, his campaign against the Tartars in Kazan, his illness when all think he will die, recovery, campaigns in the Baltic and Crimea, self-imposed exile in Alexandrov, and the petition of Muscovites that he return, his enemies among the boyars threaten his success. Chief among them are his aunt, who wants to advance the fortunes of her son, a simpleton, and Kurbsky, a warrior prince who wants both power and the hand of Anastasia. Ivan deftly plays to the people to consolidate his power.




Spartacus, a Thracian slave, refuses to allow himself to become the animal the Roman civilization would have him be. His love for Varinia, a slave girl, coupled with his revulsion at the crushing treatment and callous murders of his fellow slaves, ignite in his breast a passion for freedom. They escape and are joined by more runaways, and swell to become a vast army. Contrasted with their impassioned plans for open rebellion are the cool, calculating minds of their Roman adversaries Crassus, Grachus and Batiatus. To Rome, a poorly equipped army of slaves are no more threatening than the invasion of insects which attack the city during the hot, humid seasons. The slaves’ cries for freedom and their challenge will be but a more diversion from the musty affairs of state. And so, in a chilling engagement, the superior military might of Rome proceeds to crush the army of Spartacus.


Ben Hur


When Prince Judah Ben-Hur hears that his childhood friend Messala has been named to command the Roman garrison of Jerusalem, he is thrilled. He soon finds however that his friend has changed and has become an arrogant conqueror, full of the grandeur of Rome. When Judah refuses to divulge the names of Jews who oppose Roman rule, Messala decides to make an example of him and sends him off as a galley slave. Through fate and good fortune, Judah survives the galleys and manages to return to Jerusalem in the hopes of finding his mother and sister, who were also imprisoned, and to seek revenge against his one-time friend.

Notable Extras: Braveheart, Gladiator, The Passion of the Christ, The Message

Synopses courtesy of IMDB, the Internet Movie Database

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a place for explorers. Together we seek out the most fascinating and rare gems of human knowledge. Three or more fact-packed lists daily.

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  • Cheetah

    Just one point, Gandhi was thrown off a train in 1893 not 1983.

    • drowningbarbie

      I was hoping someone would bring that up!

  • Kami

    Biblical movies shouldn't be included in a list of 'History' movies.

    • Jim

      My thoughts exactly.

      • Skot

        Moses isn’t considered just a Biblical character. Moses is an important figure in not only Christianity but Judaism, Islam and a number of other faiths as well. I see no reason why a story from a book like the Bible should be excluded as long as there is some debatable evidence to his existence. However Ben-Hur was NOT a historical character, he was created by American General Lew Wallace in 1880 in his novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. (That title sounds a little religious doesn’t it?)

        At least Moses is believed to have been a historical figure by approximately 2 billion Christians, 1 billion Muslims, and 13.4 million Jews; in other words roughly half of the population of the entire world. (Don’t worry I didn’t count the two posters above me)

        Ben Hur is as historical as Rambo. Really though why be picky, Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments are both great “sorta-kinda-historical-ish-ly”themed movies so I say keep them both on the list.

        • jimmyboy

          THANK YOU someone agrees with me

          • not racist

            You people breed to much.

  • Steeveedee

    Some great films on the list, but I would have to agree with some of the comments. Biblical epics are not historical epics. While The Ten Commandments is a classic, it can hardly be called "historical". Also, Lawrence of Arabia is one of the greatest films ever, AND a historical epic. What about Elizabeth
    The Right Stuff
    Saving Private Ryan
    Henry VIII
    Forrest Gump

    (Haha…kidding on that last one.)

    • Tom

      Not historical!?

      • MG2012

        Experts in the field agree that there is absolutely no historical or archaeological evidence supporting the story of Exodus.

  • bearglove

    Moses was not real. End of story-does not belong on a list concerning history. Next time you're making a list of history, and a biblical figure pops up, forget about it-unless it concerns a few random rulers that are verifiable outside of the bible.

    • AmericatheGreat

      bearglove, it is not "end of story", you boor. Some people believe in God and there ain't a whole lot you can do about that. Oh yeah, and Moses was real.

    • ozwald

      How do you know he was not real? If you don't believe in something it does not mean it does not exist. dumbass

    • Tom

      Moses was not real? Prove it!

    • Run Stein

      Hey dont be a book..
      The existence of moses is backed up by historical fact and documents aside from the bible …just because you dont believe it doesnt not nullify its validity

      • He’s not wrong

        There is no archeological record of the Jews being in Egypt until 600 years after the pyramids were completed. Then the ones who did show up were soldiers from what is now Iran. He’s right that the Moses story doesn’t have a basis in the historical record. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be an important lesson for your faith. Just that it’s not actually a part of history.

        • Yes he is wrong

          #1: Where is your source for this?
          #2: What do pyramids have to do with anything? I understand you could say they were built by the hebrews, but it doesn’t say that in the bible.

          • banff

            one citation among many
            Orthodox Rabbi Shalom Carmy of New York’s Yeshiva University grants that historians have so far found no documentation on Moses apart from the biblical writings

  • Shagrat

    Raining on your parade: Great List and I've seen most of them – however; the Pharaoh of The Exodus has been identified as Ramesses the Great (Ramesses II) – – – not, as you cite, Ramesses I (Ramesses II's grandfather)

    And I'm SO glad you did not include Braveheart – it shouldn't even have got an honourable mention: The ONLY things they got right were the Names of the two protagonists (Edward Longshanks and William Wallace – oh- and Mirren, Wallace's wife. Everything else was so far off base and historically incorrect, it was laughable.

    • tylerberfield

      He cites Rameses I as the one who orders the extermination of the Hebrew children in the movie, which is correct. There are three pharaohs in the movie; Rameses I, Seti I (Moses’ adoptive father) and Rameses II the big bad (who happens to be my fave historical character and I am really scared of what Ridley Scott may do to him in his Ten Commandments remake…). That and Rameses II deserves a movie about him, without Moses.

  • plum13sec

    Brad Pitt Mad,
    Brad in Troy

  • NiMur90

    Awesome list! I have to check out a few of these.

  • loop

    History is nice, but it is written by whoever came out on top.

  • Sanguine

    Top 10? There’s 15!

  • MPW

    I enjoyed this list, great choices. I like your lists best Jamie.

    And Sanguine how about writing something about the content of the list instead of just pointing out and an error?

  • MinaLumina

    I love, love, love The Last Emperor. I think I’ll go watch it again, thanks for reminding me.

  • Buffster

    Hmm..guess you never heard of David Lean!? “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Bridge on the River Kwai” or “Doctor Zhivago” anyone!?

  • LeadingtheRats

    i just saw X-Men Origins, that’s good history.

  • yuff

    why are there 15 movies in a top ten list?

  • jajdude

    Eventful guns on the list, g – truly a celluloid ensemble of epic proportions ya have here, like the gas I gots from the Cantonese roast pigeon I ates earlier yo

  • enoooo

    I remember watching Das Boot in German class 8 years ago. Amazing movie though very sad. One of the few movies that make you sympathize with the Germans in the war, well at least the people on the submarine. It shows how many German soldiers did not agree with the Nazis but had to serve under them to spare their own lives. Very well done.

  • maximuz04

    hmmm i wanna see the last emperor now… I am glad newer movies were included too. Too often I find that movie “critics” give way too much legitimacy to older movies and claim newer movies suck (usually the older crowd of “critics” too). This is a good mix.

    About Troy, although great, the actual story as mentioned in Homers book is considered myth more than legitimate so I think its appropriate that it isnt here

  • damien_karras

    Too many good historical epics to list in its entirety.
    I think our fearless leader did a spot on job here! Well done! (I was kind of hoping for Saving Private Ryan, but oh well)

  • zimmers

    Kami, its historical movies, which means either a true story OR a (possibly) fictional story which accurately portrays the time period in which it is set.

    NIce list..surprising number of WWII (or after affects of the war) movies.

  • Aimee

    “Some synopses courtesy of IMDB, the Internet Movie Database”
    More like EVERY SINGLE ONE!!

  • AbstractPlain

    Lawrence of Arabia is a greater film than any of these and instead of Kubricks Spartacus I would of included the superior Barry Lyndon. Still good list lot of these films make up daytime tv educating the unemployed like me.

  • joe mama

    “Lumumba” baby!

  • DCI

    I thought kingdom of heaven was good despite orlando bloom being involved. Gladiator should definately be mentioned.

  • Aimee: you are right – I used the generic text I usually use – it is now corrected. Normally I wouldn’t let such a silly error slip through but I was busy working on other lists, the listverse book, the site administration to prevent some of the downtime we have been suffering lately so that you can enjoy the site for free every day. Forgive me.

  • JokieOne

    Der Untergang seems interesting, i might check it out.


    why Lawrence of Arabia isn`t on the list??? Spartacus,really …………..

  • filipinoknight

    A notible mention should be Saving Private Ryan.
    Jfrater: It should be 1893 not 1983 that Gandhi started his civil rights movment. ;)

  • Janinho

    ‘some are so awful that they teach myths rather than reality – you won’t find any of those on this list’, says the imdb cut-and-paster in the intro and then includes ‘The 10 Commandments’ at #4. I suppose gods parting seas isn’t considered myth across the pond. Nutcases.

  • RambleRon

    I agree that spartacus wasn’t as epic of lawrence. And I feel that this list strayed somewhat away from being truly epic at points, or ele Saving Private Ryan would have had to be a definite.

    I think you should make a separate epic movie list regardelss of history. And in it Lord of The Rings would be the first

  • Aimee

    Well…that told me didn’t it.

    Jfrater, I visit this site every single day and 14 times out of 15 (9 out of 10 is too few) there’s something really funny and interesting here for me to read.

    I apologize for being rude. To be honest I looked to see if it was yourself or someone else who put up the list and when i didn’t see your name I assumed the latter and posted my….post to notify you of what I thought was a copyright infringement thing and, well, it blew up in my face didn’t it?

    My humblest apologies again. I’ll be back tomorrow as always and continue recommending the site.

    I leave you with this: Is this a rhetorical question?

  • 7539

    If you haven’t seen Der Untergang, please rent it today. Bruno Ganz’ portrayal of Hitler is Oscar worthy…the most excellent and chilling I’ve ever seen…

  • Taylor

    Ah. I don’t remember much of Ben Hur, but I recall being absolutely enthralled by the grandeur of many of the scenes. Simply spectacular.


    JANINHO-#25–Wow, you were there and you saw that it REALLY didn’t happen, amazing. Spose you can enlighten us on any other things in history?



  • Peter Breen

    Ivans Childhood?

  • Ames

    I’ve been ‘stalking’ this website for quite some time now. I always mean to comment but then realize the list I’m reading is pretty old. So I’ll comment on the most recent one: I love, love, love your lists. I think my favorite parts of the list are the comments. Now that I’ve broken the ice I plan on getting even less work done and commenting more. You’ve got a great group of people putting these together. Keep up the good work :)
    Oh, and I better comment on this particular list: good list. Some I’ve seen some I haven’t. Das Boot will be my next rental

  • Iain

    How about ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’? Westerns (when based on real events) are history films too.

    Kudos on ‘Battle for Algiers’ one of my all time faves.

  • Spocker

    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Particularly the battle scene at the bridge.

    Gone With the Wind – Epic scene with the burning of Atlanta.

    Glory – Just watched this again last night.

    Midway – All star cast at it’s best.

    The Mission – De Niro at his finest.

    Lawrence of Arabia – How could you have missed this one?

  • damien_karras

    Interesting bit of trivia about the Gandhi epic:

    “Back before computer imaging they had to use real people in scenes and if you count extras as part of the cast then Ghandi holds the record for the largest cast in a movie when over 300,000 extras were used in the funeral scene.
    Ghandi was directed by Richard Attenborough and released in 1982.

    Eleven cameras were used and 20,000 feet of film was shot, but the scene lasted only 2 minutes and 5 seconds in the finished movie. The entire finished movie consisted of less film than was shot during the funeral scene.”

    300,000 people? Could you imagine what the catering costs were?

  • Blitzen

    I can’t believe that “Ran” is not on this list.

  • bucslim

    Don’t think I’ve seen the words “wenching companion” used in a sentence much before today.

    Hey Tommy, it’s Hank, sup?

    Sup dude?

    Just sippin Boones and strappin up to go wenching, you in?

    Game on!

    Make sure you bring those Jimmy Hats!


    The days when women were an accessory to an evening of drunken debauchery and forgotten the next day when you’re puking up your mead.

  • bucslim

    Blitzen – Ran is an awesome movie, but I don’t think they were exactly historical people.

    I guess I was kinda expecting Lawrence of Arabia to be on here, but I’m ok with the ones Jamie picked.

