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Ancient History in the Movies | Medieval Movies | Modern History in the Movies

Internet Ancient History Sourcebook

Ancient History in the Movies

 

Version 2.3 [2023]

Compiler: Paul Halsall


(Archived older version of this page here)

See Internet Ancient History Sourcebook Main Page for a guide to all contents of all sections.

This updated list now includes films/TV up until c. 2023.

This list is comprehensive but not exhaustive and is focused on drama films, not documentaries. Some films occur more than once under different subject headings. Under each subsection heading films are organised in the rough chronological order of the period they cover, not the year they were made. They are arranged thematically following the general plan of the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook.

The following data, when available, are given for each film [Title] [Alternative title] [Year] [Country of Production] [Genre] [Duration in minutes] [BW/Color] [Lang] [Director] [Cast] -[Comments]

Contents


Films and TV series set in the past can help students (and teachers) of history to visualize the period they are studying. But film makers are usually much more concerned with making an entertaining film rather than a historically accurate depiction. This is especially the case with ancient history.

The movies here are claim some loose connection to historical events, but many are purely fictional -- such as Ben Hur. Note that some of the best of these movies are the films made of plays by classical authors.

In general, I recommend seeing foreign language films in the original language with subtitles rather than dubbed into English. [Try watching John Wayne dubbed into French someday - and you'll see why dubbing almost never works.]

In reviewing a film from the viewpoint of history, rather than entertainments, here are the sort of questions you should aim to answer.

  1. What seems to be accurate in the film? What sources are you using to assess accuracy?
  2. In what ways does the film impact your reading of any of the documents you have read.
  3. What liberties does the film take with the past? Why?
  4. Is the film primarily entertainment, or is it really trying to work within a historical period? How can you determine the film maker's intention?
  5. What, if any, modern point is the film trying make?
  6. My essay Thinking about Historical Film (PDF) or here (HTML) may be of interest for readers of this web page

Notes

  • By clicking on the title of the movie, you will be taken to the Internet Movie Database record on that movie. The link marked [Wikipedia] will take you to the corresponding Wikipedia page.
  • Where there are links to YouTube or other video sites, it cannot be guaranteed that such links will remain stable. If they don't work, try search for the title at YouTube. They should all work as of June 2023.

Other Lists like this


Pre-Historic Humans

Quest for Fire [Aka La Guerre du feu] (1981) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, fantasy adventure, 97,Color
Dir. Jean-Jacques Annaud; Cast includes Everett McGill, Ron Perlman, Nameer El-Kadi and Rae Dawn Chong
The search for a new fire source c. 80,000 BC. The film was critically acclaimed with many awards.

The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986) [Wikipedia]
US, 98, Color
Dir. Michale Chapman; Cast includes Darylh Hannah
-About a "Cro-Magnon" woman being found and raised by a group of Neanderthals, c.40,000 BC

Alpha (2018) [Wikipedia]
US, adventure 96, Color
Dir. Albert Hughes; Cast includes Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson.
-About the domestication of dogs, c. 20,000 BC

Creatures the World Forgot (1971) [Wikipedia]
UK, adventure, 95, Color
Dir. Don Chaffey; Cast includes Julie Ege
-The daily struggle to survive in the Stone Age. The same director had directed One Million Years BC (with Raquel Welch) which is not included here because there was no historic tirm when humans and dinosaurs co-existed. This film avoids the dinosaurs, but iits appeal as a Hammer film is based on the same sort of depictions.

10,000 BC (2008) [Wikipedia]
US, adventure, 109, Color
Dir. Roland Emmerich; Cast includes Steven Strait, Camille Belle
-Depicts a tribe of mammoth hunters. "The film was a box office hit, but consistently regarded by professional critics as Emmerich's worst film, as well as one of the worst films of 2008." Set in Yagahl in the Ural mountains c. 10,000 BC.

Iceman [Aka Der Mann aus dem Eis] (2017) [Wikipedia]
Germany/Italy/Austria, adventure, 97, Color
Dir. Felix Randau; Cast includes Jürgen Vogel, Franco Nero,Susanne Wuest
-About Ötzi, the "iceman" whose mumified remains were discovered in the Alps in 1991, c. 3,330 BC

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Mesopotamia

Epic of Gilgamesh [Aka This Unnamable Little Broom] (1981) [Wikipedia]
UK, 11, Color
Dir. Stephen Quay and Timothy Quay
-"Loosely based on the Mesopotamian "Epic of Gilgamesh", here Gilgamesh is portrayed as a grotesque, Picasso-esque being who uses a tricycle to patrol his box-shaped kingdom that hovers above a dark abyss."

Intolerance (1916) [Wikipedia]
US, Drama, 178, No rating BW
Dir. D.W Griffiths: Cast includes: Lillian Gish
-Griffiths wrote "The purpose of the production is to trace a universal theme through various periods of the race's history. Ancient, sacred, medieval, and modern times are considered. Events are not set forth in their historical sequence, or according to the accepted forms of dramatic construction, but as they might flash across a mind seeking to parallel the life of the different ages." The first of four parts focuses on Bablyon.

I am Semiramis [Aka Io Semiramide, Slave Queen of Babylon ] (1963) [Wikipedia] [Full film available at YouTube]
Italy, 100, Color
Dir. Primo Zeglio; Cast includes Yvonne Furneaux John Ericson
-About a legendart queen, based on the historical Shammuramat (c. 850-c.798 BC), queen consort of Shamshi-Adad V and regent for her son Adad-nirari III.

Cortigiana di Babilonia [Aka Queen of Babylon] (1955) [Wikipedia] [Full film available at YouTube]
Italy, 98 mins, Color
Dir. Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia. With Rhonda Fleming, Tamara Lees, Ricardo Montalban
-Italian epic with American stars set in as Chaldea/Bablyon sets to fight Assyria. Flemming plays Semiramis. Although reportedly very bad as a movie, there is at least connection with historical events here.

War Gods of Babylon [Aka Le sette folgori di Assur] (1962) [Wikipedia] [Full film available at YouTube]
Italy, 88, Color
Dir. Silvia Amadio; Cast includes Howard Duff, Jocelyn Lane
-"Mirra, a young girl whose parents were killed by the Assyrians, was found by Zoroaster, messenger of the gods, near her slaughtered people. He leads her to Nineveh ruled by King Sardanapalus. A love is born between her and Shammash, brother of the king." Hammurabi also appears. Although some of these characters are named after real people, they lived many hundreds of years apart.  

Tomiris (2019) [Wikipedia]
Kazakhstan, 195, Color
Dir. Akan Satayev; Cast includes Almira Tursyn
-"Tomyris was the queen of the Massagetae, an Iranian people from Central Asia. She reigned in the 6th century BC. Tomyris led her armies to defend against an attack by Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire, and, according to Herodotus, defeated and killed him in 530 BC.]

The Beast of Babylon Against the Son of Hercules [Aka L'eroe di Babilonia] (1963) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 98, Color
Dir. Siro Marcellini; Cast includes Gordon Scott
-"A fictionalized account of the downfall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire and its conquest by the Achaemenid Empire under the Cyrus the Great. 

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Egypt

["Mummy's curse" movies are not listed!]

See also Biblical Epic/Ancient Israel for films based on the Jewish Bible and Exodus

See also Wikipedia: List of films set in ancient Egypt

See also IMDb: List of films set in ancient Egypt

The Loves of Pharaoh [Aka Das Weib des Pharoa] (1922) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Germany, historical drama, 110, B/W, Silent
Dir. Ernst Lubitsch; Cast includes Emil Jannings.
-The first big historical epic. "The Ethiopian King offers his daughter to a powerful Pharaoh to secure peace between the two countries."

The Pharaohs' Woman [Aka La donna dei faraoni] (1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, historical drama, 87, Color
Dir. Victor Toujanksy; Cast includes John Barrymore.
-Set in 31st century BC Egypt, just after the unification of upper and lower Egypt.

Land of the Pharaohs (1955) [Wikipedia]
US, epic drama, 106, Color
Dir. Howard Hawks; Cast includes Jack Hawkins and Joan Collins.
-This one has "proto-Hebrews" building a pyramid for Pharoah Khufu (Cheops). Pyramids were a feature of the "Old Kingdom" in Egypt, and long before the putative time the Hebrews were in Egypt, hundreds of years later during the "New Kingdom".

Cleopatra's Daughter [Aka Il sepulcro dei re] (1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, historical drama, 109, Color
Dir. Feranando Cerchio; Cast includes Debra Paget, Ettore Manni.
-Focuses on the daughter of Khufu/Cheops (r. 2589-2566). But the English dubbing moved the setting to the 1st century BC!

Sudan (1945) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 76 mins, Color
Dir. John Rawlins; Cast includes Maria Montez
-About the daughter of Pharoh Khafre, son of Kufu

The Eloquent Peasant (1970) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Egypt, 21, Arabic
Dir. Shadi Abdel Salam
-Based on the Middle Kingdom tale of the Eloquent Peasant. Unlike American and Italian films this presents the population of Egypt as people of color.

The Egyptian (1954) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, epic drama, 140, Color
Dir. Michael Curtiz. With Edmund Purdom, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Peter Ustinov
-Conflates the well-known Egyptian story of Sinuhe (Middle Kingdom) with the events of Akhenaten's reign (New Kingdom)). It's a costume drama, but an enjoyable one. Based on a novel by Mika Waltari. "It is elaborated in the book, but not the film, that Sinuhe was named by his mother from the Story of Sinuhe, which does include references to Aten but was written many centuries before the 18th dynasty. The use of the "Cross of Life" ankh to represent Akhnaton's "new" religion reflects a popular and esoteric belief in the 1950s that monolatristic Atenism was a sort of proto-Christianity." 

Akhnaten (2019) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US/Metropolitan Opera, 2019, 173, Color
Dir. Gary Halvorson; Cast includes Anthony Roth Costanzo, J'Nai Bridges
-Visually stunning film of a production of Philip Glass' opera.

Queen of the Nile [Aka Nefertite, regina del Nilo] ( 1961) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, drama, 97, Color, Italian
Dir. Fernando Cerchia; Cast lncludes Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price, Edmund Purdom
-Fictionalised account of Nefertiti and Akhnaten.

La Reine Soleil [Aka The Sun Queen] [Wikipedia]
France, 77, Color, Animated, French
Dir. Philippe Leclerc; Cast includes Coralie Vanderlinden
-Fictional account of a daughter of Akhnaetn

Tut (2015I [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
Canada/US, 3 episodes, Color
Dir. David Von Ancken; Cast includes Ben Kingsley, Avon Jogla, Sibylla Deen, Alexander Siddig
-Based on the life of Tutankahmun.

Ramses of Egypt (2007) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 95, Color, Animated
Dir. Orlando Corradi 
-"Recounts the beginning of the 19th Dynasty, when Pharaoh Horemheb selected his vizier Paramesse (Ramesses I) as successor. The "Ramses" of this story was the grandfather of Ramesses II, the pharaoh often associated with the Exodus."

Pharoah (Aka Faraon) ( 1966) [Wikipedia] [Full film available in Spanish version on YouTube]
Poland, drama, 175, Color, Polish
Dir. Jerzy Kawalerowicz; Cast lncludes Jerzy Zelnik Wiesława Mazurkiewicz
-"The young pharaoh, Ramesses XIII, intends to reform Ancient Egypt. Herhor the priest opposes him. The power struggle between them is the focus of the film. Other themes include the friendship with Pentuer the priest, the love for Sara the beautiful Jewess and Kama the priestess. It is also the story of the secret pact with Assyria, the Solar eclipse and how the priests used it to subdue the crowds, and the assassination of Ramses XIII at the hands of his look-alike. A historical fresco of universal meaning, revealing the mechanisms of power and the influence of religion on social life." Although the story is fictional this is considered one ot the most historically well-informed films set in Ancient Egypt.

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Biblical Epic/Ancient Israel

See also Wikipieda: List of films based on the Bible

The Bible [Aka The Bible: In the Beginning, La Bibbia] (1966) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 174, Color.
Dir. John Huston; Cast includes  Michael Parks, Richard Harris, Stephen Boyd, George C. Scott, Ava Gardner, Peter O'Toole.
-Covers the stories Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah, Sodom & Gomorrah and Abraham & Isaac.

The Bible (2013) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, 10 episodes174, Color.
Dir. Roma Downey, Mark Burnett; Cast includes  Diogo Morgado
-Episodes 1-5 cover various parts of the Old Testement, episodes 5-10 cover the life of Jesus.

The Green Pastures (1936) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on Vimeo]
US, Biblical, 93, BW
Dir. Marc Connelly, William Keighley; Cast includes Rex Ingram
-"Depicting stories from the Bible as visualized by Black characters. It starred Rex Ingram (in several roles, including "De Lawd". The Green Pastures was one of only six feature films in the Hollywood Studio era to feature an all-black cast. Elements of the film were criticised by civil rights activists at the time and subsequently." "Despite criticisms about its racial stereotyping, The Green Pastures proved to be an enormously popular film. On its opening day at New York's Radio City Music Hall, tickets sold at a rate of 6,000 per hour. The film was held over for an entire year's run at some theaters. It remained the highest-grossing all-black-cast film until the release of Carmen Jones in 1954."

The Green Pastures (1959) [Wikipedia] TV Film [Full film available on YouTube]
US, Biblical, 99, sbook1oColor
Dir. George Schaefer; Cast includes William Warfield
-TV remake of the 1936 film

In the Beginning (2000) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 2 parts, Color
Dir. Kevin Connor; Cast includes Martin Landau, Jacqueline Bisset, Billy Campbell.
-From the creation to the ten commandments.

Genesis: The Creation and Flood (1994) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 101, Color
Dir. Ermanno Olmi; Cast includes Omero Antonutti (voiced in English by Paul Scofield) 

Noah (2014) [Wikipedia]
US, Biblical epic Color, 138
Dir. Darren Aronosky; Cast includes Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Anthony Hopkins
-Based on both the Genesis account of the flood, and the account in the extra-biblical Book of Enoch.

Abraham (1993) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available on YouTube]
175 mins
Dir. Joseph Sargent; Cast includes Vittorio Gassman, Richard Harris, Barbara Hershey, Maximilian Schell.
-Based on Genesis 11-25.

Sodom und Gomorrah (1922) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Austrai, 150 mins, BW, Silent
Dir. Michael Curtiz; Cast includes Lucy Doraine, Walter Slezak
-Used a huge cast of between 3000 and 14000 performers. Transfers the story to modern times.

Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah [Aka Sodom and Gemorrah] (1962) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
France/Italy/US, 154, Color
Dir. Robert Aldrich; Cast includes Stewart Granger (as Lot) and Ainouk Aimée (as Queen of Sodom).
-Very loosely based on the Biblical story.

Jacob (1994) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available on YouTube]
Germany/Italy/US, 91, Color
Dir. Peter Hall; Cast includes Matthew Modine, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sean Bean, Irene Pappas
-The story of Jacob and Esau. Notably high-powerd director and cast.

The Red Tent (2015) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US, 2 episodes, Color
Dir. Roger Young; Cast includes Rebecca Ferguson, Minnie Driver, Morena Baccarin, Debra Winger, Iain Glen
-"Dinah, the only daughter of Leah and Jacob, chronicles her story from youth through adulthood. She narrates her relationship with her parents, aunts, and eleven older brothers. She often focuses on the significance of the Red Tent, occupied by the women of her tribe (including Jacob's other three wives Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah) during their time of menstruation. The women have kept alive their old traditions of goddess-worship unbeknownst to their Israelite husbands, managing to keep this secret since men are not allowed in the Red Tent."

The Story of Jacob and Joseph (1974) [Wikipedia] TV film
US, biblical drama, 120, Color
Dir. Michael Cacoyannis; Cast includes Alan Bates, and  Colleen Dewhurst.
-Story of Joseph

Joseph (1995) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Full film available on YouTube]
Germanr/Italy/US, 2 episodes, 185, Color
Dir. Roger Young; Cast includes Ben Kingsley, Paul Mercurio, Martin Landau, Lesley Ann Warren.
-Story of Joseph

Prophet Joseph [Aka Yousuf e Payambar] (2008-2009) [Wikipedia] TV series [Full film available on YouTube - in English]
Iran, 45 episodes, Color, Farsi
Dir.  Farajollah Salahshoor; Cast includes Mostafa Zamani
-Portrays the story of Joseph from a Muslim perspective.

Slave of Dreams (1995) [Wikipedia] TV Film
US, 94, Color
Dir. Robert M. Young; Cast includes Edward James Olmos
-Story of Joseph

The Ten Commandments (1923) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 146, BW, Silent
Dir. Cecil B. DeMille; Cast includes Charles De Roche
-Silent Movie. The first half is the story of Moses. The second part people living by the lessons of the commandments in modern times.

The Ten Commandments (1956) [Wikipedia]
US, 220, Color
Dir. Cecil B. DeMille; Cast includes Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, and Anne Baxter.
-De Mille's last movie, and curiously old fashioned. Best scenes are the Parting of the Red Sea, the engraving of the Ten Commandments, and the orgy around the Golden Calf. Much higher production values than many other 1950s Biblical epics. Charlton Heston was chosen to play Moses because he looked like Michaelangelo's famous statue.

Moses the Lawgiver (1974) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Film available on YouTube]
UK/Italy, 6 x 60 mins, edited to 140 film, Color
Dir. Gianfranco De Bosio; Cast includes Burt Lancaster (Moses), Anthony Quayle, Irene Pappas
-Story of Moses.

Moses (1996) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK/US/etc. 188, Color
Dir. Roger Young; Cast includes Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lee, and Geraldine McEwan
-Story of Moses

The Prince of Egypt (1998) [Wikipedia]
US, 98, Color
Dir. Brenda Chapman and Steve Hickner; Cast includes (voices of) Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin, and Martin Short.
-Animated version of Exodus.

The Ten Commandments (2006) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseeries
US, 2 episodes, 167 mins.
Dir. Robert Dornhelem; Cast includes Dougray Scotts, Naveen Andrews, Omar Sharif, Linus Roache
-The story of Moses

The Ten Commandments (2007) [Wikipedia]
US/Canada, 88, Color
Dir. Robert Dornhelem; Cast includes Christian Slater, Alfred Molina, Elliot Gould Roache
-Animated musical story of Moses

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) [Wikipedia]
US, 150, Color
Dir. Ridley Scott; Cast includes Christian Bale, Aaron Paul, Sigouney Weaver, Ben Kingsley
-Interesting because the director claimed natural causes for all the miracles and the star (Bale) condemned Moses as one of the most barbaric men in history.

Os Dez Mandamentos (2016) [Wikipedia] TV miniseries
Brazil, 2 seasons, 242 episodes. Color, Portuguese
Dir. Alexandre Avancinii; Cast includes Guilherme Winter
-Brazilian telenovela series. Also released as a film The Ten Commandments: The Movie.

The Story of Ruth (1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, historical romance, 132, Color
Dir. Henry Koster; Cast includes Stuart Whitman, Peggy Wood, Elana Eden
-Mixes the Biblical story of Ruth with depictions of Moabite religion.

The Story of Ruth (1994) TV
US, 30 mins, from Animated Stories from the Bible
Dir. Richard Rich
-Animated story of Ruth.

Samson und Delilah (1922) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Austria, biblical drama, 88, BW
Dir. Alexander Korda; ; Cast includes Max von Sydow, Belinda Bauer, Jose Ferrer, Antony Hamilton
-Samson story mixed up with a modern story..

Samson and Delilah (1949) [Wikipedia]
US, biblical drama, 134, Color
Dir. Cecil B. DeMille; Cast includes Hedy Lamarr, Victor Mature, George Sanders, Angela Lansbury
-The highest grossing film of 1959 and a massive success. Vladimir Jabotinsky gets a writing credit!

Samson and Delilah (1984) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available on YouTube]
US, biblical drama, 95, Color
Dir. Lee Philips; Cast includes Max von Sydow, Belinda Bauer, Jose Ferrer, Antony Hamilton
-Samson story.

Samson and Delilah (1996) [Wikipedia] TV Mini series
US, 172, Color
Dir. Nicolas Roeg; Cast includes Elizabeth Hurley, Michael Gambon, Dennis Hopper, Diana Rigg.
-Samson story

A Story of David (1960) [Wikipedia] TV f ilm [Full film available on YouTube]
UK/Israel, 109, Color
Dir. Bob McNaught; Cast includes Jeff Chandler, Basil Sydney.
-On of the first films made for TV.

David and Goliath [Aka David e Golia] (1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 113, Color, English/Italian
Dir Ferninando Baldi, Richard Pottler; Cast includes Orson Welles (King Saul), Ivica Pajer (David)

David and Bathsheba (1951) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 116, Color
Dir. Henry King; Cast includes Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward
-Story of David and Bathsheba

The Story of David (1976) TV film [Wikipedia]
US, 2 parts, 191, Color
Dir. David Loweel Rich, Alex Segal; Cast includes Timothy Bottoms, Anthony Quayle

King David (1985) [Wikipedia]
114 mins
Dir. Bruce Beresford; Cast includes Richard Gere as David.
-The scenes of David dancing with the ark are remarkable. The directot later regretted not making more of the friendship of David and Jonathan.

David (1997) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 190 (2 episodes), Color
Dir. Robert Markowitz. Cast includes Nathaniel Parker, Jonathan Pryce, Leonard Nimoy (as Samuel), Sheryl Lee, Ben Daniels
-The story of David

David (1997) [Wikipedia] TV [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 98, Animated, Color
Dir. Orlando Corradi
-The story of David

Solomon and Sheba (1959) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on Daily Motion]
US, epic, 139 mins
Dir. King Vidor; Cast includes Yul Brynner, Gina Lollobrigida, George Sanders
-Fictionalised but based on 1 Kings 10 and II Chronicles 9 - the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon. .

Kings (2009) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US, 13 episodes, Color
Creator. Michael Green; Cast includes Ian McShane
-"A modern day, alternate-reality drama about a hero who rises to become the King of his nation, based on the biblical story of King David. "

Sins of Jezebel (1953) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, historical drama, 75, Color
Dir. Reginald Le Borg; Cast includes Paulette Goddard
- "Jezebel, the biblical queen of the northern kingdom of Israel during the 9th century BC". 

Jeremiah (1998) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 90, Color
Dir. Henry Winer; Cast includes Patrick Dempsey (Jeremiah), Oliver Reed, Klaus Maria Brandauer (Nebuchadnezzar)
-The story of Jeremiah from his youth to old age.

Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (2002) [Wikipedia]
US, 83, Color, Animated
Dir. Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki
-An animated story within a story whihc presentes the Biblical tale of Jonah.

The Book of Daniel (2013) [Wikipedia] TV film
US, 90, Color
Dir. Anna Zielinski; Cast includes Lance Henriksen (Cyrus)
-The story of Daniel.

Esther and the King [Aka Ester e il re](1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US/Italy, 109, Color
Dir. Raoul Walsh/Maria Bava; Cast includes Joan Collins, Richard Egan
-Based on the biblical story of Esther.

One Night with the King (2006) [Wikipedia]
US, religious epic, 123, Color
Dir. Michael O. Sajbel; Cast includes Tiffany Dupont, Luke Goss, James Callis, Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif
-Set in Susa and a dramatisation of the Book of Esther.

The Old Testament [Aka Il Vecchio testamento] (1962) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US/Italy, 109, Color
France/Italy, 115/82, Color
Dir. Gianfranco Parolini; Cast includes Brad Harris
-Based on the (Book of Maccabees and about the Maccabean Revolt 167-141BCE.

Masada (1981) [Wikipedia] TV Minseries
US, epic, 4 episodes = 394 mins [or feature film length version]
Dir. Boris Sagal; Cast includes Peter O'Toole, Peter Strauss
-Shot on location, the film more or less ignores the one ancient source -- Flavius Josephus' The Jewish War. Very high production values.

The Dovekeepers (2015) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US, 2 episodes, Color
-"Based in Alice Hoffman's historical novel about the Siege of Masada, the miniseries focuses on four extraordinary women whose lives intersect in a fight for survival at the siege of Masada."

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Classical Greece

See also Wikipedia: List of films set in ancient Greece

See also Wikipedia: List of films based on Greek drama

The Giant of Marathon (1959) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy/France, 84, Color
Dir. Jacques Tourneur, Mario Brava; Cast includes Steve Reeves
-"The story is set in 490 BC, the time of the Medic Wars, during which Persian armies sweep through the Ancient world. Having brought home to Athens the Olympic victor's laurel crown, Phillippides becomes commander of the Sacred Guard, which is expected to defend the city-state's liberty, a year after the expulsion of the tyrant Hippias."

The 300 Spartans (1962) [Wikipedia]
US, 114, Color
Dir. Rudolph Maté. With Diane Baker, Robert Brown
Based on the history of Spartan king Leonidis and 300 soldiers holding off Xerxes attack at Thermopylae in 480BC.

300 (2007) [Wikipedia]
US, 117, Color
Dir. Zack Snyder; Cast includes Gerald Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West
-Hugely popular retelling of the story of the Spartn 300 at Thermopylae. Portrayed Xerxes as homosexual, but the more evident homoeroticism was in the depiction of huge numbers of almost naked muscular men who apparently fough wearing leather speedos.

300:Rise of an Empire (2014) [Wikipedia]
US, 102, Color
Dir. Naom Murro; Cast includes Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey
-"It is a follow-up to the 2006 film 300, taking place before, during, and after the main events of that film, and is loosely based on the Battle of Artemisium and the Battle of Salamis"

Barefoot in Athens (1966) [Wikipedia] TV Film [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 76, Color
Dir. George Schaefer; Cast includes Peter Ustinov, Geraldine Page, Christopher Walken
The last days of Socrates, including his trial.

Socrates (1970) [Wikipedia] TV Film [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 120, Color, Italian
Dir. Roberto Rossellini; Cast includes Jean Sylvère
-"The film is an adaptation of several Plato dialogues, including The Apology, Euthyphro, Crito, and Phaedo."

Damon and Pythias [Aka Il tiranno di Siracusa] (1961) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on Internet Archive]
Italy, 99, Color.
Dir. Curtis Bernhardt; Cast includes Samuel Marx, Franco Riganti
-"Pythias, a liberal Athenian who believes all men are brothers, is condemned to death by Dionysus, the tyrant of Syracuse, who finds this view dangerous. However, Dionysus allows Pythias to return to Athens to visit his ailing wife with the understanding he will then come back to face his punishment." The story is about ideals of male friendship, but there has been considerable interest in the story as a model of homosexual relations, for example by Edward Carpenter.

Mythology

See also Wikipedia: List of films based on classical mythology [Note: there are over 40 "Hercules" films on this Wikipedia list which are not included here.]

Jason and the Argonauts (1963) [Wikipedia]
US, 104. Color
Dir. Don Chaffey; Cast includes Todd Armstrong, Honor Blackman
-Considered a classic account of a Greek hero from the generation before the Trojan war.

Jason and the Argonauts (2000) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US, 2 episodes, Color
Dir. Nick Willing; Cast includes Jason London, Derek Jacobi
-The legend of Jason and Argonauts

Clash of the Titans (1981) [Wikipedia]
US, fantasy adventure, 118, Color
Dir. Desmond Davis; Cast includes Harry Hamlin, Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Siân Phillips, Flora Robson, Anna Manahan.
-An older version of this list noted "an incredible cast wasted in an adaptation of the Perseus myth." The film has improved over time and has now become a classic in its own way. The special effects pale compared to what can be done now, but they are effective.

Clash of the Titans (2010) [Wikipedia]
US, fantasy adventure, 108 mins
Dir. Louis Leterrier; Cast includes Sam Worthington, Gemma Arterton, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson
-Remake of the 1981 film, and in 3D. It is interesting to compare the changes in technical effects abilities over 30 years.

Wrath of the Titans (2010) [Wikipedia]
US, fantasy adventure, 118 mins
Dir. Jonathan Liebsman; Cast includes Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson
-Sequel to the 2010 film, set ten years later.

Immortals (2011) [Wikipedia]
US, fantasy adventure, 110, Color
Dir. Tarsem Singh Dhandwar; Cast includes Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff, Luke Evans, Isabel Lucas
-" It uses motifs of the Greek myths of Theseus, the return of the Heraclids, the Minotaur, and the Titanomachy, but the plot does not resemble any coherent narrative originating from Greek mythology."

Homer

Helen of Troy (1956) [Wikipedia]
US, 118, Color
Dir. Robert Wise; Cast includes Rossana Podestà, Stanley Baker, Niall MacGinnis, Brigitte Bardot
-The Trojan war from the Trojan viewpoint. 

Helen of Troy (2003) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US/UK, 2 episodes, Color
Dir. John Kent Harrison; Cast includes Sienna Guillory, Matthew Marsden, John Rhys-Davis, Emlia Fox.
-Shot entirely in Malta.

The Fury of Achilles [Aka L'ira di Achille](1962) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, historical drama, 118, Color
Dir. Marino Girolami; Cast includes Gordon Mitchell
-Based on the Iliad. Very wooden acting.

