What do you think are Must-See movies?

Well first, you should realize that there are two types of history movies:

  1. The type of film that tries to portray actual historical events and actual people who were involved. Lawrence of Arabia would be a good example of this type of film.

  2. The type of film that tries to accurately portray an historical time or event to give a good idea of what the period or event was like, but does it through the eyes of fictional characters. This is known as historical fiction. Dances with Wolves is an excellent example of this type of film. The main character, John Dunbar, is fictional, but the events of the time, the life of the Native Americans, and their persecution by the American army gives a really good idea of what it would have been like to live then. Sometimes, these movies can actually have more historical value than films that actually deal with real historical figures. Another example would be Titanic. Although ALL of the events going on around Jack Dawson are completely accurate, we are witnessing the disaster through the eyes of a fictional character. This movie portrays the historical events really, really well, while weaving in an entertaining fictional story.

So, with that in mind, here’s a long list of historical films. I’ll also specify if they portray actual events, or are historical fiction.

A true history movie. Portrays the story of William Wallace, the great Scottish hero who fought for independence in the late 1200s. An excellent film directed by and starring Mel Gibson that won several Academy Awards. There are a couple of historical inaccuracies in the film. The queen with which he has a love affair was actually only about 7 years old at the time, so this was invented for the film. Also, the key battle in the film, the Battle of Stirling Bridge, is portrayed as a battle on an open field, rather than as actually at a strategically important bridge. The reason this change occurred was that the film was grossly over budget, and they didn’t have enough money to build a replica, so Mel Gibson did the best that he could to try and portray the repercussions of what happened as a result of the battle, and the rout that it was.

Historical fiction, but GOOD historical fiction. Follows the adventures of an young aristocratic woman who is sailing to America on the Titanic to marry a woman she doesn’t really love. She feels constricted by the cultural restrictions of the time. She meets Jack Dawson, an American artist who lives a carefree life and is returning from Europe. They meet as he tries to save her from jumping off the boat and killing herself. Adventure ensues… The events surrounding the Titanic disaster are masterfully portrayed with excellent historical accuracy. It definitely reflects the horror that must have been felt by everyone involved. May be objectionable to some due to a brief nude scene by Kate Winslet. Tied for the most Academy Awards ever for a single film.

Historical fiction, but GOOD historical fiction. Follows the adventures of Maximus, a Roman general who is fictional, but based on a compilation of real people. He serves Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the last really decent Roman emperor before the decline of Rome sets in. After Marcus Aurelius dies, his crazed son Commodus comes to power. Maximus is seen as a threat, and so he is left for dead and sold into slavery. He becomes a gladiator, and is determined to bring down Commodus. In reality, Commodus WAS a bad emperor, but did not meet his end the way it is portrayed in the movie. This movie is good at showing reasons why Rome began a slow decline, and what it was truly like to be a gladiator. Won five Academy Awards including Best Picture for 2001 and Best Actor for Russell Crowe.

Let me add that all three of these movies has superb soundtracks…
Hard to classify this film, and here’s why. This film is based on the ancient book The Iliad by Homer. However… we now know that the Iliad is based on ACTUAL historical events (although some parts were mythologized by Homer). This is an attempt to portray the “historical” Trojan War. It portrays the events as accurately as possible, given what limited knowledge we have about the true history. That said, the locations, scenery, battle techniques, customs, historical figures, clothing, and culture portrayed in the film are about as spot on as we’ll ever be able to reconstruct. A really entertaining movie with many complex characters.


Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan
A historical film. This foreign film, directed by Russian Sergei Bodrov, was filmed in the actual Mongolian language, and is subtitled. Don’t let that dissuade you from seeing it, however! It is the first part of a trilogy that’s being produced about Genghis Khan. This part features his rise to power and his unification of the Mongols. Part II will feature his conquest of China, and Part III the conquest of the rest of Asia and Europe. Unfortunately, the other two parts won’t be out for years. The movie is forced to fill in some gaps within the events of young Genghis Khan’s life, and the love story between he and his wife is exaggerated. That said, this is a really good movie about what it was like to be a Mongol in the 1200s and 1300s.
Lawrence of Arabia**
A historical film. One of the great classic movies of all time, in any genre. Known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, he was a British officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt of 1916–18. His vivid writings, along with the extraordinary breadth and variety of his activities and associations, have made him the object of fascination throughout the world as “Lawrence of Arabia”. A fascinating epic and another Best Picture winner.