  • Blitzen

    bucslim, in the intro he says they can be fictional as long as they represent the period accurately. Hence the inclusion of Ben Hur and Gladiator (in the notable extras), and arguably The Ten Commandments as well.

  • kevin a.

    my grandfather was a pow at stalag luft iii during the great escape.

  • Lewis_RATM

    Schindler’s List anywhere but number 1?
    Look at this list.
    The ten commandments is not history, it’s bullshit, and Ben-Hur and Spartacus? Fun, interesting, exciting but they don’t evoke your emotions strongly, or really make you feel for the characters
    Gandhi, good but it’s just a love letter to Gandhi, not that he doesn’t deserve one, but…
    You said in Schindler’s List that it is “A testament for the good in all of us.”, a statement I cannot agree with as, in the movie, there is good in Schindler, and not a whole pile of others.

  • RandyMe


  • Iain

    Blitzen – ‘Ran’ is an adaptation of ‘King Lear’, although I take your point about fictional/period accuracy.

    …which begs a question – isn’t the Olivier ‘Henry V’ a strong contender here?

  • RandyMe

    Whether or not you believe in the spiritual and religious teachings of the Bible (which I do and it seems many of the commenters on this site do not), it is an accurate book of history. Accounts from the Bible that have been turned into film, therefore, deserve consideration on a list such as this.

    Some of these movies I have seen, some I will try to watch soon.

    Thanks Jamie for another great list.

    BTW, glad the server problems are fixed… for now. It was really aggravating not being able to access the site yesterday.

  • Blitzen

    I know these aren’t movies per se, but there have been plenty of epic historical miniseries that deserve a mention. Most of these are based on real people and events:

    I, Claudius
    Shogun — based on the real life diary of Will Adams
    Tenko — Life in a Japanese POW camp in Asia during WWII
    The Tudors
    Masada — Jewish Zealots defend a hilltop fortress against Roman beseigers
    North & South — American Civil War
    and since you like WWII so much, War and Remembrance.

  • TEX

    great list
    because when i read the title i didn’t expect to see about ten of my favorite movies of all time.

    40. bucslim @ Blitzen
    you are correct, Ran was King Lear blended in with a legendary warlord and a lot of historically related content – but a awesome movie, probably the finest cinematography and art of any Japanese film.

    There was a documentary associated with the making of Ran I’ve seen – it went into depth about production, location, costuming, etc. – I just can’t remember the name.

  • SoCalJeff

    Nice list. I always like your movies lists JFrater…even if I don’t always agree with the ordering you usually give me 1 or 2 movies to add to my watch list.

    I recently saw Judgement At Nuremberg, highly recommend for anyone that hasn’t seen it. For a movie made in 1961, I was struck by the openness of some of the political themes in it, particularly for a film coming out of so called “main stream” Hollywood. Its not your typical jingoistic war movie. Great performances by Maxmillian Schell, Richard Widmark, and Marlene Dietrich (on of her last I believe). And hey, its got Kirk (William Shatner) in it too.

    From this list also highly reccomend La Battaglia di Algeri and Der Untertang.

    From this list the only movie I haven’t’ seen is Beckett…its on my watch list now.

  • oouchan

    Excellent list! I have seen all but 2 of these. The rest I have on DVD. Love these types of files. Wonder if “Land of the Pharohs” would count as well?

  • warrrreagl

    JFrater, have you ever seen “Alexander Nevsky?” I’m not sure where it belongs on this list, but you can’t deny the brilliant score by Prokofiev in what is intended as an obvious Soviet attempt at a propoganda warning to Hitler.

    The Battle on the Ice scene is breathtaking, and I love all the horribly wretched German Christians as viewed by the embattled Russians.

  • Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters)

    I managed to see it when it showed up on one of the movie channels, and it was an interesting watch.

  • Randall


    Fantastic list! With one exception…. leaving off “Lawrence of Arabia” was absolutely (and I mean this) UNFORGIVABLE. Seriously, Jamie. Go do penance. Bad Jamie. Bad, bad Jamie.

    I’ve seen all of these except “Hotel Rwanda” and “Der Untergang.” So to touch on some of them:

    I detest Richard Burton—but “Becket” was a wonderful film… riveting. Go out and rent it.

    “Judgement at Nuremburg,” while essentially fiction, is one of the best movies of its type. EVERYBODY should see that damn movie. The cast is flawless, the script intense (adapted from Abby Mann’s stage play) and Spencer Tracy… well, if there’s a short list of people you’d like to grant eternal life, Spencer Tracy would be on there somewhere.

    “The Battle of Algiers” is a fantastic neo-realist film. Some of the scenes are poetry.

    I was not impressed with “Schindler’s List.” And here’s where I take umbrage, Jamie. To leave off “Lawrence of Arabia” to include Spielberg’s artsy-pretentious “epic” is, as I said earlier, unforgivable. It’s a good document of the horrors of the Holocaust, yes. I’ll give it that. But it’s also Not All That, and I’m sick of seeing Spielberg’s ass kissed by every man, woman and child in creation when he *just isn’t that good a filmmaker.* Yes, he knows his craft. Yes, he makes good spectacle and knows how to manipulate an audience. BUT THAT IS IT. He’s a soulless, shallow craftsman, and that’s all. But because our times are so artistically decadent, many people think he’s one of the greats. The absurdity of this will come crashing down as history looks back, someday, on this man’s body of work. He knows how to grab the viscera. But that’s not all there is to making great movies. I’d ask you to dump “Schindler” and replace it with Lean’s masterpiece—a TRUE work of genius.

    “The Ten Commandments” is an enjoyably cheesy watch, but let’s face it… it IS cheese. “Ben Hur” is a better film, really.

    But “Ivan the Terrible” is amazing. It’s a must-see for film students (though I confess, I’ve only ever seen one half) but anyone who enjoys the art of the cinema would find it an amazing view.

  • damien_karras

    45: Lewis_RATM

    Hmmm, what would a “love letter” to Gandhi look like?

    “Dearest Mahatma,

    Hey Boo, just chillin’ down by the Ganges hoping I don’t get STOOD UP AGAIN. I mean, everytime we make plans for one of our “weekend getaways, you ALWAYS come up with the same tired excuse about your freeing India from the “oppresive yoke of the British Empire”. I miss you baby, but these fasting jags and constantly being late are starting to wear thin. I mean, when you originally posted your singles ad on Craigslist, you NEVER mentioned anything about your side interests. I just thought you were so cute and I fell in LOVE with your pics. Anywho, I’ll be in our “regular place” at 9 o’clock with the rasagolla you love so much!

    Miss you baby…


  • Don

    Excellent list. The problem with these types of lists is that not everyone will agree with you. Since everyone feels compelled to add their own particular favorite, I’d like to mention mine :) Mississippi Burning, although loosely based on what actually happened, is an engrossing film about a somewhat nasty period of history. If anyone hasn’t seen it I recommend you check it out, if for no other reason than to see a terrific piece of acting by one of my favorites Gene Hackman.

  • deathbringer

    what about City of God?!?!

  • Randall


    “I recently saw Judgement At Nuremberg, highly recommend for anyone that hasn’t seen it. For a movie made in 1961, I was struck by the openness of some of the political themes in it, particularly for a film coming out of so called “main stream” Hollywood. Its not your typical jingoistic war movie.”

    In fact, Jeff, if you study the war films made AFTER the war, the bulk of them are NOT “jingoistic.” In wartime–at least in THAT war–cinema plays a propagandistic role which is plainly evident from watching any war movie made from 1940 – 1945. And they’re not all bad films; some of them are still riveting and enjoyable. But they leave a bad taste in the mouth, yes.

    But as Paul Fussell put it, once the war was over and the writers and filmmakers who’d experienced first hand the horrors and the moral ambiguity of it all had come home, “it was the signal that irony had come back” and we immediately started getting films of a far greater balance–“Battleground,” “The Enemy Below,” “Paths of Glory,” (actually a WWI movie, but such films are really about “war,” period, and not just one particular war) “The Naked and the Dead” and so on. These films aren’t just exceptions–they were closer to the rule.

    Of course, you still had the VERY jingoistic John Wayne making some war pictures, but for the most part, the excesses of that kind of thing came to a close WITH the war.

    Seriously–check out any war film–at least any major war film–made from 1945 on. They’re not all good, of course—as always with Hollywood, there’s a lot of crap. But “mainstream” Hollywood was NOT in the business, after 1945, of cranking out propaganda. Let’s remember that, while some of the studio heads were rabid right-wing patriot-nuts, much of the true artistic talent in Hollywood leaned more to the Center-Left, and that’s reflected in the way war was portrayed in the post-war years.

  • damien_karras

    Randall, what did you think of Saving Private Ryan? (I’m assuming you saw it, which I shouldn’t do.)

  • DiscHuker

    i knew as soon as i saw “the 10 commandments” on here there was going to be some rediculous comments about the historicity of the story. the manuscript evidences for the Bible are overwhelmingly more numerous and trustworthy than for any other historical piece.

    since some people deny the holocaust, are you going to say that films about concentration camps are “historical bullshit”?

  • heyyooo

    gladiator is a great movie, probably not totally accurate of the times but still great
    schindler’s list is a great movie and should be much higher

    Also, a very recent movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a very moving story of two boys in WWII one a civilian and one a prisoner in concentration camp. It is not very accurate, but the story is still great.

  • damien_karras

    Over 20 years ago, Stanley Kubrick read the short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” by Brian Aldiss. The Story inspired
    Kubrick to develop the film “Artificial Intelligence”. In 1982, Kubrick bought the rights to the story and over the following 17 years,
    he worked on developing it into a feature length film. Kubrick worked with writers, concept artists, effects specialists, and artifical
    intelligence specialists during the development process

    As the story goes, Kubrick met Steven Spielberg in 1979, they became friends and collaborated on the development of AI. In 1994
    Kubrick proposed the idea to Spielberg that he should be the one to direct AI and Kubrick would be producer. Spielberg agreed to
    do it, but he chaged his mind a few months later. It wasn’t until after Kubrick died in 1999, that he reconsidered. Jan Harlan, Kubrick’s
    brother-in-law (and producer on many of his films), knew that Kubrick wanted Speilberg to direct the film. He handed over all of the
    material concerning the development of AI, including over 1000 conceptual drawings and an 80-90 page script treatment.

    The resulting film is neither a “Kubrick film” nor a “Spielberg film”. The basic storyline is very dark and Kubrickesque but many of the
    scenes in the film have a very light and sometimes silly feel that is inherent to Spielberg’s style. There is no doubt that if Kubrick had
    made the film (or even been around to oversee the production) it would have been much darker and without the disneyesque feel that
    Spielberg contributed to the film.

    I have mixed feelings about Spielbergs work as well. Growing up, I have fond memories of his Indiana Jones trilogy and Close Encounters. (Crystal Skull shouldn’t even be mentioned in the annals of filmdom)

  • TEX

    Spielberg is way overrated – my opinion

  • damien_karras

    I have mixed feelings about Spielbergs work as well. Growing up, I have fond memories of his Indiana Jones trilogy and Close Encounters. (Crystal Skull shouldn’t even be mentioned in the annals of filmdom) Yes, he
    goes for the “emotional jugular” and plays his audience like a Stradivarius. But in stark contrast to this is the story of how the movie A.I. came about. I won’t go into the particulars except for the fact that it’s quite curious that a serious filmmaker like Kubrick would nominate Speilberg for the job of directing his dark vision. The result, upon release, was a wierd hybrid that had dark moments and also had some Disneyesque sequences to it which is usually inherent to Speilbergs lighter fare. Wonder what Kubrick would of thought of his final vision.

  • damien_karras

    Whoa… posted by itself… thats wierd! I’m staying away from Internet Explorer from now on.

  • rashid

    Yeah, the list misses Lawrence of Arabia. Other than that, some very good films here. My favourites are Das Boot and Der Untergang. Really good films.

    Also as a notable extra, I’d add the Band of Brothers mini-series, if for anything, then for its realism.

    Oh, one more notable extra: Amadeus.

  • SoCalJeff

    @59 Randall. Perhaps, jingoistic is too strong a word.

    Patton 1970
    The Great Escape 1963
    The Bridge over the River Kwai 1957
    Stalag 17 1953

    I would compare Judgment at Nuremberg against each of those films to better illustrate my point.

    I am not putting down Hollywood and certainly there were films that challenged viewers in the post WWII period. But Judgment of Nuremberg for my money does it in a way unlike others and certainly unlike the 4 mentioned above.

    Judgment at Nuremberg challenges the viewer to rethink feelings and frankly avoids the typical happy Hollywood ending that sews up everything nicely in the conclusion. Maybe that’s why this film is so highly regarded and in so many top 10 lists.

    You walk away from Judgment at Nuremberg with a few things to think about.

