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IHSP Credits

Ancient History in the Movies | Medieval Movies | Modern History in the Movies
Course: Myth, Epic Romance: Medieval History in Film (archived version)

Internet Medieval Sourcebook

Medieval History in the Movies

Version 6.1 [2023]

Compiler: Paul Halsall


(Archived older version of this page here)

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

What follows is a list of dramatic movies on medieval themes compiled with the help of Wikipedia, Microsoft's Cinemania, The Internet Movie Database [The IMdb is a splendid resource: consult it for more detailed information (complete cast, crew and technical information), plot summaries, and links to reviews for many of the films below], and various contributors to the Mediev-l discussion list, and with the help in 2023 of the members of various Facebook discussion groups.

This list is comprehensive but not exhaustive. 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 Medieval Sourcebook. "Medieval" has been taken very widely - from the first-century (CE) Roman Empire until the 17th-century - that is so that it might fit in with the kinds of history survey courses that begin with the rise of Christianity and end in 1648. As of 24 May 2023 there are c 454 separate items on this list. Some of them are listed under several sub headings.

Although "medieval" and "movies" might not seem to be a good fit -- and a lot of bad films have been made -- it is perhaps worth noting that they have gone together since the earliest surviving American feature film - André Calmettes and James Keane Richard III of 1912.

My essay Thinking about Historical Film (PDF) or here (HTML) may be of interest for readers of this web page.

My old course outline Myth, Epic and Romance: Medival History in the Movies may also be of interest

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

Contents

See the separate file on History of Sainthood in the Movies (2006) [Was at UNF, now Internet Archive]

Notes

  • By "clicking" on the title of the movie, you will be taken to the Internet Movie Database record on that movie. As of 2023 there is also a link to the Wikipedia page for each item.
  • Films are in English unless otherwise noted.
  • At some time in the future, I expect, it will be possible to link list like this to the actual films, which will be immediately (for a fee) playable on your computer/TV/digital appliance. In 1970, c.26 years before I compiled the initial list it was extremely difficult to see old films, unless there was a repetory cinema showing a season or a film club. Even when you could see old films, it was not possible to exactly specify a time in the film because the copies that were circulated from film libraries would all be slightly different - it was a usual requirement for a projectionist to be able to repair and glue film together when filmstrips broke. By 1996 VHS meant that some in cities with cinephile/cinéaste subcultures there were libraries and commercial outlets where you could access thousands of tapes. The quality of those tapes was often awful. And I suspect there were fairly few cities which such opportunities. As of 2023, witha few online subscriptions, and access to YouTube, it is possible to access far more films than in 1996, but there are still some barriers.

Other Lists like this


Pagan Late Antiquity

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

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 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 by I thought it was very enjoyable.

Fellini Satyricon (1969) [Wikipedia]
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.

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.

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, with plenty of gore as anarchists incite a violent uprising among the people." "England"! Rome! Viking Queens! Ouch."

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.

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.

Sheba and the Gladiator (1959) [Wikipedia]
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.

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

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Christian Late Antiquity

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Constantino Il Grande (1961)[Alt: Constantine The Great \Constantine and The Cross] [Wikipedia]
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".

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] (1972) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 205, Color
Dir. Christian Duqua
The life of St, Augustine of Hippo and his interactions with the Vandals

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The Barbarian/German Impact

Attila Flagello Di Dio (1918) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 53, B&W
Dir. Phoebus Mari

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.

Goliath and the Barbarians [Aka Il terrore dei Barbari] (1959) [Wikipedia]
Italy, Historical, 100, No rating, Color
Dir. Carlo Campogalliani:: Cast includes: Steve Reeves
-Depicts the Lombard invasion of Italy in 568 AD.

Sword of the Conqueror [Aka Rosamunda and Alboino] (1961) [Wikipedia]
Italy, Historical, 96, No rating, Color
Dir. Carlo Campogalliani:: Cast includes: Jack Palance
-"Alboino a cruel Lombard ruler marries Rosamunda, the daughter of King Cunimondo, killed in battle, beats her lover but in the end faces a great popular revolt against him."

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Byzantium, etc.

Simón del desierto (1965) [Alt: Simon of the Desert] [Wikipedia]
Mexico, historical religious, 44 1965 Black and White, In Spanish
Dir. Luis Buñuel; Cast includes: Claudio Brook (Simon), Silvia Pinal
- Buñuel's version of the story of St. Simon Stylites, who stood on a pillar for forty years. This is one of the best accounts of Early Christian Asceticism ever put on screen.

Theodora, Imperatice Di Bizanzio (1909) [Alt: Theodora Empress of Byzantium] [Wikipedia]
Italy
Dir. Ernesto Mario Pasquali

Theodora (1912)
France
Dir. Henrey Pouctal

Theodora (1919) [Alt: Theodora, the Slave Princess] [Wikipedia]
Italy
Dir. Giovanni Vitrotti, Leopoldo Carlucci

Theodora (1921/23) [Wikipedia]
Italy, SB&W, Silent
Dir. Leopoldo Carlucci

Teodora Imperatice Di Bisanzio (1954) [Alt: Theodora Slave Empress\ Theodora Queen of Byzantium \Theodora] [Wikipedia]
Italy/France, Adventure, B&, 92, In Italian
Dir. Riccardo Freda (as Robert Hampron); Cast includes: Gianna Maria Canal, George Marchal, Irene Pappas
- The most important movie about Theodora (though that really is not saying much)

The Last Roman (1968) [Alt: Kampf um Rom] [Wikipedia]
Germany-Romania, Historical, [103 minutes (part I), 83 minutes (part II), 93 minutes (one-part version)] No rating
Dir. Robert Siomak: Cast includes: Orson Welles, Syliva Coscina (Theodora), Lang Jeffries (Belisarius)
-Based on Felix Dann's German bestseller Kampf um Rom about the decline of the Roman Empire.
-Probably the most ambitious Byzantine movie ever which in its original German version was released in 2 part of some 4 hours. (everywhere else the movie was shown in only half its length). Based on a 19th century novel by Felix Dahn it presents the struggle of the daughters of the Gothic king Theodoric for power after his death. and then the conquest of their kingdom in Italy by the Byzantine general Belisarius. Te movie won a very bad critical reviews but it is very grandiose and detailed.
see also: Kampf um Rom II - Der Verrat (1969)  

Rytsarskiy roman (Romance of Chivalry) [Alt Рыцарский роман] (2000) TV [Wikipedia] [Available on YouTube]
Russia, Historial, 135, Color
Director, Alexander Inshakov.
-" The action of the movie is set in the late 11th century Constantinople during the time of the 1st Crusade. The crusaders need the help of the emperor Alexius to get to Jerusalem while the latter tries to do his best to get rid of the unwelcome guests." 

Malazgirt 1071 (2022) [Wikipedia]
Turkey, wwr epic, 130, Color, Turkish
Dir. Ozgur Bakr; Cast includes Vildan Atasever, Cengiz Coskun, , Luk Piyes
-About the Battle of Manzikert 1071 when the Seljuk turks defeated the Roman/Byzantine Emperor Romanu IV Diogenes

Rise of Empires: Ottoman (2020) [Wikipedia] TV series
Turkey, historical docudrama, 2 seasons, 12 episodes
Dir. Emre Şahin; Cast includes Cem Yiğit Üzümoğlu, Tommaso Basili and Daniel Nuță.
-Season 1 is about the conquestion of Constantinople in 1453; Season 2  1462 Ottoman invasion of Wallachia.

Fetih 1453 (Romance of Chivalry) [Alt. The Conquest 1453] (2012) [Wikipedia] [Available with English dubbing on YouTube]
Turkey, Epic Historical drama, 160, Color
Director, Faruk Aksoy; Cast includes Dvrim Evin
-The conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by Sultan Mehmet II."

Tirant lo Blanc [Aka The Maidens' Conspiracy] (2006) [Wikipedia]
Spain, historical adventure, 127, In Englisg
Dir. Vicente Aranda; Cast includes Casper Zafer, Esther Nubiola and Victoria Abril.
-"Based on Tirant lo Blanch, a Valencian language chivalry romance dating to 1490, written by Joanot Martorell. It presents a highly fictionalized alternate history narrative of the events leading to the Fall of Constantinople." "Tirante the knight is as committed to fighting the Turks in Constantinople as he is to relieving Carmesina, the heiress to the Byzantine Empire, of her virginity."

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The Byzantine Commonwealth - Rus' and Russia

A Viking Saga [Alt: A Viking Saga;Son of Thor] (2008) [Wikipedia]
Denmark, 82, Color, English and Danish
Dir. Michael Mouyal;Cast includes Ken Vedesgaard
-About Oleg of Novgorod, and the capture of Kiev in 882AD.

Trees Grow on Stones Too [Alt: И на камнях растут деревья /I na kamnyakh rastut derevy] (1985) [Wikipedia]
USSR/Norway, Adventure, 146, Russian
Dir. Stanislav Rostosky and Knut Andersen; Cast includes Aleksandr Aleksandrov, Petronella Bardker
-About a young man Kusha, cpatured by Vikings, but who wants to return home.

I Tartari (1962) [Alt: The Tartars] [Wikipedia]
Color
Dir. Ferdinando Baldi, Richard Thorpe (I); Cast includes: Victor Mature, Orson Welles
-"In what is now Russia, a settlement of Vikings lives in peace with both the Tatars and the Slavs. All is well until Togrul, a Tatar chief seeks the help of Oleg the chief of the Vikings, to war on the Slavs in a surprise attack."

Prince Vladimir (2006) [Wikipedia]
Russia, Historical, 78, Animated
Dir. Yuri Kulakov
-The life of Vladimir the Great, who converted Kievan Rus' to Christianity in the 10th century.

The Legend of Princess Olga [Aka Legenda o knyagine Olge] (1984) [Wikipedia]
USSR, 128, Russian/Ukrainian
Dir. Yuri Ilyenko; Cast includes Lydmilla Efimenko
-Stories about Princess Olga of Kievan Rus' in the early 11th century.

Viking (2016) [Wikipedia]
Russia, 128/133/142, Color, Russia (English dubbed available)
Dir. Andrew Kravchukl; Cast includes Danila Kozlovskiy
-Set in 10th century, about Vladimir the Great, Prince of Novgorod, and his efforts to reconquer Kiev.

Iron Lord (2010) [Wikipedia]
Russia, historical adventure, 99, Russian.
Dir.  Dmitry Korobkin.
-The story of Yaroslav the Wise in the 11th century. Created as part of the preparation for the 1000th anniversary of Yaroslavl City.

Yaroslavna, Queen of France [Aka Yaroslavna, koroleva Frantsii/Ярославна, королева Франции] (1979) [Wikipedia]
Russia, historical drama, 108, Color
Dir. Igor Maslennikov; Cast includes Kirill Lavrov, Elena Koreneva
-"The action takes place in 1048 in Russia and Central Europe. Ambassadors of King Henry I of France arrive in Kiev to ask Prince Yaroslav the Wise for the hand of his youngest daughter Anna .
-"Accompanied by ambassadors, Anna Yaroslavna, daughter of Yaroslave the Wise, and future French queen. During the journey there are many adventures associated with the Varangians, Poles, Byzantines. Anna Yaroslavna is exposed to many dangers, but reaches France, accompanied by only one bodyguard."

Alexander Nevsky (1938) [Wikipedia]
Russia, War/Historical, 111, No rating B&W
Dir. Sergei Eisenstein, D.I. Vassillev; Cast includes: Nikolai Cherkassov
-The repelling of a German invasion in the 13th century. Score by Prokofiev. One of the great movies.

Andrei Rublev (1966) [Wikipedia]
Russia, Historical, 185, No rating, Color, B&W
Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky
-about the 15th-century icon painter.
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] On the other side of the ledger, has anyone else seen Tarkowski's Andrei Rublev? I don't know enough about Medieval Russia to judge it. It seemed to do a reasonable job portraying the period, and is cinematically outstanding, although Rublev's character struck me as a bit too modern.

Ivan the Terrible, Part One (1944) [Wikipedia]
Russia, Historical/Drama, 99, No rating B&W
Dir. Sergei Eisenstein, D.I. Vassillev; Cast includes: Nikolai Cherkassov
-Music by Prokofiev

Ivan the Terrible, Part Two (1958) [Wikipedia]
Russia, Historical/Drama, 88, No rating B&W
Dir. Sergei Eisenstein, D.I. Vassillev; Cast includes: Nikolai Cherkassov
-Music by Prokofiev. This was banned in Russia until 1958 because Stalin object to the portrayal of Ivan's secret police.

Tsar Ivan Groznyj (1991) [Wikipedia]
Russia, 137
Director. Gennadi Vasilyev

Yermak [Aka Ермак] (1997) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
Russia, 5 episodes, 257 mins, Russian
Dir. Valery Uskov, Vladimir Krasnopolsky; Cast includes Victor Stepanov
-The reign of Ivan the Terrible and expansion into Siberia.

Ivan Groznyy [Aka Ivan the Terribe] (2009) [Wikipedia] TV series
Russia, 16 episodes, Color, Russian
Dir. Andrey Eshpay; Cast include Alexander Demidov.
The Life of Ivan the Terrible.

Prisoner of the Volga (1959) [Wikipedia]
Yugoslavia, Historical, 102, No rating, Color
Dir. Victor Tourjansky
-About a solider who seeks revenge when a general impregnates his wife.

1612 (2007) [Wikipedia]
Russia, epic, 184, Color, Russian
Dir. Vladimir Khotinenko; Cast includes Pyotr Kislov.
-About the 17th century Time of Troubles and the Polish–Muscovite War with the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

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The Byzantine Commonwealth - Georgia, Armenia, Bulgaria

The Warrior and the Slave Girl (1958) [Alt La  Rivolta dei gladiatori] [Wikipedia]
Italy, Historical, 88,No rating, Color
Dir. Vittorio Cottafavi
-Set in ancient Armenia. "A cruel Armenian princess craves the throne of the young king Osroé, while a popular uprising led by Asclepius breaks out."

The Legend of the Suram Fortess [Aka Ambavi Suramis tsikhitsa] (1985) [Wikipedia]
USSR/Georgia, historical, 88 mins.Color. In Georgian.
Dir. Dodo Abashidze and Sergei Parajanov (aka Paradjanov)
-The film is set  in medieval Georgia and the legend concerns the last wall around the Suram fortress. The wall collapses no matter what the builders try to keep it standings. A woman denied be the man she loves makes a prophecy and advises the prince who abandoned her to bury his son in the walls of Suram Fortress to protect it during a siege. According to the prophecy the only way to complete the wall around the fortress is to immure the hero into the wall.

Aszparuh [Aka Khan Asparuh or Хан Аспарух] (1981) [Wikipedia] TV miniseries
Bulgaria. 3 episodes, Color.
Dir. Ludmil Staikov
-Bulgarian historical action and drama film telling the story of Khan Asparuh and the events around the founding of the medieval Bulgarian state in 681 AD.

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Islam

Mohammad, Messenger of God/The Message [Aka Ar-Risālah] (1976) [Wikipedia]
Lebanon-UK, Religious, 180, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Moustapha Akkad; Cast includes: Anthony Quinn, Irene Pappas
-In accordance with Islamic law, Muhammad is not actually shown on screen, and neither he, nor most of his relatives are allowed to speak. This left Muhammad's uncle as the central character.

Muhammad: The Messenger of God (2015) [Wikipedia]
Iran, Epic, 178, Color
-A film which claimed no difference between Sunni and Shia views, but which was condemned by Sunni religious authorities.

Lady of Heaven (2021) [Wikipedia]
UK, Epic, 141, Color
Dir. Eli King.
-Shia depiction of the life of Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad. It was very much rejected by Sunni religious authorities.

Death of Yazdgerd (1982) [Wikipedia]
Iran, drama, 120, Coloe
Dir. Bahram Beyzai 
-About the murder of Yazdgerd III, the last emperor of Sasanian Persia.

Al Qadisiyya (1981) [Wikipedia]
Iraq, Epic, 145, Color, Lang?
-"The film portrays the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah 636 CE, in which the Islamic army of Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas defeating the Persian forces of Rostam Farrokhzad.

Omar [Aka Farouk Omar] (2012) [Wikipedia] TVMiniseries
Syria. 1 series, 31 episodes, Arabic
-A Syrian TV series on the life or Omar, the second Caliph

Al Hajjaj (2003) [Wikipedia] TVMiniseries
Syria. 35 episodes, Arabic
-A Syrian TV series on the life or Al Hajjaj Bin Youssef Al Thaqafi in the late 7th century CE

Arabian Nights (1942) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 86, No rating, Color
Dir. John Rawlins; cast includes: Maria Montez, Sabu
-"Camp"

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 87, No rating, Color
Dir. Arthur Lubin; cast includes: Maria Montez, Jon Hall
-A follow-up to Arabian Nights.  There is a historical set-up to this fantasy movie. It is set just after the Mongols have conquered Baghdad, and Ali Baba is presented as a surviving Abbasid prince.

The Golden Blade (1953) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 81 min, No rating, Color
Dir. Nathan Juran; Cast includes: Rock Hudson (Harun), Piper Laurie (Princess Khairuzan), Anita Ekberg, Bill Radovich (Eunuch)
-Arabian nights type adventure, but mixes in the legend of King Arthur and the sword in the stone.

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) [Wikipedia]
UK, Fantasy/Adventure, 104 min, Rated G, Color
Dir. Gordon Hessler; Cast includes: John Phillip Law, Caroline Munro, Tom Baker

Arabian Nights (1974) [Aka Il Fiore delle mille e una notte] [Wikipedia]
France-Italy, Fantasy, 128, No rating, Color, Italian
Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini
-Several 1001 Nights stories, framed by the story of slave-girl Pellegrina, who becomes "king" of a great city. [Part of Pasolini's Medieval trilogy of Arabian Nights, Decameron, and Canterbury Tales]

The Physician [Aka Der Medicus] (2013) [Wikipedia]
Germany, historical drama, 150 mins/180 mins TV series.
Dir. Philipp Stölzl; Cast includes Tom Payne, Ben Kingsley, Stellan Skarsgård, Olivier Martinez, Emma Rigby
-Based on the novel by Noah Gordon, this is about an orphan from 11th-century English town whose mother died of side sickness. The boy vows to study medicine and decides to travel to Persia to study with Avicenna/Ibn Sina. The plot inlcudes both Jewish and Islamic medical cultures.