A historical film. A beautifully produced epic about the great, peaceful leader of Indian independence. Very historically accurate. Again, a Best Picture winner. The film that single-handedly made Ben Kingsley a star.
Kingdom of Heaven**
A historical film. A great film, relatively historically accurate (with some minor problems) dealing with the end of the Second Crusade, where Islamic forces try to recapture Jerusalem under their great leader Saladin. Saladin is portrayed fairly and quite historically accurate, although the Muslims may come out just a little bit too well in this film. It does show some of the underlying problems on the Christian side that led to their defeat.

Marie Antoinette
A historical film. Directed by Sofia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola and sister of Nicholas Cage. Does a great job of showing the opulence and excess of Versailles in France, and how the aristocracy was oblivious to the poverty of ordinary people. It also subtly shows how court life was incredibly, almost unbearably, restrictive. Unusual for its technique of inserting modern music into the historical events (rock music at balls, and such) to give younger viewers a frame of reference for a culture so different than that of today. You’ll either love it or hate it, but it’s an interesting film.

Bridge on the River Kwai
A historical film. Winner of seven Academy Awards. Follows the story of prisoners of war during World War II that are forced to build a bridge for the Japanese. One of the great classic films of all time. The role that made Sir Alec Guiness (Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars) famous.

Tora! Tora! Tora!
A great historical film about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Far superior to the recently made “Pearl Harbor” film. Filmed almost in a documentary style. Given when it was made, it actually treats the Japanese side fairly. Includes many of the historical controversies surrounding the attack on both sides.

There are MANY more historical films that I could include, but this is all I have time to list tonight…

Here’s a huge list of other important historical films:

Master and Commander
The Last King of Scotland
Hotel Rwanda
Saving Private Ryan
The Last Emperor of China
Empire of the Sun
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Last Samurai
El Cid
The Thirteenth Warrior
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
1492: Conquest of Paradise
The Mission
The New World
The Agony and the Ecstacy
Girl with a Pearl Earring
The Untouchables
Public Enemies
Bonnie and Clyde
Last of the Mohicans
The Crucible
The Scarlet Letter
The Alamo
The Patriot
The Elephant Man
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Gone with the Wind
The Killing Fields
Wyatt Earp
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Dances with Wolves
The Great Debaters
Stand and Deliver
55 Days at Peking
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Charlie Wilson’s War
Gangs of New York
In the Name of the Father
Apollo 13
The Right Stuff
Chariots of Fire
The Grapes of Wrath
Ghosts of Mississippi
La Bamba
The Sound of Music
Enemy at the Gates
Das Boot
Europa Europa
Letters from Iwo Jima
Flags of Our Fathers
Memphis Belle
The Great Escape
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Pianist
The Thin Red Line
Seven Years in Tibet
Quiz Show
Ed Wood
Malcolm X
Mississippi Burning
Thirteen Days
Black Hawk Down
The Queen
United 93
The Kite Runner

That is huge. I think it is more “must sees” than I will have to see in this life. maybe I there will be a big screen theatre in heave. I would like to catch up on these.:smiley:

I should clarify that this is just a list of very good historical films (since distracted likes films based on real life). Within it are a lot of must-sees, but there are some in there that you could miss and it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I included trailers in the first links above so that people could judge for themselves whether or not the film might be something they would like.

I would consider all of the films that I provided trailers for above to be must-sees, except for Marie Antoinette and Tora! Tora! Tora!, which are just good.

oh I’m sorry - i really thought it was based on a true story :frowning:

as far as i can tell, the libraries i have access to don’t hve this… although @ one time i was looking all over for reliable info on Mary, Q of S…

guess i will keep looking.

have you seen Becket???

that was awesome!!! I didn’t see anything anti-Catholic in it… in fact the Church scenes were enough to make you feel you are in the Presence… I wonder if they had the RP there in the church (was it a real Church??) for the filming… ?

And good acting! Of course, I’m not prejudiced, but I think that Robert Patrick was quite brilliant as the T-1000!

I think everyone should see Dumbo. Great story, great characters, incredibly great music (Pink Elephants!). It’ll make you laugh and cry, and you’ll learn something that a lot of people never seem to learn–being different isn’t bad. If people took Dumbo seriously, there would be no abortion.

I would say “The Passion”, “Bella”, “Therese” for sure. Also recently my sister lent us her copy of “The Pursuit Of Happiness” with Will Smith and his young son. It is a true story. It will make you feel good to see what this man had to overcome. There is no bad language or anything in it that you have to be concerned about either.