  • Buffilax

    What!? No Patton! That movie gets better every time I see and I’m pretty sure it meets the criteria. But seriously nice list I plan on seeing a lot of these, just had to throw one of my movie favorites in there.

  • callie_

    I’m actually sort of happy Saving Private Ryan isn’t on here, but I’m also resigned to the fact that I’m the only one who thought it was dumb.

  • Randall


    I’m sorry, but you lost me. I’m very glad you liked “Judgement” so much, as it’s one of my favorite films… but are you suggesting that any of the other films you’ve ticked off are “jingoistic” or even anything close to it?

    PATTON? You need to watch that film more closely, Jeff. You’re missing the point. Completely.

    The Great Escape is “lightweight” in many ways, but I wouldn’t call it “jingoistic.”

    The Bridge ON the River Kwai (you got the title wrong) — you also need to watch THAT one more closely. Sheesh. (The Japanese WERE monstrous to their prisoners of war Jeff–that’s not fantasy).

    And Stalag 17? Like “The Great Escape,” it had its lightweight air… but jingoistic? Please.

    Jeff, just because the Germans are occasionally depicted as bad guys doesn’t make a film “jingoistic”—remember, the Nazis WERE the bad guys. Yes, Germans were people too–hence, the Germans in that film aren’t just monsters—they’re actually rather amusing characters. BUT some prison camps WERE brutal, Jeff. That’s ALSO a fact. And prisoners WERE spied upon, and shot for trying to escape. Also fact.

    You seem confused, Jeff, as to what makes a film “jingoistic” (even if you now admit it’s too strong a word). Veracity isn’t dependent on making everyone, on both sides, look humanly decent. Because they weren’t.

    You haven’t given good examples at all, for the postwar period. Try again.

    And oh–for god’s sake go watch Patton and Bridge on the River Kwai again.

  • Randall


    Nope, you’re not the only one. I didn’t think it was “dumb”—but I did NOT think it was “All That” either.

    Come to me ANYTIME you wanna Spielberg-bash, Callie. I’m your man. ;-)

  • DiscHuker

    callie: it sounds like you are self aware, but really?!?, saving private ryan was dumb?

  • Jamie3039

    ten commandments is hardly history?

  • damien_karras

    The opening D-Day sequence in “Ryan” was quite harrowing… legend has it that WWII vets who saw it had severe flashback trauma.

  • bucslim

    I might add my two cents about Spielberg – There are times when he’s dead on the money creatively has the ability to make a decent, entertaining film with good dialog, usually good cinematography, some funny moments and real drama. I sometimes really enjoy his sense of humor and skill behind the camera. I think Jaws was pretty much his best movie in my opinion because all of these elements came together nicely to make a thoroughly entertaining movie. He was a kid trying to show the world his new toy.

    However, there are times when he tries way too hard to preach, tries way to hard to be funny, tries way to hard to be sentimental. The final result is usually a decent and popular movie, but vapid and overblown. On top of this there are plenty of interviews with the guy explaining every nuance and reasoning behind the making of the movie like he’s desperately trying to justify something.

    As far as I’m concerned he’d be a much better filmmaker if he was stripped of his big budgets and control – sort of back to square one with something to prove. Give the guy a handicam and see what happens.

    I have no doubt that AI would have been much better, much more interesting and much more of a monument to a great career had Kubrick lived to realize his vision. Spielberg put his mark on it and essentially ruined a great idea. (well maybe a little doubt, I mean it still wouldn’t erase the horror of Eyes Wide Shut. . . .*shudder*)

  • Randall


    Please deal with these morons who are bitching about Moses not being “real.” I just haven’t the time or the patience anymore.

    Pretty soon, people will only accept “reality” if it’s canned for them on YouTube. It’s sickening. We’re losing newspapers–which are dying out very quickly–(first sign of the end of democracy) and critical thinking skills are becoming a thing of the past, it seems. And now people can’t accept history unless it’s stamped with a Seal of Reality from the guaranteeing authority of the iPod generation.

    No, “The Ten Commandments” are not–and cannot be–“history” in the sense that some of these other films are history–but for the love of Christ (pardon the… pun.. or whatever that is) ancient tradition wasn’t just “MADE UP” by people of the time simply pulling nonsense out of their asses. Moses, or someone very much like him, was almost certainly a real figure, a real person.

    Cripes. I’m sick of this.

  • SoCalJeff

    @71 Randall. Note that I suggest jingoistic was too strong a term.

    I’m not trying debate you here. I’m sharing my own feelings about various movies and what I took away from them, not trying to diminish your views. Just trying to have a little fun and share an experiences. Sorry my comments have burdened you.

  • Randall


    You didn’t “burden” me (whatever that means)… I simply didn’t grasp your point. You didn’t expound on what you found objectionable about the films in question, as opposed to what you’d seen in “Judgement at Nuremburg”—you simply ticked off a list that, frankly, makes no sense to me. I seriously believe you simply missed the point of “Patton” and “Bridge”, and I think you just didn’t like the others because they were lighter entertainment with “bad guys and good guys”—but that hardly makes them… well, whatever term you were employing—you say “jingoistic” is too strong a term, now, but then what term do you want to use?

    I’m just asking you to explain, that’s all. You say you shared your feelings, but I don’t see where you did. (?)

  • oouchan

    I see a lot of comments about “Saving Private Ryan”, “Schindler’s List” and Spielberg. I had to jump in…

    My 2 cents:….I don’t like either of those movies. Saw both and both moved me to tears…but they became forgettable. Must be me, but I liked the others on this list better.
    Spielberg…Don’t really care about him per se, but I liked ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 3 of the Indy films. Just because he made it doesn’t mean I have to go all crazy for his stuff.

    As for “Lawrence of Arabia”…I agree. Have to say that one is the best and should have been included.

    Randall, question for you. I asked but no one answered, would “Land of the Pharaohs” fit in with this list?

  • bucslim

    Randall – I’d rather watch Kelly’s Heroes or the Dirty Dozen.

    “You seem to be thinking a lot about baseball.” “Yeah. . . .”

  • LadyPunk

    Sorry – to include Biblical characters made into films and then mark them as historical is absolutely ridiculous. Why not just add a Santa Claus movie and be done?

    Where is Elizabeth – the greatest Monarch the UK has ever had? And….was real, historically referenced?

    The Bible isn’t history. It’s a book.

  • damien_karras


    Heh… I identify with your observation of Speilberg manipulating his audience. I watched “Schindlers” the other day and remember the “breaking down” scene when Oskar kept lamenting, “I could of saved one more!” This speech actually shocked me back into reality that I was watching a movie sitting in my recliner.
    It’s akin to when I’ve been fully immersed in a novel, and then come across a passage that is so blatently manipulative that it takes me right out of my immersion.
    As a vet of many film classes, what do you look for to qualify a movie as a “Randall classic”? In your description of “Saving Private Ryan”, you’ve described it as visceral, moving, cinematic, and visual. For a “meh” film it seems you give it high praise. What elements are missing that would elevate it to “Battleground” watchability status, for instance.

    • Jay

      damien, I agree with the comment about novels that remind you they aren't real. In "The Stand," when the others leave Stu to continue on to Las Vegas, King writes that Stu never saw his friends again. Suddenly I was no longer in the moment as things were happening. That really ruined the book for me.

      Although it wouldn't make this list, there's a moment in the movie "Predator" where Billy, the American Indian commando, says, "I'm scared." And his companion says, "But you ain't afraid of NO man!" That line was so patently false that Billy's answer seemed anti-climactic.

  • Aimee: apologies – I had a long day and was annoyed – I took it out on you and shouldn’t have done so. Keep coming back and keep criticizing – it helps me hone the site :)

  • Excellent list J – Once again I agree with ALL the items AND their order.

    I think several people are innocent to the sub-context of this list. All these movies (perhaps bar 14 and 9) carry a very important message to humanity. In each film, the protagonists must stand up in the face of an imposed (or impending) regime; a new world order – and dispite greatly suffered hardships they achieve it – often defeating mighty orders, mighty armys, or mighty politics of the world. Some do this through peaceful means, some through war, but all must stand for what they beleive. It is a sub-context of questioning ‘authority’ – to go beyond ones comfort zones, ones personal security, in the face of the ultimate noble goals – to do what is moral, just, and humain.

    These are the ultimate stories of David and Goliath; and David is (and must always be) the victor.

    For this reason, I applaud this list. I applaud it.

  • Randall


    “would “Land of the Pharaohs” fit in with this list?”

    Yes, I suppose so…loosely. Except that it wasn’t a very good movie. (And I like Howard Hawks, of course… but not every master makes a masterpiece every time he tries). The presence of the ever-delectable Joan Collins doesn’t redeem it in my eyes, either.

    Let’s not get “historical epic” confused with “historical melodrama” or “historical schmaltz.” Worse, let’s not get “historical epic” confused with “sword and sandal” pictures (which “Land of the Pharoahs veers close to being, though it isn’t, of course… “The Egyptian” is another example of a cheesy historical melodrama that gets close to that).

  • TEX

    70. callie_
    you are not alone – it doesn’t even remotely feel “historic’
    just another conveyor belt movie – very formulaic

  • 83. Lady Punk

    sorry but thats your opinion, obviously it doesn’t jive with the authors

  • AussiegalinCanada

    The Holy books of the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths (in no particular order) cross reference each other to a certain degree with regards to historical figures. Many historical figures not found in religious texts are ‘proven’ by one or at best two sources. I agree that religion is propaganda, but I think the existance of historical figures is more likely if conflicting religions who have very little interest in agreeing with each other about dogma can agree on places and times of people who existed in the times in which they wrote.

  • Randall


    “The Bible isn’t history. It’s a book.”

    So…. books aren’t history? History isn’t books? Hmm. Well… I suppose as OBJECTS it’s true that “books aren’t history” but that’s taking it too literal. So I do beg to differ, LadyPunk. History quite often appears to us in book form. In fact… it almost ALWAYS appears to us in book form.


    So leaving aside your tortured logic, let me point out to you that in FACT the Bible IS chock-full of history. It is, yes, also chock-full of mythology and metaphor. But the historicity of the bible is very well-established amongst scholars. I’m not talking about the mythology of Genesis of course, or the various miracles that take place. I’m talking about the basic, tradition-laden story of the Jewish people as depicted in the Old Testament, which is rife with as much historicity as any other central tome of any number of ancient civilizations. Archeology, for instance, has determined that a great deal of historicity resides in Homer’s Iliad—that it represents real events that happened in the late Bronze Age—and perhaps even some real people (but surely with some later, fictional additions as well). This has been backed up by finds elsewhere, such as in the Hittite archives, which for all intents and purposes mention the war, and even suggestions reasons for it having taken place. (The Hittites, by the way, appear in the Bible–and for centuries, it was ONLY through the Bible that we knew them. When their empire fell, they were UTTERLY lost to history—until modern archeology uncovered them again, and their cities and writing system were excavated and translated. The Bible, in this, was correct—an empire of the Hittites HAD existed, where the Bible said it did).

    Similarly, the Bible talks about a great many events and people who were surely real or at least BASED on real events and people. Moses is just such an example—a possibly LEGENDARY figure–but legendary figures are always based on some kernel of reality. There is a great deal of scholarly and textual support for this–and in many instances ARCHEOLOGICAL support.

    Let me stress, I am NOT one of these born-again Christians or extremists who is trying to push the Bible as literal truth. I am not, nor do I believe the Bible to be so. But it IS historical in many places, and as valuable for gaining insight on the pre-history and archeo-history of the region of the “holy lands” as Homer is for ancient Greece, the Aegean, and western Anatolia.

    I realize many people are sick of the bible-types who keep trying to cram their way of life and philosophy down our throats—but that doesn’t negate the historical kernels that DO exist in the bible–which is far more ancient than modern zealots and their silliness.

  • casey

    What about Gone With the Wind? That is the greatest movie of all time, and absolutely deserves to be number 1!

  • oouchan

    87. Randall: Thanks…I did wonder about that movie. It’s one of my mothers favorites. I watched it and think the end was awesome, but it was an ‘ok’ movie overall.

  • smithstar15

    “A Man For All Seasons”–“Dr.Zhivago”–And of course “Patton”–Love him or hate him,he made a huge historic impact worldwide.

  • Sarah_R

    we can’t have 300 at least be in the honorable mentions? :(

    I thought it was pretty awesome, however I always had an interest in the spartans and have written huge essays on the Battle of Thermopylae which is what the movie is based on ..haha.

  • glhrmdias

    Also the movies from Luchino Visconti:

    Il Gattopardo (about the period of the italian unification)
    Ludwig (about the king Ludwig II of Bavaria)

    Two really great movies!

  • JNFerree

    Braveheart Top 10 4 Dam sure

  • G C

    I would have found a place for Lawrence of Arabia on this list.