Omar Khayyam (1957) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 101, No rating, Color
Dir. William Dieterle; Cast includes: Cornel Wilde
-Set in medieval Persia.
[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] What about the incomparable Omar Khayyam starring Cornell Wilde? When Omar finally gets to the heart of the assassin's stronghold (you know they're bad guys because they throw people down holes and stuff), the evil rotten chief terrorist of the medieval world, The Old Man of the Mountains, turns out to be Edward Platt, later known as The Chief of CONTROL on "Get Smart!"

El Naser Salah el Dine [Alt: Saladin] (1963) [Wikipedia]
Egypt, Historical/Drama (Technicolor), 175 mins, Arabic
Director Youssef Chahine.
An Arab movie about Saladin. It is not clear in the movie that Saladin was a Kurd, not an Arab, and he is presented as a prototype of Nasser in calling for Arab unity in order to expel the western intruders.

Princess of the Nile (1954) 71 mins.[Wikipedia] [Full film available on YouTube]
US, 71, Color
Dir. Harmon Jones; Cast includes Debra Paget, Jeffrey Hunter
-Set in Egypt in 1249 CE. "Egypt, 1249: The father of Princess Shalimar has fallen under the spell of the sinister Shaman, who drugs him and tries to keep daughter Shalimar a prisoner. She knows a secret passage, however, and slips away at night to entertain the oppressed villagers of Hanwan by disguising herself as Taura, a popular dancer in the Tambourine Tavern."

Destiny [Alt: Al-Massir] (1997) [Wikipedia]
Egypt, Historical/Drama (Technicolor), 135 mins. Arabic
Director Youssef Chahine.
The story of Averoes set in 12th century Al-Andulus. It is an attack by Chahine on fundamentalism.

Journey to Mecca [Aka Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta[ (2009) [Wikipedia]
US, documentary, IMAX, 45
Dir. Bruce Neibaur; Narrated by Ben Kingsley; Cast includes Chems-Eddine Zinoune
-Focuses on the pilgrimage of Ibn Battuta to Mecca in 1345.

Fetih 1453 (Romance of Chivalry) [Alt. The Conquest 1453] (2012) [Wikipedia] [Available with English dubbing on YouTube]
Turkey, Epic Historical drama, 160, Color, Turkish
Director, Faruk Aksoy; Cast includes Dvrim Evin
-The conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by Sultan Mehmet II."

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The Celtic World

The Secret of Kells (2009) [Wikipedia]
Ireland, Animated, 75, in English and Irish
Dir Tomm Moore; Cast includees Evan mcGuire, Brendom Gleeson
-Animated fantasy film set in 9th century Ireland about the making of the book of Kells.

St. Patrick: The Irish Legend (2000) [Wikipedia] TV
US, 92, Color.
Dir. Robert Hughes; Cast includes Patrick Bergin, Alan Bates.
The life of St. Patrick, from childhood, to his mission to Ireland.

The Gaelic King (2017) [Wikipedia]
UK, historical fantasy, 90, Color
Dir. Philip Todd; Cast includes Jake McGarry
-Set in Scotland in 800AD, the sroy of a young warrior king, Alpin.

Pilgrimage (2017) [Wikipedia]
Ireland, 96, Color
Dir. Brendan Muldowny; Cast includes Tom Holland, Richard Armitage
-Set in early 13thc entury Ireland when a envoy arrives at a remote Irish monastery and commands the monks to transport there most important relic (of St Matthias), to Rome. It is very violent.

The Fighting Prince of Donegal (1966) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Children's, 112, No rating, Color
Dir. Michael Herlihy; Cast includes: Peter McEnery, Susan Hampshire
-Disney movie for children set in Ireland in 1587. Swashbuckler.

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Vikings/Nordic

Norsemen [Aka Vikingane] (2016-2020) [Wikipedia] TV
Norway, comedy, 3 seasons, 18 episodes, Norwegian [English dubbed version available]
Creator: Jon Iver Helgaker and Jonas Torgersen
-Comedy series about Vikings living in Norheim in 790AD.

Redbad [Aka Rise of the Viking] (2019) [Wikipedia]
Netherlands, drama, 160, Color, Dutch/English
Dir. Roel Reiné; Cast includes Gijs Naber
-The power struggles and wars between the Frisian King Redbad and his sworn enemy Pepin of Herstal (635-714), Lord of the Franks. Panned by critics.

A Viking Saga [Alt: A Viking Saga;Son of Thor] (2008) [Wikipedia]
Denmark, 82, Color, English and Danish
Dir. Michael Mouyal;Cast includes Ken Vedesgaard
-About Oleg of Novgorod, and the capture of Kiev in 882AD.

The 13th Warrior (1999) [Wikipedia]
US, Action/Horror, 102 mins
Dir. John McTiernan; Cast includes: Antonio Banderas, Omar Sharif
-[PBH Comment] Based on Michael Crichton's novel the Eaters of the Dead, which combined the genuine account of his encounters with the Rus (Vikings on the Volga) of the Arab traveler Ibn Fahdlan (here played by Banderas) with themes take from Beowulf and -- apparently -- H.G. Well's Time Machine. For all the pans the movie received from film critics, it was treated much more kindly by medievalists, and some were delighted with it. "Accuracy" is not the issue, but it was very interesting to see the "civilized" point of view presented as that of a cultured Muslim from Baghdad. Note that Ibn Fadlan's text is online at http://www.vikinganswerlady.org/ibn_fdln.htm

Trees Grow on Stones Too [Alt: И на камнях растут деревья /I na kamnyakh rastut derevy] (1985) [Wikipedia]
USSR/Norway, Adventure, 146, Russian
Dir. Stanislav Rostosky and Knut Andersen; Cast includes Aleksandr Aleksandrov, Petronella Bardker
-About a young man Kusha, cpatured by Vikings, but who wants to return home.

I Tartari (1962) [Alt: The Tartars] [Wikipedia]
Color
Dir. Ferdinando Baldi, Richard Thorpe (I); Cast includes: Victor Mature, Orson Welles
-"In what is now Russia, a settlement of Vikings lives in peace with both the Tatars and the Slavs. All is well until Togrul, a Tatar chief seeks the help of Oleg the chief of the Vikings, to war on the Slavs in a surprise attack."

Viking (2016) [Wikipedia]
Russia, 128/133/142, Color, Russia (English dubbed available)
Dir. Andrew Kravchukl; Cast includes Danila Kozlovskiy
-Set in 10th century, about Vladimir the Great, Prince of Novgorod, and his efforts to reconquer Kiev.

The Long Ships (1964) [Wikipedia]
UK-Yugoslavia, Adventure, 125 min, No rating, Color
Dir. Jack Cardiff; Cast includes: Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier.
[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] This took some deciding, though. I almost voted for The Long Ships (to an Old Norse specialist, awful Viking movies have a special awfulness) Then there is the Long Ships, with Richard Widmark as the Viking hero and Sidney Poitier as his northern African, Muslim, bad-guy counterpart.
-This is film with the Golden Bell in Morocco, with Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier emoting vociferously but to no effect. The most enjoyable characterization in the film is Lionel Jeffries' mute harem eunuch.

Asterix and the Vikings [Aka Astérix et les Vikings and Asterix og Vikingerne) (2006) [Wikipedia]
Denmark, animated adeventure, 78, French/English
Dir. Stefan Fjeldmark
-Based on the French comic books, and conflict betweel Gauls and Vikings.

Erik the Conqueror (1961) [Alt: The Invaders] [Wikipedia]
Italy, Historical, 81, No rating, Color
Dir. Mario Bava; Cast includes: Cameron Mitchell
-9th century Vikings in England..

Erik the Viking (1989) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historica/Comedeyl, 104, Color
Dir. Terry Jones; Cast includes: Tim Robbins, Mickey Rooney, Eartha Kitt
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] Eric the Viking, an attempt and failure to recreate the Monty Python Holy Grail or Life of Brian attitude.

Hrafninn flygur (1984) [Alt: Korpen flyger, When the Raven Flies] [Wikipedia]
Iceland/Sweden, 109, Color, In Icelandic
Dir. Hrafn Gunnlaugsson; Cast includes Jakob Þór Einarsson, Edda Björgvinsdóttir
- An Irish man seeks vengeance against the vikings who killed his parents.

Hammer of the Gods (2013) [Wikipedia]
UK, action, 103, Color
Dir. Farren Blackburn; Cast includes Charlie Bewley
-Set in 9th century Britain with a Norse Prince arriving in Britain to combat a Saxon rising. He is sent on a quest to seek his older brother.

Den hvite viking [Alt The White Viking] (1991) [Wikipedia]
Norway/Denmark/Sweden, Adventure, 123, Color
Dir. Hrafn Gunnlaugsson
-10th century Norway presenting King Olav as a fanatic Christian trying to root out Paganism in Norway.

The Vikings (1958) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Adventure, 114, No rating, Color
Dir. Richard Fleischer: Cast includes: Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, Janet Leigh
[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] There was also a REAL stinker back in the '50s called "The Viking" with Tony Curtis (of Black Shield fame) and Kirk Douglas with Janet Leigh as the Anglo-Saxon princess they were fighting over. If you look closely at some of the rowing scenes, one of the Vikings has a very visible vaccination scar and another is wearing an equally visible gold wristwatch.
-This one has Kirk Douglas as a clean-shaven Viking, and his father explaining that "he's so vain he scrapes his face".

The Northman (2022) [Wikipedia]
US, historical epic thriller, 136, Color
Dir Robert Eggers; Cast includes Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Gustav Lindh, Ethan Hawke, Björk, Willem Dafoe
-Based on the legend of Amleth by Saxo Grammaticus. About "a Viking prince who sets out on a quest to avenge the murder of his father." in the tenth century AD. The production was widely praised.

Prince of Jutland [Aka Royal Deceit and Thrones & Empires] (1994) [Wikipedia]
France/UK, drama adventure, 109, Color
Dir. Gabriel Axel; Cast includes Christian Bale, Gabriel Byrne, Helen Mirren, and Kate Beckinsale.
-Based on the Sax Grammaticus story of Amleth.

The Viking (1928) [Wikipedia] [Available on YouTube]
USA, 9 reels, adventure 1928 Color
Dir. Roy William Neill; Cast includes: Donald Crisp (Leif Ericsson), Pauline Starke
-Amazing, but true, an all color silent Viking movie from 1928. The first full length Technicolor film.

Vikings (2013-2020) [Wikipedia] TV series
Canada/US, six seasons, Color
Creator: Michael Hirst; Cast includes Travis Fimmel.
-Inspired by the sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok, it covers the fortunes of him and his sons in England, Scandanavia, Francia, Rus', the Mediterranean and North America.

Vikings: Valhalla (2022-) [Wikipedia] TV series
Canada/US, 2 seasons so far, Color
Creator: Jeb Stuart; Cast includes Sam Corlett
-Sequel to the Vikings TV series, it begins in 1002 and intend to end at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.

Draug (2018) [Wikipedia]
Sweden, fantasy horror, 88, Swedish
Dir. Klas Persson and Karin Engman; Cast includes Thomas Hedengran
-Set in 11th century at the end of the Viking age, follows a royal rescue party to find a missionary in one of the last pockets of pagan worship.

In the Shadow of the Raven [Aka Í skugga hrafnsins] (1988) [Wikipedia]
Iceland, 124, Icelandic, German
Dir. Hrafn Gunnlaugsson; Cast includes Reine Brynolfsson,Tinna Gunnlaugsdóttir  
-Set in 11th century Iceland as a retelling of Tristan and Isolde.

The Norseman (1978) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 90, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Charles B. Pierce: Cast includes: Lee Majors, Cornel Wilde
-About an 11th-century Viking prince sailing to America in search of his father, abducted by Native Americans.
[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] Perhaps the worst was The Norseman starring Lee Majors with a cadre of football players who wend their way to America to free Major's dad from the Indians. This one is so bad that it is a classic.
- The Majors entry was one clunker I had managed to make myself forget all about! Talk about suppressed memories. Right down there with Plan 9 from Outer Space..... I once taught a course on medieval literature into film and discovered that film and things medieval are apples and oranges.

Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America (2007) [Wikipedia]
US, adventure 107, Color
Dir. Tony Stone; Cast includes: Tony Stone
-A story of Norse explorers battling nature, natives and Christianity in North America in the year 1007 AD.

Pathfinder (2007) [Wikipedia]
Dir. Laeta Kalogridis: Cast includes: Karl Urban, Moon Bloodgood
-"A Viking Age expedition arrives in North America, intending to subjugate or slaughter the native "Skræling" population. The party is itself wiped out by another native tribe, the only survivor being the Viking leader's son, who is adopted by a native woman. The boy is taken in by the local tribe and named "Ghost" for his paleness." Panned by critics.

Valhalla Rising (2009) [Wikipedia]
Denmark, adventure, 92, Color, in English
Dir. Nicolas winding Roth; Cast includes Johney Andersen
-Set in the 12th century with a pagan Norse warrier travelling with some Christian Crusades to the Holy Land, however they end up in North America.

Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (1957) [Wikipedia]
US, Fantasy/Adventure, 66, No rating B&W
Dir. Roger Corman
-original title - The Saga of The Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of The Great Sea Serpent.
-"A group of Viking women from Stannjold, led by their leader Desir (Abby Dalton), decide to go out to sea in search of their missing men."

The Viking Sagas (1995) [Wikipedia]
US, 83, Color
Dir. Michael Chapman; Cast includes Ralf Möller. Sven-Ole Thorsen
-Set in Iceland where a young man must defeat a horde of evil Vikings. Praised for its accuracy in depiction, but not for its success as a movie.

The Saga of Biorn (2011)
Denmark, animated short, Danish
Dir. Frederik Valentin Bjerre-Poulsen
-An old Viking tries to die honorably in battle in order to enter Valhalla.

Beserker (2004) [Wikipedia]
South Africa, horror, 83, Color
Dir. Paul Matthews: Cast includes: Paul Johansson
-A horror filom based on Norse legend.

Vikingdom 2013 [Wikipedia]
Malaysia, action, 114, Color
Dir. Yusau Abdul Halim; Cast includes Dominic Purcell
-Malaysian film in English based on a forgotten king called Elrick, who has to defeat Thor.

Head Hunter (2018) [Wikipedia]
US, fanatasy/horror, 72, Color
Dir. Jordan Downey: Cast includes Christopher Rych
-Set in the "dark ages", the "head hunter" is a lone Viking warrior and head hunter. Influenced by Quest for Fire (1981) and the X-files.

The Red Mantle [Aka Den røde kappe or Hagbord and Signe] (1967) [Wikipedia]
Denmark, 100, Color
Dir. Gabriel Axe
-Based on the story of Hagbard and Signy from the twelfth-century work Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus.

Outlaw: The Saga of Gisli [Aka Útlaginn] (1981/rel. 1984) [Wikipedia]
Iceland, Saga, 100, Icelandic
Dir. Ágúst Guðmundsson.
-An adaptation of he Gisla saga

The Juniper Tree  (1987) [Wikipedia]
Iceland, Drama. 78 BW
Dir. Nietzcha Keene, With Bjork.
[Bruce Gilchrist] Icelandic ancient faery-tale film.  Notably starring Bjork Guthmunsdottir--Iceland's popular music diva

The Last King [Alt: Birkebeinerne] (2016) [Wikipedia]
Norway, historical drama, 93, Nowegia/Swedish/Danish
Dir. Nils Guap; Cast includes Per Henry Borch
-The efforts to protect the young Haakon Haakonson after the death of his father. Sett in a civil war in 13th-century Norway.

Escape [Aka Flukt] (2012) [Wikipedia]
Norway, thriller 76, Color, Norwegian
Dir. Roar Uthaug; Cast includes Ingrid Bolsø Berdal
-Set in 14th century Norway after the Black Death

12 Paces Without a Head [Aka Zwölf Meter ohne Kopf] (2009) [Wikipedia]
Germany, 103, Color, German
Dir. Sven Taddicken; Cast inccudes Andreas Woraschke
-"Set in the North Sea in 1401. The film centers on the German folk hero Klaus Störtebeker, who was a pirate at the time. The title comes from a legend which asserts that when he was captured by the Hanseatic League, he struck a deal with his captors that every one of his men whom he could walk past after being decapitated, would be let go. Störtebeker's body allegedly managed to make twelve paces before collapsing." 

Margarete, Queen of the North [Alt:  Margrete den Første](2021) [Wikipedia]
Denmark, historical drama, 120, Color, Danish (Dubbed versions availabe)
Dir. Charlotte Sieling; Cast incliudes Trine Dyrholm.
-Set in 1402, and concerned with the Kalmar Union. It was one of the largest productions in the history of Danish cinema, enjoying the largest budget ever for a Danish-language feature film.

Barbara (1997) [Wikipedia]
Denmark, Color, Faroese
Dir. Nils Malmros, With Anneke von der Lippe
[Bruce Gilchrist] A young priest falls in love (and marries) a liberated woman,  but she cannot remain chaste while he is away.  Filmed entirely in the Faroe islands, set in 1640,  and spoken in Old Faroese. Co-production with Denmark,  this is an a film with impressive cinematography,  superb period detail and excellent acting. Should be of great interest to medieval scholars. Excellent!

