History 1, through 1606

by LakesideScott | created - 07 Jan 2015 | updated - 5 months ago | Public

These are movies based on historical, or pseudo-historical, events or people. Most are fictionalized historical dramas with some documentaries thrown in. The majority are probably only partially accurate, historically, at best.

Some period pieces, especially Oscar winners and classic works of literature when appropriate, are added as general cultural reference points for the time period.

List order is chronological by setting of the latest date in the film.

This list begins with the earliest pieces of recorded history through the Middle Ages and the beginning on the Enlightenment. Many of the first movies in this list are based on myth and/or literature, but they set the backdrop for later films from actual recorded history.

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1. Gilgamesh (II) (2012)

7 min | Short, Drama, History

As his one and only friend, Enkidu, dies in his arms, King Gilgamesh is faced with the ultimate truth that is his own mortality.

Director: Joseph Dankha | Stars: Ravi Batista, Jason Buhalis, Nouhara Dankha, Delmon Gabriel

Votes: 8

Setting: approx 2,600 B.C. The oldest known piece of literature. May or may not be mythical. Can be viewed on YouTube. There is also an 11 minute animated short on YouTube, which tells the actual story.

2. Building the Great Pyramid (2002 TV Movie)

TV-G | 58 min | Documentary

Based on the latest archaeological discoveries and combining dramatic reconstruction, location shooting and state-of-the-art CGI computer effects, this film travels back in time to reveal ... See full summary »

Director: Jonathan Stamp | Stars: Abdalla Mahmoud, Hisham Abdullah, Mohamed Awad, Marc Bator

Votes: 146

Setting: 2,460 B.C.

3. Noah (2014)

PG-13 | 138 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

68 Metascore

Noah (Russell Crowe) is chosen by God to undertake a momentous mission before an apocalyptic flood cleanses the world.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson

Votes: 230,063 | Gross: $101.20M

Setting: 2,344 B.C.

4. Clash of the Titans (2010)

PG-13 | 106 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

39 Metascore

Perseus demigod, son of Zeus, battles the minions of the underworld to stop them from conquering heaven and earth.

Director: Louis Leterrier | Stars: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng

Votes: 257,126 | Gross: $163.21M

Setting: 1,325 B.C.

5. Wrath of the Titans (2012)

PG-13 | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

37 Metascore

Perseus braves the treacherous underworld to rescue his father, Zeus, captured by his son, Ares, and brother Hades who unleash the ancient Titans upon the world.

Director: Jonathan Liebesman | Stars: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Rosamund Pike, Ralph Fiennes

Votes: 172,972 | Gross: $83.67M

Setting: 1,315 B.C.

6. The Bible (2013)
Episode: In the Beginning (2013)

TV-14 | 42 min | Documentary, Action, Drama

Noah endures God's wrath; Abraham reaches the Promised Land but still must prove his faith in God; Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt, and his faith in God is rewarded when the Red Sea... See full summary »

Director: Crispin Reece | Stars: Keith David, Paul Knops, Robert Powell, Darcie Lincoln

Votes: 498

Up to Moses' Exodus Setting: 1,300 B.C.

7. The Bible (2013)
Episode: Exodus (2013)

TV-14 | 48 min | Documentary, Action, Drama

While in exile, Moses is told by God at the Burning Bush that he will free the Israelites from slavery. Moses returns to Egypt and, with the help of ten devastating plagues and the miracle ... See full summary »

Director: Crispin Reece | Stars: Keith David, Joe Forte, Shivani Ghai, Sean Teale

Votes: 386

Setting: 1,300 B.C.

8. Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

PG-13 | 150 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

52 Metascore

The defiant leader Moses rises up against Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II, setting six hundred thousand slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver

Votes: 151,348 | Gross: $65.01M

A much less hokey version of the Moses story. Yes, some of the portrayals of the plagues are hokey, but the film's overall symbolism is more obvious, thus believable as symbolism rather than as something to be taken literally. Setting: 1,270 B.C.

