10 Best Medieval Movies you must watch

By Louie Fecou
Published: February 18, 2023 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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best-medieval-movies

We discuss the 10 Best Medieval Movies you must watch. This list may be for you if you are interested in movies based on historical events.

Who doesn’t love a good historical epic, especially if they do their homework right and present us with stunning landscapes, great actors, and just the right mix of battle and melodrama? There has been a long and epic tradition of companies pushing out the barrel and offering medieval tales of honor, adventure, romance, and history.

As we sit around the office discussing the latest film trends, it seems now is the perfect time to present our ten best medieval movies you must watch.

10 Best Medieval Movies You Must Watch

10. A Knight’s Tale (2001)

This historical romp was an early film for the sadly missed Heath Ledger and helped propel him into Hollywood stardom. In this light-hearted entry, he plays William Hatcher, a young squire who is, in turn, playing a knight who manages to fake it till he makes it in a series of jousting tournaments. ‘

Partly inspired by the Canterbury Tales, this is a charming and entertaining film that plays fast and loose with its context, but we forgive it as it’s all done with flair and fun.

9. The Northman (2022)

Director Robert Eggers brings his sense of imagery and atmosphere to this rollicking savage tale of vengeance and redemption. Almost ethereal in its presentation and filled with plenty of Eggers’ dream-like cinematography, this film was lost on its release but has garnered a solid fan base since then.

Dark, brooding, violent, and tinged with the supernatural, this evocative dive into the quest of Prince Amleth is both mesmerizing and haunting. Not for the faint of heart.

8. Excalibur (1981)

An often overlooked but highly regarded 80’s epic, Excalibur boasts a stellar cast and excellent production values.

Exploring the myth of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table and Merlin is a lavish and spectacular feature, played straight down the line, blurring the more mystical elements with a real sense of history. This is the quintessential Arthurian movie, directed by John Boorman and starring Helen Mirren, Nigel Terry, Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, and Patrick Stewart.

7. Henry V (1989)

Of course, we had to have a Shakespearean movie on our list, so we went straight to where every film fan goes when they hear Shakespeare, Kenneth Branagh. This 1989 entry, starring Ken and directed by him, follows Henry trying to get the English flag firmly planted in France during the Hundred Years War.

Aided and abetted by witch-faced board-treading luvvie Emma Thompson and single-initialed national treasure Judy Dench, this is an excellent example of how to bring Shakespeare to the masses.

6. The Name of the Rose (1986)

Sean Connery and a young Christian Slater star in this medieval whodunnit based on the famous novel of the same name by Umberto Eco. 14th-century Franciscan monk William of Baskerville and his young ward find themselves at the center of a murder mystery, revealing a mysterious silence conspiracy that seems to go straight to the top of the hierarchy of the church.

Dripping with atmosphere and with a scene-stealing performance from Connery, this evocative genre-defying film is a must on this list.

5. Ben Hur (1959)

Another flick with a revenge theme here, starring screen legend Charlton Heston as Judah Ben Hur, in one of the greatest Hollywood epics ever made.

Before the advent of a green screen and CGI, if you wanted a massive epic with thousands of extras and a chariot race, you just had to film it the best you could, and Ben Hur is filled with some of the most incredible sets and stunts you have ever seen.

The iconic race took five weeks to film and needed five thousand extras to fill the eighteen acres backlot. Powerful, epic, and a benchmark for movies, they no longer make films like this.

4. Ran (1985)

Set in Japan, this is a masterpiece from famed director Akira Kurosawa, inspired by King Lear, but set in feudal Japan. War, feuding siblings, and the battle for a kingdom form the backdrop, and the film is a spectacle to behold. It is said that during the making of the film, Kurosawa’s wife tragically passed away, and he halted production for just one day before continuing with the feature.

3. Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1975)

Controversial entry, I know, but how could we not include this? Underneath all the silliness and killer rabbits with pointy teeth, some beautiful moments would not be out of place in a hard-edged medieval history. Some beautiful location work and cinematography seem to juxtapose the absurdity of the situations, and the meta-narrative was years ahead of its time. Disturbing animator and coconut-banging director Terry Gilliam cut his teeth on this low-budget film. You can see echoes of it in his more mainstream offerings like Brazil.

2. Braveheart (1995)

Controversial phone call drunk driver Mel Gibson can still do no wrong as far as Scotland is concerned, thanks to his portrayal in Braveheart as William Wallace. His battle against the English may be historically inaccurate, but there is no denying that his soul-stirring performance was anything but inspirational, especially if you are Scottish. The film was a huge box office hit worldwide and struck a chord with audiences everywhere, so it’s only fair to get it on our list. Parodied to death by everyone, the film is now part of pop culture forever.

1. Gladiator (2000) 

Shouty bearded rubbish Zeus Russell Crowe stars as Maximus in this iconic tale of revenge from Ridley Scott. This epic historical is another incredible film experience that was a monster hit when released in cinemas in 2000. Stunning action set pieces and a score from Hans Zimmer only help elevate this film experience, and who among you was not moved by the ending? Almost a throwback to the golden age of Hollywood movies, Gladiator is not just a great historical movie but is considered by many to be one of the best films ever made.

Do you have any other recommendations for the Best Medieval movies? Let us know!

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