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Feudalism/Knighthood (See also Arthuriana section)

A Knight's Tale (2001) [Wikipedia]
US, Action, 132, PG 13, Color
Dir. Brain Helgeland; Star: Heath Ledger
-Set in the world of tournaments, this is not a "historical film" in any conventional sense but it is connected to Chaucer and The Knights Tale.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical/Comedy, 90, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones; Star; Graham Chapman
-Meant to be humorous. It is very funny in parts although Monty Python humour has not always aged well..

The Seventh Seal (1957) [Wikipedia]
Sweden, Drama, 96, No rating B&W
Dir. Ingmar Bergman: Cast includes: Max Von Sydow
-Set in 14th-century Sweden, about a knight returning from a crusade playing a chess game with death. The film made Bergman famous. It is less about the crusade era, however, than Swedish existentialism in the 1950s.

The War Lord (1965) [Wikipedia]
US, War/Historical/Drama, 123, No rating, Color
Dir. Franklin Schaffner; Cast includes: Charlton Heston
-Based on Leslie Stevens' The Lovers. Heston is a knight invoking the "right" to sleep with another man's bride on their wedding night. (See Braveheart for the same myth)
-[PBH Comments] The War Lord is a complex story, but a modern one. It is set in a slightly hazy eleventh century primarily to use the myth of the "first night" as a springboard for the story. Apart from that detail it could have been a western. As a film it is moderately interesting. For teaching purposes, fairly extensive discussion of inaccuracies would be required.
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] How about The War Lord in which I believe someone says to Charlton Heston "I hate your knightly guts."
-I must protest at the inclusion of The Warlord in this discussion. it is a very interesting film which Heston made after his success with Ben Hur and chose to do things like wear a bowl-cut hairdo which his PR men told him would ruin his reputation as a sex-symbol. Aside from the ius primae noctis, for which an interesting rationale is provided, the film is really quite realistic (the claustrophobic quarters of a dungeon fortress) and very interesting. recently re-released and worth a look.

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Law

The Advocate [Alt: The Hour of the Pig] [Wikipedia]
US (1993): Historical/Drama/Crime
Dir. Peter Thompson: Cast includes: Colin Firth
-A 15th-century French lawyer defends a pig put on trial for murder.

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Crusades

The Crusaders (2001)  [Wikipedia] TV Minisereis
Italy, Historical/Drama, 2 episodes, 190, No rating Color
In southern Italy, at the end of the 11th century. Three men from Aurocastro iin the Duchy of Taranto, Pierre bastard child of a Christian woman and a Muslim pirate, André, a shepherd, and Richard, son of a Norman baron , take part in the crusade to liberate Jerusalem.

Rytsarskiy roman (Romance of Chivalry) [Alt Рыцарский роман] (2000) TV [Wikipedia]
Russia, Historial, 135
Director, Alexander Inshakov.
-"The action of the movie is set in the late 11th century Constantinople during the time of the 1st Crusade. The crusaders need the help of the emperor Alexius to get to Jerusalem while the latter tries to do his best to get rid of the unwelcome guests." 

The Crusades (1935)  [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Drama, 123, No rating B&W
Dir. Cecil B. DeMille; Cast includes: Loretta Young (Berengaria), Henry Wilcoxon (Richard), Ian Keith (Saladin)
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] - May I nominate Cecil B. De Mille's The Crusades. It is memorable not only for its conflation of all Crusades into one big mess but most especially Loretta Young as Berengaria spending a brief vacation in Saladin's harem. I defy anyone to beat that!
-Ah, yes, and with C. Aubrey Smith as "The Hermit", tied to a stake on the Saracens' parapet, arms outstretched, crying "In this sign, you will conquer!!"
-Pauline Kael notes that "DeMille wilfully garbled every single character and incident."

King Richard and the Crusaders (1954)  [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 114, No rating, Color
Dir. David Butler; Cast includes: Rex Harrison, George Sanders, Virginia Mayo
-Not well regarded. Based on Sir Walter Scott's The Talisman.
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] This is the film with a disguised Saladin sneaking into the Christian camp to cure Richard. Sanders is very unconvincing as Richard. There is also an otherwise unknown cousin of Richard's named Edith Plantagenet (!!!) in love with a mere knight. Certainly, it is a strong contender in any event.

Lionheart (1987) [Aka Lionheart: The Children's Crusade] [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 104 min, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Frankilin J. Schaffner; Cast includes: Eric Stoltz
-Stoltz leads a "childrens crusade in search of King Richard I in the 12th century."

Gerusalemme liberata [Aka The Crusaders] (1911) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 70, BW
Dir. Enrico Guazzoni
-A version of Tasso's poem Jerusalem Delivered.

The Mighty Crusaders (1957)  [Wikipedia]
Italy, Religious/Historical/Action, 87, No rating, Color
Dir. Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia
-A version of Tasso's poem Jerusalem Delivered. A love story between a Christian and a Saracen forms the basic story.

The Eternal Return (1943) [Alt: L'Eternel Retour] [Wikipedia]
France, 107
Dir. Jean Delannoy; Cast includes Jean Marais, Madelain Sologne
-A setting of Tristan and Isolde in contemporary France. Written by Jean Cocteau.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)  [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical/Comedy, 90, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones; Star; Graham Chapman
-Meant to be humorous. It is, in parts.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005) [Wikipedia]
US, historical epic, 144/194, Color
Dir. Ridley Scott; Cast includes Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons
-A version of the events of the Third Crusade, with Bloom as Balian, a blacksmith who joins some crusaders after his wife's suicide. Reviews at the time were not kind, but Scott is a serious and skilled director and this must be one of the most significant "medieval films" in recent decades.

El Naser Salah el Dine [Alt: Saladin] (1963)  [Wikipedia]
Egypt, Historical/Drama (Technicolor), 175 mins, Color.
Director Youssef Chahine.
An Arab movie about Saladin. It is not clear in the movie that Saladin was a Kurd, not an Arab, and he is presented as a prototype of Nasser in calling for Arab unity in order to expel the western intruders.

Soldier of God (2005) [Wikipedia]
US, 94, Color
Dir. W.D. Hogan; Cast includeds Tim Abel, Mapi Galan
-"A Knights Templar meets a mysterious Muslim in the desert where they find refuge in an oasis with beautiful woman. As the Knight falls for the woman, he questions himself but the Muslim holds a secret that will change their lives for ever." 

Arn: The Knight Templar [Aka Arn: Tempelriddaren] (2007) [Wikipedia]
Sweden,epic, 139 [released in 2010 in english combined with its sequal in one 130 min cut], Color, Swedish plus other languages
Dir. Peter Flinth; Cast includes Joakim Nätterqvist, Sofia Helin, Stellan Skarsgård, Simon Callow
-Set in the mid 12th century, Arn Magnusson sets out to the Holy Land as a penance. He has encounters with Saladin and his army there. The most expensive ever Swedish production ($30 million).

Arn: The Kingdom at the End of the Road [Aka Arn – Riket vid vägens slut] (2008) [Wikipedia]
Sweden,epic, 139 [released in 2010 En english combined with its sequal in one 130 min cut], Color, Swedish plus other languages
Dir. Peter Flinth; Cast includes Joakim Nätterqvist, Sofia Helin, Stellan Skarsgård
-The sequel covers the period 1187 to 1210.

The Valley of the Bees [Aka Údolí včel] (1968) [Wikipedia]
Czechoslovakia, 97, BW, Czech
Dir. František Vláčil; Cast includes Petr Čepek as Ondřej, Jan Kačer as Armin von Heide
-"The film follows a young man Ondřej who's sent to join Teutonic order by his father. When he flees the order and returns home, his friend Armin is determined to bring him back."

Crusade in Jeans [Aka Kruistocht in spijkerbroek] (2006) [Wikipedia] [Available on YouTube]
Netherlands, time travel fnatasy, 130, in English
Di: Bem Sombogaart; Cast includes Johnny Flynn
-A 15-year Dutch soccer player ends up involved in the Children's Crusade of 1212 after messing around with his scientist mother's time machine.

Northern Crusades [Aka Herkus Mantas] (1972) [Wikipedia]
Lithuania SSR, 145, Lithuanian
Dir. Marijonas Giedrys. Cast Includes Antanas Shurna
-Dedicated to the memory of the Prussian people destroyed by the Teutonic Order. The action takes place in the 13th century. The plot is based on the tragic fate of the leader of the Prussian- Natangs Herkus Mantas , or Heinrich Monte, who led the national liberation uprising of the Prussian tribes against the Teutonic Order (1260-1273). 

Alexander Nevsky (1938) [Wikipedia]
Russia, War/Historical, 107, No rating B&W
Dir. Sergei Eisenstein, D.I. Vassillev; Cast includes: Nikolai Cherkassov
-The repelling of a German invasion in the 13th century. Score by Prokofiev. One of the great movies.

Black Cross (1960) [Alt: Knights of the Teutonic Order or Krzyzacy]  [Wikipedia]
Poland, Historical/Adventure, 166, No rating, Color
Dir. Aleksander Ford
-About the Teutonic knights. Not up to Eisenstein.

The Seventh Seal (1957)  [Wikipedia]
Sweden, Drama, 96, No rating B&W
Dir. Ingmar Bergman: Cast includes: Max Von Sydow
-Set in 14th-century Sweden, about a knight returning from a crusade playing a chess game with death. The film made Bergman famous. It is less about the crusade era, however, than Swedish existentialism in the 1950s

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Medieval European Literature on Film

See IMDb: Shakespeare Movies
See Wikipedia: List of William Shakespeare Film Adaptations: Histories

Ring of the Nibelungs [Aka Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King,  Die Nibelungen,  Curse of the Ring or Sword of Xanten) (2004) [Wikipedia] TV movie
Germany, 2 episodes 222/162, German and English
Dir. Uli Edel; Cast includes Benno Fürmann, Alicia Witt, Kristanna Loken, Max von Sydow
-Based on the Nibelungleid

The Canterbury Tales (1971) [Wikipedia]
France-Italy, Drama, 109, No rating, Color
Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini
-Four stories. Graphic and sadistic footage will appeal to some.
-[From a correspondent] Canterbury Tales has Ninetto Davoli in a Chaplinesque version of "The Cook's Tale" [he had a good eye, Pier Paolo].
-[Bruce Gilchrist]   While Decamaron has a fair amount of sex,  it is faithful to the tales and is an enjoyable film.  Suitable for showing to a class.    His Raconti di Canteburi however is much more graphic. The humping never seems to stop and it all gets rather silly.  It's a failure and is not suitable for showing to a class.  It's tolerable I suppose  compared to Jarman's Sebastiane, but that's about it.
[Part of Pasolini's Medieval trilogy of Arabian Nights, Decameron, and Canterbury Tales]

The Canterbury Tales (1998) TV [Wikipedia]
UK, T. 2x28mins
Director. Jonathan Myerson
-Six of the stories from the Canterbury Tales done in a variety of animation styles. It works very well. The films were made in three versions -- Middle English, Modern English, and Welsh.

Dante's Inferno (1935) [Wikipedia]
US, Drama, 88, No rating, Black & White
Dir. Harry Lachman; Cast includes: Spencer Tracy, (and in a minor role Rita Hayworth)
-Not about Dante, but a modern circus owner. The film does contain an Inferno Devil's Paradise sequence.

Decameron Nights (1953) [Wikipedia]
UK, Drama, 87, No rating, Color
Dir. Hugo Fregonese; Cast includes: Joan Fontaine, Joan Collins, Louis Jourdan as Boccaccio.

The Decameron (1970) [Wikipedia]
France-Italy-West Germany, Drama, 111, Rated X, Color
Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini
-Eight tales from Boccacio. Pasolini plays Giotto.
-[Bruce Gilchrist]   While Decamaron has a fair amount of sex,  it is faithful to the tales and is an enjoyable film.  Suitable for showing to a class.    His Raconti di Canteburi however is much more graphic. The humping never seems to stop and it all gets rather silly.  It's a failure and is not suitable for showing to a class.  It's tolerable I suppose  compared to Jarman's Sebastiane, but that's about it.
[Part of Pasolini's Medieval trilogy of Arabian Nights, Decameron, and Canterbury Tales]

The Little Hours (2017) [Wikipedia]
US, medieval black comedy, 90, Color
Dir. Jeff Baena; Cast includes Alison Brie
-"The film is loosely based on the first and second stories of day three of ten of The Decameron". "The plot jointly follows the lives of three nuns at a convent in the countryside who try to fornicate with a young gardener posing as a deaf-mute after he escapes from being punished by his lord for adultery with the man's wife".

El Cid (1961) [Wikipedia]
US, War/Biography, 184, No rating, Color
Dir. Anthony Mann; Cast includes: Sophia Loren (Chimene), Charlton Heston (Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar El Cid), John Fraser (King Alfonso).
-Quite good, in fact.
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] Of course, I am personally above such rancor. I specialize in medieval Spain, which has scarcely been mentioned since El Cid, and who can find fault with anything with which Sophia Loren was associated? But man that scene with the Cid riding out with a stake up his back is good but hokey cinema!

El Cid (2020-2021) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
Span, War/Biography, 2 season, 10 episodes, Color
Cast includes Jaime Lorente
-Spanish TV series, available on Amazon, about the 11th century Spainish hero.

Gerusalemme liberata [Aka The Crusaders] (1911) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 70, BW
Dir. Enrico Guazzoni
-A version of Tasso's poem Jerusalem Delivered.

The Mighty Crusaders (1957)  [Wikipedia]
Italy, Religious/Historical/Action, 87, No rating, Color
Dir. Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia
-A version of Tasso's poem Jerusalem Delivered. A love story between a Christian and a Saracen forms the basic story.

The Eternal Return (1943) [Alt: L'Eternel Retour] [Wikipedia]
France, Drama, 100, No rating B&W In French
Dir. Jean Delannoy: Cast includes: Jean Marais, Madeleine Sologne
-Based on Jean Cocteau's modern-dress adaptation of the Tristan and Isolde legend.

Perceval le Gallois (1978) [Wikipedia]
France, Drama, 140, No rating, Color
Dir. Eric Rohmer
-Based on the 12th century French romance, translated by Rohmer. Unfortunately, Roger Ebert calls it "relentlessly turgid".

Beowulf (1998) (TV) [Wikipedia]
US, 27, Color. Animated.
Director. Yuri Kulakov, With Joseph Fiennes and Derek  Jacobi

Beowulf (1999) [Wikipedia]
US. 89, Color
Dir. Graham Baker. With Christopher Lambert
-The Beowulf story moved to the future.

Beowulf and Grendel (2005) [Wikipedia]
Canada/Iceland, 102, Color
Dir. Sturla Gunnarsson. With Gerard Butler, Stelle Skarsgard, Sarah Polley
-Goes well beyond the poem with new charcters introduced, ssuch as Beowulf's father.

Beowulf (2007) [Wikipedia]
US. 114, Color
Dir. Robert Zemekis. With Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Robin Wright Penn, Brendan Gleeson Crispin Glover, Alison Lohman, Angelina Jolie

Grendel, Grendel, Grendel (1980) [Wikipedia]
Australia, Animated, 90, No rating, Color
Dir. Alexander Stitt; Star; (voices) Peter Ustinov, Keith Mitchell
-Beowulf's opponent.

The 13th Warrior (1999) [Wikipedia]
US, Action/Horror, 102 mins, Color
Dir. John McTiernan; Cast includes: Antonio Banderas, Omar Sharif
-[PBH Comment] Based on Michael Crichton's novel the Eaters of the Dead, which combined the genuine account of his encounters with the Rus (Vikings on the Volga) of the Arab traveler Ibn Fadlan (here played by Banderas) with themes take from Beowulf and -- apparently -- H.G. Well's Time Machine. For all the pans the movie received from film critics, it was treated much more kindly by medievalists, and some were delighted with it. "Accuracy" is not the issue, but it was very interesting to see the "civilized" point of view presented as that of a cultured Muslim from Baghdad. Note that Ibn Fadlan's text is online at http://www.vikinganswerlady.org/ibn_fdln.htm

The Green Knight (2021) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 130, Rated PG, Color
Dir. David Lowery; Cast includes: Dev Patel
-Very much based on the poem.

Die Nibelungen (1924) [Two Parts: Siegfried andKriemhild's Revenge] [Wikipedia]
Dir. Fritz Lang. Germany, Fantasy, 186 min, No rating, Black & White
-Extraordinary silent film.

Back to Index

England

This list is mainly concerned with historical films and TV, that is productions that purport to represent historical events. When the list began it included some of Shakespeare's history plays that had been filmed, but no effort was made to include all of them. It is worth considering a point made by Robert Tombs in The English and Their History: The First Thirteen Centuries (2014).

"When subsequent generations have envisaged England in the later Middle Ages, Shakespeare’s characters and language have shaped their vision—from the audiences of 2,000 or 3,000 in his own theatres to the many millions who have seen film and television productions, or studied the plays at school and university. No other country has had a slice of its past so dramatized, or exposed to such a large audience—except perhaps the United States through the Hollywood Western."

If you take Tombs' point seriously, then Shakespeare's history plays are indeed plays about the Middle Ages, and should be so considered. There are complications, for example the well-recieved film of Richard III (1995) [Wikipedia] which sets it the 1930s. Readers are referred to  IMDb: Shakespeare Movies and Wikipedia: List of William Shakespeare Film Adaptations: Histories

***

Attack of the Normans [Aka I normanni] (1962) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 89 mins, in English
Dir. Giuseppe Vari; Cast includes Cameron Mitchell
-"Set in England in the early 9th century. Viking incursions play a central role in the plot; "Normans" in the title is used in its original continental sense, meaning Viking." 

The Last Kingdom (2015-2022) + Seven Kings Must Die (2023) [Wikipedia] TV series
UK, historical drama, 5 seasons 46 episodes
Creator. Stephen Butchard; Cast includes Alexander Dreymon
-A major production based on Bernard Cornwall's The Saxon Stories novels set in 9th and 10th century England. Seven Kings Must Die was the sequel film

Alfred the Great (1969) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical, 122, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Clive Donner; Cast includes: David Hemmings, Michael York, Ian McKellan
-Alfred the Great and his struggle to defend England from Vikings.