  • MartinL

    I’ll throw in on the side of those who would like to see “Lawrence of Arabia” on the list. On the other hand, Jamie: “Kundun” and “Becket” — NICE. Leonard Maltin descibed “Kundun” as “about as entertaining as watching paint dry” — all the more reason to pay him no heed. “Day of the Jackal” is another sharply done historical flick that might deserve notable omission status.

    And what the heck are all these other people bickering about and spoiling Randall’s day over? Jeez, folks, remember one thing: these are movies we’re discussing. They’re wondrous, marvelous, enthralling, engrossing — and they’re ENTERTAINMENTS. Must we get theological and ideological and every other bloody -ogical about every damn thing?

  • damien_karras

    99. Martini: It sure beats the heck out of the endless parade of: “Hey, good list!” or “Good list, but you should of added “x” instead.” I’m guilty of writing these myself, but I bypass these comments and usually look for the good-humored, incisive banter. And I sincerely doubt we’re ruining Randall’s day as he wouldn’t have been coming back to ListVerse daily.

  • Aimee

    Jfrater: Dude, you rock like Stonehenge!!

  • AnonX

    The ten commandments in a list about history movies? You might have included Batman as well then….

  • smithstar15

    Casey: A lot of people would agree with you about “Gone With The Wind” including my sister who has probably watched it a hundred times. And it is an entertaining movie but a lot of it is not historical fact. There’s a lot of stereotyping both of white southerners and African Americans. The movie gives the impression that everyone in the south lived on a plantation and owned slaves during that era and the brave young plantation owners went off to fight–The truth is that most southern men who fought in that war had never seen a slave much less owned one.But still,it is an epic movie and ,as I said,a lot of people would agree it should be on the list.
    PS: I’ve never heard a southern white woman say “fiddlee dee” and I’ve never heard a southern black woman talk like Butterfly McQueen–LOL

  • Alencon

    I’m not sure “The Ten Commandments” should be on the list as it can be argued that it is more mythology than history. Archeologists such as Israel Finkelstein state that there is no evidence for the Exodus despite a dilligence search and the consensus that there should be.

    I would have thought that “The Longest Day” would have been on the list.

  • sugarnspice

    hello elizabeth anyone im so surprised that wasnt on the list and gandhi should be number 1.

  • STL Mo

    An intriguing list, and I like how you selected fiction films that accurately reflect their time-periods. (Although, my eyebrows raised at seeing The Ten Commandments here. So much of that movie was made-up Hollywood pap. Try to watch — without laughing — Pharoah’s wife attempting to seduce Moses on her barge. A much better movie (or miniseries, if you will) to include would have been Jesus of Nazareth.)

    Also, for those who argue that Braveheart and A Man for All Seasons should be on the list, I say they absolutely should not. There are many terrible historical inacuracies in both films, and both Thomas Moore and Henry VIII were quite different than portrayed in Man for All Seasons.

    An epic film that could be included would be Michael Mann’s version of Last of the Mohicans. While some of the events are of course fictional (the British commander was not killed by a vengeful Huron, for example), the wider story — the French and Indian War — and depection of frontier life is more accurately shown than usual for a Hollywood movie.

  • Nietzsche

    Just because there are something like one billion Christians in the world backing up every single drunken word of the Bible doesn’t mean that it’s true from cover to cover. A lot of the people are real, a lot of the events are real, but you can’t whine about some events like those in the Iliad being “up for question” yet bitch and complain when rational people point out that a sea parting in such as way as the Bible described is simply not possible, which requires God’s assistance and thus will NEVER be historically accurate.

  • oouchan

    Another one to think about (maybe?) is “Rob Roy”. Not to put on this list…maybe in the top 25 possibly.

  • Randall


    Were you referring to me? I take it you were, since you brought up the Iliad.

    Listen bitch—I NEVER “whine.” Least of all would I “whine” about a point that *I* was myself making about the Iliad–that it is accepted, now, as depicting events and people that were at least loosely historic. Why would I “whine” about that—when it was MY point?

    AND NO ONE here has raised the slightest SPECIFIC objection about the Exodus story, such as suggesting that a parting of waters is not possible (in fact, there has been a good deal of plausible conjection as to how it COULD have been possible, under completely natural circumstances)… RATHER, what people have been doing is simply popping up and calling the Bible and Moses a total fiction…. period. That’s hardly “rational”—it’s in fact just the opposite.

    AGAIN, I hate being put into this position of defending the historicity of certain events and characters from the Bible, when I myself am against the dogmatism of fundamentalist Christianity. But I can’t stand it when people talk out of their asses—as you are doing, “Nietzsche.”

  • smithstar15

    The only absolute truth is that no one knows the absolute truth about anything.Christanity,like most religions are based entirely on faith.For example,I don’t need to have a DVD of the disciples seeing the risen Christ.I believe it in my heart thru faith.

  • damien_karras

    Seriously, we could have a list about the best uses for Hungarian wicker furniture and someone will come along and start bashing religion. WTF?

  • ames

    Ohhh! Ohhh! Can you please do a list on the Top 10 Best uses for Hungarian wicker furniture?? Now THAT would be an interesting list.

  • Randall


    A) “The Longest Day” is mere enjoyable fluff. It is not a very good movie. Even as spectacle.

    B) It’s true that there is no hard evidence for the Exodus. But there is no HARD evidence for many events (and people) from the ancient world. In fact, it was always a crapshoot that archeology WOULD find evidence for a thing like the Exodus. Nevertheless, the lack of hard evidence is not an automatic condemnation of the possible historicity of ancient events. It merely indicates that archeology can offer no authoritative opinion on them. In point of fact, however, there is archeological evidence that PERIPHERALLY addresses certain events, including the Exodus. Some more than others… but again, a paucity of proof doesn’t negate tradition.

    Quite simply, the situation is this: historically we know that Egypt was subjugated under semitic nomads whom the Egyptians called “the Hyksos”, at the end of the “Middle Kingdom” of Egypt. They were later overthrown by, if memory serves, the Pharoah Thutmoses. And there things regarding the Hyksos get fuzzy. BUT we then have Hebrew tradition which says that about this time, they, as a people, were in subjugation in Egypt–whereas, a few hundred years before, they had been some kind of “honored guests.” It isn’t hard to put two and two together and realize that this confirms–without concrete proof–the historical Egyptian accounts of the Hyksos and their subsequent fall to a resurgent “home-grown” Egyptian pharaoh.

    It proceeds from there. Now yes, in the details there is only so much to be found—in fact, the details after this are downright misty. But this isn’t unusual in the ancient world. “History” as a tool was not invented until the Greeks, several hundred years later. Until then, the only form of “history” known was what kings and the like wrote down about themselves, or what little we find in “administrative” texts. Even the Egyptians, who recorded important events on their stone obelisks, columns, and walls, were not always careful about backing things up and often spoke of events in guarded, “mythologized” rhetorical forms.

  • RandomPrecision

    I remember watching Das Boot and Judgement at Nurenmburg in German class. My teacher got pissed because we kept pronouncing it “Boot” instead of the correct “Boat”. Nurenmburg was fantastic. I remember not paying attention at all until Burt Lancaster gives like a ten minute “balls-to-the-wall” monolague.
    I also watch The Ten Commandments every easter, its a fantastic film.

  • Baxter In Action

    Great list! If ya’lls are interested in epic historical films, I would also recommend Papillon. Fantastic cast, riveting story.

    Randall – I take my hat off to you sir, there’s no more heartening sight to me than Spielberg being recognised for the vapid man-child he is.

  • Mr.Graves

    I’m just going to pretend this list doesn’t even exist until JFrater or the listwriter sit down and watch ‘City Of God’ something that blows most of the films and the suggestions on this page out of the water. The only one wirthy to share with it would be Hotel Rwanda.

  • Baxter In Action

    City of God is a great film, truly an amazing piece of cinema, but I don’t think it can really be considered a historical epic. If it is, then so is Goodfellas.

  • Randall


    I believe the correct German pronunciation IS “boot”… but said sort of drawn out, like “boo-uht.” So your teacher–like many—was wrong. Go back and point it out to her. She’ll love you for it.

  • damien_karras

    In point of fact, Baxter, I believe Goodfellas would qualify for this list.

  • Randall

    Baxter In Action:

    I REALLY detest the man-child Spielberg, yes. I hope to be forced into a situation where I’m introduced to him someday, so I can present an air to him of being suitably unimpressed.

  • Randall


    No, Goodfellas would NOT qualify for this list. It is not in the least bit “epic.” And it’s at best melodrama.

    Come on now–go look up “historical epic” somewhere (other than Wikipedia).

  • smithstar15

    “Moses” is actually an Egyptian name-In Hebrew it would be “Moshe”–Yes,I know that means nothing one way or the other as far as his existence–Just a little trivia that I suspect most already knew—-

  • damien_karras

    Well, the movie spanned roughly 20 years, was based on historical events, but yes, I would agree upon further assesment it doesn’t have the sweeping grand scale most folks associate with these types of movies. I HATE WIKI…

  • MHogan

    Great List, although I would have had Lawrence of Arabia not only on the list but toward the top. I may have also mentioned Band of Brothers even though it is a miniseries

  • oouchan

    Just thought of another. What about “Zulu”?

  • Nietzsche

    Randall, I wasn’t talking about you, I could care less about you. It was an example that came to my mind, maybe inspired by my viewing of the word “Iliad” somewhere in a post that happened to be yours.

    Don’t accuse me of talking out of my ass on the basis that you don’t like what I have to say because you think it was directed at you. Be a mature person and take an argument as what it is. I made no personal attack. The fact is, if events in one book are questionable, events in another book should be, as well. Human minds thought those words, not God. I don’t even believe in God, but I’m not about to go shouting that I’m right and you all are wrong… the point is, relying on God’s power is advancing into shadowy ground we are not in control of and are thus ignorant in.

    If you have anything real to say, I would like to hear it. This doesn’t include the wind blowing at a certain rate and the tide regressing perfectly in alignment with the time required to cross the revealed land. That is hardly beyond speculation. You almost sound like those silly Christians that try to define God with a bunch of maybes.

    Fact is, God is a matter of faith. All we can talk about is things we can be sure of, such as the existences of certain people and events. Ah, this is what thousands of years of brainwashing does, now people watch elves and sorcerers on movies and it’s all magic and fake, but big sky daddy is REAL, I SWEAR HE’S REAL!

    But anyway, I’ll stop “talking out of my ass” like you say, because you are you are how can YOU be wrong?

  • Nietzsche

    By the way… when you hear someone question the Bible doesn’t automatically mean they are some nonthinking Atheist who hates God and has no basis for beliefs. If you’d like, I’ll defend my view until kingdom come… with reason. I don’t get why so many people jump to conclusions and attack other people’s sides. I just presented my view… you sounds like a vewy angwy person…

  • smithstar15

    OOUCHAN—Zulu! I had forgotten about “Zulu”–I’ll go with you on that one–One of my all-time favorite movies and as factual as a film can be within it’s inherent limits.

  • Jael

    I’ve only seen Schindlers List and Hotel Rwanda, both fine films. I also tried to watch Ghandi, but I fell asleep halfway through it (that was in history class, it pissed off my teacher).

  • The Grey GOAT

    79. SoCalJeff

    Don’t argue with Randall because your always just wrong.

    I made the mistake about doing that with the movie
    2001: Space Oddessy and these guys, especially him, jumped all over it. I was missing the point, I had no sense of art, blah blah blah. It’s just my opinion not the word of God. I think some people need to come to grips with the fact that every person likes a movie for a different reason and we all have our own interpretations of things. Because my idea is different from yours does not make me wrong or any less intelligent.

    With that being said, nice list. I wanna see that movie about Hitler now, Der Untergang. I also saw someone on her mentioned Glory, awesome movie too. Denzel should have gotten the award for that instead of Training Day.

  • smithstar15

    You can say “silly Christians” and that’s fine but if I say “goofy atheists”,I’m attacking you-Is that the way it works?–Just trying to learn the ground rules here.

  • Brad

    Jamie… like Ben Hur much?

  • smithstar15

    Speaking of falling asleep–The most boring movie ever made (to me) was “Chariots Of Fire”–Good Grief–My snoring woke me up twice.

  • Randall


    I’m not interested one way or another in your opinions about whether god is real or not; that isn’t germaine to this discussion. I repeat: no one else had raised any SPECIFIC objections regarding the historicity of the events pertaining to the Exodus. They were all simply popping in and proclaiming that the Bible wasn’t historical and that Moses never existed.

    YOU then came on and added your own voice to that, but nothing more in the way of exposition—except for mentioning, in passing, the impossibility of parting a sea (and again, I repeat–theories have been raised as to how this could be accomplished without supernatural assistance).

    I don’t care, either, if you were addressing me personally or not–it just seemed that you were as referenced what I and I alone had talked about. So kind of mealy-mouthed for you to back off of that now and try to skirt around the issue.