The Trojan Horse [Aka La guerra di Troia] (1961) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 115, Color, Italian/English
Dir. Giorgi Ferroni; Cast includes Steve Reeves (Aeneas), Juliette Mayniel
-Based on the Iliad but focused on the character and actions of Aeneas.

Troy (2004) [Wikipedia]
US, epic, 163, Color
Dir. Wolfgang Petersen; Cast includes Bradd Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Rose Byrne
-The film completely omits the roles of the Homeric gods which are central to the Iliad. There is no hint of the (later) Greek ascription of a homosexual aspect to the relationship of Achilles and Patroclus.

Tory: Fall of the City (2018) [Wikipedia] TV series
US/UK, 8 episodes, Color
Creator. David Farr; Cast includes Louis Hunter, Bella Dayen, David Gyasi
-Unlike previous adaptations the Greek Gods are present as actual characters in the action. There is a scene in which Achilles and Patroclus have sex with Brisies and with each other.

Alexander (2004) [Wikipedia]
US, 175, Color
Dir. Oliver Stone; Cast includes Colin Farrell, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie
-Stone consulter with historian Robin Lane Fox. Farrell used his Irish accent, to indicate perhaps that Macedonia was not quite Attica, and Alexander's homosexuality was presented in his relationships with Hephaestion and Bagoas.. The cinema version made a bit snappier in the DVD release.

Ulysses (1954) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 117, Color
Dir. Mario Camerini, Mario Bava; Cast includes Silvana Mangano, Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn
-Based on the Odyssey.

The Odyssey [Aka Odissea](1968) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 4/8 episodes, 446 (102 cut), Color
Dir. Franco Rossi, Mario Bava, Piero Schivazappa; Cast includes Bekim Fehmiu, Irene Papas
-Was praised by critics.

The Odyssey (1997) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 2 episodes, 176, Color
Dir. Andrei Konchalovsky; Cast includes Armand Assante (Odysseus), Greta Scacchi (Penelope), Isabella Rossellini (Athene), Bernadette Peters (Circe), Eric Roberts, Irene Papas, Vanessa L. Williams (Calypso)

-Won an Emmy in 1997.

Nostos: The Return [Aka Nostos; Il ritorno] (1989) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 87, Color
Dir. Franco Piavoli; Cast includes Luigi Mezzanotte, Branca de Camargo
-"The film relies on visual storytelling and the portrayal of nature; dialogue is minimal, without subtitles, and spoken in an imaginary Mediterranean language."

Aeschylus

[There may be additional films available of theater productions that are not listed here.]

Oresteia [Aka The Serpent Son] (1979) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Partial film available on YouTube]
UK, 3 episodes, Color
Dir. Bill Hayes; Cast includes Diana Rigg, Denis Quilley, Helen Mirren, Anton Lesser, Claire Bloom, Flora Robson

Agamemnon (Oresteia, Part 1) (1983) [Wikipedia] [Partial film available on YouTube]
UK, 90. 1983
Dir. Peter Hall, transl. Tony Harrison.; Cast includes Jim Carter, Philip Donahy
-Very effective effort to reproduce how Greek tragedies were presented - with masks and all male actors.

Choephori: The Libation Bearers (Oresteia, Part 2) (1983) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
UK, 70, Color
Dir. Peter Hall, transl. Tony Harrison. National Theatre of Great Britain. Films For The Humanities. 

Eumenides: The Furies (Oresteia, Part 3) (1983) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
UK, 70, Color
Dir. Peter Hall, transl. Tony Harrison.

Sophocles

[There may be additional films available of theater productions that are not listed here.]

Oedipus Rex (1957) [Wikipedia] [Full film available at Internet Archive]
Canada, 87, Color
Dir. Tyrone Guthrie, Abraham Polonsky; Cast includes Douglas Campbe, Eleanor Stuart(Creon), Julian Beck (Tiresias).
-Performed in masks at the Stratford, Ontario, Shakespeare Festival

Oedipus Rex [Aka Edipo re] (1967) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 119, Color
Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini; Cast includes Silvana Mangano (Jocasta) and Franco Citti (Oedipus), Alida Valli (Merope), Carmelo Bene (Creon), Julian Beck (Tiresias).
-Shot in Morrocco. Pasolini's first full length color film.

Theban Plays: Oedipus the King (1986) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
UK, 111, Color
Dir. Don Taylor; Cast includes Michael Pennington, Claire Bloom, John Gielgud
-BBC production. Uses modern dress.

Theban Plays: Oedipus at Colonus (1986) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
UK, 112, Color
Dir. Don Taylor; Cast includes Anthony Quayle, Juliet Stevenson, Paul Copley
-BBC production. Uses modern dress.

Theban Plays: Antigone (1986) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
UK, 111, Color
Dir. Don Taylor; Cast includes Juliet Stevenson, Gwen Talyer, Patrick Barr
-BBC production. Uses modern dress.

Theban Plays: Oedipus at Colonus (1986) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
UK, 112, Color
Dir. Don Taylor; Cast includes Anthony Quayle, Juliet Stevenson, Paul Copley
-BBC production. Uses modern dress.

Oedipus the King (1968) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 97, Color
Dir. Philip Saville; Cast includes Christopher Plummer and Orson Welles.
-A faithfil adaptation of the text.

Edipo alcalde [Aka Oedipus Mayor] (1996) [Wikipedia]
Colombia, 100, Color, Spanish
Dir. Jorge Alí Triana; Cast includes Jorge Sanchez
-Sophocles' Oedipus as rendered by Gabriel García Márquez and set in contemporary Colombia

Antigone (1960) [Wikipedia] TV
Sweden, Swedish
Dir. Hans Dahlin; Cast includes Ulla Sjöblom as Antigone

Antigone [ Aka Rites for the Dead] (1961) [Wikipedia] [Partial film available on DailyMotion]
Greece, 86, BW, Greek
Dir. George Tzavellas; Cast includes Irene Papas as Antigone
-In Greek with English subtitles.

Antigone (1992)
Germany, 100, Color, German
Dir. Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub; Cast includes Astrid  Ofner as Antigone.

I Cannibali  [Aka The Year of the Canibals] (1970) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 88, Color, Italian
Dir. Liliana Cavani; Cast includes Britt Ecklund
-Italian version of Antigone -- by a major Italin auteur director.

Antigone: Rites of Passion (1990)
85 mins
Dir. Amy Greenfield; Cast includes Bertram Ross, Janet Eilber, Amy Greenfield, In English.  
-An "adaptation" rather than a version of the play.

Euripides

[There may be additional films available of theater productions that are not listed here.]

Le Baccanti [Aka The Bacchantes] (1961) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 100, Color
Dir. Giorgio Ferroni; Cast inlcludes Taina Elg, Pierre Brice, Alessandra Panaro

Dionysus in '69 (1970) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 85, Color
Dir. Brian Palma
-The film records a performance of The Performance Group's stage play of the same name, an adaptation of The Bacchae.

The Bacchae (1984) [Wikipedia] [Film available on YouTube]
UK, 14, Color
-Extract featuring Terence Stamp and Edward Fox, from All the World's a Stage, a TV History of the Theatre (1984)

Backanterna (1993) [Wikipedia] TV Movie [Full film available on YouTube]
Sweden, 132, Color, Swedish
Dir. Ingmar Bergman; Cast inlcludes Sylvia Lindenstrand

The Bacchae (2002) [Wikipedia]
US, 90, Color
Dir. Bradford Mays; Cast includes Richard Werner, Jonathan Klein, Lynn Odel

Electra (1962) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Greece, 110, BW, Greek
Dir. Michael Cacoyannis; Cast includes Irene Papas

Iphigenia (1977) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Greece, 127, Greek
Dir. Michael Cacoyannis; Cast includes Irene Papas

Medea (1963) [Wikipedia] TV
Sweden, 95, BW, Swedish
Dir. Keve Hjelm; Cast includes Margaretah Krook

Medea (1969) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 106, Color, Italian
Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini; Cast includes Maria Callas
- Medea was one of Callas' great opera roles [Here from La Scala 1961], but here she acts without music.

Medea (1983) TV film [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 90, Color
Dir. Mark Cunningham; Cast includes Zoe Caldwell.
-A Kennedy Center production about a proud woman betrayed by the man she loves.

Medea (1986) [Reference was at SFSU now Internet Archive]
US, 110
Dir. Peter Steadman
"A production of Euripides’ tragedy with all the traditional components of classical theater meticulously researched and dramatized: two actors with masks, a chorus, song, dance and mimetic acting. The intonation of the classical Greek text is in accordance with recent linguistic discoveries. Introduction and commentary by Professor William Arrowsmith. With English subtitles."

Medea (1988) [Wikipedia] TV [Full film available on YouTube]
Denmark, 76, Color, Danish
Dir. Lars von Trier; Cast includes Udo Kier, Kirsten Olesen

A Dream of Passion (1978) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Greece, 106, Color, English/Greek/Ancient Greek
Dir. Jules Dassin; Cast includes Melina Mecouri
-Adaptation of Medea.

Médée (2001 film) TV film [Wikipedia]
France, Color, French
Dir. Don Kent; Cast includes Isabelle Huppert

Las Troyanas (1963) [Full film available on YouTube]
Mexico, 70, BW, Spanish
Dir. Sergio Véjar; Cast includes Ofelia Guilmain

The Trojan Women (1971) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US/UK/Greece, 105, Color
Dir. Michael Cacoyannis; Cast includes Katherine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, and Irene Papas.

Trojan Women (2004) [Wikipedia]
US
Dir. Brad Mayes; Cast includes Willow Hale

The Trojan Women (2021) TV Film [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 93, Color
Dir. Nicholas Walker; Cast includes Kristine Aubert
-Film of an American theatre production.

Aristophanes

[There may be additional films available of theater productions that are not listed here.]

The Second Greatest Sex (1955) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 87, Color
Dir. George Marshall; Cast includes Jean Crain, George Nader
-A "Western/Musical" movie based on Lysistrata.

Escuela de seductoras (1962) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Spain, 83, Color
Dir. León Klimovsky; Cast includes Victoria Abril
-Spanish version of Lysistrata in modern setting

Flickorna [Aka The Girls] (1968) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on Vimeo]
Sweden, 100, BW, Swedish
Dir. Mai Zetterling; Cast includes Bibi Andersson
-A feminist version of Lysistrata

Lysistrata (1972) [Wikipedia]
Greece, 97, Color
Dir. Georgos Zervoulakos; Cast includes Jenny Karezi.
-The date of the film is needed to understand it. It combines a fairly accurate rendtion of the play with intense anti-Americanism and a variety of modern Greek songs.

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Hellenistic Greece

Alexander the Great (1956) [Wikipedia]
US, epic, 143, Color
Dir. Michael Forlong and Robert Rossen; Cast includes Richard Burton, Fredric March, Claire Bloom, Peter Cushing, Michael Hordern
-For long the main Hollywood-made Alexander movie. Burton's blond wig is a problem.

Alexander the Great (1968) TV film
US, 50, Color
Dir. Phil Karlson; Cast includes William Shatner, Adam West, Joseph Cotten
-Shatner also wore a blond wig. Originally a pilot for a TV series in 1964, it was released as a film in 1968.

Alexander (2004) [Wikipedia]
US, 175, Color
Dir. Oliver Stone; Cast includes Colin Farrell, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie
-Stone consulter with historian Robin Lane Fox. Farrell used his Irish accent, to indicate perhaps that Macedonia was not quite Attica, and Alexander's homosexuality was presented in his relationships with Hephaestion and Bagoas.. The cinema version made a bit snappier in the DVD release.

Alexander the Great (2006) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 80, Color, Animation
Dir. Daehong Kim; Cast includes Mark Adair-Ross
-Animated life of Alexander.

The Colossus of Rhodes (1961) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 142/127, Color
Dir. Sergio Leone. Cast includes Rory Clahoun, Lea Massari
-"A fictional account of the island of Rhodes during its classical period in the late third century BCE before coming under Roman control, using the Colossus of Rhodes as a backdrop for the story of a war hero who becomes involved in two different plots to overthrow a tyrannical king: one by Rhodian patriots and the other by Phoenician agents."

The Cleopatras (1983) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK, 8 x 50 mins, Color
Dir. John Frankau; Cast includes Michelle Newell, Robert Hardy
-BBC TV series and focused on the later Ptolemaic dynasty. It was meant to be a 1980s verion of I, Claudius but was critically panned.

Back to Index

Roman Empire

See also Wikipedia: List of films set in ancient Rome

The Avenger [Aka La leggenda di Enea] (1962) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 95, Color, Italian
Dir. Giorgio Venturini; Cast includes Steve Reeves
-Based on Virgil's Aeneid. "Aeneas leads escaped survivors of the Trojan War to new land in Italy."

Dido and Aeneas (1995) [Wikipedia] TV film
Canada, 56, Color
Dir Barbara Willis Sweet; Cast includes Jennifer Lane
-A dance adaptation of Purcell's opera.

Romulus (2020-) [Wikipedia] TV series
Italy, 2 seasons, Color, Archaic Latin
Dir. Matteo Rovere
-The founding of Rome, using "archaic Latin". "The story of Romulus and his twin brother Remus, in eighth century B.C. as seen through the eyes of three people marked by death, loneliness and violence."

Duel of the Titans [Aka Romolo e Remo] (1961) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on DailyMotion]
Italy, 108, Color, Italian
Dir. Sergio Corbucci; Cast includes Steve Reeves (Romulus), Gordon Scott (Remus)
-The story of Romulus and Remus

The First King: Birth of an Empire [Aka Il primo re](2019) [Wikipedia]
Italy,127, Color, Archaic Latin
Dir. Matteo Rovere; Cast includes Alessandro Borghi, Alessio Lapice
-The founding of Rome, using "archaic Latin". "Set in the 8th century BC, it is about the shepherd brothers Romulus and Remus and the founding of Rome. All dialogue is spoken in an early form of Latin."

Romulus and the Sabines [Aka Il ratto delle sabine] (1961) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, Adventure Comedy, 98, Color, Italian/English
Dir. Rihcrad Pottier; Cast includes Roger Moor, Mylene Demongot, Jean Marais
-"The classic story from the early days of Rome where there are no women. Romulus, the founder of Rome, finds women to be wives from Sabina where there are a lot of women. The Sabine men, of course, attack Rome to get their wives and daughters back."