Lady Godiva of Coventry (1955) [Wikipedia]
US, Drama, 89, No rating, Color
Dir. Arthur Lubin; Cast includes: Maureen O'Hara
-"An 11th-century noblewoman opens her Saxon husband's eyes by riding bareback through town" .About the woman who rode naked through Coventry. It would be filmed differently today!

The Ceremony of Innocence (1970) [Wikipedia] TV movieis
UK, 88
Dir. Ken Rockefeller and Arthur Allan Seidelman; Cast includes Richard Kiley
-"A highly fictionalized account of the events leading up to Sweyn Forkbeard's invasion of England in AD 1013.".

William the Conqueror [Aka Guillaume, la jeunesse du conquérant] (2015) [Wikipedia]
France, 90, Color, in French
Dir. Fabien Drugeon; Cast includes Tiésay Deshayes, Jean-Damien Détouillon, Dan Bronchinson
-"In 1066 , William the Conqueror prepares to embark with his fleet to conquer England . In case he does not come back alive, he presents his son Robert to his barons so that he inherits the Duchy of Normandy."

William the Conqueror [Aka Wilhelm Cuceritorul] (1982) [Wikipedia] TV Minseries
France/Switzerland/Romania, 6 episodes/or 2-part film.
Dir. Gilles Grangier, Sergiu Nicolaescu; Cast includes Herve Bellon
-Life and career of William the Conqueror.

The Physician [Aka Der Medicus] (2013) [Wikipedia]
Germany, historical drama, 150 mins/180 mins TV series.
Dir. Philipp Stölzl; Cast includes Tom Payne, Ben Kingsley, Stellan Skarsgård, Olivier Martinez, Emma Rigby
-Based on the novel by Noah Gordon, this is about an orphan from 11th-century English town whose mother died of side sickness. The boy vows to study medicine and decides to travel to Persia to study with Avicenna/Ibn Sina. The plot inlcudes both Jewish and Islamic medical cultures.

The Black Rose (1950) [Wikipedia]
US. Adventure, 120.
Dir. Henry Hathaway; Cast includes Tyrone Power and Orson Welles.
A noble Saxon youth in Norman England is forced to run away. he takes with him a loyal retainer who brings along a long bow. The two go all the way to China where they become involved in intrigues in the court of Kublai Khan. Note that the trope of   Saxon/Norman conflict is here extended well into the late 13th century!

Pillars of the Earth (2010) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US/Germany, 8 episodes, Color
Dir. Sergio Mimica-Gezzan; Cast includes Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Matthew McFadayan, Eddie Redmaynce, Hayley Atwell, Alison Pill
-Based on a novel by Ken Follet, this series focuses on the construction of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge duringthe period of English history known as the Anarchy (the reign of King Stephen) in the early 12th century. World Without End was a sequal set in the 14th century and released in 2012.

Cadfael (1994-1998) [Wikipedia] TV Series
UK, 4 seasons, 13 episodes, Color.
Creator. Edith Pargeter; Cast includes Derke Jacobi
-Set between 1137 and 1145, and based on the novels of Ellis Peters.

Becket (1964) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Drama, 148, No rating, Color
Dir. Peter Glenville; Cast includes: Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton
-Based on Jean Anouilh's play about Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket and his English King, Henry II. Although there is no historical data to support the suggestion, Anouilh sees a homosexual relationship. Superb film.
- See ORB: Becket Bibliography [Now at Internet Archive]

Murder in the Cathedral (1952) [Wikipedia]
UK. 140 mins. BW
Dir. George Hoellering.
Film version of T.S. Eliot's play of the same name, about the murder/martyrdom of Thomas Becket.

The Lion in Winter (1968) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical/Drama, 135, No rating, Color
Dir. Anthony Harvey: Cast includes: Katherine Hepburn (Eleanor), Peter O'Toole (Henry II), Anthony Hopkins (Richard the Lionheart)
-[PBH Comment] Probably the greatest of all "medieval movies" for sheer enjoyment. The intra-familial disputes of the Plantagenets are quite accurately depicted. What does not come across is that by the late 12th century dynasticism, although it still had legs, was supplemented by increasingly elaborate state structures. And then there is Hepburn. Magnificent as ever, it must be remembered that she never played anyone but herself. Recommended for teaching simply as a way to excite student interest.

The Lion in Winter (2003) [Wikipedia] TV movie
UK, Historical/Drama, 167, Color
Dir. Andrei Konchalovsky: Cast includes: Patrick Stewart, Glenn Close, Andrew Howard, John Light, Rafe Spall
-This seemed like an unnecessary remake, but Stewart and Close are both great screen actors so it cannot be dismissed

The Devil's Crown (1978) [Wikipedia] TV series
UK, 13 episodes, Color
Dir. Alan Cooke, Jane Howell, Ronald Wilson; Cast includes Brian Cox, Jane Lapotaire, Michael Byrne, John Duttine, Christopher Gable
-This was a wonderful TV series on the Plantagenets with Lapotoire outstanding as Eleanor of Aquitain. But the series has never been released on DVD in English although the tapes still exist, and a French verison is available for download.

Richard the Lionheart (2013 [Wikipedia]
US/Italy, 104, Color
Dir. Stefano Milla; Cast includes Malcolm McDowell (Henry II), Greg Maness (Richard)
-"While the war threatens with France, King Henry II decides to evaluate the courage of his son Richard the Lionheart, his possible successor. To do this, the King decided to place him into a mysterious castle, where Richard will have to face several trials."

King Richard and the Crusaders (1954) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 114, No rating, Color
Dir. David Butler; Cast includes: Rex Harrison, Virgina Mayo
-Set in 1191 with Richard in the Hoy Land. Not well regarded

Ivanhoe (1952) [Wikipedia]
US, Romance/Adventure, 106, No rating, Color
Dir. Richard Thorpe; Cast includes: Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine
-based on Sir Walter Scott's romantic novel. Saxons support Richard, Normans support John, and Elizabeth Taylor at her most beautiful as Rebecca (one of the few movie representations of any Medieval Jewish character).
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] We've also forgotten the horrendous Ivanhoe with Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor and Olivia de Havilland.
-Ah yes. But I was young then and it seemed quite romantic. Indeed, Ivanhoe (more the book than the movie) had a good bit to do with my early interest in things medieval.

Ivanhoe (1982) [Wikipedia] TV movie
UK, Drama, 188/156 mins, Color
Director Douglas Camfield; Cast includes James Mason Isaac of York), Anthony Andrews (Ivanhoe), Olivia Hussey (Rebecca), and Lysette Anthony (Rowena).
The video is an edit of the mini-series. It received quite good notices for both its acting and its battle scenes.

Ivanhoe (1997) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK/US, 6 episodes, Color
Dir. Stuart Orme; Cast includes Steven Waddington, Susan Lynch, Ciarán Hinds

Ironclad (2011) [Wikipedia]
UK, war/adventure, 121, Color
Dir. Jonathan English; Cast includes James Purefoy, Brian Cox, Derek Jacobi, Kate Mara, Paul Giametti
-Focuses on the siege of Rochester Castle by King Jon in 2015 and the effort of Prince Louis of France to become king of England. The film is extremely violent. James Purefoy is Thomas Marshall, a disillusioned Templar Knight and former Crusader who seeks release from his Order.

Ironclad II: Battle for Blood (2014) [Wikipedia]
UK, war/adventure, 108, Color
Dir. Jonathan English; Cast includes Roxanne McKee, Michelle Fairley, Danny Webb,Tom Austen
-"Five years after the events of Ironclad, the de Vesci family struggles with Scot raiders along the English-Scottish border. A blood feud begins after the Scot chieftain's son is killed in one of these raids. The wounded de Vesci patriarch, Gilbert, sends his son Hubert to seek help from his nephew, a "great warrior" named Guy de Lusignan."

Catherine Called Birdy (2022) [Wikipedia]
US/UK, medieval comedy, 108, Color
Dir. Lena Dunham; Cast includes Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott, Sophie Okonedo
-Set in 13th century Lincolnshire.It really has nothing to say about the Middle Ages.

Edward II (1970) [no Wikipedia] TV film
Dir. Toby Robertson; Cast includes: Ian McKellen
-Made for TV version of Marlowe's play. Clips here.

Edward II (1991) [Wikipedia]
UK, Drama, , 91 min, No rating, Color
Dir. Derek Jarman; Cast includes: Steven Waddington, Tilda Swinton
-based on the 1592 play by Christopher Marlowe about the homosexual Edward II.

The Warriors (1955) [Alt: The Dark Avenger] [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical, 85, No rating, Color
Dir. Henry Levin; Cast includes: Errol Flynn (Prince Edward), Michael Hordern (King Edward III)
-Early hundred year's war.

Black Death (2010) [Wikipedia]
UK/Germany, action/horror101, Color
Dir. Christopher Smith; Cast includes Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Tim McInnerny, Carice van Houten
-"In 1348, during the Black Death in Medieval England, novice monk Osmund has a secret relationship with a young woman named Averill who has taken sanctuary in his monastery." The film was show with the scenes in chronological order.

John Wycliffe: The Morning Star (1984) [Wikipedia]
Dir. Toney Tew; Cast includes Michael Bertenshaw
-Focuses entirely on Wycliffe's later life (14th century)

World without End (2011) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US/Germany, 8 episodes, Color
Dir. Michael Caton-Jones Cast includes Cynthia Nixon, Miranda Richardson, Ben Chaplin, Peter Firth, Charlotte Riley, and Tom Weston-Jones. 
-Based on a novel by Ken Follet, this is a a sequel to Pillars of the Earth. Still set in Kingsbridge it examins the early Hundred Years' War and the Black Death.

The Black Shield of Falworth (1954) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 99, No rating, Color
Dir. Rudolph Mate; Cast includes: Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh
-Knighthood in medieval England in time of Henry IV. Based on Howard Pyle's Men of Iron
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] In any event, I haven't heard anyone's nomination for the worst medieval movie ever filmed. I have a special place in my heart for The Black Shield of Falworth, but I'm sure that there are many others equally, or even more, despicable. God! tough to top that.

Black Arrow (1985) [Wikipedia] TV film
US 93, No rating, Color
Dir. John Hough: Cast includes: Oliver Reed
-Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's hero and set during the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century.

The Hollow Crown (2012) and The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (2016) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK, 7 episodes, Color
Dir. Rupert Goold, Richard Eyre, Thea Sharrock, Dominic Cooke; Cast includes Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Bonneville, Judi Dench, Sophie Okonedo, Tom Sturridge
-First series adapted Shakespeare's Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2 and Henry V. The second series : Henry VI, Part 1, Henry VI, Part 2, Henry VI, Part 3 and Richard III, but presented the Henry VI plays in two parts, incorporating all three Henry VI.

The King (2019) [Wikipedia]
US, war epic, 140, Color
Dir. David Michôd; Cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson, Lily-Rose Depp
-Based on Shakespeare's Henry IV, Pt I, Henry Iv, Pt 2 and Henry V. [PBH] I was not convinced by Chalamet's accent..

Henry V (1944) [Wikipedia] [Available in HD on YouTube]
UK, War/Drama, 137, No rating, Color
Dir. Laurence Olivier; Cast includes: Laurence Olivier
-Shakespeare's play, played for wartime nationalism. Olivier's rendition of the St. Crispin's day speech will make you want to be English!

Henry V (1989) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical/Drama, 137, No rating, Color
Dir. Kenneth Branagh; Cast includes: Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed
-Brilliant, but much darker version of Shakespeare than Olivier's. Branagh was 27 when he made this -- two years younger than Henry V's age at Agincourt (29).

The Reckoning [Aka Morality Play](2003) [Wikipedia]
UK/Spain, murder mystery drama, 112, Color
Dir. Paul McGuigan; Cast includes Paul Bettany, Willem Dafoe, Tom Hardy, Gina McKee, Brian Cox, Simon McBurney, Marián Aguilera, Matthew Macfadyen
-"In 1380, in England, the priest Nicholas (Bettany) flees his village when found in flagrante delicto with a married woman." The film alluded to the evolution of mediveal morality plays into extra-biblical drama.

Richard III (1912) [Wikipedia] [Available on YouTube]
US, Drama, 55, No rating, BW and hand-tinted color
Dir. André Calmettes and James Keane (II); Cast includes: Frederick Warde (King Richard III)
-This 1912 film of Shakespeare's play is the earliest surviving American feature film.

Richard III (1955) [Wikipedia]
UK, War/Historical, 155, No rating, Color
Dir. Laurence Olivier; Cast includes: Laurence Olivier (King Richard III), Ralph Richardson (Buckingham), Claire Bloom (Lady Anne), John Gielgud (Clarence)
-Shakespeare's play.
-There are many other versions but this cast is unsurpassable.

The Lost King (2022) [Wikipedia]
UK, biographical film, 108, Color
Dir. Stephen Frears; Cast includes Sally Hawkins, Steve Coogan, Harry Lloyd (as Richard III)
-Not a historical film as such, but about the discovery of the remains of Richard III under a Leicster car park following the efforts of the Richard III enthusiast Philippa Langley.

Tower of London (1939) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 92, No rating BW
Dir. Rowland V. Lee; Cast includes: Basil Rathbone (Richard III), Boris Karloff (Mord, the Executioner)
-Princes in the Tower story

Tower of London (1962) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 79, No rating BW
Dir. Roger Corman; Cast includes: Vincent Price
-remake of 1939 film

The White Queen (2013) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK, historical drama, 10 episodes, Color
Dir. James Kent, Jamie Payne, Colin Teague; Cast includes Rebecca Ferguson, Amanda Hale, Faye Marsay
-Based on Philippa Gregory's novels, "The drama is set against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses and presents the story of the women involved in the long conflict for the throne of England. It starts in 1464."

The White Princess (2017) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK/US, historical drama, 8 episodes, Color
Creator. Jamie Payne, Alex Kalymnos; Cast includes Jodie Comer
-Based on Philippa Gregory's novels, this follows on from The White Queen with Jodie Comer as Elizabeth of York.

The Spanish Princess (2019-2020) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK/US, historical drama, 16 episodes, Color
Creator. Emma Frost, Matthew Graham; Cast includes Sai Bennett, Alicia Borrachero, Andrew Buchan
-Based on Philippa Gregory's novels, this follows on from The White Princess and is about Catherine of Aragon.

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) [Wikipedia] [Available on YouTube]
UK, Biography, 97, No rating BW
Dir. Alexander Korda; Cast includes: Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, Elsa Lanchester, Merle Oberon.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970) [Wikipedia] TV miniseries
UK, Biography, 6 episodes, Color
Dir. Naomi Capon, John Glenister; Cast includes: Keith Michell, Donald Pleasence, Annet Crosbie, Dorothy Tutin, Anne Stallybrass
-A very populat TV series at the time. Considered one of the BBC's best.

Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1973) [Wikipedia]
UK, Biography, 125, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Waris Hussein; Cast includes: Keith Michell, Donald Pleasence, Charlotte Rampling
-This was adapted from the TV series but different actresses played the wives.

Deception [Aka Anna Boleyn] (1920) [Wikipedia]
Germany, 118, BW, Silent
Dir. Ernst Lubistch; Cast includes Henry Porten

Henry VIII (2003) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK, 2 part movie, 193, Color
Dir. Peter Morgan; Cast includes Ray Winstone, Joss Ackland, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Assumpta Serna
-Covers all of Henry's reign.

The Tudors (2007-2010) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK, historical drama, 4 seasons, 38 episodes, Color
Creator. Michaek Hirst; Cast includes Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill, Sam Neill, Callum Blue, Henry Czerny, Natalie Dormer
-Despite its title the series was about the reign of Henry VIII.

A Man for All Seasons (1966) [Wikipedia]
UK, Drama, 120, No rating, Color
Dir.: Fred Zinnemann: Cast includes: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Leo Mckern, Orson Welles, Robert Short, Susannah York
-The story of St. Thomas More as a man of conscience. Won six Oscars.

A Man for All Seasons (1988) [Wikipedia] TV movie
US, Drama, 120, No rating, Color
Dir. Charlton Heston. With Charlton Heston, Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud
-Remake of 1996 film and closer to Robert Bolt's play. It is hard to imagine the off-screen conversations between Heston and Redgrave about politics. By all accounts Heston has great respect for her as an actress.

Wolf Hall (2015) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK, 6 episodes, Color
Dir. Peter Kosminksy; Cast includes Mark Rylance, Damien Lewis, Claire Foy, Anton Lesser, Jonathan Pryce
-Based on wto novels by Hilary Mantel, and focused on the life and career of Thomas Cromwell. This is revisionist in that it sees Cromwell as a hero but St. Thomas More as a hypocrite. Henry VIII remains a monster.

Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 145, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Charles Jarrott; Cast includes: Richard Burton (King Henry VIII), Geneviève Bujold (Anne Boleyn), Irene Papas (Queen Katherine), Anthony Quayle (Wolsey)
-About Anne Boleyn. Quite inaccurate!

The Sword and the Rose(1953) [Wikipedia]
US, Romance/Historical, 93, No rating, Color
Dir. Ken Annakin; Cast includes: Richard Todd, Glynis Johns (Princess Mary Tudor), James Robertson Justice (King Henry VIII)
-Disney movie set in England about Mary Tudor, the younger sister of Henry VIII. A color re-filming of When Knighthood was in Flower (1922) [Wikipedia].

Tudor Rose (1936) [Wikipedia]
UK, Drama, 78, BW
Dir. Robert Stevenson; Cast includes Cedric Hardwicke, Nova Philbeam
-The story of Lady Jane Grey.

Lady Jane (1986) [Wikipedia]
UK, Biography, 142, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. Trevor Nunn; Cast includes: Helena Bonham Carter

Young Bess (1953) [Wikipedia]
US, 112, Color
Dir. George Sidney; Cast includes Jean Simmons, Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr,Charles Laughton
-Elizabeth from the execution of her mother to her accession.