9. The Legend of Hercules (2014)

PG-13 | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

22 Metascore

The origin story of the mythical Greek hero. Betrayed by his stepfather, the King, and exiled and sold into slavery because of a forbidden love, Hercules must use his formidable powers to fight his way back to his rightful kingdom.

Director: Renny Harlin | Stars: Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Roxanne McKee

Votes: 50,515 | Gross: $18.85M

Setting estimate: 1,234 B.C.

10. Hercules (I) (2014)

PG-13 | 98 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

47 Metascore

Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.

Director: Brett Ratner | Stars: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Joseph Fiennes

Votes: 137,660 | Gross: $72.69M

Most attempts to place Hercules' existence, or even legend, in time, suggest times far before the 358 B.C. period noted at the beginning of the movie. 1,234 B.C. is what I'm going with for the setting.

11. Immortals (2011)

R | 110 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy

46 Metascore

Theseus (Henry Cavill) is a mortal man chosen by Zeus (Luke Evans) to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), who is on a rampage across Greece to obtain a weapon that can destroy humanity.

Director: Tarsem Singh | Stars: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, Stephen Dorff

Votes: 153,433 | Gross: $83.50M

Setting: 1,228 B.C.

12. Antigone (1961)

Not Rated | 93 min | Drama

Antigone defies her uncle's decree that her traitorous brother should go unburied and therefore find no rest in the afterlife; however, her actions have tragic consequences.

Director: Yorgos Tzavellas | Stars: Irene Papas, Manos Katrakis, Maro Kodou, Nikos Kazis

Votes: 583

Setting: 1,210 B.C.

13. Troy (2004)

R | 163 min | Drama, History

56 Metascore

An adaptation of Homer's great epic, the film follows the assault on Troy by the united Greek forces and chronicles the fates of the men involved.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen | Stars: Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Julian Glover

Votes: 454,361 | Gross: $133.38M

Setting: 1,184 B.C.

14. Iphigenia (1977)

Not Rated | 127 min | Drama

To appease offended gods before going to war, a commander must sacrifice his favorite daughter to them but does so under the pretext of marrying her off.

Director: Michael Cacoyannis | Stars: Irene Papas, Kostas Kazakos, Kostas Karras, Tatiana Papamoschou

Votes: 1,386

Set at the start of the Trojan War, in 1,194 B.C., but mentions Helen leaving, so it makes some sense to see that story first ("Troy").

15. The Trojan Women (1971)

GP | 105 min | Drama

The women of Troy face enslavement after the fall of their city.

Director: Michael Cacoyannis | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, Geneviève Bujold, Irene Papas

Votes: 1,085

Setting: 1,184 B.C.

16. Electra (I) (1962)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama

Living in exile after the death of their father, the grown children of a murdered and usurped king converge to exact eye-for-an-eye revenge.

Director: Michael Cacoyannis | Stars: Irene Papas, Giannis Fertis, Aleka Katselli, Theano Ioannidou

Votes: 1,127

Setting: 1,183 B.C.

17. The Odyssey (1997)

PG-13 | 176 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

The warrior King Odysseus leaves his idyllic life in the kingdom of Ithaca to fight in the Trojan War. After winning the war, he now must endure a lengthy, ten-year journey to return, and ... See full summary »

Stars: Armand Assante, Greta Scacchi, Isabella Rossellini, Bernadette Peters

Votes: 12,739

Setting end: 1,174 B.C.