The Rape of the Sabine Women [Aka El rapto de las sabinas] (1962) [Wikipedia] [Partial film available on YouTube]
Mexico, Color, Spanish
Dir. Albert Gout; Cast includes Lorena Velázquez, Tere Velázquez, Wolf Ruvinskis,Luis Induni

Duel of Champions [Aka Orazi e Curiazi] (1961) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 84, Color, Italian
Dir. Ferdinando Baldi, Rerence Young; Cast includes Alan Ladd, Franca Bettoia
-"In the 5th century BC, rival kingdoms Rome and Alba entrust their fate to a duel to death between their respective chosen champions, the 3 Orazi brothers for Rome and the 3 Curiazi brothers for Alba. "

Hero of Rome [Aka Il colosso di Roma] (1964) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 90, Color, Italian
Dir Giorgio Ferroni; Cast includes Gordon Scott, Gabriella Pallotta
-"Set in Rome in 508 BC, and depicts the expulsion of the last kings of Rome and the legend of Gaius Mucius Scaevola."

Coriolanus: Hero without a Country [Aka Coriolano eroe senza patria] (1964) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 96, Color, Italian
Dir. Girgio Ferroni; Cast includes Gordon Scott, Alberto Lup, Lilla Brignone
-"Set in Rome in 493 BC. The plot is an adaptation of the Roman legend about the general who won great victories for the Romans over their enemies the Volscians, but was then forced into exile by his political enemies at home."

Brennus, Enemy of Rome [Aka Brenno il nemico di Roma] (1963) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 90, Color, Italian
Dir. Giacomo Gentilomo; Cast includes Gordan Mitchell, Tone Kendall, Usula Davis
-"About the sack of Rome in 387 BC."

Revak the Rebel [Aka The Barbarians] (1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 90, Color
Dir. Rudolph Maté; Cast includes John Lee Mahin, Martin Rackin, Jack Palace
-"Revak is an Iberian prince from Penda, a small island where the Carthagian fleet ransacked and enslaved the surviving native men, including him. After an eventful passage aboard a galley, Revak becomes an elephant driver in Carthage city, and could become the favorite of mighty women, but has only one thirst: bloody revenge, at all cost,."

Cabiria (1914) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, Epic, 1914, BW, Silent
Dir. Giovanni Pastrone
-Set in Sicily, Carthage ann Cirta during the Second Punic War (2180-202 BC). " It follows a melodramatic main plot about an abducted little girl, Cabiria, and features an eruption of Mount Etna, heinous religious rituals in Carthage, the alpine trek of Hannibal, Archimedes' defeat of the Roman fleet at the Siege of Syracuse and Scipio maneuvering in North Africa. Apart from being a classic on its own terms, the film is also notable for being the first film in which the long-running film character Maciste.  

Jupiter's Darling (1955) [Wikipedia] [Full film available at Internet Archive]
US, Musical Comedy, 95. Color
Dir. George Sidney; Cast includes Esther Williams, Howard Keep, Goerge Sanders
-" It starred Esther Williams as the Roman woman Amytis, Howard Keel as Hannibal, the Carthaginian military commander and George Sanders as Fabius Maximus, Amytis's fiancé. In the film, Amytis helps Hannibal swim the Tiber River to take a closer look at Rome's fortifications."

Hannibal [Aka Annibale] (1959) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 95, Color
Dir. Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, Edgar G. Ulmer; Cast includes Victor Mature, Gabriele Ferzetti
-Based on the life of Hannibal and the invasion of Italy.

Hannibal - Rome's Worse Nightmare (2006) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available on YouTube]
UK, dramatised documentary, 90, Color
Dir. Edward Bzalgette; Cast includes Alexander Siddig, Bashar Rahal, Shaun Dingwall
-The Italian campaign of Hannibal.

Siege of Syracuse [Aka L'assedio di Siracusa] (1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 97, drama, Color
Dir. Pietro Francisci; Cast includes Rossano Brazzi (Archimedes), Tina Louise
-"During the Second Punic War between 214 and 212 B.C. occurred this history of the Roman siege in Greek city of Syracuse. The Romans were preparing for their invasion while Archimedes invents what looks like a satellite dish that reflects the sun's rays and produces a powerful beam of light, strong enough to burn the Roman fleet."

Scipio Africanus: The Defeat of Hannibal [Aka Scipion l'africano] (1937) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 109, BW, Italian.
Dir. Carmine Gallone; Cast includes Annibale Ninchi (Scipio), Camillo Pilotto (Hannibal)
"A story of the Second Punic Wars, beginning with Scipio's futile pleas to the Roman Senate to build an army to battle Hannibal, that climaxes with the battle of Zama." The film was funded by Mussolini and production overseen by his son Vittorio Mussolini. "The film was shot over the course of 232 days from 10 August 1936 to 29 March 1937, near Sabaudia with 12.6 million lira invested by the Italian government. 20 principal actors, 38 secondary actors, 44,425 extras, 26,671 crew members, 174,610 military personnel, 3,171 horses, and 50 elephants were used for the film. 500 camels for a three minute scene and 100 seaworthy galleys were used. The film cost around twenty times more than the average Italian film of the time."

Scipio the African [Aka Scipione detto anche l'africano] (1971) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, Comedy, 114, Color, Italian
Dir. Luigi Magni; Cast includes Marcello Mastroianni (Scipione l'Africano), Silvana Mangano (Emilia)
-"Years after the Second Punic War, Scipio Africanus finds himself generally unliked, despite his defeat of Hannibal, many years earlier. He and his brother, Scipio Asiaticus, are accused by Marcus Porcius Cato of the theft of 500 talents intended for Rome. As his friends and loved ones abandon him, Scipio finds life after war not as easy as he thought it would be.

Carthage in Flames [Aka Cartagine in fiamme] (1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube in English]
Italy, 107, Color, Italian
Dir. Carmine Gallone; Cast includes Pierre Brasseur.
Depicts the last of the Punic Wars.

The Centurion [Aka Il conquistatore di Corinto] (1961) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on DailyMotion]
Italy/France, 77, Color
Dir. Mario Costa; Cast includes Jacques Sernas, John Drew Barrymore
-Set in 146 BC after the Roman conquest of Corinth.

Sins of Rome [Aka Spartaco] (1953) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube in English]
Italy, 95, BW, Italian
Dir. Riccardo Freda; Cast includews Massimo Girotti
-"Sins of Rome  based on the life story of Spartacus. The rights of film's negatives and copies were bought by the producers of Stanley Kubrick's 1960 film Spartacus, as to prevent eventual new releases of the film that could have damaged the commercial outcome of Kubrick’s film; this resulted in Sins of Rome's withdrawal from market for about thirty years."

Spartacus (1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on DailyMotion]
US, 197, Color
Dir. Stanley Kubrick; Cast includes Lawrence Olivier, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas (Spartacus), Jean Simmons
-Based on the life story of Spartacus and one of the most siccessful "ancient world" films ever made with a major director, stellar cast, and huge budget. One scene was famously cut, in which Crassus (Laurence Olivier) sexually propsoitions an attractive slave attendent Antoninus (Tony Curtis). More recent releases restored the scene (dubbed by Anthony Hopkins), which is essential to explain why Antoninus joins the revolt. The scene's clear homosexual subtext was too much in 1960.

Spartacus (2004) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, 2 parts, 174, Color
Dir.Robert Dornhelm; Cast includes Goran Visnjic, Alan Bates,Angus Macfadyen
-Based on the same Howard Fast novel as Kubrick's 1960 film.

Spartacus (2010-2013) [Wikipedia] TV series
Dir. Steve. S. DeKnight; Cast includes Andy Whitfield, John Hanna, Lucy Lawless
-The life of Spartacus, but episodic form and complext production demands makes it as much about galdiators as rebellion. There is a homoerotic subtext to all such films which make an effort to displace almost naked male bodies. In this series the homosexuality was explicit at times, for example with the characters Agron and Nasir.

The Slave [Aka Il figlio di Spartacus] (1962) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube in English]
Italy, 100, Color
Dir. Sergio Corbucci; Cast includes Steve Reeves, Gianna Maria Canale
-A kind of unofficial sequal to Spartacus. Based in 48 BC. Well produced, and supposedlly one of Reeves' best films.

Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire [Aka: Battle for Rome] (2006) [Wikipedia] TV series [Full film available on WatchDocumentaries]
UK, docudrama, 6 episodes, Color
Dir. Nick Murphy et al. Cast includes Sean Pertwee, Catherine McCormack, Michael Sheen, David Threfall
-Episodes were not broadcast in chronological order on the BBC, but were on Dsicovery channel: Caesar, Nero, Rebellion-Jewish War, Revolution-The Gracchi, Constantine, The Fall of Rome.

Julius Caesar [Aka William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar] (1953)  [Wikipedia] [Full film available on Daily Motion]
US, 121, BW
Dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz. after Shakespeare; Cast includes Marlon Brand, James Mason, John Gielgud, Greer Garson, Deborah Kerr
-A faithful presentation of the play with no significant cuts. This was very well reviewed.

-See also Wikipedia: Julius Caesar: Film and Television Adaptations

Julius Caesar (2002) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 2 episodes 178, Color
Dir. Uli Edell; Cast includes Jeremy Sisto, Richard Harris, Christopher Walken, Valeria Golini, Chris Noth
-The story of Caesar's life, not the Shakespeare play.

Julius Caesar against the Pirates [Aka Giulio Cesare contro i pirati] (1962) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 93, Color
Dir. Sergio Grieco: Cast includes Gustavo Rojo, Gordon Mitchell
-"It's 75 BC and Rome is in turmoil. Killers are on the loose. The dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix is having all the Roman Senators who refuse to support him murdered. Julius Caesar must flee due to his wife's Cornelia family's ties to Sulla's enemies. Caesar decides to flee Rome to the court of his friend, King Nicomedes of Bithynia. While traveling to Mileto, Caesar is captured by pirates and taken to their island fortress on the island of Formacusa. The pirates led by Hamar are engaged in hostilities with Bithynia, and Caesar swears that once he has paid his ransom of fifty talents of gold, he will return and destroy the pirates."

Caesar the Conqueror [Aka Giulio Cesare, il conquistatore delle Gallie] (1962) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, Color
Dir. Tanio Boccia. Cast includes Cameron Mitchell
-The plot is based on Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico.

Druids (2001) [Wikipedia]
France/Belgium/Canada, 124, Color
Dir. Jacques Dorfmann; Cast includes Christopher Lambert, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max von Sydow
-"The film tells the story of the Gallic chieftain Vercingetorix, from his childhood through to his battle to save Gaul from Roman domination at the hands of Julius Caesar. The film culminates with the decisive Battle of Alesia". Wikipedia sasy "considered one of the worst French movies ever made."

Cleopatra (1912) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 87, BW, Silent
Dir. Charles L. Gaskill; Cast includes Helen Gardner

Cleopatra (1917) [Wikipedia]
US, 125, BW, Silent
Dir. J. Gordon Edwards; Cast includes Theda Bara

Cleopatra (1934) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 100, BW
Dir. Cecil B. DeMille; Cast includes Claudette Colbert
-The highest grossing film of 1934.

Caesar and Cleopatra (1946) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 128/123, Color
Dir. Gabriel Pascal; Cast includes Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh
-Adapted from a play by George Bernard Shaw
.

Serpent of the Nile (1953) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 81, Color
Dir. William Castle; Cast includes Rhonda Fleming, Willian Lundigan, Raymond Burr
-Set after Caesar's assassination, and about the affair of Anthony and Cleopatra.

A Queen for Caesar [Aka Una Regina per Cesare] (1962) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube with English dubbing]
Italy/France, 100, Color, Italian
Dir. Piero Pierotti, Viktor Tourjansky; Cast includes Pascale Petit
-"Story of the power struggle between Egyptian queen Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy, and how a common soldier risks his life to serve her." "20th Century Fox bought the rights for the film to keep it out of release lest it compete with their own Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra."

Cleopatra (1963) [Wikipedia]
US, 2513 mins, Color
Dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Cast includes Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison.
-Not as bad as it is reputed to be, but not as camp as the 1934 Cecil B. DeMille version [102 mins] with Claudette Colbert. The film almost bankrupted Fox studios although its audiences were the highest that year.

Carry On Cleo (1964) [Wikipedia]
UK, 92, Color
Dir. Gerald Thomas; Cast includes Sidney James, Kenneth Williams, Joan sims, Jim Dale, Amanda Barrie
-British comedy spoof of ancient history movies. This in considered one of the best of the Carry On series and contains perhaps the best one-liner in British film history with Kenneth Williams Infamy line.

Cleopatra (1999) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 2 episodes, 177, Color
Dir. Franc Roddam; Cast includes Leonor Varela, Timothy Dalton, Billy Zane and Rupert Graves
-Based on Margaret George's 1997 novle The Memoirs of Cleopatra. It won an Emmy as outstanding series

Rome (2005-2007) [Wikipedia] TV Series
US, 2 seasons, 22 episodes, Color
-Creator. John Milius, William J. MacDonald, Bruno Heller; Cast includes Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Ciaran Hinds, Lindsay Duncan, James Purefoy.
-Covers the career of Ceasar, Mark Anthony and Octavian until Actium. An example of peak prestige Television. There was a lot os explicit sex, but the action and story-telling were also well done.

Imperium: Augustus [Aka Augustus: The First Emperor] (2003) [Wikipedia]
Italy/UK, 200, Dir. Roger Young; Cast includes Peter O'Toole (Augustus), Vittoria Belvedere, Charlotte Ranpling
-"Caesar Augustus tells of how he became the emperor to his reluctant daughter, Julia following the death of her husband Agrippa."

Empire (2005) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US, 6 episodes, Color
Dir. John Gray, Kim Manners; Cast includes Santiago Cabrera, Vincent Regan, Emily Blunt
-Begins and 44 BC and covers the earlu struggle of Octavian for political power. Octavian is aided by a fictional galdiator called Tyrannus.

Domina (2021) [Wikipedia] TV Series
Italy/UK, 8 episodes so far, Color
Creator. Simon Burke; Cast includes Nadia Parkes (young Livia), Katia Smutniak (Livia)
-"The story of the power struggles of Rome from a female perspective." "The focus in season one is the 20s BC, between the sucide of Cleopatra and the maturity of Augustus, a period never before covered in popular drama."

The Cantabrians [Aka Los Cántabros] (1980) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Spain, 107, Color, Spanish
Dir Paul Naschy (as Jacinot Molina); Cast includes Paul Naschy, Joaquin Gomez (as Daniel Berry)
-About the Cantabrian Wars, 29-19 BC, which where thr final stage of the Roman conquest of Spain.

The Caesars (1967) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Full series available on YouTube]
UK, 6 episodes, BW
Dir. Derek Bennett; Cast includes Roland Culver, Nicoal Paggett, Freddie Jones.
-A Black and white TV production which covered the same territory as I. Claudius a decade later.