Becoming Elizabeth (2020) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US/UK, 8 episodes, Color
Creator Anya Reiss; Cast includes, Alicia von Rittberg, Romola Garai, Jessica Raine, Bella Ramsey
-The series focuses on the younger Elizabeth before she becomes queen.

The Virgin Queen (1955) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 92, No rating, Color
Dir. Henry Koster; Cast includes: Bette Davis, Richard Todd, Joan Collins
-Elizabeth and Raleigh

The Virgin Queen (1955) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 92, No rating, Color
Dir. Henry Koster; Cast includes: Bette Davis, Richard Todd, Joan Collins
-Elizabeth and Raleigh

Elizabeth (1998) [Wikipedia]
UK, historical drama, 121, Color
Dir. Shekhar Kapur, With Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, John Gielgud
-So amazingly anti-Catholic, it could not have been made by a modern English director.
-there are many other movies on Queen Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) [Wikipedia]
UK. historical drama, 115, Color
Dir. Shekhar Kapur, With Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Rhys Ifans, Jordi Mollà, Abbie Cornish, Samantha Morton
-Sequel to the 1998 film, this focuses on the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Spanish Armada.

Elizabeth R (1971) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK, 6 episodes, each episode being a distinct play, Color
Dir. various; Cast includes Glenda Jackson, Robert Hardy.
-One of the high points of BBC drama in the 1970s. The sets and production values were low by moderns standards but the acting and the costumes were superb.

The Virgin Queen (2005) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK, historical drama, 4 episodes, 237, Color
Dir. Coky Giedroyc; Cast includes Ann-Marie Duff, Tom Hardy, Emilia Fix.
-The series covers all of Elizabeth's 45 year reign and her relationships with the Earl of Leicester and the Earl of Essex.

Elizabeth (2005) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK/US, historical drama, 2 part series, 223, Color
Dir. Tom Hooper; Cast includes Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, Hugh Dancy
-The series looks at the last 24 years of Elizabeth's 45 year reign, and her relationships with the Earl of Leicester and the Earl of Essex.

Queens: The Virgin and the Martyr [Aka Reinas] (2017) [Wikipedia] TV series
Spain/UK, historical drama, 1 season, 6 episodes, Color, in English
Creator.
José Luis Moreno; Cast includes Olivia Cheney, Rebecca Scott.
-Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) [Wikipedia]
US, Romance/Biography, 106, No rating, Color
Dire: Michael Curtiz; Cast includes: Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Vincent Price

Seven Seas to Calais (1962) [Wikipedia]
Italy, Historical/Biography, 102, No rating, Color
Dir. Rudolph Mate; Cast includes: Rod Taylor, Keith Mitchell
-About Sir Francis Drake

Fire Over England (1937) [Wikipedia]
UK, War/Historical/Adventure, 89, No rating B&W
Dir. William K. Howard; Star; Laurence Olivier, Flora Robson (Queen Elizabeth), Leslie Banks (Earl of Leicester), Raymond Massey, (Philip of Spain), Vivien Leigh (Cynthia)
-All about the Armada

Shakespeare in Love (1998) [Wikipedia]
UK, historical drama, 123, Color
Dir. John Madden; Cast includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck,,Judi Dench, Simon Callow, Jim Carter, Martin Clunes, Antony Sher, Imelda Staunton, ,Tom Wilkinson, Mark Williams
-An enteraining whimsey about Shakespeare.

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot (2004) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK, 2 episodes, Color
Dir. Gillies MacKinnon; Cast includes Clémence Poésy, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle, Tim McInnerny, Emilia Fox,Michael Fassbender
-The lives of Mary, Queen of Scots and her son James VI and I.

Gunpowder (2017) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK, thriller, 3 episodes, Color
Dir. J Blakeson; Cast includes Kit Harrington, Peter Mullan, Mark Gatiss, Liv Tyler
-About the Gunpowder plot. Harrington is a direct descendent of Robert Castesby, the man he plays.

Cromwell (1970) [Wikipedia]
UK, historical drama, 140, Color
Dir. Ken Hughes; Cast includes Richard Harris, Alec Guinness, Dorothy Tutin, Timothy Dalton, Michael Jayston
-Well acted. See Wikipedia link for the "inaccuracies".

Back to Index

England - Arthuriana

See Robbins Library: Arthurian Bibliographies
See Wikipedia: List of Works based on Arthurian legends: Film

The Sword in the Stone [aka Lancelot and Guinevere] (1963) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 79 mins, Color, Animated
Dir. Wolgang Reitherman
-Disney's version of the Arthur story.

Camelot (1967) [Wikipedia]
USA, musical, Color, 179 minutes.
Dir. Joshua Logan; Cast includes: Richard Harris, David Hemmings, Lionel Jeffries, Franco Nero, Vanessa Redgrave!
A musical that is tedious beyond belief. Despite huge expense it looks tacky, and no one can sing.

Kaamelot (2005-2009) TV series [Wikipedia]
France. Medieval comedy fantasy.

Excalibur (1981) [Wikipedia]
UK, Fantasy/Action, 140, Rated PG, Color
Dir. John Boorman; Cast includes: Nigel Terry (Arthur), Paul Geoffrey (Perceval), Cherie Lunghi (Guinevere), Helen Mirren (Morgana), Nicholas Clay (Lancelot), Nicol Williamson (Merlin)
-A very lush movie. Has a reputation (like 2001: A Space Odyssey) of being watched while under the influence of magic substances.
-Excalibur includes Thomas Malory as a writer in its credits; the movie only makes sense if read allegorically.

King Arthur (2004) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 79 mins, Color, Animated
Dir. Antoine Fuqua; Cast includes Clive Owen, Keira Knightly, Stellan Skarsgard
-Interprets Arthur as a Roman officer. Notable for ist depiction of late ancient Christian clergy, although in a typically despicable way.

King Arthur, Legend of the Sword (2017) [Wikipedia]
US, Epic Fantasy, 126 mins
Dir. Guy Ritchie; Cast includes Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law

Arthur and Merlin (2015) [Wikipedia]
UK, Epic, 104 mins, Color
Dir. Marco van Belle: Cast includes Kirk Baker
-Shoestring budget

Arthur and Merlin: Knights of Camelot (2020) [no Wikipedia]
UK, Epic, 104 mins, Color
Dir. Giles Alderson: Cast includes Richard Short
-A much older Arthur and Merlin

Arthur of the Britons (1972-1973) [Wikipedia] TV miniseries
UK, Docudrama, 2 seasons, 24 episodes
Cast includes Oliver Tobias, Brian Blessed

First Knight (1995) [Wikipedia]
US, Romance/Adventure, 132, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. Jerry Zucker; Cast includes: Sean Connery (Arthur), Richard Gere (Lancelot), Julia Ormond (Guinevere)

Knights of the Round Table (1953) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 115, No rating, Color
Dir. Richard Thorpe; Cast includes: Robert Taylor (Sir Lancelot of the Lake), Ava Gardner (Queen Guinevere), Mel Ferrer (King Arthur)
-MGM's first widescreen film

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical/Comedy, 90, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones; Star; Graham Chapman
-Meant to be humorous. It is, in parts.

The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (1956) [Wikipedia] TV miniseries
UK, Docudrama, 1 season, 30 episodes, Color and BW
Cast includes William Russell

Sword of Lancelot [Aka Lancelot and Guinevere] (1963) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 116 mins, Color
Dir. Cornel Wilde.

Lancelot du Lac (1974) [Alt: Le Graal, The Grail, Lancelot of the Lake] [Wikipedia]
France/Italy, Drama, 84, Color
Dir. Robert Bresson; Cast includes: Luc Simon
-What happens after the knights have failed to find the Grail.

Perceval le Gallois (1978) [Wikipedia]
France, Drama, 140, No rating, Color
Dir. Eric Rohmer
-Based on the 12th century French romance, translated by Rohmer. Unfortunately, Roger Ebert calls it "relentlessly turgid".

Siege of the Saxons (1963) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical/Adventure, 85, No rating, Color
Dir. Nathan Juran
-About King Arthur's daughter.

Prince Valiant (1954) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 100, No rating, Color
Dir. Henry Hathaway; Cast includes: James Mason, Janet Leigh,
-A cartoon character in the middle ages, with Arthurian characters.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1973) [Wikipedia]
UK, Adventure, 101, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Philip Breen; Cast includes: Murray Head
[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ca. early 1970's with Murray Head as Gawain. Recently shown on TNT's Saturday Nitro. OUCH!]
The films sticks closely to the original story, but has aged very badly.

Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Gawain and the Green Knight (1982) [Wikipedia]
UK, Adventure, 101, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Stephan Weeks; Cast includes: Miles O'Keeffe (Gawain), Sean Connery (Green Knight), Trevor Howard (Arthur), Peter Cushing
[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] Sword of the Valiant with Miles O'Keefe as Gawain. Great hair that didn't move...at all!!! Medieval theme taken to the mystic outer limits!. O'Keefe previously played Tarzan.

The Green Knight (2021) [Wikipedia]
US, Epic, 130, Color
Dir. David Lowery; Cast includes: Dev Patel
-Very much based on the poem.

Tristan and Isolde (2006) [Wikipedia]
US, Epic, 130, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Kevin Reynolds; Cast includes: James Franco, Sophia Myles, Rufus Sewell

Back to Index

England - Robin Hood

See Wikipedia: List of films and television series featuring Robin Hood [Contains more items than listed here]

Robin Hood [Aka Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood] (1922) [Wikipedia] [Available in full at YouTube]
US, Adventur, 127 mins, B/W. Silent
Dir Allan Dwan; Cast includes Douglas Fairbanks
-One of the most expensive films of the 1920s, and a smash hit.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 102, No rating, Color
Dir. Michael Curtiz, Willim Keighley ; Cast includes: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains.
Established many of the tropes of later Robin Hood films.

The Adventures of Robin Hood TV-Series: 1955-1960 [Wikipedia]

The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (1946) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 86, No rating, Color
Dir. George Sherman, Henry Levin; Cast includes: Cornel Wilde
-Robin Hood's son carrying on the old tradition.

Men of Sherwood Forest (1954) [Wikipedia]
UK, Adventure, 77, No rating, Color
Dir. Val Guest; Cast includes: Don Taylor

The Prince of Thieves (1948) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 72, No rating, Color
Dir. Howard Bretherton; Cast includes: Jon Hall

Robin and Marian (1976) [Wikipedia]
UK, Romance/Adventure, 112, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Richard Lester; Cast includes: Sean Connery, Audrey Hepburn
-Middle aged Robin and Marion in a "revisionist" story.

Robin Hood (1973) [Wikipedia]
US, Children's/Animated/Action, 83, Rated G, Color
Dir. Wolfgang Reitherman
-Animals play the human roles. Not a Disney great.

Robin Hood (1991) [Wikipedia]
UK, 150, No rating, Color
Dir. John Irvin; Cast includes: Patrick Bergin, Uma Thurman.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Adventure/Action, 138, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. Kevin Reynolds; Cast includes: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Alan Rickman
-Quite good in fact, although very 1990's. Stay for the last shot!
[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] But my favorite Worst Medieval Movie remains Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I've never quite gotten over the moment when Kevin Costner's Robin asks a belligerent Will Scarlett, "Why do you hate me? Did I harm you in some former life?"

Robin Hood (2010) [Wikipedia]
US, Action, 140, Color
Dir. Ridley Scott; Cast includes Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett; Oscar Isaac.

Robin Hood (2018) [Wikipedia]
US, Action, 116, Color
Dir. Otto Bathurst; Cast includes Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Eve Hewson  

Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Adventure, 80, No rating, Color
Dir. Gordon Douglas; Cast includes: John Derek
-Robin's son fights to get Magna Carta signed.

The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952) [Wikipedia]
US, Children's/Adventure, 83, No rating, Color
Dir. Ken Annakin; Cast includes: Richard Tood, Joan Rice, Peter Finch
-Reasonable Disney version.

Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) [Wikipedia]
UK, Adventure, 80, No rating, Color
Dir. Terence Fisher; Cast includes: Richard Greene, Peter Cushing. A Hammer Film production.

Time Bandits (1981) [Wikipedia]
UK, Fantasy/Comedy, 110, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Terry Gilliam; Cast includes: John Cleese (Robin Hood)
-Time travel fantasy.

The Court Jester (1955) [Wikipedia]
US, musica comedy, 101, Color
Dir. Melvin Frank and Norman Panama; Cast includes Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Angele Lansbury.
-"Hubert Hawkins, a carnival entertainer working with the Black Fox's band of rebels (a parody of Robin Hood and his Merry Men) to guard the true infant King of Medieval England from a usurper."

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Scotland

The Gaelic King (2017) [Wikipedia]
UK, historical fantasy, 90, Color
Dir. Philip Todd; Cast includes Jake McGarry
-Set in Scotland in 800AD, the sroy of a young warrior king, Alpin.

The Bruce (1996) [Wikipedia]
UK, Romance/Historical/Action, 1070, Rated R, Color
Dir. Bob Carruthers and David McWhinnie; Cast includes  Oliver Reed, Brian Blessed, Michael van Wijik and Sandy Welch as Robert the Bruce
Includes a battle of Bannockburn sequence that was the largest filmed reconstruction of medieval battle ever staged in the Britain. 

Outlaw King (2018) [Wikipedia]
UK/US, historical action, 121, Color
Dir. David Mackenzi and Gillian Bern; Cast includes Chris Pine, Florence Pugh, Stephen Dillane
-About the life of the 14th century Scottish king, Robert the Bruce.

Robert the Bruce (2019) [Wikipedia]
UK, historical fiction war film, 124, Color
Dir. Angus Macfadyen: Cast incudes Angus Macfadyen, Jared Harris, Anna Hutchison
-"It portrays Robert's relationship with a peasant family as a galvanising influence on his struggle for independence and his ensuing reign."

Braveheart (1995) [Wikipedia]
US, Romance/Historical/Action, 177, Rated R, Color
Dir. Mel Gibson; Cast includes: Mel Gibson
-[PBH Comments] Won a lot of Oscars! This is a massively inaccurate portrayal of the life of the 13th-century Scots hero William Wallace. Gibson plays a woaded Wallace with a Glaswegian accent. The history is twisted in so many ways - the myth of ius primae nocte, the supposed liaison between Wallace and Isabella - that they would need a web site to unravel. On the other hand, the battle scenes are very well done - violent bloody, and altogether impressive and the story is well told, in a conventional way. I was not, however, entirely convinced by Gibson as a suffering saviour. For class use, many students will enjoy this film, and, as ever, might be inspired to read up on the subject.

Brave (2012) [Wikipedia]
US, animated fantasy, 93, Color
Dir. Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman; Voice cast includes Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane
-Set in "medieval Scotland" with an princess as heroine.

Mary of Scotland (1936) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Biography, 123, No rating B&W
Dir. John Ford; Cast includes: Katharine Hepburn, Frederic March.
-Flopped at the box office.

Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Biography, 128, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Charles Jarrott; Cast includes: Vanessa Redgrave (Mary, Queen of Scots), Glenda Jackson (Queen Elizabeth), Patrick McGoohan (James Stuart), Timothy Dalton (Henry, Lord Darnley), Nigel Davenport, Trevor Howard, Daniel Massey, Robert Dudley, Ian Holm
-Incredible cast, but inaccurate. The homosexual relationship between Darnley and Riccio is portrayed.

Mary, Queen of Scots (2013) [Wikipedia]
Switzerland, historical drama, 120, Color, French and English
Dir. Thomas Imbach; Cast includes Camille Rutherford
-Based on Stefan Zweig's book on Mary Stuart.

Reign (2013-2017) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, 4 seasons, 78 episodes, Color
Creator. Laurie McCartyj, Stephanie SenGupta; Cast includes Adelaide Kane, Megan Follows
-Fictionalised account of Mary, Queen of Scots life as Queen of France and then Queen of Scotland

Queens: The Virgin and the Martyr [Aka Reinas] (2017) [Wikipedia] TV series
Spain/UK, historical drama, 1 season, 6 episodes, Color, in English
Creator.
José Luis Moreno; Cast includes Olivia Cheney, Rebecca Scott.
-Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots (2018) [Wikipedia]
UK/US, historical drama, 125, Color
Dir. Josie Rourke; Cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowdenm, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, Guy Pearce
-All the usual cliches.

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot (2004) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
UK, 2 episodes, Color
Dir. Gillies MacKinnon; Cast includes Clémence Poésy, Kevin McKidd, Robert Carlyle, Tim McInnerny, Emilia Fox,Michael Fassbender
-The lives of Mary, Queen of Scots and her son James VI and I.

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France

The Romance of Astrea and Celadon (2007) [Wikipedia]
France, 109, Color, in French
Dir. Eric Rohmer; Cast includes Andy Gillet Stéphanie, Crayencour
-Based on Honoré d'Urfé's 17th-century novel L'Astrée, the plot is set in in 5th-century Gaul, shepherd Céladon falls in love with Astrée.

Good King Dagobert [Aka Le bon roi Dagobert] (1963) [Wikipedia]
France, comedy, 95, Color
Dir. Pierre Chevalier; Cast includes Fernandel

Good King Dagobert [Aka Le bon roi Dagobert] (1984) [Wikipedia]
France, comedy, 112, Color
Dir. Dino Risi; Cast includes Ugo Tognazzi, Coluche, Michel Serrault

Charlemagne [Aka Charlemagne, le prince à cheval] (1993) [Wikipedia] TV Mini Series
France, 3 episodes, 90 mins, French
Dir. Clive Donner; Cast includes Christian Brendel
-Young Charlemagne in the mid 8th century "rebuilds civilixation on the ruins of the Roman Empire."

Charlemagne [Aka Karl der Grosse] (2013) [Wikipedia] TV Mini Series
Germany, docudrama, 3 episodes, German
Cast includes Alexander Wust
-Charlemagne in the mid 8th century.