What a wonderful suggestion. Thank you for your somewhat unique insight. I have to say it made me both smile and think.

Will smith…:slight_smile: true story…

I’ll see it…

Distracted (and others),
Would you like me to continue with my mini-reviews of the historical movies I included in the much longer list above?

The only one I havent seen on this list is Anne Of Green Gables, abd PBS version of Pride and Predjudice. I loved these when I was a kid and watched them with my best friend whenever they came on PBS during thier pledge drive.

i would not mind one bit…:slight_smile:


i think everyone should see Becket… I cried… and i don’t cry easily…

the scenes inside the Church were awesome… & very good acting…

what really blew me away was that Thomas becket was killed INSIDE a church…:eek::mad::frowning:

i was going to say something else but it would give away a very itneresting ending…

No problem! :thumbsup:

I’ve seen Titanic… but again, i now only watch movies based on actual persons… I guess the Titanic isn’t totally fictional… but…

Well, in Titanic, the historical events are portrayed through a fictional subplot. The arrogance and mistakes that led to the disaster, the way the ship sank, the actions of the captain, the genuine historical figures on board (like the Unsinkable Molly Brown)… all of this was portrayed accurately. This can be a really good historical device for imagining one’s self inside of a historical event. If we were to witness the disaster from a documentary point of view, or from say, the point of view from a billionaire that was on board like John Jacob Astor, it would not be as emotionally engaging as watching a star-crossed romantic couple that everyone can relate to. James Cameron wanted people to be genuinely concerned about the central characters, so that when the disaster hit, there would be a much more real and tangible sense of loss. We tend to think of the Titanic as a historical event today, rather than as the horrific tragedy and human disaster that it actually was.

Dances with Wolves makes use of this type of plot device really well too. It’s just a fantastic movie.

anyway… about M. Antoinette. She was not as selfish and insensitive to poor people as that movie seems to portray… This is an invention of the Fr Rev…their pepole who, IMHO were totally depraved…

so i don’ think i’ll be watching that one. I’ve had enough of non-Catholic versions (revisions) of hisotyr…

To be fair to the film, it barely deals with Marie Antoinette’s political decisions (or Louis XVI for that matter). This movie is strictly about understanding what court life was like at Versailles, and it that, it succeeds. Much was actually filmed at Versailles, and you really get a sense of the opulence. It took half of the national budget of France just to run Versailles every year, so you can imagine how magnificent it must have been. That said, it also shows the nastiness of court politics, and how boring things could actually get. As someone once said, “Even the most beautiful prison in the world is, in the end, still a prison”. I wouldn’t call it an anti-Catholic movie in any way. In fact, it stays out of politics for about 95% of the movie.

have you seen Becket?? Very good… excellent…

I have not, but it’s been on my list of movies to see for a while. :thumbsup:

The Mission
A historically themed film that ALL Catholics should see. Perhaps one of the greatest Catholic films ever. The film is based on actual events, although the figures involved are fictitious (as no one involved was really famous). It discusses missionary activity in South America on the border between Portuguese and Spanish territory (roughly what today is known as Paraguay, and the borders of Argentina and Brazil). It does an outstanding job of illustrating the incredibly complex problems that missionaries faced in the region. Most Catholic priests and missionaries were sincerely trying to help the Native Americans, while many greedy Spaniards (and to a lesser extent, Portuguese), were out for gold and glory, illegally stealing Native Americans for use as slaves (also illegal) in their mines. Often, the slave raiders would steal Native Americans RIGHT FROM THE MISSIONS! After all… why go trekking through the jungle to find them, when the priests round them up for you and put them in one place? Who would miss a few now and then! :mad: There are complexities involving politics, language, and customs, and the resolution to the plot is heartbreaking, witnessing the actions of two very different but very faithful priests. Again, let me make it clear that the historical events in the movie actually happened, and this film is about those events. The individuals, in this case, are less important. An inspiring movie!

It also has a soundtrack that is considered to be one of the 20 greatest of all time.

Some movies I believe to be must sees:

Pride and Prejudice ('95 tv movie with Colin Firth). Some very nice social messages in here.
To Kill a Mockingbird.
Gone With The Wind
Red Beard. This is a Japanese movie made in '65. It’s a very inspiring movie, if you don’t mind subtitles.
The Seven Samurai. Far supirior to it’s American remake.
Father Damien. True story.
Sense and Sensibility
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Anime movie with a wonderful message.

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