I, Claudius (1976) [Wikipedia] BBC TV Miniseries
UK, 10 episodes of 50 mins, Color
Dir. Herbert Wise. With Derek Jacobi, Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed, John Hurt
One of the best BBC TV series ever made. Based on Robert Graves' novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God, which in turn were based on Suetonius. The acting is superb.

Messalina [Aka The Affairs of Messalina[ (1951) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy/France/Spain, 102, BW, Italian
Dir. Carmine Gallone; Cast includes Maria Felix, Georges Marchal
-Story of the third wife of Claudius.

Messalina [Aka Messalina Venere imperatrice] (1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 96, Color Italian
Dir. Vittorio Cattafavi; Cast includes Belinda Less, Spiros Focas
-Quite well regarded, and done in gorgeous widescreen color. Belinda Lee's role was admired.

Imperium: Nerone [Aka Nero] (2004) [Wikipedia] TV film
UK/Italy, 197, Color
Dir. Paul Marcus; Cast includes Hans Matheson (Nero), Laura Morante (Agrippina), John Sim (Caligula)
-An attempt at a rehabilitation of Nero, with half the film on his life as a young man

Massacre in the Black Forest [Aka Hermann der Cherusker – Die Schlacht im Teutoburger Wald] (1967) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube in English]
Germany, 82, Color
Dir. Ferdinando Baldi, Rudolf Nussgruber; Cast includes Cameron Mitchell, Antonella Lualdi
-"The film centers on Arminius, a chieftain of the Cherusci Germanic tribe (in what is now Lower Saxony), who drew three Roman legions into an ambush in the Teutoburg Forest, known as the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.

Barbarians [Alt Barbaren] (2020) [Wikipedia]
Germany: historical drama, 2 Seasons, 12 episodes, Color
Dir. Kevin Macdonald; Cast includes Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell
-Set in the early first century AD and focusing on theambush of Roman legsions at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. Latin is used as a spoken language.

Boadicea (1927) [Wikipedia]
UK, BW
Dir. Sinclair Hill; Cast includes Phyllis Nelson-Terry
-Biopic about Boudica and the Iceni resistence to Rome.

Boudica [Aka Warrior Queen] (2003) [Wikipedia] TV film
UK, 98, Color
Dir. Bill Anderson; Cast includes Alex Kingston (Boudica), Emily Blunt, Steven Waddington
-Biopic about Boudica and the Iceni resistence to Rome.

Boudica: Rise of the Warrior Queen (2019) TV film
UK, 82, Color
Dir. Zoe Morgan; Cast includes Ella Peel, Michelle McTernan
-"Boudica is an innocent sixteen-year-old girl who is forced into an arranged marriage by her father, the leader of a Celtic Tribe. However, her mother is unsure, doing whatever it takes to protect her daughter."

Boudica (2023) TV film
Color
Dir. Jesse V Johnson; Cast includes Olga Kurlenko
-"The eponymous Celtic warrior who rules the Iceni people alongside her husband Prasutagus. The King dies at the hands of Roman soldiers, leaving Boudica's kingdom without a male heir and the Romans seize her land and property."

The Viking Queen (1967) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical/Adventure, 91, No rating, Color
Dir. Don Chaffey; Cast includes Don Murry
-Despite its title, this film is about a Boudica-like character during the Roman occupation of Britain. The first few minutes are so historically inaccurate that this is a real classic of bad Hollywood history.
-Leonard Maltin summarizes it as "Empty-headed costumer of early England under Roman rule; Cast includes plenty of gore as anarchists incite a violent uprising among the people." "England"! Rome! Viking Queens! Ouch."

The Arena [Aka Naked Warriors] (1974) [Wikipedia]
US, 83, Color
Dir. Steve Carver; Cast includes Pam Grier (Mamawi), Margaret markov (Bodicia)
Women slaves fight in the Arena. A Blaxpolitation movie. "When the Romans force a group of sex slaves to become gladiatrices, two such fighters - a Nubian dancer and a Gaulish priestess - form an alliance to lead the others in rebellion."There is alsos The Arena (2001), a Russian remake.

Britannia (2017-2021) [Wikipedia] TV series
UK, 3 seasons, 27 episodes, Color
Creator. Jez Butterworth; Cast includes David Morrissey, Kelly Reilly, Mackenzie Cook, Zoe Wanamaker, Eleanor Worthington Cox
-Set in 43 AD and after about British opposition to the Roman invasion. The seires is fictional, and includes references to native religion and mysticism. Regarded as "brilliantly bonkers."

Caligula (1980) [Wikipedia]
US, Drama, 156, R, Color
Dir. Tinto Brass: Cast includes: Malcolm McDowell, John Gielgud, Peter O'Toole, Helen Mirren
-Essentially a 15 million dollar porno movie, despite its excellent cast.

The Last Days of Pompeii [Aka Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei] (1908) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 17, BW, Silent
Dir. Arturo Ambrosio, Luigi Maggi
-"In Pompeii 79AD, Glaucus and Jone are in love with each other. Arbaces, the Egyptian High Priest, is determined to conquer her. Glaucus buys the blind slave Nydia who is mishandled by her owner." Based on  Edward Bulwer-Lytton' novel of 1834.i

The Last Days of Pompeii [Aka Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei] (1913) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 98, BW, Silent
Dir. Eleuterio Rodolfi; Cast includes Fernanda Negri Pouget
-"In Pompeii 79AD, Glaucus and Jone are in love with each other. Arbaces, the Egyptian High Priest, is determined to conquer her. Glaucus buys the blind slave Nydia who is mishandled by her owner."  Based Edward Bulwer-Lytton' novel of 1834.

The Last Days of Pompeii [Aka Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei] (1926) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 181, Color, Silent
Dir. Carmine Gallone, Amleto Palermi; Cast includes Victor Varconi
-"This film was colorized by a stencil process. Based Edward Bulwer-Lytton' novel of 1834.

The Last Days of Pompeii (1935) [Wikipedia]
US, 96, BW
Dir. Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper; Cast includes Basil Rathbone
-"his story of Marcus, a man whose life is touched at various points by Christ and his followers, is impossible, because of the dates. Flavius is a small boy when Jesus heals him and a young man when Vesuvius erupts in 79 AD—46 years later." Carried a disclaimer that it was based Edward Bulwer-Lytton' novel of 1834.

The Last Days of Pompeii [Aka Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei, Sins of Pompeii] (1950) [Wikipedia]
France/Italy, 100, Color, Italian/French
Dir. Marcel L''Herbier, Paolo Moffa; Cast includes Alexandre Arnoux.
-"In Pompeii, in the year 79AD, Lysias, a wealthy young Greek, abducts the beautiful Hélène, who is a pupil of Arbax, the sinister High Priest of Isis. For revenge, Arbax causes Lysias to drink a magic potion to make him fall in love with his ally Julie, but Lysias becomes mad from the drink." Based Edward Bulwer-Lytton' novel of 1834.

The Last Days of Pompeii (1959) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 100, Color, Italian
Dir. Mario Bonnard, Sergio Leone; Cast includes Steve Reeves, Christine Kaufman
-The plot combines stories about rebel Preatorians, persecuted Christians, and the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Based Edward Bulwer-Lytton' novel of 1834.

The Last Days of Pompeii (1984) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Part 2 available on YouTube]
Italy/US, 310, Color
Dir Peter R. Hunt: Cast includes Ned Beatty, Brian Blessed, Ernest Borgnini, Olivia Hussey
-Based Edward Bulwer-Lytton' novel of 1834.

Pompeii: The Last Day (2003) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available on Daily Motion]
UK, 90, Docudrama, Color
Dir. Peter Nicolson; Cast includes Tim Piggott-Smith, Jim Carter
-A docudrama. Highest rated factual programme of the Year in 2003 in the UK

Imperium: Pompeii (2007) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
Italy, 200, Color, English
Dir. Giulio Base; Cast includes Lorenzo Crespi, Andrea Osvart
-Fictional story with the eruption of Vesuvius as the background. There is a 3D version.

Pompei (2014) [Wikipedia]
US/Canada/Germany, 105, Color
Dir. Paul W.D. Anderson; Cast includes Kit Harrington, Carrie-Anne Mosse, Jared Harris.
-Entirely fictional film where a British tribe is wiped out in 62 CE with one survivor (Milo) ending up as a gladiator in Pompei just as Vesuvius blows. It's director did refer to letter by Pliny the Elder on the eruption.

Age of Treason (1993) TV film
US, 93, Color
Dir. Kevin Connor; Cast includes Matthias Hues, Art Malik
-Murder mystery set in 69 CE.

Othon [Aka Eyes Do Not Want to Close at All Times, or, Perhaps One Day Rome Will Allow Herself to Choose in Her Turn,  Les yeux ne veulent pas en tout temps se fermer, ou Peut-être qu'un jour Rome se permettra de choisir à son tour] (1970) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
France, 88, Color
Dir. Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub; Cast includes Adriano Apra.
-"Pierre Corneille's Othon, set in 69 AD, adapted faithfully to cinema, in Roman clothes, but set in the ruins of the Rome of now-a-days." Performed by non-professional actors.

Revolt of the Praetorians [Aka La rivolta dei pretoriani] (1964) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 95, Color
Dir Alfonso Brescia; Cast includes Richard Harrsion
"Set in 96 AD. Rome chafes under the rule of the Emperor Domitian and his Egyptian mistress, Artamne. A mysterious champion arises to fight against the Emperor -- a masked man known as the Red Wolf. In fact, the Red Wolf is Valerius Rufus, one of the Emperor's trusted centurions who's aided by none other than the Emperor's court jester, the diminutive Elpidion." 

Burebista (1980) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Romania, 137, Color, Romanian
Dir. Gheorghe Vitanidis; Cast includes George Constantin
-"The life of Dacian war-leader Burebista who ruled between 80-44 B.C.and founded a strong Dacian Kingdom despite considerable pressure from the neighboring Celtic warlords and the Greek cities of the Black Sea coast."

Dacii [Aka The Dacians] (1967) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Romania/France, 110, Color, Romanian
Dir. Sergiu Nicolaescu; Cast includes Pierre Brice
-"About the run up to Domitian's Dacian War, which was fought between the Roman Empire and the Dacians in AD 87-88." 

The Column [Aka Columna] (1968) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube with English subtitles]
Romania, 133, Color, Romanian
Dir.  Mircea Drăgan; Cast includes Richard Johnson.
-"The action starts near the end of Trajan's Dacian Wars (106 AD), when south western Dacia was transformed into a Roman province: Roman Dacia. It covers the years after the war, including the beginnings of the Romanization and Romanian ethnogenesis, the construction of Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, resistance of the Free Dacians, and first barbarian invasions." This is a very good film. "The Column was seen by 10,508,376 viewers in cinemas in Romania, as confirmed by a record of the number of spectators from the film's Romanian premiere date until 31.12.2007 compiled by the National Center of Cinematography. This places it in 7th place among the most viewed Romanian films of all time. The Column was Romania's submission for the best foreign film Oscar in 1969, but it was not one of the nominated in the competition. The film was given a Diploma of Merit International Film Festival in Adelaide, Australia."

Centurion (2010) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on DailyMotion]
UK, 97, Color
Dir. Neil Marshall; Cast includes Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, Noel Clarke, Liam CunninghammDavid Morrissey, Riz Ahmed
-"Loosely based on the disappearance of the Roman Empire's Ninth Legion in Caledonia in the early second century AD." _

The Eagle (2011) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical action, 114, Color
Dir. Kevin Macdonald; Cast includes Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell
-Set in the the 2nd century AD, and based on Rosemary Sutcliffe's novel The Eagle of the Ninth. Critics were not impressed byit, but I thought it was very enjoyable.

Sheba and the Gladiator [Aka Nel Segno di Roma] (1959) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube with English subtitles]
Italy, Historical, 98, No rating, Color
Dir. Guido Brignone and Michelangelo Antonioni; Cast includes: Anita Ekberg
-A gladiator captured by the Queen of Palmyra and the re-annexation of Palmyra by Rome in the 3rd century AD.

Titus (2000) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US/UK/Italy, 162, Color
Dir. Julie Taymor; Cast Includes Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Alan Cummin, Colm Feore, Angus Macfadyen, Matthew Rhys, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
-Very well regarded, and very violent, adaptation of the play by Shakespeare. "Titus, a general in the Roman army, presents Tamora, Queen of the Goths, as a slave to the new Roman emperor, Saturninus. Saturninus takes her as his wife. From this position, Tamora vows revenge against Titus for killing her son. Titus and his family retaliate, leading to a cycle of violence.

-See also Wikipedia: Film adaptations of Titus Andronicus

Coriolano eroe senza patria [Aka Thunder of Battle, Coriolanus, Hero without a Country] (1964) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube in English]
Italy, 96, Color, Italian
Dir. Giorgion Ferroni
-"Focuses on Sicinius, a Roman tribune who tries to become consul through various vicissitudes."

Coriolano (1965) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 132, BW, Italian
Dir. Claudio Fino; Cast includes Franco Graziois
-Italian version of Shakepeare's play.

Coriolanus (2011) [Wikipedia]
UK, 123, Color
Dir. Ralph Fiennes; Cast includes Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrace, Brian Cox, Jessical Chastain
-"It places Shakespeare's original text and plot into a contemporary, pseudo-Balkan setting (filmed in Serbia and Montenegro), reminiscent of the Yugoslav Wars."

-See also Wikipedia: Film adaptations of Coriolanus

Plautus

Amphitryon (1935) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Germany, 105, BW
Dir. Reinhold Schünzel
A musical made in Nazi Germany. Based on plays by Molière, Plautus, and Heinrich von Kleist.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966) [Wikipedia]
US, musical comedy, 99, Color
Dir. Richard Lester; Cast includes Zero Mostel and Phil Silvers.
-Based on Plautus' play  Miles Gloriosus.

Terence

That Girl from Andros
115 mins.
In earliest Engl. verse translation, c. 1500. Films For The Humanities.

Ovid

Metamorphoses [Aka Winds of Change] (1978) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Japan, 89, Color, Animated
Dir. Takashi Masunaga; Cast includes Peter Ustinov (narrator in English version)
-"It is a retelling of stories from Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid, and narration by Peter Ustinov. In all of its five parts, the protagonists are portrayed in the form of a recurring boy and girl."