Roland the Mighty [Aka Orlando e i Paladini di Francia] (1956) [Wikipedia]
Italy, historical drama, 110, Italian
Dir. Pietro Francisci; Cast includes Rik Battaglia Rosanna Schiaffino
-About the Battle of Roncevaux 778AD, where Roland, a knight in the service of Charlemagne is killed.

Yaroslavna, Queen of France [Aka Yaroslavna, koroleva Frantsii/Ярославна, королева Франции] (1979) [Wikipedia]
Russia, historical drama, 108, Color
Dir. Igor Maslennikov; Cast includes Kirill Lavrov, Elena Koreneva
-"The action takes place in 1048 in Russia and Central Europe. Ambassadors of King Henry I of France arrive in Kiev to ask Prince Yaroslav the Wise for the hand of his youngest daughter Anna .
-"Accompanied by ambassadors, Anna Yaroslavna, daughter of Yaroslave the Wise, and future French queen. During the journey there are many adventures associated with the Varangians, Poles, Byzantines. Anna Yaroslavna is exposed to many dangers, but reaches France, accompanied by only one bodyguard."

Les Visiteurs (1993) [Wikipedia]
France, time travel comedy, 107, Color
Dir. Jean-Marie Poiré; Cast includes Christian Clavier, Jean Reno, Valérie Lemercier
-Very funny farce in which some 12th century knights are transferred to the modern world. Remade in English with the same principle actors as Just Visiting (2001) [Wikipedia]

Le moine et la sorcière [Alt: The Sorceress] [Wikipedia]
France (1987): Historical/Drama, 97 minutes. French and English language versions were filmed.
Dir. Suzanne Schiffman; Cast includes Tchéky Karyo and Christine Boisson
-The Sorceress was written by a professional Medieval scholar - Pamela Berger of Boston College - and was shot in both French and English. It is based on a genuine medieval text by the 13th-century Dominican, Etienne de Bourbon, about the cult of s St. Guinefort near Lyons in France. St. Guinefort (probably derived from "Cynephoros" in Greek, sometimes a name for St. Christopher) was a sainted greyhound! The story, which is slow but involving, focuses accurately on early 13th century historical issues: the survival of "folk" culture; the role of women; the beginnings of the Dominican order; the use of profit-based farming techniques (in this case carp ponds) by local nobilities. The actors are professional, and the story has interesting twists. A very good film for classroom use.

Timeline 2003 [Wikipedia]
US. Sci fi adventur, 116, Color
Dir. Richard Donner; Cast includes Paul Walker, Frances O'Connor, Gerard Butler,Billy Connolly
-Based om Michael Crichton's novel about an archeological team sent back to 1357.

La Commanderie (2010) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
France, 8 episodes, Color, In Frenc
Dir. Didier Le Pêcheur
-Set in a France in 1375, devestated by the Black Death and the Hundred Years War "there is a place of help and comfort embodied by a simple fortified farm, the only refuge for a population trying to escape the difficulties of the time. This fortified farm is the Commandery of Assier, lordship of the Hospitallers of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem."

A Cursed Monarchy (Aka Les Rois Maudits) (1972) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
France, 5 episodes, Color
Dir. Claude Barma; Cast includes Jean Piat as Robert d'Artois and Hélène Duc as Mahaut d'Artois.
-Based on the novels by Maurice Druon about the Frenc monarchy in the 14th century.

A Cursed Monarchy (Aka Les Rois Maudits) (2005) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
France, 6 episodes, Color
Dir. Josée Dayan; Caste includes Philippe Torreton, Jeanne Moreau
-Based on the novels by Maurice Druon about the Frenc monarchy in the 14 century.

Beatrice (1987) [Wikipedia]
France, Historical, 128, Rated R, Color
Dir. Bertrand Tavernier: Cast includes: Julie Delpy
-Violent family story set during the Hundred Years War. A father bullies his son and engages in incest with his daughter.

The Last Duel (2021) [Wikipedia]
UK/US, historical action drama. 153, Color
Dir. Ridley Scott; Cast includes Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon
-Based on the 2004 book The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager. Set in the france of Charles VI.

The Advocate  [Alt: The Hour of the Pig] [Wikipedia]
US (1994): Historical/Drama/Crime
Dir. David Thompson: Cast includes: Colin Firth
-A 15th-century lawyer defends a pig put on trial for murder.

Les Visiteurs du soir, (1942) [Alt: The Devil's Envoys] [Wikipedia]
France, Romance/Fantasy, 110, No rating B&W
Dir. Marcel Carné; Cast includes Arletty, Jules Berry
A fantasy romance set in the 15th century and based on a French legend:.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) [Wikipedia]
US, Drama, 93, No rating B&W
Dir. Wallace Worsely; Cast includes: Lon Chaney

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) [Wikipedia]
US, Horror, 115, No rating B&W
Dir. William Dieterle; Cast includes: Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara
-The classic version of Victor Hugo's novel. Forget the Disney version.

-See also Wikipedia: Hunchback of Notre Dame adaptations

Ladyhawke (1985) [Wikipedia]
US, Fantasy/Adventure, 124, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. Richard Donner; Cast includes: Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Broderick
-rightly called a fantasy, but set in Medieval France.

Louis XI: Shattered Power [Aka Louis XI, le pouvoir fracassé] (2011) [Wikipedia] TV film
France, 96, Color, in French
Dir. Henri Helman; Cast includes Jacques Perrin, Florence Pernel
-The last days of Louis XI, circa 183, with the king afflecited by a mysterious sickness.

The Vagabond King (1956) [Wikipedia]
US, Musical/Historical, 86, No rating, Color
Dir. Michael Curtiz; Cast includes: Kathryn Grayson, Oreste, Rita Moreno
-About François Villon, a 15h century poet, a version of Rudolf Frimal's operetta. Filmed before in 1930. Story without music as The Beloved Rogue (1927), and If I Were King (1928)

The Return of Martin Guerre (1982) [Alt: La Retour de Martin Guerre] [Wikipedia]
France, Historical, 111, No rating, Color
Dir. Daniel Vigne, Jean Claude Carrierè: Cast includes: Gerard Depardieu
-Based on trial records about an impostor in 16th century Southern France. An excellent movie, with solid historical advice given by Natalie Zemon Davis to the film makers. Try to see subtitled version, not the dubbed one.

Diane (1956) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical, 110, No rating, Color
Dir. David Miller: Cast includes: Lana Turner
-About Diane of Poitier. Set in the court of Francis I of France, early 16th century

Reign (2013-2017) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, 4 seasons, 78 episodes, Color
Creator. Laurie McCartyj, Stephanie SenGupta; Cast includes Adelaide Kane, Megan Follows
-Fictionalised account of Mary, Queen of Scots life as Queen of France and then Queen of Scotland

Ever After (1998) [Wikipedia]
US, romantic period drama, 130, Color
Dir Andy Tennant; Cast includes Drew Barrymore, Angelica Huston
-A seeting of Cinderella in 16th century France

Queen Margot (1954) [Wikipedia]
France, Historical/Drama/Biography,
Cast includes: Jeanne Moreau
-About the St. Bartholemew's day massacre.

Queen Margot (1994) [Wikipedia]
France-Germany-Italy, Historical/Drama/Biography, 162, Rated R, Color
Dir. Patrice Chéreau; Cast includes: Isabelle Adjani
-Adjani as Marguerite de Valois and the events surrounding the St. Bartholemew's day massacre of 1572. Good critical reception. Based on Alexander Dumas' novel. The French language version runs 166.

The Princess of Montpensier [Aka La Princesse de Montpensier] (2010) [Wikipedia]
France, period romance film, 139, Color
Dir. Bertrand Tavernier; Cast includes Mélanie Thierry, Gaspard Ulliel, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet
-Inspired by a short story of the same name published anonymously by Madame de La Fayette in 1662. Fiction and history in set in the French  Wars of Religion leading to the St Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572.

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." It has a section on the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of the French Huguenots in 1572.

Carnival in Flanders (1935) [Alt: La Kermesse Héroïque] [Wikipedia]
France, Historical/Comedy, 95, No rating BW In French
Dir. Jacques Feyder
-Pauline Kael wrote: "It is a day in 1616; a Spanish regiment comes to a town in occupied Flanders. The cowardly burghers hide, but their charming ladies meet the challenge, and in the morning the Spaniards depart, poorer in worldly goods, richer in experience."

The Serpent Queen (2022-) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, period drama, 1 season, 8 episodes
Creator. Justin Haythe; Cast includes Samantha Morton
-The story of Catherine de' Medici (1519-1589), who was Queen of France and effective ruler for thirty years. Part of the current trend for anachronistic "historical" dramas.

Cyrano de Bergerac (1990) [Wikipedia]
France, Romance/Drama, 138, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Jean Paul Rappeneau; Cast includes: Gerard Depardieu
-Based on a late 19th century play about a long-nosed early 17th century Frenchman.
-There are many other versions

The Devils (1971) [Wikipedia] [Full film available at Internet Archive]
UK/US, historical horror, 111, Color
Dir. Ken Russell; Cast includes Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Reed.
-"A dramatised historical account of the fall of Urbain Grandier, a 17th-century Roman Catholic priest accused of witchcraft after the possessions in Loudun, France, the plot also focuses on Sister Jeanne des Anges, a sexually repressed nun who incites the accusations." It was banned in many countries.

Cardinal Richelieu (1935) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Biography, 83, No rating B&W
Dir. Rowland V. Lee; Cast includes: George Arliss

See also Wikipedia: The Three Musketeers in Film [There have been over 50 film or TV adaptations]

Back to Index

France - Joan of Arc

Joan the Woman (1916) [Wikipedia]
Dir. Cecil B. DeMille, BW, Silent, 100 mins.
With opera singer Geraldine Farrar as Joan.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) [Alt: La Passion de Jeanne D'Arc] [Wikipedia]
France, Historical, 77, No rating B&W, silent
Dir. Carl Dreyer; Cast includes: Renée Maria Falconetti
-The original negatives were destroyed, but a reconstruction of the film was successfully undertaken, with Dreyer's blessing by Lo Duca in 1952 using a serendipitously found negative and lip-readers to determine the text [by Joseph Delteil, author of Jeanne D'Arc, (Paris 1925)]. Lo Duca added a score of works by Albinoni [Adagio], Vivaldi, Scarletti, Bach and Palestrina. Dreyer himself had used plainchaint. [Cf. Maria Warner, Joan of Arc, (London: 1981) p.275n64]. The video version currently available has a piano score.
-held by Pauline Kael to be the greatest performance ever captured on film. The film was so powerful that it was initially banned in England. Based on actual trial transcripts.
-[PBH Comment] The film provides no context, no laughable dauphin, dramatic visions. It is a simple rendition of the trial records from 1431 presented as a series of direct parallels with the passion of Christ as seen in 15th century art. Falconetti's intensely innocent face is the focus of the action, such as it is. Kael is correct in her assessment of the film. For teaching, it might be hard to persuade a class to watch a silent movie, but I can guarantee a strong emotional reaction.

Joan of Arc (1948) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious/Biography, 100, No rating, Color
Dir. Victor Flemming; Cast includes: Ingrid Bergman, José Ferrer
-Originally 145 minutes.

Saint Joan (1957) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious/Historical/Biography, 110, No rating B&W
Dir. Otto Preminger; Cast includes: Jean Seberg, Richard Widmark
-based on G.B. Shaw's play. Screenplay by Graham Greene.
-There was also a 1967 TV version

The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962) [Alt: Procès De Jeanne D'arc] [Wikipedia]
France, Drama/Biography, 65, No rating B&W
Dir. Robert Bresson
-An hour-long précis of the trial based on the historical records.

Jeanne la Pucelle 1. Les Batailles (1993) [Alt: Joan the Maid 1.: The Battles] [Wikipedia]
France, drama, 160 Color, In French (1993)
Dir. Jacques Rivette; Cast includes: Olivier Cruveiller, André Marcon, Sandrine Bonnaire (Jeanne d'Arc)

Jeanne la Pucelle 2. Les Prisons (1993) [Alt: Joan the Maid 1.: The Prisons] [Wikipedia]
France, drama, 176 Color, In French (1993)
Dir. Jacques Rivette; Cast includes: Sandrine Bonnaire (Jeanne d'Arc)

Joan of Arc (1999) [Wikipedia] TV MiniSerie]
US, Drama/Biography,
Dir. Christian Duguay; Cast includes: Leelee Sobieski, Jacqueline Bisset, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine,
Peter O'Toole.

Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc  (1999) [Wikipedia]
France, Drama/Biography
Dir. Luc Besson. Cast includes: Milla Jovovich,  John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, Dustin Hoffman.

Joan of Arc: The Virgin Warrior (in process) [Wikipedia]
Dir. Ronald F. Maxwell.
See http://ronmaxwell.com/virginwarrior.html

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Spain and Portugal

El Cid (1961) [Wikipedia]
US, War/Biography, 184, No rating, Color
Dir. Anthony Mann; Cast includes: Sophia Loren (Chimene), Charlton Heston (Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar El Cid), John Fraser (King Alfonso).
-Quite good, in fact.
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] Of course, I am personally above such rancor. I specialize in medieval Spain, which has scarcely been mentioned since El Cid, and who can find fault with anything with which Sophia Loren was associated? But man that scene with the Cid riding out with a stake up his back is good but hokey cinema!

El Cid (2020-2021) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
Span, War/Biography, 2 season, 10 episodes, Color
Cast includes Jaime Lorente
-Spanish TV series, available on Amazon, about the 11th century Spainish hero.

Cathedral of the Sea [Aka La catedral del mar] (2018) [Wikipedia] TV Series
Spain, 8 episodes, Color, Spanish
Dir. Jordi Frades; Cast includes Michelle Jenner, Aitor Luna, Daniel Grao
-Based on the 2006 historical novel by Ildefonso Falcones. "The action takes place in 14th century Barcelona at the height of the city's trade and military power in the Mediterranean, during the construction of Santa Maria del Mar serving as background to the story."

Mad Love [Aka Juana la Loca] (2001) [Wikipedia]
Spain, drama, 115, Color, Spanish
Dir. Vincente Aranda; Cast includes Pilar López de Ayala, Daniele Liotti
-T"he plot follows the tragic fate of Queen Joanna of Castile, madly in love with an unfaithful husband, Philip the Handsome, Archduke of Austria. It is one of the several adaptations of Manuel Tamayo y Baus' 1855 historic drama The Madness of Love."

Isabel (2011-204) [Wikipedia] TV series
Spain, historical drama, 3 seasons, 39 episodes, Color, Spanish
Dir. Jordi Frades; Cast includes Michelle Jenner as Isabella Rodolfo Sancho as Ferdinand
-A biography of Isabella I of Castile.

Carlos, rey emperador (2015-2016) [Wikipedia] TV series
Spain, Historical drama, 17 episodes, Spanish
Dir. Oriol Ferrer; Cast includes Álvaro Cervantes, Blanca Suárez
-The series is a sequel to the successful Isabel and is based upon the reign of Charles I.

The Broken Crown [Aka  La corona partida] (2016) [Wikipedia]
Spain, drama, 113, Color, in Spanish
Dir. Jordi Frades; Cast includes Rodolfo Sancho, Irene Escolar
-"Focuses on the events after the death and of Queen Isabella of Castile and the issuing of the corresponding will. Isabella's daughter Joanna founds herself in the middle of the political schemes of her father Ferdinand and her spouse Philip, with everyone in the Court having a vested interest on declaring her mad and unfit to rule."

El Greco (1963) [Wikipedia]
France-Italy, Biography, 95, No rating, Color
Dir. Luciano Salce; Cast includes: Mel Ferrer

El Greco (2007) [Wikipedia]
Greece, biography 119, in English, Greek, and Spanish
Dir. Yannis Smaragdis; Cast includes  Lakis Lazopoulos, Dimitra Matsouka, with Nick Ashdon as El Greco.,
-"About the life of the Greek painter of the Spanish Renaissance, Domenicos Theotokopoulos, known worldwide as El Greco. There is an entirely fictional story in which El Greco is called before the Inquisition."

The Castilian (1963) [Wikipedia]
Spain, Historical/Adventure, 129, No rating, Color
Dir. Javier Seto: Cast includes: Cesar Romero, Frankie Avalon
-A noble defends his people against invaders.

Captain From Castile (1947) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Adventure, 140, No rating, Color
Dir. Henry King: Cast includes: Tyrone Power, Ceasar Romero
-Cortez' conquest of Mexico and the Spanish Inquisition all involved in on story. With a famous score by Alfred Newman.

Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical/Drama/Adventure, 118, Rated G, Color
Dir. Irving Lerner ; Star; Christopher Plummer (Inca King Atahualpa), Robert Shaw (Pizzaro)
-About Pizzaro and the conquest of Peru. According to Pauline Kael, Plummer camps it up, while Shaw plays Pizzaro straight.

Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972) [Alt: Aguirre: The Wrath of God] [Wikipedia]
US/West Germany, drama/historical, 90, 1972 Color
Dir. Werner Herzog: Cast includes: Alejandro Repulles, Gonzalo Pizarro, Cecilia Rivera, Helena Rojo, Edward Roland
-16th century ruthless conquerors pursue wealth in South America.

The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) [Wikipedia]
UK, Romance/Biography/Adventure, 80, No rating B&W
Dir. Alexander Korda; Cast includes: Douglas Fairbanks, Merle Oberon
-Don Juan in his forties.

Viridiana (1961) [Wikipedia]
Spain, Drama, 90, No rating B&W
Dir. Luis Buñuel; Cast includes: Silvia Pinal
-The story of a young religious novice, Viridiana (Silvia Pinal), as she is about to take her vows. Said to be Buñuel's greatest film.

Isabel (2011-204) [Wikipedia] TV series
Spain, historical drama, 3 seasons, 39 episodes, Color, Spanish
Dir. Jordi Frades; Cast includes Michelle Jenner as Isabella Rodolfo Sancho as Ferdinand
-A biography of Isabella I of Castile.