    “Don’t accuse me of talking out of my ass on the basis that you don’t like what I have to say because you think it was directed at you.”

    Well let’s be accurate, Nietzsh. I didn’t accuse you of talking out of your ass because I thought it was directed at me—I accused you of talking out of your ass because that’s precisely what you did. You offered nothing constructive to the debate one way or another—all you did was spout some vitriol, mention my point about the Iliad (wrongly, by the way–entirely missing my point) and the thing about the parting of the sea…. and that was it. So I fail to see how you are now taking some kind of stance that YOU made some kind of great rhetorical statement, whereas I simply came back to gripe at you. If anything, it’s just the other way around.

    “Be a mature person”

    Ah, but I always am. Pride myself on it. And dislike being told that I’m not. Particularly when it’s wrong.

    “and take an argument as what it is.”

    I’d do so, if you’d in fact offered any argument to begin with. You didn’t. You simply contradicted (awkwardly and inaccurately) without actually SAYING anything of substance whatsoever.

    “The fact is, if events in one book are questionable, events in another book should be, as well.”

    Well, there’s a number of holes in that logic. One: two different books might easily have different standards to be judged on. In this case, I rather think they don’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that you made an illogical error there. Two: This AGAIN screws up what *I* had said. I was in FACT saying that, rather than “questionable,” the Iliad has come to be judged as being based on real events and perhaps even some real people. And archeology has backed this up—to the extent that so far, no major contradiction of Homer has yet arisen. A similar situation pertains to some parts of the Bible, though the archeological support for some of it is on shakier ground. But then the Bible, in its scope, is far more detailed in certain circumstances than the Iliad, and one might therefore find it A) harder to find support for such details after thousands of years and B) find that many such details are pure legend or even mythology. But this again does not change the basic premise. Both books have been found to be replete with material that appears to have some historicity.

    “If you have anything real to say, I would like to hear it.”

    You’re unbelievable. A) go back and read what I wrote! I said many “real” things–in fact, I’ve offered some highly cogent points based on my knowledge of history and archeology, and the texts in question. B) This can be turned EXACTLY around—thus far you have offered NOTHING “real” in anything YOU’VE said. You’ve merely gone on about how you found the intervention of a god into the affairs of man to be unbelievable. Well so do I. But that isn’t germaine to the topic, really. The question is was Moses a real person and did the events of the Exodus happen, to any real extent. And I have yet to hear one cogent thing about that from you.

    “This doesn’t include the wind blowing at a certain rate and the tide regressing perfectly in alignment with the time required to cross the revealed land. That is hardly beyond speculation.”

    Excuse me? What difference does THAT make? YOU were the one who said it was utterly impossible, and would require the intervention of a god—which you in turn to find unacceptable, as do I. I merely pointed out that in fact it is NOT impossible and physics, geology, and meteorology all allow for it to happen. Whether it DID happen that way is another matter entirely. However, I wouldn’t bring up the unlikelihood of coincidence as a reason to say it DEFINITIVELY did not happen, because I could point out countless examples of weird shit and weird coincidences that have surrounded historical events—and they require no supernatural intervention–it’s just that sometimes things like that happen, period.

    Really, Nietzsche, if you want to argue, then present an argument. I feel like you want to, but just can’t.

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    This list is tits, except it is missing star wars

  • AnonX

    135. What part of the word History you didn’t understand?

    Besides, what the hell is an epic film? Another way to say long and boring? Rambo should easily be #1.

  • Nothing stirs up a list more than religion eh Randall? :)

    I almost forgot. If anyone wanted to watch Das Boot, I’d heartily recommend the TV series version rather than the ‘movie’. The movie is a VERY much cut down and edited experience made for a worldwide audience, and uses a very poor english dub and a reworked; rather flat; audio mix. The TV version comes in 4 or 6 parts and is not dubbed. The audio mix is clearer, sharper, and is in German with english subs. :) Even my war-movie hating ex wife found the TV version both thought provoking as well as dramatically powerful – although it took me 3 years to get her to watch it..

  • smithstar15

    I thought for sure someone would mention EVITA–I had tears in my eyes when Madonna sang “Don’t cry for me Argentina”—

  • Miss

    For those who appreciated the movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’, I would recommend ‘Sometimes in April’. Not as big budget, but fine acting and a heart wrenching story about the massacre in Rwanda.

  • DiscHuker

    Nietzsche and whomever else: so for the sake of argument, lets say that Moses did really exist and he actually did, by the help of God or not, the things that have been reported. these acts were then recorded in written form.

    would it look any different than the stories in the Bible?

    you say that these facts aren’t historical because the COULDN’T have happened. what if they actually did?

  • S. Davis

    Wow – certainly riled up the atheists. HA!

    Couple others come to mind:
    “Enemy at the Gates” – WWII Battle of Stalingrad
    “Zulu” (I think?) – British Empire troubles in Africa
    “Apollo 13”

    And on a side note: A recent History Channel show on the “True Story of the Bridge over the River Kwai” detailed how the movie was sooooooo far from the truth that it angered the survivors – I’m talking stuff that made the Baatan Death March look like a church outing.

  • smithstar15

    S. Davis–I won’t argue with you about the movie “Bridge On The River Kwai” and it’s accuracy other than to say that I loved the movie.But to say that anything would make the Baatan Death March look like a church outing is going a little too far.I have personally talked to survivors of that march back in the 1960’s and I believe I had rather have been put to work on the Kwai bridge than to have been on that march.I’m not taking anything away from the servicemen at Kwai–They were treated in a very inhumane way that the movie doesn’t really portray–But still I would take that over The March.

  • kris

    Probably already been said a thousand times, but I have to out of principle:

    The 10 Commandments, along with the rest of the Bible, is a myth. You’d think that if tens of thousands of Egypt’s work force left on mass there would have been something written about it somewhere outside of religious propaganda like the torah/bible.

  • kris: considering the Ancient Egyptian’s habit of destroying records of anything they didn’t like from history – I would say it is entirely probably that if it happened, it wouldn’t be seen in Egyptian records.

  • Oh – and there is a stele which says something about the Hebrews being squashed – something that the Egyptians WOULD write about – so there is definitely a historic reference to their original capture by the Egyptians.

  • valsb01

    I don’t know if anyone else said it but I registered just because I was so disturbed that “Soy Cuba” (I AM CUBA) by Mikhail Kalatozov wasn’t mentioned!

    Too ahead of it’s time I suppose.

  • Randall (55): I must say that Lawrence of Arabia did slip my mind – thanks for pointing it out :)

  • diogenes eye

    to #137: They released a much better , so called Director’s Cut of Das Boot, sometime in the late 90’s. Not Dubbed, clean and crisp and extended some scenes, This is how I first saw it in a theater. I was blown away by the experience.

    And to discover that , Wolfgang Peterson I believe it is, also directed Enemy Mine, A favorite movie of mine when that one came out.

  • Blitzen

    #145 jfrater: Oh – and there is a stele which says something about the Hebrews being squashed – something that the Egyptians WOULD write about – so there is definitely a historic reference to their original capture by the Egyptians.

    Reference, please. I have advanced degrees in Egyptology, and I am not aware of any such stele. You may be referring to the Semitic “Hyksos” who actually ruled northern Egypt for some time, but the only reference to Hebrews I can recall is the Jewish settlement at Elephantine in the south.

  • smithstar15

    I thought “Das Boot” was a great movie,accurately portraying the harsh life aboard a German U-Boat–I thought “The Hunt For Red October” was overrated and a little silly–I enjoyed U-571 as a movie but (and I hate to mention this-LOL) it was not historically correct as it was actually the British that snatched the “enigma machine” from the Germans.

  • loop

    Before “Das Boot” was another, SUPERIOR German film called “The Bridge” dealing with the Nazi’s use of children warriors sold on the dream of the Third Reich. Any takers?

  • diogenes eye

    to 28. 7539: Haha, like they would give an Oscar to Hitler!
    But seriously,
    Bruno Ganz IS awesome.
    If you can find it (unless you have already seen it), check out the movie Bullet In The Head. Not the John Woo film by a similar ,if not the same, title– No. Although that’s quite good too.


    I can only take so much of Mel Brooks, but I read today that his Nazi bashing musical stage show, “The Producers” (“springtime for hitler” anyone?) is set to play in Germany for the first time. The theater, in a public advertisement, apparently raised the banned nazi banner(s) on it’s building to draw attention.

    Which is okay if it’s in the name of “ART”

  • Arkzist

    troy actually had a lot of flaws

    oh Chuck Heston may you rest in peace

    oh and schindler’s list is an amazing film

  • diogenes eye

    no no no swastika, but a pretzel instead.
    hardly worth getting in a tizzy(sp?) about.

  • diogenes eye

    To #152. diogenes eye- in reference to #137:

    Knife in The Head is the title suggested , not Bullet in the Head.
    Knife in The Head, not Knife in the Water, which is a pretty good film too.

  • bgd73

    I agree with “loop”. History is nice, written by whoever came out on top. Mention movies, and it is an obvious fairy tale. History is synonymous with facts, the list is not even good.

  • smithstar15

    Loop–“The Bridge” was a great movie. It was surreal the way the young German soldier kept firing down from the window at the American soldier but nothing happened–The director really captured war as it would look thru a child’s eyes–It’s been a long time since I’ve watched that movie–I’m glad you brought it up–I’m going to find it somewhere to watch again.

  • johnric

    “The Dark Prince:The true story of Dracula”and “the Last Samurai” were really nice for me.Just sharing:)
    Btw,great list!!!I visit this site everday because it feeds my mind with different sorts of lessons

  • Kei

    The only one I’ve seen is #3 xD

  • fireball

    Missed Patton. Better then most on the list. Lawrence of Arabia and Braveheart also overlooked.

  • k1w1taxi

    Great Try Jamie. Certainly picked a big subject to try to whittle down to 15. As pointed out the biggest glaring omission is Lawrence of Arabia. I will steer clear of the 10 Commandments debate as I thought it was a crap film (though I was a lot younger when I saw it).

    Some other possibilities for Notable omissions
    Zulu (as already mentioned)
    The Battle of Britain (from near 40 year old memories of it)
    and a couple I haven’t actually seen
    Nicolas and Alexandra
    All Quiet on the Western Front

    And finally the Greatest Historical epic of them all
    The Life of Brian :D


  • SuzieQ

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned “The Wind and The Lion.” A great film with Brian Keith doing a wonderful job as Teddy Roosevelt and Sean Connery as a charismatic Arab chieftain and Candace Bergen as an American hostage. Though, of course, not totally accurate (the hostage was actually a man, for one thing), the film seems to capture the rhythm of a less examined time and place when America was not the big dog on the block, but clearly on the path to domination. The scope is epic and lyric and never dull.
    By the way, Spielberg is one of the great film makers of all time. History will regard him in the same light as John Ford and Walt Disney. His lack of pretension and feel for story above all else, blind film school snobs to the seamlessness of his movies. Every frame and moment is there to move the story along either for plot or for emotional and character development (such as the scene with Indy and Marian in the first Raiders). He is the
    Will Eisner of film. Having said this, I would like to point out that almost all of Spielberg’s films have frames of almost transient beauty, such as Elliot riding across the moon (my least favorite Spielberg movie).
    I think a lot of the problem that people see with Spielberg is that his films seem to always find a happiness in some manner, such as a rescuer in “Schindler’s List”. We are used to our artists being dark tortured beings and their work cannot help but reflect that pain, but perhaps at his center, Spielberg is just a happy an optimistic soul and his work cannot help but reflect that joy, resulting in a perceived lack of “edge”. Should someone who produces films that even the naysayers on this thread admit are extremely well crafted and emotionally involving be slighted because he is a happy guy and that awful joy of life somehow finds its way into his films?

  • bigski

    All the actors in Judgement At Nuremburg were at the top of there game.
    When Burt Lancaster testified it was screen magic.

    Das Boot-~ It`s realism is rarely matched. You find yourself rooting for this sub crew.
    Then you realise. There the enemy.

    The Great Escape~~ What a movie ! Steve McQueen is no more cool as The Cooler King. Nice collection of great English actors also.

    These are my favorite on the list.

  • kr

    A historical movie I love is Joyeux Noel, about the Christmas truce in WW1. Its so well done, and heartbreaking in parts. Definetly should be on the list, every one should watch it.

  • joanne

    his-story is our story

  • timefillmyeyes

    7. Buffster:

    I just wanted to point out that Doctor Zhivago is a work of fiction. It is a very good and historically relevant piece of fiction, but I don’t think it would fit the list. If it did, I would have called for it, too. :)

  • Couchie

    You need to research some of the movies about the authenticity of the so-called ‘history’ they were portraying

    first of all, China had NEVER ‘invade’ Tibet. Tibet was, is, and always will be a part of China. It had been that way since forever!