Petronius

Fellini Satyricon (1969) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, Historical, 129, Rated R, Color
Dir. Federico Fellini; Cast includes" Martin Potter (Encolpio)
-Not exactly a filming of Petronius Arbiter's novel. The tag ran "Rome. Before Christ. After Fellini". Potter is Encolpio a beautiful youth, whose young lover and slave, Gitone, has been stolen from him and sold to an older man. He vows to get him back.

Seneca

Fedra (1956) [Wikipedia]
Spain, 100, Color, Spanish
Dir. Manuel Mur Oti; Cast includes Emma Penella
-Based on Seneca's tragedy Phaedra but in a modern setting.

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Late Antiquity/Decline of the Roman Empire

The Magnificant Gladiator [Aka  Il magnifico gladiatore] (1964) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 95, Color
Dir. Alfonso Bresci; Cast includes Mark Forest
-"Attalus (or anachronistically "Hercules" in the English version) is captured by Roman soldiers on the frontier during the reign of Gallienus (AD 253-268). Attalus is brought back to Rome and forced to fight in the arena as a gladiator, but once there, he becomes embroiled in a plot to overthrow the emperor.."

The Two Gladiators [Aka  I due gladiatori, Fight or Die] (1964) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 100, Color
Dir. Mari Caiano; Cast includes Richard Harrison
-"Once upon a time there were born two twin boys to Emperor Marcus Aurelius and for reasons of dynasty the birth of twins was kept secret. One of the twins was supposed to be drowned at birth but fate intervenes and the kid is brought up in a good household and enters Rome's legions."

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 153, No rating, Color
Dir. Anthony Mann; Cast includes: Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness (Marcus Aurelius), James Mason, Christopher Plummer (Commodus), Anthony Quayle
-By no means as bad as it might have been. The later film Gladiator (2000) is in some sense a remake.

Gladiator (2000) [Wikipedia]
US, 154, Action, Color
Dir. Ridley Scott; Cast includes Russell Crowe.
A movie which may represent the rebirth of the sandals and sand epic. It was widely praised in the press but panned by ancient historians (with the Harvard faculty member who was listed as "historical" consultant sending out a mass apologia to colleagues). Ridley Scott made full use of modern technology to create a "real" ancient Rome, but the result looks more like the French Second Empire. The arena sequences are OK, but do not match those with Charlton Heston in Ben Hur.

The Last Legion (2007) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical action, 102, Color
Dir. Doug Leffler: Screenplay Jez Butterworth; Cast includes Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Aishwarya Rai Bachan
-Set in the late 5th century and featuring Romulus Augustulus

Agora (2009) [Wikipedia]
Spain, Historical drama, 126, Color
Dir. Alejandro Amenábar: Cast includes Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac
-Set in the late 4th century Alexandria and focused on the Phillosopher Hypatia and her Christian opponents. It recieved a lot of criticism but as far as this list goes it is among the most interesting efforts at a historical film.

Constantino Il Grande (1961)[Alt: Constantine The Great \Constantine and The Cross] [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, Drama, 120, No Rating, Color
Dir. Lionello de Felice; Cast includes Cornel Wilde, Belinda Lee.
-The story of the founder of Byzantium in the center of which is the scene of the flaming cross which the Emperor sees in the sky just before the big battle. The movie gives a conventionally pious view of Constantine. Leonard Maltin rates it as "intelligent".

Revenge of the Gladiators (1965) [aka La Vendetta di Spartacus] [Wikipedia]
Italy, Historical/Adventure, 100, No rating, Color
Dir. Michel Lupo
-The Western Roman Empire in the 450s AD. The city of Rome itself is besieged by the Vandals.

Attila, Flagello Di Dio (1954) [Alt: Attila, Attila the Hun] [Wikipedia]
France-Italy, Historical, 83, No rating, Black & White/Colorized
Dir. Pietro Francioso; Cast includes: Anthony Quinn, Sophia Loren, Irene Pappas
-Attila prepares to attack Rome.

Attila (1982) [Alt: Attila, il flagello di Dio, Wild trieben es die alten Hunnen] [Wikipedia]
Italy, Comedy,
Dir. Castellano e Pipolo

Attila (2001) [Wikipedia] TV mini series
US, Historical, Color
Director. Rick Lowry; Cast includes Gerard Butler (Attila) and Tim Curry (Theodosius).

Sign of the Pagan (1954) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 92, No rating, Color
Dir. Douglas Sirk: Cast includes: Jeff Chandler, Jack Palance (Attila the Hun)
-Attila at the gates of Rome meets Pope Leo the Great.

The Voyage Home [Aka  De redituIl ritorno] (2004) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 102, Color, Italian
Dir. Claudi Bondi; Cast includes Elia Schilton
-"Five years after the sack of Rome by the Visigoths under Alaric, Rutilius Claudius Namatianus travels from Rome toward his native Tolosa in Gaul, with the intention to inspect what damages the invaders might have caused." "The basis for the film is a 5th-century poem by the Roman writer Rutilius Claudius Namatianus, discovered in incomplete form and titled De reditu suo in the 15th century. The original poem contains strong criticism of the Christian monastic movement, but not as a main theme. In the film, however, criticism of Christianity is a major focus"

Roar (1997) [Wikipedia] TV series [Full series available at Internet Archive]
US, 8 episodes, fantasy, Color
Creator. Shaun Cassidy, Ron Koslow; Cast includes Heath Ledger (Conor), Lisa Zane
"Set in the year 400 AD, following a young Irish man, Conor (Heath Ledger), as he sets out to rid his land of the invading Romans, but in order to accomplish this, he must first unite the Celtic clans."

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Biblical Epic/Life of Christ

See also Wikipieda: List of films based on the Bible

Christ Walking on Water [Aka Le Christ marchant sur les flots] (1899) [Wikipedia]
France, 20 meters, BW, Silent
Dir. Georges Méliès
-First film with Jesus. Assumed lost.

Vie et Passion du Christ (1903) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
France, 44, BW/Color, Silent
Dir. Lucien Nonguet, Ferdinand Zecca; Cast includes Madame Moreau (Virgin Mary), Monsieur Moreau (Joseph)
-"Vie et Passion du Christ (Life and Passion of the Christ) is a 44-minute French silent film that was produced and released in 1903. As such, it is one of the earliest feature-length narrative films. The film, with sequences made in the stencil color process Pathéchrome, takes a straightforward approach to its subject matter. All scenes are introduced by an intertitle giving the traditional name of the event (the Annunciation, the Nativity, etc.) followed by the actors playing out the familiar stories from the Gospels. Other than the scene titles, there are no other inter-titles."

From the Manger to the Cross (1912) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 71, BW, Silent
Dir. Sidney Olcott. With Robert Henderson-Bland as Jesus.
-Filmed on location in Egypt and Palestine, the film is not only a major Jesus film but provides some of the earliest film footage of Palestine/Israel.

I.N.R.I [Aka Crown of Thorns] (1923) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Germany, 102, BW
Dir. Robert Wiene; Cast includes Gregori Chmara

The King of Kings (1927) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on Wikipedia]
US, 155, BW/Color, Silent
Dir. Cecil B. Demille; Cast includes H.B. Warner as Jesus.
-For many years this was the dominant Jesus film, shown in churches across the US. It contains the usual DeMille over the top scenes (chariots drawn by zebras) and a very effective moment when Jesus is first seen by a cured blind person. The opening and ressurection scenes are in two-color Technicolor.

Golgotha [Aka Behold the Man] (1935) [Wikipedia]
France, 95, BW. French
Dir. Julien Duvivier; Cast includes Robert Le Vigan
-The first portray of Jesus in a sound film.

The Living Christ (1951) [Wikipedia] TV series [Full film available on Wikipedia]
US, 1 season, 12 episodes, 360, Color
Dir. John T. Coyle; Cast includes Robert Wilson
-Made by NBC in color.

The Martyr of Calvary [Aka El Mártir del Calvario] (1952) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Mexico, 113, BW, Spanish
Dir. Miguel Morayta; Cast includes Enrique Rambal

Day of Triumph (1954) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on Wikipedia]
US, 110, Color
Dir. John T. Coyle, Irving Pichel; Cast includes Lee J. Cobb, Robert Holton(Jesus)
-Focuses on the politics surrounding his life.

Jesus of Nazareth (1956) TV series
UK, 1 season, 8 episodes, BW
Dir. Joy Harrington; Cast includes Tom Flemming
-BBC TV series

King of Kings (1961) [Wikipedia]
US, 160, 168, Color
Dir. Nicholas Ray; Cast includes Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus.
-Hunter is very whitebread ideal of Jesus.The films adds non-gospel back stories. The production values were high with a cast of thousands. The film was panned by critics.

Gospel According to St Matthew [Aka Il vangelo secondo Matteo] (1964) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 136, BW, Italian
Dir. Pier Paol Pasolini; Cast includes Enrique Irazoqui as Jesus.
-Pasolini, an agnostic or atheist Marxist, made what is often considered the purest Jesus movie by using only the Gospel of Matthew (he left out the "Saint" in the Italian title) and the services of local non-professional actors.

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on DailyMotion]
US, 268 mins, Color
Dir. George Stevens; Cast includes Max von Sydow as Jesus, Pat Boone, Charlton Heston, Martin Landau, Angela Lansbury, David McCallum, Roddy Mcdowall, Sal Mineo, Sidney Poitier, Claude Rains, Telly Savalas, John Wayne.
-Very long, and full of "guest stars," including a famous appearance by John Wayne as the centurion at the cross. With von Sydow as a very in control Jesus, this film perhaps best presents the Jesus of the Gospel of John.

Jesús, nuestro Señor [Aka Jesus, our Lord] (1971) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Mexico, 115, Color, Spanish
Dir. Miguel Zacarias; Cast includes Claudio Brook

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) [Wikipedia]
US, 106, Color
Dir. Norman Jewison; Cast includes Ted Neely as Jesus.
-A filmed version of Andrew Lloyd-Weber and Tim Rice's musical. Although many enjoy the music, it was widely criticized for its stressed-out Jesus and failure to go beyond the crucifixion. IThis is the most "de-mythologizing" of all the Jesus movies. Filmed in Israel.

Godspell (1973) [Wikipedia]
US, 103, Color
Dir. David Greene; Cast includes Victor Garber as Jesus
-Although set in New York City of the 1970, with Jesus in a Superman outfit, Godspell remains a more "religious" musical adaptation of Jesus's life than Jesus Christ Superstar.

Gospel Road (1973) [Wikipedia]
US, 99, Color
Dir. Robert Elstrom; Cast includes Johnny Cash, Robert Elftstrom Jesus
-Johnny Cash narrates the story of Jesus, with accompanying Country music songs.

Jesus of Nazareth (1977) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Full film available on YouTube]
UK/Italy, 4 episodes, 371 mins, Color
Dir. Franco Zeffirelli; Cast includes Robert Powell as Jesus, Anne Bancroft, Olivia Hussey, James Earl Jones, Ian McShane, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, Rod Steiger, Peter Ustinov, Michael York.
-As a made-for-TV series, Zeffirelli was able to take longer with his story, and his is probably the most faithful to the Gospels' telling of the story. Although no actor has satisfactorily played Jesus, Robert Powell looked the part (at least as established in Western art), and played it without the gaucheness (Hunter) or sheer weirdness (von Sydow, Neely) of others.

Karunamaydu (1978) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
India, 160, Color, Telugu
Dir. A. Bhimsingh , Christopher Coelho; Cast includes CHnadramohan
-"A 160-minute version of the life of Jesus Christ filmed entirely with a cast and crew of Christian Indians in India."

Jesus [Aka The Jesus Film](1979) [Wikipedia] [Full film available online at JesusFilm]
US, 117, Color
Dir. John Krish and Peter Sykes; Cast includes Brian Deacon as Jesus.
-Apart from the prologue, this movie is entirely based on the Gospel of Luke. It was produced by evangelical Protestants (Campus Crusade for Christ) who rave over it, and have made audio tracks in over 2000 languages. The whole film is available to view online.

Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) [Wikipedia]
UK, 94, Color
Dir. Terry Jones; Cast includes Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle
-The film specifies that Brian is "not Jesus", but this comedy is very much about previous Jesus films, and indeed resused sets from Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth.

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) [Wikipedia]
US, 168, Color
Dir. Martin Scorcese; Cast includes William Dafoe as Jesus.
-Based on Nikos Kazantzaki's novel, in which Jesus on the cross dreams of avoiding his death and marrying Mary Magdalene (i.e. one final temptation). This was criticized as blasphemous when it came out.

Jesus of Montreal (1989) [Wikipedia] [Full film available online at YouTube]
Canada, 120, Color, French
Dir. Denys Arcand; Cast includes Lothaire Bluteau
-A group of actors puts on a play about Jesus, while their lives come to echo the play. Highly praised by critics,

The Visual Bible: Matthew (1993) [Wikipedia] [Full film available online at YouTube]
South Africa/US, 265, Color
Dir. Regardt van den Bergh; Cast includes Richard Kiley (as St Matthew), Bruce Marchiano (Jesus)

Kristo (1996) [Wikipedia] [Full film available online at YouTube]
Philippines, 152, Color, Filipino
Dir. Ben "M&" Yalung; Cast includes Mat Ranillo III

Jesus (1999) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Full film available online at YouTube]
US/Italy, 2 episodes, 240, Color.
Dir. Robert Young; Cast includes Jeremy Sisto as Jesus, Jacqueline Bisset as Mary, Gary Oldman.

The Miracle Maker (2000) [Wikipedia] TV [Full film available online at Vimeo]
Wales/Russia, 90, Color, Claymation, English/Welsh
Dir. Derek W. Hayes and Stanislav Sokolov; Cast includes Ralph Fiennes as Jesus.
-A claymation version of the life of Jesus.

The Gospel of John (2003) [Wikipedia] [Full film available online at YouTube]
US, 180, Color
Dir. Philip Saville; Cast includes Henry Ian Cusick, Daniel Kash, Christopher Plummer
-Word for word version using the Good News Bible translation. That means a heavy reliance on Plummer's narrator. Notable for its lead in on screen texts which discuss possible Antisemitism.

Shanti Sandesham (2004) [Wikipedia] [Full film available online at YouTube]
US, 180, Color
India, 140, Color, Telegu
Dir. P. Chandrasekhara Reddy; Cast includes Krishna

The Passion of the Christ (2004) [Wikipedia]
US, 127, Color, Aramaic/Hebrew/Latin
Dir. Mel Gibson; Cast includes Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci
-The highest grossing Christian and independent film of all time. Filmed in Matera, Italy, the same location as Pasolini's Gospe of St Matthew. The film was accused of Anti-semitism, although many critics reject that. It is certainly one of the most significant "Jesus" filmes in cinematic history. [PH - I did not watch this until 2022, but then I found it intensely moving.]