Don Quixote (2015) [Wikipedia]
US, adventure, 83, Color
Dir. multiple; Cast includes Carmen Argenziano, James Franco, 
-Based on Miguel de Cervantes

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Italy (See also Renaissance section below)

Magnificat (1993) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 110, Color, In Italian
Dir. Pupi Avati
-"Set in Easter Holy Week 926 after Christ. It tells of how the men of the time, despite the lack of tangible signs of God, continue thanks to faith to desperately seek refuge in religion"
- [From a correspondent] Hierarchical relations in the earlier middle ages: a young girl becomes a monastic oblate, a young man who succeeds his father as lord of the territory calls for divine signs, there is a very civilized exercise of jus primae noctis.

Barbarossa [Aka Sword of War] (2009) [Wikipedia]
Italy, historical war drama, 139, Color, in English
Dir. Renzo Martinelli: cast includes Rutger Hauer, Raz Degan, F. Murray Abraham, Hristo Zhivkov
-"Set primarily in northern Italy during the late 12th century. Despite the film's title, Friedrich "Barbarossa" features only as a supporting character in this film, which is primarily concerned with the struggle of the Lombard League, which struggled to maintain independence from the Holy Roman Empire, led by the legendary Guelph warrior Alberto da Giussano."

The Flame and the Arrow (1950) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 88, No rating, Color
Dir. Jacques Tourneur; Cast includes: Virgina Mayo, Burt Lancaster
-rebel leaders romping through medieval Italy at the time of Frederick Barbarossa.

Sicilian Vespers [Aka Sicilian Uprising or Vespro siciliano] (1949) [Wikipedia]
Italy, historical drama, 91 mins, Italian
Dir. Giogio Pastina; Cast includes Marina Berti, Clara Calamai, Roldano Lupi,Paul Muller
-"The film is set in 1282, showing the events leading up to the War of the Sicilian Vespers. It is based on the libretto of the Verdi opera I vespri siciliani, which was itself based on an earlier play written by Eugène Scribe and Charles Duveyrier".

Margaret of Cortona (1950) [Wikipedia]
Italy, historical drama, 100, Color, Italian
Dir Mario Bonard; Cast includes Maria Frao
-About the 13th century saint Margaret of Cortona

Marco Polo (2007) [Wikipedia] TV movie
US, historical drama, 131, Color
Dir. Kevin Connor; Cast includes Ian Sommerhalder, DD Wong, Brian Dennehy
-"In the 13th Century, imprisoned in Genoa, Marco Polo, a Venetian trader, recounts his days as a young man in China to a fellow prisoner who is dying. He reminisces about his fantastic adventures, his rise to governorship in Kublai Khan's court in Mongolia, his love for a kidnapped concubine and his escape back to Italy as a wealthy man.

Marco Polo (2007) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, historical drama, 2 seasons, 21 episodes, Color
Creator. John Fusco; Cast includes Lorenzo Richelmy, Benedict Wong, Joan Chen, Rick Yune
-Marco Polo's early years at Kublai Khan's court.

Die Pest in Florenz (1919) [Wikipedia]
Germany, horror, 96, BW
Dir. Otto Rippert; Screenwriter: Fritz Lang
-[From IMD] An evil seductress causes Cesare, the city's ruler, and his son to both fall madly in love with her. The son, killing his father before an order to torture the woman can be carried out, then turns the city's churches into dens of sexual debauchery. Acts of evil and corruption continue unabated until the arrival of Death, who brings with her a horrible plague which she is about to loose upon the city in 1348.

Il miracolo (1948) [Alt: The Miracle] [Wikipedia]
Italy, 41, Black & White, In Italian.
Dir. Roberto Rossellini. [A segment of L'Amore]

L'Amore (1948) [Alt: Ways of Love, Woman] [Wikipedia]
Italy, Drama, 69, In Italian
Dir. Roberto Rossellini; Cast includes: Anna Magnani
-Magnani believes she believes she has been divinely impregnated. The 1/2 of the Fellini's 8 1/2. [Period?]

Bride of Vengeance (1949) [Wikipedia]
US, Drama, 91, No rating B&W
Dir. Mitchell Leisen: Cast includes: Paulette Goddard
-Story of Borgia intrigue in Italy.

Prince of Foxes (1949) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Adventure, 107, No rating B&W
Dir. Henry King; Cast includes: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles (as Borgia)
-About Cesare Borgia. Extremely lavish production.

Romeo and Juliet (1936) [Wikipedia]
US, Romance/Historical, 126, No rating B&W
Dir. George Cukor: Cast includes: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, John Barrymore
-Shakespeare's play, but simplified.

Romeo and Juliet (1968) [Wikipedia]
Italy-UK, Romance/Historical, 138, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Franco Zeffirelli; Cast includes: Olivia Hussey, Leonard Whiting, Michael York
-Shakespeare's play, played by two age-appropriate actors. Only about half the play is used. Famous musical score by Nino Roto

-See also Wikipedia: List of films based on Romeo and Juliet al least 48 direct adpatations and many more derivate ones.

Galileo (1975) [Wikipedia]
UK, Biography, 145, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Joseph Losey; Topol (Galileo), Edward Fox (Cardinal Inquisitor)
-Based on Bertolt Brecht's play.

Benedetta (2021) [Wikipedia]
France, biographical drama, 132, Color, French
Dir. Paul Verhoeven; Cast includes Virginie Efira
-"About Benedetta Carlini, a nun in the 17th century who joins an Italian convent while a young child and later has a lesbian love affair with another nun, while seeing religious visions. Based on 1986 non-fiction book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by historian Judith C. Brown."

The King's Whore (1990) [Alt: The King's Mistress] [Wikipedia]
Austria-France-Italy-UK, Historical/Drama, 115, Rated R, Color
Dir. Axel Corti; Star; Timothy Dalton
-Set in court of Piedmont in the 17th century.

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Eastern Europe

Pagan Queen (2009) [Wikipedia]
Czechia, 97, Color, in English
Dir. Constantin Werner; Cast includes Winter Ave Zoli, Csaba Lucas, Lea Mornar
-"Based on the legend of Libuše, the Czech tribal queen of 8th century Bohemia who envisioned the city of Prague and founded the first Czech dynasty with a farmer called Přemysl, the Ploughman."

An Ancient Tale: When the Sun Was a God [Aka Stara baśń: Kiedy słońce było bogiem] (2003) [Wikipedia]
Poland, 1007, Color, Polish
Dir. Jerzy Hoffman; Cast includes Michal Zebrowski
-"The action of the film takes place in the 9th century. Prince Popiel is the ruler of the Goplo country . To ensure the succession of his son, he murders his entire family, but his crimes cause a rebellion."

Gniazdo (Aka The Nest] 1974 [Wikipedia]
Poland, historical, 94, Color, Polish
Dir. Jan Rybkowski; Cast includes Wojciech Pszoniak, Marek Bargiełowski, Wanda Neumann
-About  Mieszko I, the founder of the first independent Polish state, circa 960 AD.

The Conquest [Aka Honfoglalás] (1996) [Wikipedia]
Hungary, Historical drama, 107, Color, Hungarian
Dir. Gáb or Koltay; Cast includes Franco Nero
-About the Magyar settlement in Hungary in approximately AD 896.

Bolesław Śmiały (1971) [Wikipedia]
Poland, 97, Color, Polish
Dir. Witold Lesiewicz; Cast includes Ignacy Gogolewski, Jerzy Kaliszewski, Maria Ciesielska
-Aabout the 11th century conflict between the king of Poland Bolesław II the Bold and Bishop Stanisław of Szczepanów.

Nemanjić Dynasty: The Birth of the Kingdom [Aka Немањићи: Рађање Краљевине / Nemanjići: Rađanje Kraljevine] (2017-1018) [Wikipedia] TV series
Serbia, 13 episodes, Color, Serbian
Prod. Miško Stevanović; Cast includes Vojin Ćetković, Mladen Nelević
-About the Serbian medieval dynasty Nemanjići.  This princely, royal and imperial house produced twelve Serbian monarchs, who ruled between 1166 and 1371.

Marketa Lazarová (1967) [Wikipedia]
Czechoslovakia, historical epic, 165, BW, Czech/German
Dir. František Vláčil; Cast includes Magda Vášáryová, Josef Kemr
-Highly regarded Czech film set in the 13th century "and tells the story of a daughter of a feudal lord who is kidnapped by neighbouring robber knights and becomes a mistress of one of them."

The Valley of the Bees [Aka Údolí včel] (1968) [Wikipedia]
Czechoslovakia, 97, BW, Czech
Dir. František Vláčil; Cast includes Petr Čepek as Ondřej, Jan Kačer as Armin von Heide
-"The film follows a young man Ondřej who's sent to join Teutonic order by his father. When he flees the order and returns home, his friend Armin is determined to bring him back."

Last Knights (2015) [Wikipedia]
UK/South Korea/Czechia, Action drama, 115, Color
Dir. Kazuaki Kiriya; Casr includes Cliver Owen, Morgan Freeman
-By the names (Bartok, Geza) it seems to be set in a fantasy medieval Hungary, but is basted on the Japanese legend of the 47 ronin.

A Vote for the King of the Romans [Aka Hlas pro rímského krále] (2016) [Wikipedia] TV movie
Czechia , 104, Color. Czech
Dir. Václav Křístek; Cast includes Kryštof Hádek, Stanislav Majer
-"The early life of Charles IV (1316-1378) and his relationship with his father John of Bohemia. It was filmed tp mark the 700th anniversary of his birth.

Sword of God [Aka The Mute or Krew Boga] (2018) [Wikipedia]
Poland, drama, 100, Polish
Dir. Bartosz Konopka; Cast includes Christoph Pieczynski
-"The story of a bishop named Willibrord who is the only survivor of a party that evidently came to Christianize a population. He arrives by boat on an unnamed island where he is found, and nursed back to health, by another survivor of an earlier group. They encounter a tribal society belonging to a different religion; Willibrord challenges their shaman to a "trial by fire".

Medieval [Aka Jan Žižka or Warrior of God] (2022) [Wikipedia]
Czechia, historical drama, 125, Color, in English
Dir. Petr Jákl; Cast includes Ben Foster, Michael Caine, Til Schweiger, William Moseley, Matthew Goode,Sophie Lowe
-"The life of Jan Žižka, a Bohemian military commander who never lost a battle. The film is set prior to the Hussite Wars (1419–1434), when Žižka was young. It tells the story of how Žižka became a famous military commander.  With a budget of KČ500 million ($20.3 million), it is the most expensive Czech film ever made."

Jan Hus (1954) [Wikipedia]
Czechoslovakia, historical drama, 115, Czech
Dir. Otakar Vávra. Cast includes Zdeněk Štěpánek, Karel Höger,Vlasta Matulová
-Life and death of Jan Hus (1370-1415)

Jan Žižka (1955) [Wikipedia]
Czechoslovakia, historical drama, 102, Czech
Dir. Otakar Vávra. Cast includes Zdeněk Štěpánek
-"The escalation of the situation in Bohemia after the burning of master Jan Hus and the popular revolt against the papal authority and against the new King Sigismund. At the head of this rebellion is a priest Jan Želivský and the king's aide and later governor Jan Žižka." 

Against All [Aka Proti všem] (1956) [Wikipedia]
Czechoslovakia, historical drama, 109, Czech
Dir. Otakar Vávra. Cast includes Zdeněk Štěpánek
-"The third part of Vávra's cinematic Hussite Revolutionary Trilogy. The plot is set after Jan Žižka and concludes the entire trilogy. It takes place in 1420. The central motif of the film is the fight between the Hussites and the troops of the First anti-Hussite crusade led by the heir to the Bohemian throne." 

Jan Hus (1977) [Wikipedia] TV movie
US, historical drama, 55.
Dir. Michael Ocomomou; Cast includes Rod Colbin.
-Life and death of Jan Hus (1370-1415)

Jan Hus (2015) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
Czechia, historical drama, 240/144, Czech
Dir. Jiří Svoboda; Cast includes Matěj Hádek, Milan Kňažko, Jan Dolanský
-Life and death of Jan Hus (1370-1415)

Stephen the Great - Vaslui 1475 [Ștefan cel Mare - Vaslui 1475] (1975) [Wikipedia]
Romania, 137, Color, Romania
Dir. Mircea Drăgan; Cast includes Gheorghe Cozorici as Stephen the Great, Gheorghe Dinică as Sultan Mehmed II
- The film depicts the Battle of Vaslui 1475.

Judgement [Aka Ítélet] (1970 [Wikipedia]
Romanian, 99, BW, Romanian
Dir. Ferenc Kósa; Cast includes Bessenyei Ferenc, George Motoi, Koltay János.
-"1514. The peasants' uprising is over, Dózsa has been arrested. Werboczy tries to get the imprisoned peasant leader deny the revolution and offers him the lives of his people in exchange." 

Stars of Eger [Aka Egri csillagok] (1968) [Wikipedia]
Hungary/Bulgaria, 157, Hungarian
Dir. Zoltán Várkonyi; Cast includes Imre Sinkovits, György Bárdy and István Kovács. 
-"In 1552, the Ottoman wants to conquer Europe and the last stand is Hungarian Kingdom, and the castle of Eger"

Mihai Viteazul [Aka Michael the Brave] (1971) [Wikipedia]
Romania, 203, Color, Romanian
Dir. Sergiu Nicolaescu; Cast includes Amza Pellea, Ion Besoiu, Olga Tudorache
-"In 1593, the Ottoman sultan Murad III (1574-1595) ( Colea Răutu ) directs his troops led by general Sinan Paşa ( Nicolae Secăreanu ) to Vienna , the last obstacle to a divided Europe . In the path of these armies, the three Romanian countries would play a decisive role."

The Countess (2009) [Wikipedia]
France/Germany, historical crime thriller, 98, in English
Dir. Juile Delpy; Cast includes Julie Delpy, William Hurt
-"Bbased on the life of the notorious Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory (1560-1614).

With Fire and Sword [Aka Ogniem i Mieczem, Вогнем і Мечем/Vohnem i Mechem] (1999) [Wikipedia]
Poland, 175, Color, Polish/Ukrainian
Dir. Jerzy Hoffman; Cast includes Izabella Scorupco, Michał Żebrowski, Aleksandr Domogarov
-The story is set in Ukrainian lands of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland during the Khmelnytsky Uprising of the mid-17th century.

1612 (2007) [Wikipedia]
Russia, epic, 184, Color, Russian
Dir. Vladimir Khotinenko; Cast includes Pyotr Kislov.
-About the 17th century Time of Troubles and the Polish–Muscovite War with the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Yermak [Aka Ермак] (1997) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
Russia, 5 episodes, 257 mins, Russian
Dir. Valery Uskov, Vladimir Krasnopolsky; Cast includes Victor Stepanov
-The reign of Ivan the Terrible and expansion into Siberia.

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Scholars and Scholasticism

Vision (2009) [Wikipedia]
Germany, 111, Color, German and English
Dir. Margarethe von Trotta; Cast includes Barbara Sukowa
-"The story of Hildegard of Bingen, the famed 12th century Benedictine nun, Christian mystic, composer, philosopher, playwright, physician, poet, naturalist, scientist and ecological activist.

The Unruly Mystic - Hildegard of Bingen (2014) [Wikipedia]
US, Documentary.
Dir. Michael M.Conti.

Stealing Heaven (1988) [Wikipedia]
Yugoslavia, Romance/historical, Rated R, Color
Dir. Cliver Donner;
-Sexually explicit account of Abelard and Heloise.
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] One of the best I have seen in recent years is Stealing Heaven about Abelard and Heloise's love affair. Of course, some of it is not "reality" but then, aren't movies supposed to be like that?

The Name of the Rose (1986) [Wikipedia]
France-Germany-Italy, Mystery/Historical, 130, Rated R, Color
Dir. Cast includes: Sean Connery
-Based on the novel by Umberto Eco.
[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] I would recommend The Name of the Rose for it's accurate (?) portrayal of medieval dentistry. See it on wide screen. Take your orthodontic friends. Otherwise: good philosophy, bad mystery.

The Name of the Rose (2020) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
France-Germany-Italy, Mystery/Historical, 8 episodes, Color
Dir. Giacomo Battiato; Cast includes: John Turturro, Rupert Everett, Damian Hardung
-Based on the novel by Umberto Eco. [PBH] This was not well reviewed, but I saw it and it was enjoyable and a relief from the constant high battle violence "medieval" movies/films of recent years.

The Black Rose (1950) [Wikipedia]
US. Adventure, 120.
Dir. Henry Hathaway; Cast includes Tyrone Power and Orson Welles.
A noble Saxon youth in Norman England is forced to run away. He takes with him a loyal retainer who brings along a long bow. The two go all the way to China where they become involved in intrigues in the court of Kublai Khan. Note that the trope of   Saxon/Norman conflict is here extended well into the late 13th century! The first thirty minutes or so has the noble Saxon at Oxford University conversing about his future with Friar Roger Bacon!

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Heresy and Mendicancy

Francesco, giullare di Dio (1950) [Alt: Flowers of St. Francis, Francis: God's Jester] [Wikipedia]
Italy, religious, 75, BW, In Italian.
Dir. Roberto Rossellini: Cast includes: Brother Nazario Gerardi (Francis)
-Written by Federico Fellini

Francis of Assisi (1961) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious/Biography, 111, No rating, Color
Dir. Michael Curtiz: Cast includes: Bradford Dillman (Francis Bemardone), Dolores Hart (Clare Scefi)

Francesco d'Assisi (1966) [Wikipedia] TV movie
Dir. Liliana Cavani

Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1973) [Wikipedia]
Italy-UK, Historical, 121, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Franco Zeffirelli; Cast includes: Graham Faulkner (Francesco), Judi Bowker (Clare), Alec Guinness (Pope Innocent III)
-Zeffirelli's hippy St. Francis. Music by Donovan.
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] May I enter a nomination for Brother Sun, Sister Moon? I recently had an opportunity to view it for the first time since its original release in the early '70s and wound up rather wishing I hadn't paid to experience it then--especially the Donovan "Do your own thing" soundtrack. [PBH - soem of us really enjoyed this film. It has improved with age.]