18. The Bible (2013)
Episode: Homeland (2013)

TV-14 | 48 min | Documentary, Action, Drama

Joshua conquers Jericho; Delilah betrays Samson as the Israelites battle the Philistines; Samuel anoints David king, a move that could throw the nation into civil war; Saul is consumed with... See full summary »

Director: Tony Mitchell | Stars: Keith David, Robert Powell, Andrew Scarborough, Jalaal Hartley

Votes: 310

19. The Bible (2013)
Episode: Kingdom (2013)

TV-14 | 49 min | Documentary, Action, Drama

King Saul and the Israelite army face seemingly impossible odds against the Philistine army and their champion, Goliath. An unlikely here, the young David, defeats Goliath and goes on to ... See full summary »

Director: Tony Mitchell | Stars: Keith David, Francis Magee, Robert Powell, Laurie Calvert

Votes: 293

20. Sins of Jezebel (1953)

Approved | 74 min | Drama, History

The aging Ahab, king of Israel, comes under the influence of a young and beautiful but scheming pagan woman named Jezebel and, against the advice of his advisers and the prophet Elijah, ... See full summary »

Director: Reginald Le Borg | Stars: Paulette Goddard, George Nader, Eduard Franz, John Hoyt

Votes: 82

Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab of northern Israel, c. 870 B.C. She got her husband to worship "false idols".

21. One Night with the King (2006)

PG | 123 min | Biography, Drama, History

38 Metascore

In Biblical times, a girl disguises her Jewish origins when the Persian king comes looking for a new bride among his subjects.

Director: Michael O. Sajbel | Stars: Tiffany Dupont, Luke Goss, John Noble, Omar Sharif

Votes: 6,454 | Gross: $13.40M

Setting: 481 B.C.

22. 300 (2006)

R | 117 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy

52 Metascore

King Leonidas of Sparta and a force of 300 men fight the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C.

Director: Zack Snyder | Stars: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Dominic West

Votes: 694,359 | Gross: $210.61M

Setting: 480 B.C.

23. 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

R | 102 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy

48 Metascore

Greek general Themistokles leads the charge against invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes and Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

Director: Noam Murro | Stars: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson

Votes: 264,154 | Gross: $106.58M

Setting: 480 B.C.

24. The Buddha (2010 TV Movie)

TV-G | 120 min | Documentary

After 400 BC, a new philosophy was born in South east Asia, generated from the ideas of Buddha, a mysterious Prince from Nepal who gained enlightenment while he sat under a large, shapely ... See full summary »

Director: David Grubin | Stars: Richard Gere, Blair Brown, The Dalai Lama, Mark Epstein

Votes: 888

25. Socrates (1971 TV Movie)

120 min | Biography, History

A false accusation leads the philosopher Socrates to trial and condemnation in 4th century BC Athens.

Director: Roberto Rossellini | Stars: Jean Sylvère, Anne Caprile, Giuseppe Mannajuolo, Ricardo Palacios

Votes: 600

Setting: 399 B.C.

26. Alexander (2004)

R | 175 min | Action, Adventure, Biography

39 Metascore

Alexander (Colin Farrell), the King of Macedonia and one of the greatest army leaders in the history of warfare, conquers much of the known world.

Director: Oliver Stone | Stars: Colin Farrell, Anthony Hopkins, Rosario Dawson, Angelina Jolie

Votes: 155,022 | Gross: $34.30M

Setting: 336 B.C.

27. The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)

Approved | 127 min | Adventure, Drama, History

While on holiday in Rhodes, Athenian war hero Darios becomes involved in two different plots to overthrow the tyrannical king, one from Rhodian patriots and the other from sinister Phoenician agents.

Director: Sergio Leone | Stars: Rory Calhoun, Lea Massari, Georges Marchal, Conrado San Martín

Votes: 2,589

Setting: 280 B.C.

28. Mankind the Story of All of Us (2012)
Episode: Iron Men (2012)

TV-14 | 44 min | Documentary, History

A mysterious band of pirates plunders the Mediterranean coast - leaving destruction in its wake. Empires fall, but out of the chaos, we discover iron. Armed with this wonder metal, ordinary... See full summary »

Directors: Nick Brown, Dan Clifton | Stars: Josh Brolin, Kara Cooney, James Meigs, Mike Loades

Votes: 50

29. Hannibal (1959)

103 min | Action, Adventure, Biography

During the Second Punic War in 218 BC, Carthaginian general Hannibal attacks the Roman Republic by crossing the Pyrenees and the Alps with his vast army.