    And under Chinese rule Tibet had flourished so much. But when the Dalai Lama ruled, Tibet was suffering. Just because he is a religion leader figure does not make everything he said right!

    Sometimes I wish Tibet would get its ‘freedom’ and back under Dalai Lama’s rule, just so I can watch those people who think that it’s good see that they are so wrong. But than I realize that they wouldn’t care! Why? BECAUSE IT’S NOT THEIR COUNTRY!!!

  • PlasmaTwa2

    I’d list like to say that, even if Saving Private Ryan isn’t a “true” story, it should have been on this list for the Omaha Beach scene.

  • elwood blues

    i have to agree with plasmatwa2 at 168. the normandy scene in saving private ryan is soooooooo epic.

    also i know that most people would argue that passion of the christ is not really a history movie but is has everything to do with the most influential religion, and is a great part of christian faith.

    just because of the comments from this list i will have to rent lawrence of arabia to see what all the hype is about.

  • redcaboose

    Great list, I have seen most of these films. However, Kundun is on my list to see, Looks great.
    Thanks for your help Jfrater.

  • AnonX

    167. Couchie. Even though Tibet was de facto independent from 1913-1949? And how it ended? Invasion by communist China in 1950, which resulted in over million dead tibetians. Stop talking out of your ass.

  • joanne

    the only time tibet was part of china was during the mongol invasion

  • ChristineMarie

    Great lost. There is just so many great epic movies to chose from that I don’t blame people from adding their favorites.
    Hotel Rwanda is my favorite from the list, so I’m glad that it made the cut.

    Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator and Glory were the ones that I was expecting to see.

  • Handrejka

    Great to see number 3 on there, I did my disertation on it. The only other film on the I’ve seen is Kundun, I really must make amends.

  • Randall


    “Reference, please. I have advanced degrees in Egyptology, and I am not aware of any such stele.”

    Blitzen, sorry, but you put your foot in this one, and if you ask me, if makes your claim to an advanced degree in Egyptology mighty suspect, if you haven’t heard of this before. I only STUDIED archeology (never pursued it as a career, though at times I wish I had) and ancient history, and I came across this more than once. A stela from the reign of Merneptah (who had a reign of about ten years, in the 1200s BC, which corresponds with the supposed time of the Exodus) refers to the nomad tribe of Israel, and claims to have destroyed it.

    You want authentication, I’d be glad to dig up my books on this and a journal or two where I’ve seen it referenced. But it’s old news, and if you haven’t heard of it, then I’d say you need to keep up with the literature… seeing as, if I recall correctly, the thing was unearthed in the 1930s.

  • Randall


    Really, I take umbrage at this accusation that I only dislike Spielberg because he’s not an “edgy, tortured soul.” Frankly, Suzie, I prefer my fellow man to be happy and wistful… I’m not the misery-and-darkness obsessed type.

    And I think you’re off base anyway; I don’t read “happiness” in Spielberg–his movies aren’t really all that life-affirming or optimistic per se; and if you know anything about the man himself, he hardly seems some paragon of contentment and spiritual depth. Rather, as a filmmaker he’s a shallow and cynical, if highly capable, huckster—and as a human being, he doesn’t seem all that hot either.

    Have you heard of, and seen, the recently unearthed transcripts of discussions between Spielberg, Lucas, and others from the period just prior to the production of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” when our two wonder boys, Spielberg and Lucas, were stitching together their story ideas? It’s one long mess of lame and childish ideas, bad character formulation, and out-and-out racism. These aren’t really very smart or highly artistic guys; they’re simply highly capable film craftsman who have hit it big through exploiting visceral entertainment veins. You love the so-called “grand imagery” in Spielberg’s films–I find them cutesy, exploitative, manipulative and common. I could show you FAR more moving, artistic, and sublime imagery in David Lean’s films, or Carol Reed’s, or even William Wyler’s, John Ford’s, or Hitchcock’s.

    My problem with Spielberg isn’t that his pictures are “happy.” I like happy films. My problem with Spielberg is that he’s an emotionally childish, pretentious, and spectacle-driven filmmaker, and that his films lack any kind of depth whatsoever.

    Though I admit he’s a damn site better than Lucas, who is ten times worse, for the same reasons.

  • JayBe

    “- though I admit that some are so awful that they teach myths rather than reality – you won’t find any of those on this list.”

    come on JFrater, Then why is The Ten Commandments in there?

    Ben Hur still have some historical interest and of course The Passion of the Christ also but ¿the Ten Commandments? it’s not just about a fantasy story but also full of historical inaccuracies. ¿jews slaves building the pyramids? cmon!! why didn’t you put The Lord of The Rings? in few centuries will be as true as the Ten Commandments. Give me some time and I’ll give you as many “profs” of Frodo as the crossing of the red-sea.

  • JayBe

    Kingdom of heaven is also a nice historical movie, yet the story of Balian is fictitious

  • Jill..NOT Jillian

    what about the italian film life is beautiful?

  • Cedestra

    Mmmm, a few too many holes and mistakes to be a great list, but it wasn’t bad. No one mentioned the mistake in #15? The Dalai Lama is NOT Buddha. He is the reincarnation of a high-level Buddhist monk (I asked a Buddhist one day about it because I was also under that assumption).
    WikiGod: “The Dalai Lama is believed to be the rebirth of a long line of tulkus, who have chosen to be reborn in order to enlighten others.”

  • illegal_immigrant

    Schindler’s List is absolutely one of the greatest movies of all time. It’s the only movie that ever made me cry. Oh, and Boyz ‘N’ The Hood…

    5. MPW: You sound like a god damn kiss-ass. Why don’t you just ask to ride around on his nut sack?

  • illegal_immigrant

    And Jill: I didn’t think about that one…damn. That’s a fantastical movie. Big props, dawgy-dawg.

  • Jim

    Forrest gump touched on a multitude of historical events quite effectively and with alot of incite.

    LOL @ the atheist’s trying so hard to discredit the historical value of a good and informative movie. Is is that serious, really? We get it, okay? you don’t believe in god or the bible. Its conclusion in this list is not a statement of any kind prompting you to abandon your disbelief. Seriously, stop bitching and and get a life.

  • Jim

    *inclusion, not conclusion.

  • samanthaf63

    Sometimes I think it’s amazing that someone will pick a list to death because of the entries, one by one what WAS selected and then give a list of what WASN’T selected and it amazes me that someone who spends so much time picking won’t submit one himself.

    I don’t mind the odd “add this” or “drop that” (heaven knows I’ve sent a few) but some folks should get off their bums and submit one themselves if they dislike so many entries so much…

  • Blitzen

    175# Randall “Blitzen, sorry, but you put your foot in this one, and if you ask me, if makes your claim to an advanced degree in Egyptology mighty suspect, if you haven’t heard of this before.”

    You are correct, my bad. I had actually forgotten about this. It has been 10 years since I was in grad school and my memory is faulty. I just looked it up.

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

    Ummm….another historical movie and a persona;l favourite is “The Lion in Winter”. A fictional rendition of very real people and one of the best ensemble casts ever.

  • Adeyy

    What the hell is with this list?

    Where is The Life Of Brian?… Quite clearly historically accurate :D

    Downfall is a very good film, saw it in my hitory class a couple of months back :)

    Schindler’s List though, what can i say? Tis a beautiful film… made me cry :'(


  • SoCalrunner

    So the only good epics are centered around either war or political upheaval. How about Cinderalla Man? The true story of a former boxer keeping his family together during the Great Depression. I recommend it to anyone who thinks things can’t get any worse.

  • ComeOn

    I vehemently protest that Lord of the Rings Trilogy & Harry Potter series is missing from this list of epic historic movies …

    seriously, guys we have enough proof that the following races existed on our dear earth (middle-earth as they used it call it in those days!): Elves, hobbits, giants, Lord Voldemort (yes, i can say it!), wizards, witches, balrogs, goblins, ghosts, Orcs, Nazguls, tooth fairies, Santa Clauses (yes, that’s plural – cannot expect one Santa to cater to the entire world. Can you?) and the remaining lot as well.

    And, i spent the last 14 years researching the linkage between LoTR & HP series. Science magazine has agreed to publish my findings this summer. Since i am a huge fan of this website, i will let you in on the major findings:

    * Harry Potter is a descendant from the line of Aragorn
    * Albus Dumbledore is the sent-again-27th-time Vyasa while Gandalf & Merlin was the 4th & 12th sent-again Vyasas. These Vyasas were the correction that Tolkien referred in the first chapter of his last book (Silmarillion) where Iluvatar corrects Melkor’s music. There are a total of 46 Vyasas and we have already seen 27. Only 19 more to go.

    Now, if you don’t believe what i said, peace be to you – how do you expect me to take most of your comments seriously esp. about the merits/demerits of Bible epics. Just chill & enjoy the list.

  • langers

    Nice list however I woulnt say that the 10 commandments is based on any historical fact.

  • cannabiscallan

    Cry Freedom!

  • Andri

    yeah, i agree, the 10 commandments should not be in a history list. Sure, a lot of things from the bible are a historical fact, but everything in it concerning god is just science fiction.

  • Ashley R

    yes. braveheart is a wondeful movie. another good history movie i watched in my world studies class was called “all quiet on the western front”. it was about WWI and it was pretty interesting and actually kinda sad in a way. not to mention, its in the germans perspective which i thought was cool. you should check it out

  • lrigD

    I agree with the movies you put on this list, though I have not seen all of them. I take an interest in history and movies portraying historical events, so I was really excited to see this list!
    Also, I’m glad you at least MENTIONED Braveheart and Gladiator. Those movies are both amazing.

  • DiscHuker

    come on: i’ll buy your theory if you can find supporting archeological evidence that confirms the stories and peoples of middle earth or hogwarts.

  • k1w1taxi

    Andri (192)
    SCIENCE fiction? I think not!


  • northwindbrat

    4. Kami – May 1st, 2009 at 3:43 am

    Biblical movies shouldn’t be included in a list of ‘History’ movies.


    what Kami said, please.

  • davo

    48 – sadly, talking snakes, ghosts and people who lived to be over 900 years old do not represent an accurate account of history. I wouldn’t say science-fiction, more fantasy. And Braveheart, although entertaining, was woefully inaccurate.

  • nuriko

    nice list! :)

    @Kami: I agree!

  • Randall


    Thank you for having the decency to admit your error, and to do so graciously.

  • Randall

    People seem to be having a difficult time “getting” what is meant by “historical epic.”

    It is NOT simply a film that covers a particular event or events in history. Often–but not always–it spans a vast swath of time, up to many years. Almost always, however, it addresses a specific PERIOD and usually follows a group of characters who were REAL PEOPLE in life–though Hollywood often plays fast with the “real” part of that, fictionalizing as it goes along. Essentially, however, at heart it is supposed to be about real people who lived through real events—OR, at the very least, about fictional people who live through REAL events, depicted in a realistic manner which keeps to a standard of veracity for the events in question.

    But most importantly, it has an “epic” quality to it—large, vast, spectacle-driven and overwhelming.

    Most of the movies people are bringing up in this thread do NOT qualify, then, based on these criteria. They are either entirely fictional, set in a background of true events, but otherwise are entirely made up—or they are not at all “epic” in depiction. “Life is Beautiful,” for instance, is not epic-al, not in the least.

    “The Ten Commandments” is CERTAINLY “epic.” And there is enough historical evidence and tradition to at least make the supportable supposition that Moses was a real individual… and certainly there WAS a Pharoah on the throne of Egypt during the Exodus—which, again, must have happened in SOME form. (If it didn’t, then we have much to answer regarding how and why the Hebrews came to the land they settled—and why they brought with them various vaguely Egyptian traditions/practices—let alone the very firm tradition that they had been slaves IN Egypt.

    “Ben Hur” follows fictional characters–but does so against the backdrop of historical and semi-historical events depicted in the Bible as WELL as in Roman and Jewish sources.

    “Judgement at Nuremburg” is a fictionalized study of characters LIKE those who went through these very REAL events and through that VERY REAL period of history, and it depicts this period with extreme accuracy.

    In short, it’s not a hard and fast rule as to what an “epic” film is, let alone a “historical epic,” but at least use some imagination when thinking about it, kids. Just because it’s got a period setting, that doesn’t make it historic OR epic.

  • joebecca

    If you’re gonna call The Ten Commandments epic or even semi-history based, you may as well put Titanic on here too. they’re both equally made up stories. History is supposed to be stuff that actually happened that can be proven.

  • samanthaf63

    Tired of people complaining “10 Commandments” shouldn’t be on the list. It’s well known that “Braveheart” as produced by Mr. Gibson has little but a nodding familiarity with the true story. However, they are both epics.