The Holy Family [Aka La sacra famiglia] (2006) [Wikipedia] TV film [Partial film available online at YouTube]
Italy, 200, Color, Italian
Dir. Raffaele Mertes; Cast includes Alexxandro Gassmann
-The early years of Jesus.

The Nativity Story (2006) [Wikipedia]
US, 101, Color
Dir. Catherine Hardwick; Cast includes Keisha-Castle Hughes (Mary), Oscar Isaac (Joseph)

The Manchester Passion (2006) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available online at YouTube]
Creator. Andy-King Dabbs
-Passion of Christ set in the streets of Manchester and with contemporary pop music.

The Messiah (2007) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available online at YouTube]
Iran, 82, Color, Farsi
Dir. Nader Talebzadeh; Cast includes Ahmad Soleimani Nia 
-Portrays Jesus from a Muslim perspective and uses the Gospels, the Qur'an and the Gospel of Barnabas as sources. The production scenarios reflect traditional Hollywood.

The Passion (2008) [Wikipedia] TV series
UK, 4 episodes, 172, Color
Dir. Frank Deasy; Cast includes Joseph Mawle (Jesus), Paloma Paeza
-The last days and crucifixion of Jesus

Birdsong [Aka El cant des ocells] (2008) [Wikipedia]
Spain, 98, BW, Catalan/Hebrew
Dir. Albert Serra; Cast includes Victòria Aragonés, Lluís Carbó
-Art house BW film focused on the journey of the wise men.

The Life of Jesus Christ (2011-2012) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, 2 seasons, Color
Dir. Bruce NEibar; Cast includes Alice Johnson, Charley Boon, John Foss
-Uses the King James Version/Authorised Version texts. Produced by an LDS/Mormon production company.

The Life of Jesus (2013) [Full film available online at YouTube]
US, 173, Color
-Edited together from 55 LDS/Mormon Bible Vidoes

The Bible (2013) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, 10 episodes174, Color.
Dir. Roma Downey, Mark Burnett; Cast includes  Diogo Morgado
-Episodes 1-5 cover various parts of the Old Testement, episodes 5-10 cover the life of Jesus.

The Savior (2014) [Wikipedia]
Israel/Jordan/Bulgaria, 136, Color, Arabic
Dir. Robert Savo; Cast includes Abeer Issa, Ashraf Barhom,Ghassan Mashini

Son of God (2014) [Wikipedia]
US, 138, Color
Dir. Christopher Spencer; Cast includes Diogo Morgado, Adrian Schiller
-An adaptation of the ten-hour miniseries The Bible. Has some notably cheesy special effects, such as the walking on water scene.

The Gospel of John (2014) [Wikipedia] [Full film available online at YouTube]
US, 161, Color
Dir. David Batty; Cast includes Selva Rasalingam (Jesus)
-A word for word adaptation. This means a narrator's voice is the most heard.

The Gospel of Mark (2015) [Wikipedia] [Full film available online at YouTube]
US, 123, Color
Dir. David Batty; Cast includes Selva Rasalingam (Jesus)
-A word for word adaptation. This means a narrator's voice is the most heard.

The Young Messiah (2016) [Wikipedia]
US, 111, Color
Dir. Cyrus Nowrasteh; Cast includes Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus
-Based on the novel Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt by Anne Rice.

The Chosen (2017-) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, 3 seasons - ongoing, Color
Creator. Dallas Jenkins; Cast includes Jonathan Roumie
-The series is about Jesus, but makes the story capable of a multi-season approach by focusing on the lives of the people who encounter Jesus. The series has been a rating success.

Jesus (2018-2019) [Wikipedia] TV series
Brazil, 193 episodes, Color, Portuguese
Dir. Edgard Miranda;; Cast includes Dudu Azevedo
-Brazilian telenovela

Jesus: His Life (2019) [Wikipedia] TV series
UK, 1 season 8 episodes
Dir. Ashley Pearce, Adrian McDowell; Cast includes Greg Barnett, Houda Echouafni
-Dramatic presentation with interlaced commentary.

The Way of the Wind (2024) [Wikipedia]
US/UK, Color
Dir. Terrence Malik; Cast includes Mark Rylance (Satan), Matthias Schoenaerts (Peter), Géza Röhrig (Jesus) Ben Kingsley, Tawfeek Barhom, Björn Thors, Joseph Fiennes, Douglas Booth, Aidan Turner
-"A retelling of several episodes in the life of Jesus."

Joseph and Mary (2016) [Wikipedia]
Canada, 72, Color
Dir. Roger Christian; Cast includes Kevin Sorbo, Lara Jean Chorostecki

Mary, Mother of Jesus (1999) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available online at YouTube]
US, 88, Color
Dir. Kevin Connor; Cast includes Christian Bale (Jesus), Pernilla August

St Mary (2000) [Wikipedia] TV
Iran, 114, Color, Farsi
Dir. Shahriar Bahrani; Cast includes Shabnam Gholikhani, Parviz Poorhosseini
-Portrays Mary Jesus from a Muslim perspective.

Mary of Nazareth [Aka Maria di Nazaret] (2012) [Wikipedia] TV film
Italy/Germany/Spain, 100, Color, Italian
Dir. Giacomo Campiotti; Cast includes Alissa Jung, Paz Vega

Mary Magdalene (1914) [Wikipedia]
US, 36, BW, Silent
Dir. Arthur Maude; Cast includes Arthur Maude, Constance Crawley

Mary Magdalene (1920) [Wikipedia]
Germany, BW, Silent
Dir. Reinhold Shcnuenzel; Cast includes Eduard von Winterstein, Ilka Gruening

Mary Magdalene (2018) [Wikipedia]
US, 36, BW
Dir. Garth Davis; Cast includes Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix
-A feminist account of Mary Magdalene.

Judas: Close to Jesus [Aka Gli amici di Gesù - Giuda] (2001) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available online at YouTube - on English]
Italy, 91, Color, Italian
Dir. Raffaele Mertes: Cast includes Enrico Lo Version (Judas), Danny Quinn (Jesus)
-Focuses on the story of Judas, with Judas not understanding Jesus.

Judas (2004) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available online at YouTube]
US, 120, Color
Dir. Charles Robert Carner; Cast includes Johnathon Schaech (Judas), Jonathan Scarfe (Jesus)
-Focuses on the story of Judas.

Story of Judas [Aka Histoire de Judas] (2015) [Wikipedia]
France, 99, Color
Dir. Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche; Cast includes Nabil Djedouani  (Jesus), Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche (Judas)
-Tries to "rehabilitate" Judas. One review reads "given more realism by being shot in natural desert landscapes and amid ancient ruins." But the Galille of Jesus was not a desert, and ruins are what came after.

Risen (2016) [Wikipedia]
US, 107, Color
Dir.Kevin Reynolds; Cast includes Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton
-Focuses on the story of a Roman soldier, Clavius, who encounters the risen Jesus.

The Great Commandment (1939) [Wikipedia] [Full film available online at YouTube]
US, 78, BW
Dir. Irving Pichel; Cast includes John Beal
-"Portrays the conversion to Christianity of a young Zealot, Joel, and the Roman soldier Longinus through the teachings of Jesus in his Parable of the Good Samaritan."

The Inquiry [Aka L'inchiesta] (1986) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 107, Color, Italian
Dir. Damiano Damiani; Cast includes Keith Carradinne
-A Roman trubune investigates the possibility of the divinity of Christ.

The Final Inquiry [Aka L'inchiesta, The Inquiry] (2006) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 112, Color, Italian
Dir. Giulio Base; Cast includes Daniele Liotti, Dolph Lundgren
-A Roman trubune investigates the possibility of the divinity of Christ.

Ponzio Pilato (1962) [Wikipedia]
France/Italy, drama/religious, 100 1962 Color, In Italian
Dir. Gian Paolo Callegari, Irving Rapper: Cast includes: Emma Baron, John Drew Barrymore, Basilk Rathbone

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Biblical Epic/Early Christian

The Big Fisherman (1959) [Wikipedia] [Full film available online at YouTube]
US, 180, Color
Dir. Frank Borzage; Cast includes Howard Keel (St Peter)
-The life of St Peter

Imperium: St Peter (2005) [Wikipedia] TV film [Full film available online at DailyMotion]
Italy, 197, Color
Dir. Giulio Base; Cast includes Omar Sharif (St. Peter)
-The first half dramatises the Acts of the Apostles; the second half has Peter go to Rome

Apostle Peter and the Last Supper (2012) [Wikipedia]
US, 88, Color
Dir. Gabriel Sabloff; Cast includes  Robert Loggia, Ryan Alosio
- Saint Peter reflecting on his time with Jesus (Marchiano) and his fellow Apostles during his final imprisonment in Rome at the Mamertine Prison.

Peter and Paul (1981) [Wikipedia] TV mini series
US 200 min, No rating, Color,
Dir. Robert Day; Cast includes: Anthony Hopkins, Robert Foxworth, Raymond Burr
-About SS Peter and Paul in Rome.

Paul, Apostle of Christ (2018) [Wikipedia]
US, Color
Dir. Andrew Hyatt; Cast includes James Faulkner (Paul), Jim Caviezel (Luke)
-Life of St. Paul

A.D. (1985) [Wikipedia] TV series [Full film available online at YouTube]
US/Italy, 600, Color
Dir. Stuart Cooper; Cast includes Anthony Andrews, Ava Gardner, James Mason, Ian McShane
-Covers the Acts of the Apostles, but with a lot of Roman history included.

The Visual Bible: Acts (1994) [Wikipedia] [Full film available online at DailyMotion] [Full film available online at YouTube]
US, 193, Color
Dir. Rogardt van den Bergh; Cast includes Henry O. Arnold, Janes Brolin, Dean Jones
-All dialogue is word for word from the New International Version of the Acts of the Apostles

A.D. The Bible Continues (2015) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, 12 episodes, Color
Creators. Roma Downey, Mark Burnett; Cast includes Juan Pabli Di Pace (Jesus), Adam Levy (Peter)
--Covers the first 10 chapters of Acts

St John in Exile (1986) [Wikipedia]
US, 92, Color
Dir. Dan Curtis, Cast includes Dean Jones
-A one man play focusing on St. John in Patmos.

The Apocalypse [Aka San Giovanii - L'apocalisse] (2002) [Wikipedia] TV film
France/Germany/UK/Italy,
Dir. Raffaele Mertes; Cast includes Richard Harris
-Set in 90AD, with St John and Patmos. The film depicts scenes from the Book of Revelation.

Juan Apóstol, el más amado (2016) [Wikipedia]
Mexico, Color, Spanish
Dir. Conrado Martinez; Cast includes Mané de la Parra, Marjorie de Sousa, Livia Brito.

Santiago Apóstol (2017) [Wikipedia]
Spain, Color, Spanish
Dir. Alan Cotton; ; Cast includes Jorge Aravena
-Life of St James the Great (Santiago), until his death and the arrival of his body in Galicia.

St Thomas [Aka Thomasleeha] (1975) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
India, 184, COlor, Malayalam
-Dir P.A. Thomas; Cast includes P.K. Abraham
-"The film tells the story of St. Thomas the Apostle who reached the Malabar Coast in AD 52 to spread the Gospel among the Jews and locals who are today known as Saint Thomas Christians or Nasranis."

The Silver Chalice (1954) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious, 144, No rating, Color
Dir. Victor Saville: Cast includes: Virginia Mayo, Jack Palance, Paul Newman, Natalie Wood,
-Paul Newman as the Greek who designed the Chalice for the last supper. Newman later took out an ad to apologize for this, his first movie.

Barabbas (1961) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious, 134, No rating, Color
Dir. Richard Fleischer; Cast includes: Anthony Quinn

Ben-Hur (1925) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious/Historical, 141, No rating B&W
Dir. Fred Niblo: Cast includes: Ramon Navarro
-Famous for the naked male slave chained to a wall, and also included a topless woman.

Ben-Hur (1959) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious/Historical, 212, No rating, Color
Dir. William Wyler: Cast includes: Charleton Heston, Stephen Boyd
-Based on Lew Wallace's book. The story of Judah Ben-Hur and his boyhood friend Messala. Ben Hur is a love story between two men: Heston was not let into the secret (he has made a career of unacknowledged homoeroticism -- see The Agony and the Ecstasy or Planet of the Apes], but Boyd knew what role he was to play. The Arena sequences are among the best put on film.

Ben Hur (2010) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US, 2 episodes, Color
Dir. Steve Shill; Cast includes Joseph Morgan, Stephen Campbell Moore
-"Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army, returns to his homeland after years at sea to seek revenge, but finds redemption."

Ben-Hur (2016) [Wikipedia]
US/Italy, 125, Color
Dir. Timu Bekmambetov; Cast includes Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Morgan Freeman
-"Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, an officer in the Roman army, returns to his homeland after years at sea to seek revenge, but finds redemption."

Quo Vadis? (1951) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 171, No rating, Color
Dir. Mervyn LeRoy; Cast includes: Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov
-Story of St. Peter. Among other things.

Quo Vadis (1985) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries [Full series available on YouTube]
Italy, 6 episodes, Color
Dir. Franco Rossi. Cast includes Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max von Sydow
-Story of St. Peter. Among other things.

Quo Vadis (2001) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Poland, 165, Color, Polish
Dir. Jerzy Kawalerowicz; Cast includes Paweł Deląg, Magdalena Mielcarz, Bogusław Linda
-"The central plot in the movie revolves around the love of a Roman patrician, Marcus Vinicius, towards a Christian girl (coming from the territory of modern-day Poland) set against the backdrop of the persecutions against Christians during the reign of Nero." The most popular Polish film of the year.

The Robe (1953) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious, 135, No rating, Color
Dir. Henry Koster; Cast includes: Richard Burton, Victor Mature, Jean Simmons
-Based on Lloyd C. Douglas' novel about Roman centurion who presides over Christ's crucifixion. The first movie in CinemaScope.

Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious, 101, No rating, Color
Dir. Delmer Davies: Cast includes: Victor Mature, Susan Hayward
-Sequel to the Robe. Caligula looks for it now.

The Sign of the Cross (1932) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 118, No rating B&W
Dir. Cecil B. DeMiller: Cast includes: Fredric March, Claudette Colbert (Empress Poppaea), Charles Laughton (Emperor Nero)
Nero burns Rome. This was made before the Hayes code, and represents an high point id De Mille's skill of getting in as much sin as possible under a pious justification. Laughton as Nero is every bit as decadent as one could hope, but the last third of the movie is spectacular. Frederic March tries to "warm up" the Christian girl (Landi) he is pursuing by taking her to an orgy where she is caressed by a half-dressed lesbian -- in the background, martyrs sing on their way to the arena. The arena scenes are massively violent and erotic -- with naked women being attacked by crocodiles, and, at one point, an Amazon spearing a pygmy and lifting the still wriggling guy up in the air. The movie was cut to shreds after the Hays code, and it is important to get hold of the uncut version.