Directors: Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, Edgar G. Ulmer | Stars: Victor Mature, Gabriele Ferzetti, Rita Gam, Milly Vitale

Votes: 611

Setting: 183 B.C.

30. The Bible (2013)
Episode: Survival (2013)

TV-14 | 46 min | Documentary, Action, Drama

Nearly four hundred years after the rule of David, Babylonian hordes lay siege to Jerusalem and force the Jews into exile in Babylon, where their identity and faith are tested. Decades ... See full summary »

Director: Crispin Reece | Stars: Keith David, Peter Guinness, Robert Powell, Raad Rawi

Votes: 242

31. Spartacus (1960)

PG-13 | 197 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

87 Metascore

The slave Spartacus leads a violent revolt against the decadent Roman Republic.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton

Votes: 113,927 | Gross: $30.00M

Setting: 71 B.C.

32. Spartacus (2010–2013)

TV-MA | 55 min | Action, Adventure, Biography

The life of Spartacus, the gladiator who lead a rebellion against the Romans. From his time as an ally of the Romans, to his betrayal and becoming a gladiator, to the rebellion he leads and its ultimate outcome.

Stars: Andy Whitfield, Lucy Lawless, Manu Bennett, Daniel Feuerriegel

Votes: 206,829

Setting: 71 B.C. If you are not into violence and/or sex, this may be the worst entry in all of my lists for you. If those things don't bother you, this is a greatly expanded version of the same story from the previous, 1960 version. The second season actually takes place chronologically first, but I think it works better to watch it as a flashback after the first season.

33. Julius Caesar (1953)

Not Rated | 120 min | Biography, Drama, History

The growing ambition of Julius Caesar is a source of major concern to his close friend Brutus. Cassius persuades him to participate in his plot to assassinate Caesar, but they have both sorely underestimated Mark Antony.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz | Stars: Louis Calhern, Marlon Brando, James Mason, John Gielgud

Votes: 9,468

Setting: 42 B.C.

34. Cleopatra (1963)

G | 192 min | Biography, Drama, History

60 Metascore

Queen Cleopatra of Egypt experiences both triumph and tragedy as she attempts to resist the imperial ambitions of Rome.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz | Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Pamela Brown

Votes: 26,632 | Gross: $57.78M

Setting: 30 B.C.

35. Rome (2005–2007)

TV-MA | 90 min | Action, Drama, History

A down-to-earth account of the lives of both illustrious and ordinary Romans set in the last days of the Roman Republic.

Stars: Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Kerry Condon

Votes: 142,114

Setting: 30 B.C. Ends a month after Cleopatra's death

36. The Nativity Story (2006)

PG | 101 min | Drama, Family, History

52 Metascore

A drama that focuses on the period in Mary and Joseph's life where they journeyed to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus.

Director: Catherine Hardwicke | Stars: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Oscar Isaac, Hiam Abbass

Votes: 9,373 | Gross: $37.63M

Setting: 0

37. I, Claudius (1976)
Episode: What Shall We Do About Claudius? (1976)

Not Rated | 52 min | Biography, Drama, History

Six years have passed. Germanicus has joined Tiberius in the Germanian campaign, to avenge the Roman legion slaughtered at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Claudius remains at home, ... See full summary »

Director: Herbert Wise | Stars: Derek Jacobi, Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed, George Baker

Votes: 187

Setting: 23 B.C. to 9 A.D. Disc 1, Episodes 1-4

38. The Bible (2013)
Episode: Hope (2013)

TV-14 | 49 min | Documentary, Action, Drama

Against a backdrop of Roman oppression, young Mary's faith is rewarded when the angel Gabriel tells her she will carry a special child from God. Jesus is born to Mary and Joseph and, from ... See full summary »

Director: Crispin Reece | Stars: Keith David, Sam Douglas, Robert Powell, Joe Coen

Votes: 245

Setting: 29 King Herod The Great looks ridiculous in this one.