  • Maggot

    202 joebecca: you may as well put Titanic on here too…History is supposed to be stuff that actually happened that can be proven.

    This isn’t intended to be in support of or defense of Titanic, but the intro to this list says: “if fictional, must depict accurately the period in which it is set.” Lots of criticisms to this list are overlooking that qualifier.

  • bigski

    #189~ ComeOn- Are you serious ?

  • Looser

    I haven’t seen most of these… i THOUGHT i was a historical movie nut… i guess not… sigh…

  • woodberl

    Great List!! A few I haven’t seen and definitely am adding to my must watch list. Thanks.

    *** Date in Gandhi synopsis should be 1893 not 1983.***

  • AnatomyofRye

    If it were a movie about Gilgamesh in place of The 10 Commandments, I wonder if its inclusion on the list would be as controversial.

    People judge the Bible a lot based upon Christianity throughout history (the crusades, inquisition, fundamentalists, extremists), but very few of these people have even read the Bible or have bothered to look into the historical accuracy (or there lack-of) of the Bible.

    It’s easy to say something is a myth, but I’d be interested in hearing a logical and informed defense of that claim.

    Religion and personal beliefs aside, simply saying “Exodus is just a myth and not history” is not an educated argument (I say this assuming people educated in the matter would bring logic and evidence to their point) but merely a personal opinion

  • Don

    Methinks Randall needs to relax and eat some fruit or something.

  • Mark

    I just need to nitpick for a second here, in No.11 it says “The French foreign legion”, it should read “The French Foreign Legion,” they’re all capitalized. Great list though :)

  • deeeziner

    Just re-read Jamie’s intro for this list so I won’t insist that these two should be “musts” to the list, but they did give me a better understanding of how the events they depict fit into history.

    Anne of a Thousand Days – starred Richard Burton and Genevieve Bujold. told the tale of how Anne Boleyn secured the crown for her daughter, Elizabeth. If not fully accurate historically, was very watchable,and i have many times.

    Kingdom of Heaven- If not accurate?, it was definitely epic in terms of people affected. The DVD has a “Pilgrim” option for viewing, in which trivia and facts regarding customs,and historical figures involved show up at apropos moments of the film.

    Nice list, Jamie- I think I’ll be putting Becket and La Battaglia di Algeri, into my Netflix list.

  • Shocked, Sickened, Saddened

    Many of these films aren’t even epics, e.g. Hotel Rwanda (though a brilliant film).

  • Carl

    I have seen 8 of these films.

    The Ten Commandments is a great film. I have very fond memories watching that as a young one. When i think of epic, this one definitely comes to mind, as does Spartacus.

    If only Animal Farm had been made into a decent film.

  • GTT

    OK, I usually hate when people say “well, what about this (insert favorite whatever here)” but I really think you missed one of the moist poignant WW2 movies ever… LA VITA E BELLA… If you havent watched it, you really should. It makes my eyes tear up and my heart ache just thinking about it… (OK, I just read Randall´s post about the whole epic thing… I still want to post this so people will watch the movie! :) )

    callie_ (70): I´m not a rabid fan of Saving Private Ryan either. The first scene was amazingly real but it just got too “emotionally manipulative” from then on. I´ve never felt a need to rewatch it and I think great movies should inspire that.

    Oh and Randall, “Dingbat” was a new one. Thanks for the laugh! :)

  • philippine_thrust

    I’ve known history very well, and I’ve watched 400 war films since I was 5. Including all from silver screen to colored screens. I’ve known every move of all war heroes and of course add the 300. Spartans!

  • lostatsea

    Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra, Seven Years in Tibet, The Day After, Battle of Britain, The Maid of Orleans all great movies. Thanks JF!!

  • Dr. Bart Huygens

    HOTEL RWANDA should be #1. The whole message of the movie is that HOTELS SAVE THE HUMAN RACE. These people would be dead if not for the Hotel.

    M.P. Helmholtz says…
    “Stay in Hotels! Stay in Hotels! Stay in Hotels, I command you! But why? Do you not see that when you stay in Hotels, when you donate your spacetime to transform into energy to Hotels, (proven by Einstein in 1905, e=mc^2) the said Hotels then transmit your energy via their infrastructure as pertaining to Archisystematics, and then beam this energy up into the heavens where it rebounds from star to star then beaming back down to earth straight into the brain of the SUPERMEN (HULK HOGAN, Mr. T., Bruce Lee) and thus powers them to destroy all that is evil standing in the way of Spaceship Jesus Empire, and when you power the SUPERMEN you clear a Landing Field for Spaceship Jesus to arrive and then take you away so that you will be free from homosexual robots, bloodthirsty creatures, and violent natural disasters? IT IS PLAINLY OBVIOUS WHY YOU MUST STAY IN HOTELS!!!

    LOOK AT THE WORD “HOTEL”? What does it mean? HOgan + Mr.T. + Bruce Lee = HOTL or HOTEL. This is incontrovertible truth that hotels act as catalysts for these Supermen, how else would their be a connection? Coincidence? Unlikely.

    What you DO in hotels also amplifies the power you create! When you have SEX WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN in a Hotel, you effective make your energy 200x as powerful as it would be where you just stay in a hotel and do nothing. When you watch pay-per-view it adds another 80x factor, when you buy things off the TV it’s another 50x, and so on, these measures are on Ziggurwatts, the definition of energy power than transmits from you to Hotels and then into SUPERMEN. You need to power the SUPERMEN so that they can destroy all Enemies and then Spaceship Jesus can arrive. IT IS THAT SIMPLE. Only a foolish moron would need more explaining. Are you a foolish moron? Then you might as well go give a blowjob to Shamu and receive anal intercourse from George Lucas while a robot masturbates while watching because YOU ARE A SICK PERVERTED PIECE OF FILTH.

    Every action we do in this world creates an Hwatt or an Mwatt, whether it is as simple as tying our shoelaces or watching TV or riding a bike, or even making a purchase with a credit card, it creates one of these units of power in TRANSDIMENSIONAL ALTERSPACE (Subfield KR5) which is formally reverse-connected with every quark in the Universe via the RETRANSITIVE MULTILINEAR DEJUXTAPOSE ALLOSPHERICAL QUASINEURON, which indeed may sound complicated and critical thinkers will accuse me of engaging in Obscurantist Banter as if I am some kind of Derrida but rather to my critics I charge that to explain an R.M.D.A.Q. other than the meaning I give you renders it impotent in conveying to the reader of this text that precise definition of what I am trying to explain but aside from all that, on the basic level it says every action you (or ANYTHING) does registers as either GOOD or BAD energy in this world, so for example, if you stay in a Hotel it will generate a Hwatt, but if you have sex with a beautiful woman in that Hotel it will create 2000 Hwatts, or 2 Ziggurwats, but, if you watch a Star Wars movie, it makes 40 Mwatts, but if 10,000 people attend it becomes 400,000 Mwatts, or 400 Moteljuices, which is absolutely TERRIBLE so what you need to know is that SPACESHIP JESUS EMPIRE is powered by Hwatts and the SATANIC ALLIANCE by Mwatts.

    Hotels act as an amplifyer whereas buying a product off of TV might be 500 hwatts generated, but when you buy it from a hotel it becomes over 50,000 hwatts generated! HOTELS GIVE BONUSES TO THE ACTIONS TO RECEIVE SPACESHIP JESUS. This means every action and thought you do defines you as a worthy recipient of Spaceship Jesus or not. Those who stay in hotels constantly will be saved.

    Down with Stephen King’s “The Shining” the biggest ANTI-HOTEL PROPOGANDA LIE in the history of the World! Shame on King for propogating the myth of an “evil hotel” which makes people go crazy, as displayed by Jack Nicholson in the Kubrick film and down with Nicholson and Kubrick for being accomplices in ANTI-HOTELISM!!! We need more films like MAID IN MANHATTAN with Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes because they promote PRO-HOTEL PLATFORMS and show the world the dire importance of staying in Hotels. STAYING IN HOTEL WILL PROCURE YOU AN ENDLESS PARADE OF OPEN VAGINA THUS TO BE EJACULATED INTO BRINGING FORTH CHILDREN OF MR. T!!!

    Of all the Hotels you should stay in I implore every member of Spaceship Jesus Empire to make a pilgramage to Las Vegas and stay in the Luxor Hotel on the strip, for the great Luxor is archisystematically perfect, which means in so many words, it is the ultimate hotel to generate ziggurwatts. Las Vegas in itself is what the ancient Egyptians were creating before they were corrupted by ANIMAL AGENDA and GREEK HOMOSEXUAL OVERLORDS for the similarities between ancient Egypt and Las Vegas are certainly striking:

    1) Egypt and Las Vegas are both oases in a vast desert.
    2) Egypt had the Great Pyramid, Vegas has Luxor.
    3) Egypt had the Great Sphinx, Vegas has the MGM Lion
    4) Egypt in its day was the greatest civilization on Earth, and now Vegas represents the pinnacle of modern-day 21st century Western civilization.

    What can be inferred from this was the fact that Spaceship Jesus clearly influenced the ways of Egyptians, even 2000 years before the normal Jesus Christ was born, which is proof that Spaceship Jesus is immortal and invincible and is not governed by spacetime, but the Egyptians became corrupted by their animals (worshiping cats, worshiping gods with animal heads) and the final straw is when the Greeks took over (Cleopatra was in reality a LESBIAN GOVERNOR). THIS IS THE LESSONS OF THE EGYPTIANS! Let us not make 21st century AMERICA like another Ancient Egypt!!! Otherwise, 4000 years from now people will walk the ruins of the Luxor Hotel and gaze upon the delapitated ruins of the MGM Lion and wonder: What happened to this great civilization?

    Hotels act as great ANTI-LOCUST HAVENS free from the parsimony-teaching faux-scientists orbiting the globe via PLANET MERCURY and exploding your VISA/MASTERCARD card which ultimately ascends unto the Electronic Dogbot which serves all these of Spaceship Jesus Empire unto perverted Robotic Doctrine! STAY IN HOTELS! All those in hotels must watch pay-per-view porn and masturbate and the fruits of thy masturbation are not wasted upon the hotel room floor but instead transformed into the juice which powers TRUE GOLF on TV, not the Tiger Woods Freak Show but pure WHITE MEN DOMINATING GOLF FOREVER, deny all the Harlem Globetrotters RACIST AGENDA and fight the evil motel pimps ever indulgent in eradicating your hotel stays in many places and what of the despicable terrorists trying to ruin you plane vacations to those hotels and it becomes plainly obvious that the TEMPLE OF GHOSTS is dedicated to destroying all hotels and turning the world into a vast haven of HAUNTED HOUSES FOR SICK GHOST CULT but what aligns against this atrocity is the sacred VISA/MASTERCARD ritual and make an SOLID DIAMOND PENDANT RENDERING ALL THAT IS UNHOLY AND UNSEEN INTO OBLIVION VIA THE HOTEL INDUSTRY!!!!!! STAY IN THE HOTELS!!!! Tell HOTEL CLERK JEFF that you desire greatly to charge millions of dollars of room service to your VISA CARD and once that runs out charge other millions of dollars to your MASTERCARD and the hotel is flush with funds by your expense and suddenly you find yourself in debt but lo! and behold! Spaceship Jesus answers your prayers of money and you find Benjamins raining from the sky so scoop up the bills and pay for more HOTEL TIME and this will accomodate the reception of Spaceship Jesus Sofa Teaching…rest on the Sofas and the learnings will flow into your head so STAY IN HOTELS this is absolutely imperative that you STAY IN HOTELS for the TVs of said hotels promote HULK HOGAN UNITED AGAINST SATANIC ALLIANCE it is never that David Letterman is on film but WHY? except for the front of CONAN-CULKIN alliance against TV LATE NIGHT HOMOSEXUAL DAVID LETTERMAN MIND WAVE PROGRAM and this is why Edward Hopper created 1931 masterpiece HOTEL ROOM because he realizes Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby does satisfy HOTEL FETISH IN 1920s but not completely for HOMOSEXUAL OVERLORDS try to dictate to high school teenagers to put PENIS IN HOMOSEXUAL ANUS but instead the mechanical nature of robot machine cars eats alive all that is transcendent in GATSBY but not the part where DAISY finds herself a slave to the viscious animals of Great Bear in Alaska the Pipeline where all GHOST SEMEN SHALL MELT FOREVER and this means that all disgusting HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ANUS PENETRATION is the result of the Soviet Locust League of George W. Bush creating incidents in which Huey Lewis promotes Harlem Globetrotters WORSHIP among Madonna clone (NOOOO! THIS IS A FALSEHOOD!!!) which means only VISA/MASTERCARD acceptance can light the way from the hotels to Conan-Culkin alliance to destroy all Harlem Globetrotters literature created by Stephen King which says that homo-animal alliance is SUPERLATIVE to the natural ways of Spaceship Jesus and that is tantramount to blasphemy so this is why the culmination of Great Hotel Power manifests itself as a NEW AMERICAN ERA in that all LOCUST-ROBOT-GAY ALLIANCE is destroyed for eternity with the victorious charge of SPACESHIP JESUS arising from their putrid ashes!!!!!”