Androcles and the Lion (1952) [Wikipedia]
US, Comedy, 98, No rating, B&W
Dir. Chester Erskine; Cast includes: Jean Simmons, Alan Young, Victor Mature
-Based on GB Shaw play.
-There was also a TV version in 1965 with Norman Wisdom and Noel Coward.

Sebastiane (1976) [Wikipedia]
UK, religious, 82, Color, In Latin
Dir. Derek Jarman
-[PBH Comment] Story of the early Christian martyr St. Sebastian set as a homoerotic fantasy around 303 CE.. Mostly filmed with all characters naked, and the dialogue is all in Latin. Jarman explicitly exploits the image of Sebastian as a gay icon, and although set in late antiquity is not a historical film in any useful way. It is interesting to see Latin used as a daily language, and for gay classicists the movie will have an especial appeal. It would be difficult in most institutions to show this to any other class than a history of sexuality class.

The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian [Aka. Das Martyrium des heiligen Sebastian] (1984) TV movie [Full film available on YouTube - in French]
Germany, 82, Color
Dir. Peter Weigl; Cast includes Michael Biehn
-"Sebastian, Chief Archer in the Roman Army, converts to Christianity. A favorite of Emperor Augustus, Sebastian's devotion to Christ eventually drives him to reject the Emperor's love, causing the Emperor to angrily order Sebastian to be shot with arrows by his fellow archers. The film retells this mystery play with a definite 'art-house' approach."

Fabiola (1917) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 85, B&W
Dir. Enrico Guzzanoi

Fabiola (1949) [Alt: Fabiola and The Fighting Gladiator / Fabulous Fabiola] [Wikipedia]
France-Italy, Historical, 96, No rating B&W
Dir. Alessandro Blasetti
-About 4th-century persecution against Christians in Rome. The English-dubbed version, adapted by Marc Connelly and Fred Pressburger features a different story line from the original! Both Fabiola movies are adaptations of the famous novel by Cardinal Wiseman about the persecutions of the Christians at Rome just before her conquest by Constantine.

Decline of an Empire (2014) [Wikipedia]
UK, 110, Color
Dir. Michael Redwood; Cast includes, Peter O'Toole (final role), Nicole Madjarov, Joss Acklann
-About the life of Catherine of Alexandria.

Il Crolo di Roma (1963) [Alt: Rome In Flames] [Wikipedia]
Italy, 90, B&W
Dir. Antonio Margherriti
-About the time after the death of Constantine when sporadic persecution was still being carried out.

Agostino d'Ippona [aka Augustine of Hippo] (1972) [Wikipedia] TV mini series
Italy, 121 mins.
Dir. Roberto Rossellini
The life of St, Augustine of Hippo by one of the masters of Italian Cinema.

Restless Heart: The Confessions of Saint Augustine [aka Sant'Agostino] (2010) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 205, Color
Dir. Christian Duqua; Cast includes Alessandre Preziosi
The life of St, Augustine of Hippo and his interactions with the Vandals

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Homosexual/LGBT/Transgendered Characters

Many films set in the ancient world, so-called "Sword and Sandal" movies in the US, and "Peplum" films in Italy tookthe opportunity to display naked or semi-naked male and female bodies to their audiences's gaze.That appealednot only to the heterosexual gaze but to the "homosexual gaze" as well. The Hays Code [Wikipedia] 1934-1968 in Hollywood prevented any direct referemces to homosexuality in the mid 20th century, but there were allusions.

Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah [Aka Sodom and Gemorrah] (1962) 154 mins [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
France/Italy/US, 154, Color
Dir. Robert Aldrich; Cast includes Stewart Granger (as Lot) and Ainouk Aimée (as Queen of Sodom).
-Very loosely based on the Biblical story, and about a story often connected with homosexuality, but the film does not make that an issue.

King David (1985) [Wikipedia]
114 mins
Dir. Bruce Beresford; Cast includes Richard Gere as David.
-The scenes of David dancing with the ark are remarkable. The director later regretted not making more of the friendship of David and Jonathan.

Damon and Pythias [Aka Il tiranno di Siracusa] (1961) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on Internet Archive]
Italy, 99, Color.
Dir. Curtis Bernhardt; Cast includes Samuel Marx, Franco Riganti
-"Pythias, a liberal Athenian who believes all men are brothers, is condemned to death by Dionysus, the tyrant of Syracuse, who finds this view dangerous. However, Dionysus allows Pythias to return to Athens to visit his ailing wife with the understanding he will then come back to face his punishment." The story is about ideals of male friendship, but there has been considerable interest in the story as a model of homosexual relations, for example by Edward Carpenter.

Troy (2004) [Wikipedia]
US, epic, 163, Color
Dir. Wolfgang Petersen; Cast includes Bradd Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Rose Byrne
-The film completely omits the roles of the Homeric gods which are central to the Iliad. There is no hint of the (later) Greek ascription of a homosexual aspect to the relationship of Achilles and Patroclus.

Tory: Fall of the City (2018) [Wikipedia] TV series
US/UK, 8 episodes, Color
Creator. David Farr; Cast includes Louis Hunter, Bella Dayen, David Gyasi
-Unlike previous adaptations the Greek Gods are present as actual characters in the action. There is a scene in which Achilles and Patroclus have sex with Brisies and with each other.

300 (2007) [Wikipedia]
US, 117, Color
Dir. Zack Snyder; Cast includes Gerald Butler, Lena Headey, Dominic West
-Hugely popular retelling of the story of the Spartn 300 at Thermopylae. Portrayed Xerxes as homosexual, but the more evident homoeroticism was in the depiction of huge numbers of almost naked muscular men who apparently fough wearing leather speedos.

Alexander (2004) [Wikipedia]
US, 175, Color
Dir. Oliver Stone; Cast includes Colin Farrell, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie
-Stone consulter with historian Robin Lane Fox. Farrell used his Irish accent, to indicate perhaps that Macedonia was not quite Attica, and Alexander's homosexuality was presented in his relationships with Hephaestion and Bagoas.. The cinema version made a bit snappier in the DVD release.

Spartacus (1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on DailyMotion]
US, 197, Color
Dir. Stanley Kubrick; Cast includes Lawrence Olivier, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas (Spartacus), Jean Simmons
-Based on the life story of Spartacus and one of the most siccessful "ancient world" films ever made with a major director, stellar cast, and huge budget. One scene was famously cut, in which Crassus (Laurence Olivier) sexually propsoitions an attractive slave attendent Antoninus (Tony Curtis). More recent releases restored the scene (dubbed by Anthony Hopkins), which is essential to explain why Antoninus joins the revolt. The scene's clear homosexual subtext was too much in 1960.

Spartacus (2010-2013) [Wikipedia] TV series
Dir. Steve. S. DeKnight; Cast includes Andy Whitfield, John Hanna, Lucy Lawless
-The life of Spartacus, but episodic form and complext production demands makes it as much about galdiators as rebellion. There is a homoerotic subtext to all such films which make an effort to displace almost naked male bodies. In this series the homosexuality was explicit at times, for example with the characters Agron and Nasir.

Rome (2005-2007) [Wikipedia] TV Series
US, 2 seasons, 22 episodes, Color
-Creator. John Milius, William J. MacDonald, Bruno Heller; Cast includes Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Ciaran Hinds, Lindsay Duncan, James Purefoy.
-Covers the career of Ceasar, Mark Anthony and Octavian until Actium. An example of peak prestige Television. There was a lot os explicit sex, but the action and story-telling were also well done.

Gospel According to St Matthew [Aka Il vangelo secondo Matteo] (1964) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, 136, BW, Italian
Dir. Pier Paol Pasolini; Cast includes Enrique Irazoqui as Jesus.
-Pasolini, an agnostic or atheist Marxist, made what is often considered the purest Jesus movie by using only the Gospel of Matthew (he left out the "Saint" in the Italian title) and the services of local non-professional actors.

Ben-Hur (1959) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious/Historical, 212, No rating, Color
Dir. William Wyler: Cast includes: Charleton Heston, Stephen Boyd
-Based on Lew Wallace's book. The story of Judah Ben-Hur and his boyhood friend Messala. Ben Hur is a love story between two men: Heston was not let into the secret (he has made a career of unacknowledged homoeroticism -- see The Agony and the Ecstasy or Planet of the Apes], but Boyd knew what role he was to play. The Arena sequences are among the best put on film.

The Sign of the Cross (1932) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 118, No rating B&W
Dir. Cecil B. DeMiller: Cast includes: Fredric March, Claudette Colbert (Empress Poppaea), Charles Laughton (Emperor Nero)
Nero burns Rome. This was made before the Hayes code, and represents an high point id De Mille's skill of getting in as much sin as possible under a pious justification. Laughton as Nero is every bit as decadent as one could hope, but the last third of the movie is spectacular. Frederic March tries to "warm up" the Christian girl (Landi) he is pursuing by taking her to an orgy where she is caressed by a half-dressed lesbian -- in the background, martyrs sing on their way to the arena. The arena scenes are massively violent and erotic -- with naked women being attacked by crocodiles, and, at one point, an Amazon spearing a pygmy and lifting the still wriggling guy up in the air. The movie was cut to shreds after the Hays code, and it is important to get hold of the uncut version.

Fellini Satyricon (1969) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
Italy, Historical, 129, Rated R, Color
Dir. Federico Fellini; Cast includes" Martin Potter (Encolpio)
-Not exactly a filming of Petronius Arbiter's novel. The tag ran "Rome. Before Christ. After Fellini". Potter is Encolpio a beautiful youth, whose young lover and slave, Gitone, has been stolen from him and sold to an older man. He vows to get him back.

Sebastiane (1976) [Wikipedia]
UK, religious, 82, Color, In Latin
Dir. Derek Jarman
-[PBH Comment] Story of the early Christian martyr St. Sebastian set as a homoerotic fantasy around 303 CE.. Mostly filmed with all characters naked, and the dialogue is all in Latin. Jarman explicitly exploits the image of Sebastian as a gay icon, and although set in late antiquity is not a historical film in any useful way. It is interesting to see Latin used as a daily language, and for gay classicists the movie will have an especial appeal. It would be difficult in most institutions to show this to any other class than a history of sexuality class.

The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian [Aka. Das Martyrium des heiligen Sebastian] (1984) TV movie [Full film available on YouTube - in French]
Germany, 82, Color
Dir. Peter Weigl; Cast includes Michael Biehn
-"Sebastian, Chief Archer in the Roman Army, converts to Christianity. A favorite of Emperor Augustus, Sebastian's devotion to Christ eventually drives him to reject the Emperor's love, causing the Emperor to angrily order Sebastian to be shot with arrows by his fellow archers. The film retells this mystery play with a definite 'art-house' approach."

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LISTS

A. Worst Ancient History Movies [In no particular order]

B. Best Ancient History Movies - for accuracy

  • Pharoah (Aka Faraon) ( 1966) [Wikipedia] [Full film available in Spanish version on YouTube]
    Poland, drama, 175, Color, Polish
    Dir. Jerzy Kawalerowicz; Cast lncludes Jerzy Zelnik Wiesława Mazurkiewicz
    -"The young pharaoh, Ramesses XIII, intends to reform Ancient Egypt. Herhor the priest opposes him. The power struggle between them is the focus of the film. Other themes include the friendship with Pentuer the priest, the love for Sara the beautiful Jewess and Kama the priestess. It is also the story of the secret pact with Assyria, the Solar eclipse and how the priests used it to subdue the crowds, and the assassination of Ramses XIII at the hands of his look-alike. A historical fresco of universal meaning, revealing the mechanisms of power and the influence of religion on social life." Although the story is fictional this is considered one ot the most historically well-informed films set in Ancient Egypt.
  • Gospel According to Matthew (1964) [Wikipedia]
    Italy, 136, BW
    Dir. Pier Paol Pasolini; Cast includes Enrique Irazoqui as Jesus.
    Pasolini, an agnostic or atheist Marxist, made what is often considered the purest Jesus movie by using only the Gospel of Matthew (he left out the "Saint" in the Italian title). That means, with one exception, all the text in the film come from the ancient source material.

C. Best Ancient History Movies - as films

  • Spartacus (1960) [Wikipedia] [Full film available on DailyMotion]
    US, 197, Color
    Dir. Stanley Kubrick; Cast includes Lawrence Olivier, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas (Spartacus), Jean Simmons
    -Based on the life story of Spartacus and one of the most siccessful "ancient world" films ever made with a major director, stellar cast, and huge budget.
  • I, Claudius (1976) [Wikipedia] BBC TV Miniseries
    UK, 10 episodes of 50 mins, Color
    Dir. Herbert Wise. With Derek Jacobi, Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed, John Hurt
    One of the best BBC TV series ever made. Based on Robert Graves' novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God, which in turn were based on Suetonius. The acting is superb.
  • Rome (2005-2007) [Wikipedia] TV Series
    US, 2 seasons, 22 episodes, Color
    -Creator. John Milius, William J. MacDonald, Bruno Heller; Cast includes Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Ciaran Hinds, Lindsay Duncan, James Purefoy.
    -Covers the career of Ceasar, Mark Anthony and Octavian until Actium. An example of peak prestige Television. There was a lot os explicit sex, but the action and story-telling were also well done.

D. Ancient Film Misconceptions (Aka Myths) [In no particular order]

  • Roman men should be represented wearing fringes. See Roland Barthes, "Romans in films" in Mythologies (1957. trans 1972), pp. 24-26 [At Sound Environment] [Internet Archive version here]

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Further Reading on Ancient History and Film

Roy Kinnard and Tony Crnkovich:. Italian Sword and Sandal Films, 1908–1990 (2017)

Amanda Potter and Hunter Gardner: Ancient Epic in Film and Television 2022 [At Jstor]

Jon Solomon: The Ancient World in Cinema 1978, 2001 [At Internet Archive borrow facility]

Martin Winkler (ed):  Classics and the Cinema  1991 [At Internet Archive borrow facility]

Maria Wyke: Projecting the Past: Ancient Rome, Cinema, and History 1997 [At Internet Archive borrow facility]

Syllabus: Ancient World in Cinema (University of Richmond) [Internet Archive backup here]

Wikipedia: Sword and Sandal Films

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See also


The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall, created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 12 July 2024 [CV]