39. The Bible (2013)
Episode: Mission (2013)

TV-14 | 47 min | Documentary, Action, Drama

Jesus and his disciples move from town to town, preaching love and forgiveness, but this radical approach is not welcomed by everyone. Jesus' miracles grow increasingly wondrous until he ... See full summary »

Director: Christopher Spencer | Stars: Keith David, Diogo Morgado, Robert Powell, Paul Marc Davis

Votes: 224

Setting: 30

40. The Bible (2013)
Episode: Betrayal (2013)

TV-14 | 45 min | Documentary, Action, Drama

Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, openly declaring that he is the promised Messiah. High Priest Caiaphas fears that impassioned crowds will start a riot, so he finds a way to get to Jesus - ... See full summary »

Director: Christopher Spencer | Stars: Keith David, Diogo Morgado, Robert Powell, Adrian Schiller

Votes: 219

Setting: 30

41. The Bible (2013)
Episode: Passion (2013)

TV-14 | 55 min | Documentary, Action, Drama

Jesus is sentenced to die by the crucifixion. The crowds of Jerusalem wail as Jesus is forced to drag his cross to Golgotha, where he is crucified for all to see. As life leaves his body, ... See full summary »

Director: Christopher Spencer | Stars: Keith David, Robert Powell, Adrian Schiller, Paul Brightwell

Votes: 222

Setting: 30

42. Ben-Hur (1959)

G | 212 min | Adventure, Drama, History

90 Metascore

When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd, Haya Harareet

Votes: 202,554 | Gross: $74.70M

Setting: 30

43. The Passion of the Christ (2004)

R | 127 min | Drama

47 Metascore

Depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem.

Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Maia Morgenstern, Christo Jivkov

Votes: 201,886 | Gross: $370.78M

Setting: 30

44. I, Claudius (1976)
Episode: Reign of Terror (1976)

Not Rated | 52 min | Biography, Drama, History

Sejanus divorces his wife in order to marry Livilla but Tiberius refuses permission and suggests that he marries Livilla's daughter Helen instead, which so enrages Livilla that she poisons ... See full summary »

Director: Herbert Wise | Stars: Derek Jacobi, George Baker, Margaret Tyzack, Patricia Quinn

Votes: 181

Setting: 13-31 Disc 2, Episodes 5-8

45. Caligula (1979)

Unrated | 156 min | Drama, History

Details the graphic and shocking, yet undeniably tragic story of Rome's most infamous Caesar, Gaius Germanicus Caligula.

Director: Tinto Brass | Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Peter O'Toole, Helen Mirren, Teresa Ann Savoy

Votes: 31,386 | Gross: $23.44M

Setting: 37-41 If you thought the Spartacus series was too graphic, you won't like this either. It's basically soft-porn, except that there's a decent story to it about this Roman Emperor who reigned between Tiberius and Claudius.

46. I, Claudius (1976)
Episode: Old King Log (1976)

Not Rated | 53 min | Biography, Drama, History

AD 54: Claudius feels that Rome should return to be a Republic but nonetheless marries his niece Agripinilla and makes her son Nero co-heir with his own, teen-aged son Britannicus. Aware of... See full summary »

Director: Herbert Wise | Stars: Derek Jacobi, Bernard Hepton, John Cater, Barbara Young

Votes: 167

Setting: 37-54 Discs 3 & 4, Episodes 9-13

47. The Bible (2013)
Episode: Courage (2013)

TV-14 | 47 min | Documentary, Action, Drama

Mary Magdalene thinks she has gone mad when she finds Jesus' tomb empty. The resurrected Jesus delivers his final message to his disciples before he leaves them to continue without him, but... See full summary »

Director: Tony Mitchell | Stars: Keith David, Robert Powell, Amber Rose Revah, Matthew Gravelle

Votes: 214

Setting: 65 (through the death of Peter and the apostles)

48. Imperium: Nero (2004 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 192 min | Biography, Drama, War