  • Shaaronie

    I have seen a few of these and also loved Amastad and the The Madness of King George.

  • Shaaronie

    oh and I forgot Mandingo!

  • XYZ

    Glad to see Gandhi there – it is the best film EVER made in any genre as far as I’m concerned. Spartcus and Ben-Hur are also solid choices. Hotel Rwanda, Like Costa Gavras’ ‘Missing’ (1982) as well as ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’, ‘Stander’ , ‘The Killing Fields’ and ‘Weir’s ‘Gallipoli’ are also absolutely brilliant films but I’m not sure I’d include them in the ‘epic’ genre. Certainly Lawrence of Arabia, Lion of the Desert, Cleopatra and El Cid would be in my Top 15 epics.

  • lostatsea

    118.Randall: das Boot; das=neuter, Boot=boat, actually should really be das U-Boot for submarine. Pronounced as long oo!

  • John85851

    I’m confused. Gandhi the movie came out in 1982 (which is accurate), but the next year, in 1983, Gandhi was thrown off a South Africa train and *later* fought for independence in India? Did the movie predict the future?

    Or is this date a typo and no one’s been back to this article to correct it?
    Though not to nit-pick, but how did a typo like that get into the article in the first place?

  • c0de

    What about Monty Python’s Life of Brian. :P

  • Neo

    Please change 1983 to 1883 in article 5(Gandhi)

  • LegalCat

    I think reasonable minds could differ, to say the least, as to whether “Ten Commandments” qualifies as “history.” It does if you believe that the Bible is literal truth, but you might, if you asked around, find one or two reputable historians who dispute this premise.

  • screwjack

    Alexander the Great

  • razor86

    “Biblical movies shouldn’t be included in a list of ‘History’ movies.”

    Cinematic presentations can be misleading. I mean, films are poor substitutes for facts. Sorry to reveal the plot or anything, but Moses never actually becomes a Christian. Just as sure as the historical bondage of Hebrews, he is seen cutting his religious teeth in the worship of ancient Egyptian gods . . .

    In fact, come to think of it, it’s kinda a movie about early Jews and their history, don’t ya think? So…are you Racist as well as naive?

  • RealWorldWonder

    “The Ten Commandments” is mythology not history

  • Mike

    “though I admit that some are so awful that they teach myths rather than reality”

    And Ben Hur is your #1 LOL.
    Movies are not supposed to be history lessons.

  • Truth

    Fortunately, the Bible is factual and true. Therefore, all movies based on the Bible are historically correct. Whether or not these movies are an epic depends on the movie.

    I have spoken.

    Not believing in the Bible does not matter as historical facts will still be there. Those that believe the Bible is just a book or other such nonsense are blind. One day, we all hope that those people see the light, but then that is why we are on this earth… to be allowed to make a choice. A choice that will be the most important decision in their entire life. Hopefully, we all choose wisely.

  • dracon

    I would like to include a silent gem- Birth of a Nation.

  • dracon

    Oh, and one more thing- Who let #217 Dr. Bart Huygens out of his padded cell?

  • Mark

    @Truth (230): It would be so much fun if there was an afterlife, but as it turned out, there is no “God.” Seeing all the preachy, annoying fundies notice that they just wasted their entire, fucking, life, on this world. That would be one of the greatest events to transpire in the history of forever and everything if you ask me.

  • Truth

    @Mark(233): I’m not asking you, I am just stating a fact. You don’t have to believe in God or that the Bible is factual. That is why God sent us here, to give us what we wanted, choice. Everyone decides for themselves and then answers for their decisions later.

  • Jay Poe

    Gladiator should be on this list.

  • linzy

    i agree that Troy should be on here. Also Blood Diamond

  • REBELComx

    Ben Hur is not a history movie. It’s based on a novel. You might as well put Gladiator on the list.
    And the 10 commandments? WHAT?! Even most Jews regard the story of the Exodus as myth and not fact. And recent evidence shows that the biblical version has little to no basis in fact. The exiting of slaves from Egypt didn’t even happen under EITHER Ramsese.


    i have seen pretty cool movies some of them r here..
    Gladiator,Troy,King Aurthur..,Private savin Ryan, son of god, black hawk down, pearl harbor,the patriot, brave heart, n lot more…cant write all of’em…

  • fuckingshit

    this list sucks! either troy or helen of troy is not written!!

  • 14gotmyMANTRA

    Schindle’s List is overatted. Good, but overrated.

  • sudhir

    i think, this not a better list of epic based. The greater movies are not in this list such as Mongol, Troy etc. There must be a separate list for history based and religion based. The religion based movies are not true, but only myth and these type movies are in this list, it is not fair, realy not fair..

  • Obliterator

    Great list, i’m going to add these other awesome historical movies:

    -Master and commander
    -letters of iwo jima
    -nothing new in the western front
    -Kingdom of heaven
    -bang rajan (thai movie)
    -the longest day
    -the last of the mohicans
    -Mutiny on the Bounty
    -El cid
    -Barry lyndon

    Sorry for the long list, but i’m a war movies freak.

  • Obliterator

    And for a comical history flick i recommend mel brook’s history of the world

  • Todd

    “The Ten Commandments” really doesn’t belong on this list. All the other films have some basis in history, even with the liberties the filmmakers took. “Ten Commandments” belongs on a list of films based on mythology. There’s absolutely no historical evidence that those events took place (that goes for “Passion of the Christ” – one of your runners-up – as well).

  • amator

    Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
    Lord of the Rings Two Towers
    Lord of the Rings The return of the King

  • pavlovshouse

    History movies are about wars and battles, right?
    The biggest war was WWII.The biggest battle in history was for Stalingrad. Hence: Enemy At The Gates.Objective, good British movie.
    And something else. If Germans had won this battle we would have racism. Obama would be the slave not president. Every decent citizen of the world should know about it. Read about the battle in Wikipedia and then watch the movie!!

  • bloodpump

    Awesome list. I’m sort of surprised at the fact that the Crime Epic, “The Godfather (Or its sequel)” wasn’t on the list, but that doesn’t upset me. Lawrence of Arabia is another surprise too, and really before the guys around here really turn crazy (don’t worry about me), I think you should probably put it in the HMs (Honorable Mentions) section.

    I still need to see some of those (Ben Hur and Das Boot in particular), but out of the ones I have seen so far Schindler’s List is by far my favorite.

  • A

    Why so many WWII movies?

  • Raj kumar India

    How about
    1. The Longest day
    2. Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor)

  • snicklefritz

    Where is Gone With the Wind? It was set during the Civil War and is both geat and epic. It meets all the criteria, so why is it not on the list? It should at least be included, if not number one.

  • Anthony

    Ben-Hur was an amazing film. A great Epic – But historical Epic? it’s your site.

  • chic

    I truly appreciated schindler’s lists. It was really touching and it was so sad. It made me cry. Would love to watch the downfall der untergang I find it really interesting!

  • Cody

    Last of the Mohicans(1992) should have been included.

  • Jonathan Novak

    Diary of Anne Frank (1959) I thought that was pretty accurate and well-made.

  • awesome list.

  • prd

    I'm sure none of these are terrible movies, but historically correct? Not exactly.

  • sam simpson

    Lol Ten Commandments as history!? Any film stops being historic the moment shrubberies begin talking. Come on.

  • David

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Is the greatest film epic – It's as historical as Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments. 4-Hour film is epic.

  • kishan

    Gladiator, Troy, The Patriot, Apocalypto, Brave Heart, Hanibal, The Changizkhan, The lost Tresure, ……
    are not in this list???????

  • Nameless

    WTF?! *300* is not in list?!

  • Pingback: Link-urile de joi |

  • Brad

    I have no problem with The Ten Commandments being on a best historical film list, but overlooking Laurence of Arabia? Tragic. To get a comprehensive take a look at

  • Crassus

    Snails and oysters. Aw yeah.

  • kkk white supremacist

    Historical epics are not movies which take place just 60 years ago… Please replace those and insert lawrence of arabia, braveheart, and gladiator

  • Alex

    5/15 of these is about WWII/ the Germans. Funny that.

  • Jared B

    No Lawrence of Arabia? arguably one of the greatest epic of all time

  • Josh

    The Ten Commandments is Mythology, not history.

  • BreK


  • EngersJes


  • Zookenfoche


  • Josh

    I’m sorry, but if you rank a movie about a fictional book like the bible on your list of great historical movies, you’ve lost all respect you may have gained from your opinion

  • rai seregor

    sad so sad MALCOLM X

  • naresh

    There Should be a correction. Gandhi was thrown off a train in 1893 not 1983.

  • Yasir Zaman

    TAKEN is best movie ever i seen

  • cook

    what about Lawrence of Arabia?

  • mefirstandthegimmegimmes


  • chris

    how is saving private ryan not on here

  • obliterator

    I have watched a couple of movies recently, so there is my new list:

    – Admiral

    – flags of our fathers

    – gettysburg

    -attack on leningrad

    -brestskaya krepost



    -macmanus man of war

    -Mihai Viteazul

    -Nanking (2009)

    -Red cliff

    -Anzio (1968)

    -The battle of algiers (1966) masterpiece (must watch)

    -sniper reloaded

    -assembly (beautiful modern chinese movie)

    -team america (fuckin funny)

    -pretty village pretty flame (serbian movie)

    -Caligula (1979) not historically acurate, but comoooooon! it’s damn good!

    -tropa de elite I and II (absolutely brutal urban war movie from brazil)

    -The duelist


    -Horatio hornblower (okay it’s a series but it’s damn excellent)

    -And for last but not least “come and see” (best russian movie ever)

    I hope that you search for this masterpieces and enjoy them as much as i enjoy them.


  • Alejandro

    You forgot Lawrence of Arabia, one the greatest films ever.

  • Dripable Service

    I dont disagree with you…

  • gio

    how can the ten commandments be in this list?

  • Melissa

    love the pick for #1….Ben Hur <3

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  • good but not best,
    1st one is Troy.
    Another is 300 , p.o.percia.

  • Tipu

    i like these type of films

  • hanky93

    Mongol is a great movie about Temudjin who is now known as Genghis Khan. It was academy nominated for best foreign film in 2007.

  • ED

    Is Gandhi thrown off the train in 1983? Who are you kidding?

  • Phil Tibbs

    The Alamo must rank among the most epics of all time – yet not a single mention anywhere. I can’t understand it!!

  • George

    Any list of epics without Lawrence of Arabia at #1 is wrong

  • sargunan.rmn

    If history is in the bible, then would you say its not real

  • jill cooksey nelson

    This site is awesome…where can i get them on DVD?

  • ian

    moses if historic was a sick man who would cut his own sons throat because of voices in his head, mind u being a rich powerful overlord he had many women and children, and like many other ego driven men claimed leadership from god to justify his position when the people lost respect for him. whilst in asia the teaching of enlightenment showed a way from such ego and short term anger. the people of this bible now suffer because of this nature. stupid things happen to stupid people.

  • Nizaam

    Some more good films have been excluded and what is included in above mentioned list should not be considered like Gladiator must be included in above list.

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  • Kokolo

    The Ten Commandments historical epic? HISTORICAL? LOL

  • atpmolloy

    I was going to complain about the concept of “History” in most movies but to be fair the description is “Historical” movies so accuracy is not really required, its more of a theme. But I will complain about The Ten Commandments being quoted as even historical,

  • Lawrence of Arabia
    Bridge on the River Kwai

  • Ted Kurtz

    One of the most memorable historic movies I seen is Gettysburg, a 1993 American war film, based on the historical novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. The movie follows the book very closely, and describes the three days of the Civil War Gettysburg battle. It is a really tragic story, and filled in an important blank spot in my knowledge of American history.

  • pakeloDalge


  • renata

    I haven’t watched all these movies. But ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Der Untergang’ are much better movies than ‘BenHur’ and ‘The Ten Commandments’.
    ‘BenHur’ and ‘The Ten Commandments’ pure fiction mixed with a few facts.

  • Amit Maheshwari

    hey man, I m afraid that te year posted in details of “Gandhi” film which show 1983 in first line, its wrong…. i have no idea for exact figure, but thats wrong because Gandhiji was dead on 30th january of 1950…. so he wasnt alive at 1983..kindly check this… mail me right year if possibal…:)

  • Lol..can’t help but laugh,,I think Braveheart and Gladiator should be tied at number 1

  • krishna

    What do you mean by “considered something of a national hero. “??? ?? Hew is a national Hero idiot..