Francesco (1989) [Wikipedia]
Germany-Italy, Historical/Drama, 105, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. Liliana Cavani; Cast includes: Mickey Rourke (St. Francis), Helena Bonham Carter
-Odd casting, to say the least. Caviani's second go at the subject. It needs to be compared to her 1974 film on the Buddhist sage Milarepa.

Uccelacci e uccellini (1966) [Alt: The Hawks and the Sparrows]. [Wikipedia]
Italy., history/religion, 88, Black & White, In Italian
Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini;
-Toto and Ninetto Davoli as two friars on the road.

John Wycliffe: The Morning Star (1984) [Wikipedia]
Dir. Toney Tew; Cast includes Michael Bertenshaw
-Focuses entirely on Wycliffe's later life (14th century)

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Rural/Urban Life

The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988) [Wikipedia]
New Zealand, Fantasy/Adventure, 92, Rated PG, Color, B&W
Dir. Vincent Ward; Cast includes: Bruce Lyons, Chris Hayward
-An odd story, but a good film. About an English boy who leads a group of villagers into a tunnel to escape the plague, and emerges in a modern city (Auckland?)

Le Moine et la sorcière [Aka The Sorceress] [Wikipedia]
France (1987): Historical/Drama, 97 minutes.
Dir. Suzanne Schiffman; Cast includes Tchéky Karyo and Christine Boisson
-The Sorceress was written by a professional Medieval scholar - Pamela Berger of Boston College - and was shot in both French and English. It is based on a genuine medieval text by the 13th-century Dominican, Etienne de Bourbon, about the cult of s St. Guinefort near Lyons in France. St. Guinefort (probably derived from "Cynephoros" in Greek, sometimes a name for St. Christopher) was a sainted greyhound! The story, which is slow but involving, focuses accurately on early 13th century historical issues: the survival of "folk" culture; the role of women; the beginnings of the Dominican order; the use of profit-based farming techniques (in this case carp ponds) by local nobilities. The actors are professional, and the story has interesting twists. A very good film for classroom use.

The Return of Martin Guerre (1982) [Alt: La Retour de Martin Guerre] [Wikipedia]
France, Historical, 111, No rating, Color
Dir. Daniel Vigne, Jean Claude Carrierè: Cast includes: Gerard Depardieu
-[PBH Comment] Based on trial records about an impostor in 16th century Southern France. An excellent movie, with solid historical advice given by Natalie Zemon Davis to the film makers. Make sure to see the subtitled version, not the dubbed. Return raises issues about the nature of family life, geographical isolation, class and education boundaries, religious conflict and social control - all in a way that makes real sense to viewers. Moreover, it addresses real issues of the use of historical evidence as well. This is among the best possible movies to show to a class, perhaps with NZD's book on the subject, or the American Historical Review set of articles devoted to the movie.

The Pied Piper (1972) [Wikipedia]
UK, Drama, 90, Rated G, Color
Dir. Jacques Demy; Cast includes: Jack Wild, Donald Pleasance, Donovan (The Piper)
-Not exactly a children's story in this version of plague-ridden (in this case rats) villagers.

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Christian Spirituality

Simón del desierto (1965) [Alt: Simon of the Desert] [Wikipedia]
Mexico, historical religious, 44 1965 Black and White, In Spanish
Dir. Luis Buñuel; Cast includes: Claudio Brook (Simon), Silvia Pinal
- Buñuel's version of the story of St. Simon Stylites, who stood on a pillar for forty years.

Magnificat (1993) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 110, Color, In Italian
Dir. Pupi Avati
-"Set in Easter Holy Week 926 after Christ. It tells of how the men of the time, despite the lack of tangible signs of God, continue thanks to faith to desperately seek refuge in religion"
- [From a correspondent] Hierarchical relations in the earlier middle ages: a young girl becomes a monastic oblate, a young man who succeeds his father as lord of the territory calls for divine signs, there is a very civilized exercise of jus primae noctis.(?)

Margaret of Cortona (1950) [Wikipedia]
Italy, historical drama, 100, Color, Italian
Dir Mario Bonard; Cast includes Maria Frao
-About the 13th century saint Margaret of Cortona

Anchoress (1993) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious/Drama, 108, No rating, Color
Dir. Chris Newby; Cast includes: Natalie Morse.
-Set in the Middle Ages, about a young woman who chooses to be walled up for the rest of her life.

The Virgin Spring (1959) [Alt: Jungfrukällan] [Wikipedia]
Sweden, Drama, 88, No rating B&W
Dir. Ingmar Bergman: Cast includes: Max Von Sydow
Story of religious medieval Swedish family whose daughter is raped by vagrants. Oscar for best foreign movie.

Viridiana (1961) [Wikipedia]
Spain, Drama, 90, No rating B&W
Dir. Luis Buñuel; Cast includes: Silvia Pinal
-The story of a young religious novice, Viridiana (Silvia Pinal), as she is about to take her vows. Said to be Buñuel's greatest film.

Nostradamus (1994) [Wikipedia]
US, Drama/Biography, 118, Rated R, Color
Dir. Roger Christian; Cast includes: Tcheky Karo, F. Murray Abraham

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Medieval Women

[See also films about Joan of Arc, and the various queens of England listed under England above]

Pope Joan (1972) [Wikipedia]
UK, Religious, 132, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Michael Anderson; Cast includes: Liv Ullman
-About the Pope Joan legend.

Pope Joan [Aka Die Päpstin] (2009) [Wikipedia]
Germany, epic, 149, in English
Dir, Sönke Wortmann; Cast includes Johanna Wokalek as Joan, David Wenham as Gerold, her lover, and John Goodman as Pope Sergius II.
-Based on a novel by Donna Woolfolk Cross about the legendary Pope Joan in the 9th century.

Magnificat (1993) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 110, Color, In Italian
Dir. Pupi Avati
-"Set in Easter Holy Week 926 after Christ. It tells of how the men of the time, despite the lack of tangible signs of God, continue thanks to faith to desperately seek refuge in religion"
-[From a correspondent] Hierarchical relations in the earlier middle ages: a young girl becomes a monastic oblate, a young man who succeeds his father as lord of the territory calls for divine signs, there is a very civilized exercise of jus primae noctis (?)

Anchoress (1993) [Wikipedia]
US, Religious/Drama, 108, No rating, Color
Dir. Chris Newby; Cast includes: Natalie Morse.
-Set in the early Middle Ages, about a young woman who chooses to be walled up for the rest of her life.

Vision (2009) [Wikipedia]
Germany, 111, Color, German and English
Dir. Margarethe von Trotta; Cast includes Barbara Sukowa
-"The story of Hildegard of Bingen, the famed 12th century Benedictine nun, Christian mystic, composer, philosopher, playwright, physician, poet, naturalist, scientist and ecological activist.

The Unruly Mystic - Hildegard of Bingen (2014) [Wikipedia]
US, Documentary.
Dir. Michael M.Conti.

Kristin Lavransdatter (1995). [Alt: Kransen, Kristin Lavransdotter] [Wikipedia]
Norway/German/Sweden, 180, In Norwegian
Dir. Liv Ullmann;
From the novel by Nobel prize winner, Sigrid Undset. A young woman, daughter of a medieval Norwegian landowner, tries to find her own path.

Stealing Heaven (1988) [Wikipedia]
Yugoslavia, Romance/historical, Rated R, Color
Dir. Cliver Donner; Cast includes Derek de Lint, Kim Thomson, Denholm Elliott
-Sexually explicit account of Abelard and Heloise.
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] One of the best I have seen in recent years is Stealing Heaven about Abelard and Heloise's love affair. Of course, some of it is not "reality" but then, aren't movies supposed to be like that?

Le Moine et la sorcière [Alt: The Sorceress] [Wikipedia]
France (1987): Historical/Drama, 97 minutes.
Dir. Suzanne Schiffman; Cast includes Tchéky Karyo and Christine Boisson
-The Sorceress was written by a professional Medieval scholar - Pamela Berger of Boston College - and was shot in both French and English. It is based on a genuine medieval text by the 13th-century Dominican, Etienne de Bourbon, about the cult of s St. Guinefort near Lyons in France. St. Guinefort (probably derived from "Cynephoros" in Greek, sometimes a name for St. Christopher) was a sainted greyhound! The story, which is slow but involving, focuses accurately on early 13th century historical issues: the survival of "folk" culture; the role of women; the beginnings of the Dominican order; the use of profit-based farming techniques (in this case carp ponds) by local nobilities. The actors are professional, and the story has interesting twists. A very good film for classroom use.

Catherine Called Birdy (2022) [Wikipedia]
US/UK, medieval comedy, 108, Color
Dir. Lena Dunham; Cast includes Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott, Sophie Okonedo
-Set in 13th century Lincolnshire.It really has nothing to say about the Middle Ages.

The Little Hours (2017) [Wikipedia]
US, medieval black comedy, 90, Color
Dir. Jeff Baena; Casr includes Alison Brie
-"The film is loosely based on the first and second stories of day three of ten of The Decameron". "The plot jointly follows the lives of three nuns at a convent in the countryside who try to fornicate with a young gardener posing as a deaf-mute after he escapes from being punished by his lord for adultery with the man's wife".

Mary of Scotland (1936) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Biography, 123, No rating B&W
Dir. John Ford; Cast includes: Katharine Hepburn, Frederic March
-Flopped at the box office

Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Biography, 128, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Charles Jarrott; Cast includes: Vanessa Redgrave (Mary, Queen of Scots), Glenda Jackson (Queen Elizabeth), Patrick McGoohan (James Stuart), Timothy Dalton (Henry, Lord Darnley), Nigel Davenport, Trevor Howard, Daniel Massey, Robert Dudley, Ian Holm
-Incredible cast, but inaccurate. The homosexual relationship between Darnley and Riccio is portrayed.

Benedetta (2021) [Wikipedia]
France, biographical drama, 132, Color, French
Dir. Paul Verhoeven; Cast includes Virginie Efira
-"About Benedetta Carlini, a nun in the 17th century who joins an Italian convent while a young child and later has a lesbian love affair with another nun, while seeing religious visions. Based on 1986 non-fiction book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by historian Judith C. Brown."

Viridiana (1961) [Wikipedia]
Spain, Drama, 90, No rating B&W
Dir. Luis Buñuel; Cast includes: Silvia Pinal
-The story of a young religious novice, Viridiana (Silvia Pinal), as she is about to take her vows. Said to be Buñuel's greatest film.

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Homosexual/LGBT/Transgendered Characters

Fellini Satyricon (1970) [Wikipedia]
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.

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. Boyd was told to play the relationship as more than friendship.

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.

Arabian Nights (1974) [Wikipedia]
France-Italy, Fantasy, 128, No rating, Color
Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini; Cast includes: Ninetto Davoli, Franco Merli
-Several 1001 Nights stories, framed by the story of slave-girl Zummarrud, who becomes "king" of a great city. The story revolves around Nur-ed-Din, a beautiful boy whom all desire. He desires only Zamurrad. When he finds her - as king - the men who bring him to her suggest that "He must prefer melons to plums".
[Part of Pasolini's Medieval trilogy of Arabian Nights, Decameron, and Canterbury Tales]

Becket (1964) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Drama, 148, No rating, Color
Dir. Peter Glenville; Cast includes: Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton
-Based on Jean Anouilh's play about Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket and his English King, Henry II. Although there is no historical data to support the suggestion, Anouilh sees a homosexual relationship.

The Canterbury Tales (1971) [Wikipedia]
France-Italy, Drama, 109, No rating, Color
Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini
-Four stories. Graphic and sadistic footage will appeal to some. Notable homosexual scene.
-[From a correspondent] Canterbury Tales has Ninetto Davoli in a Chaplinesque version of "The Cook's Tale" [he had a good eye, Pier Paolo].
-[Bruce Gilchrist]   While Decamaron has a fair amount of sex,  it is faithful to the tales and is an enjoyable film.  Suitable for showing to a class.    His Raconti di Canteburi however is much more graphic. The humping never seems to stop and it all gets rather silly.  It's a failure and is not suitable for showing to a class.  It's tolerable I suppose  compared to Jarman's Sebastiane, but that's about it.
[Part of Pasolini's Medieval trilogy of Arabian Nights, Decameron, and Canterbury Tales]

The Lion in Winter (1968) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical/Drama, 135, No rating, Color
Dir. Anthony Harvey: Cast includes: Katherine Hepburn (Eleanor), Peter O'Toole (Henry II), Anthony Hopkins (Richard the Lionheart)
-[PBH Comment] Probably the greatest of all "medieval movies" for sheer enjoyment. The intra-familial disputes of the Plantagenets are quite accurately depicted. What does not come across is that by the late 12th century dynasticism, although it still had legs, was supplemented by increasingly elaborate state structures. And then there is Hepburn. Magnificent as ever, it must be remembered that she never played anyone but herself. Recommended for teaching simply as a way to excite student interest.
-Richard's relationship with Philip II is played as overtly homosexual.

Edward II (1970) [Wikipedia] TV movie
Cast includes: Ian McKellen
-Made for TV version of Marlowe's play.

Edward II (1991) [Wikipedia]
UK, Drama, , 91 min, No rating, Color
Dir. Derek Jarman; Cast includes: Steven Waddington, Tilda Swinton
based on the 1592 play by Christopher Marlowe about the homosexual Edward II.

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) [Wikipedia]
US, Biography, 140, No rating, Color
Dir. Carol Reed; Cast includes: Charlton Heston (Michelangelo), Rex Harrison (Pope Julius II)
-Based on Irving Stone's story of Michelangelo. Omits to mention M's homosexuality.

The Titan--Story of Michelangelo (1950) [Wikipedia]
US, Documentary/Biography, 68, No rating B&W
Dir. Robert Snyder
Originally a Swiss film made in 1940, it was reedited for U.S. release by Robert Snyder, and won an Oscar as Best Documentary.

Caravaggio (1986) [Wikipedia]
UK, religious, 97, No rating, Color
Dir. Derek Jarman; Cast includes: Nigel Terry, Tilda Swinton
-Story of Michelangelo Caravaggio (1571-1610) in which Jarman develops his belief that Caravaggio was homosexual. The actors use modern British slang.

Mary of Scotland (1936) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Biography, 123, No rating B&W
Dir. John Ford; Cast includes: Katharine Hepburn, Frederic March
-Lord Darnley is unambiguously portrayed as a mincing queen -- complete with ear-rings, and permed hair.

Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Biography, 128, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Charles Jarrott; Cast includes: Vanessa Redgrave (Mary, Queen of Scots), Glenda Jackson (Queen Elizabeth), Patrick McGoohan (James Stuart), Timothy Dalton (Henry, Lord Darnley), Nigel Davenport, Trevor Howard, Daniel Massey, Robert Dudley, Ian Holm
-Incredible cast, but inaccurate. The homosexual relationship between Darnley and Riccio is portrayed.

Orlando (1993) [Wikipedia]
France-Italy-Netherlands-UK, Historical/Drama, 93, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. Sally Potter: Cast includes: Tilda Swinton
-based on Virginia's Wolf's sex-transformation novel. The hero(ine) lives four hundred years first as a man, and later as a woman.

Queen Christina (1933) [Wikipedia]
US, Romance/Historical, 97, No rating B&W
Dir. Rouben Mamoulian ; Cast includes: Greta Grabo
-Garbo's greatest role, perhaps. Set in Sweden in 1637. Christina was raised as a man, she tells advisors she will not marry and have children. She has eyes only for Countess Ebba (with whom she exchanges a kiss), who betrays her by falling in love with a man. Christina, distraught, dresses as man and takes a room in a local inn. There she meets, and falls in love with a Spanish nobleman. She eventually abdicates to be with him, but is killed before they can marry.

Benedetta (2021) [Wikipedia]
France, biographical drama, 132, Color, French
Dir. Paul Verhoeven; Cast includes Virginie Efira
-"About Benedetta Carlini, a nun in the 17th century who joins an Italian convent while a young child and later has a lesbian love affair with another nun, while seeing religious visions. Based on 1986 non-fiction book Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy by historian Judith C. Brown."

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The Renaissance

Medici [Aka I Medici] (2016-2019) [Wikipedia] TV series
Italy, historical drama, 3 seasons, 24 episodes, Color, in English
Creators. Frank Spotnitz and Nicholas Meyer; Cast includes Richard Madden, Stuart Martin, Annabel Scholey
-"The Medici family, bankers of the Pope, during Renaissance Florence. Each season follows the events of a particular moment of the family history exploring the political and artistic landscape of Renaissance Italy."

Prince of Foxes (1949) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Adventure, 107, No rating B&W
Dir. Henry King; Cast includes: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles (as Borgia)
-About Cesare Borgia. Extremely lavish production.

The Borgias (1981) [Wikipedia] TV series
UK, historical drama, 1 season, Color
Creator. Mark Shivas; Cast includes Adolfo Celi
-The scandalous Borgia family of 15th century Italy.

The Borgia [Aka Los Borgia] (2006) [Wikipedia]
Spain/Italy, biographical film, 120, Color, Spanish
Dir. Antonio Hernández; Cast includes Lluís Homar, Sergio Peris-Mencheta,  María Valverde
-The Borgia story

Borgias (2011-2014) [Wikipedia] TV series
France/Germany/Czechia/Italy, historical drama, 3 seasons 38 episodes, Color, English
Creator. Tom Fontana ; Cast includes John Doman, Mark Ryder, Stanley Weber
-The scandalous Borgia family of 15th century Italy.

The Borgias (2011-2013) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, historical drama, 3 seasons 39 episodes, Color
Creator. Neil Jordan; Cast includes Jeremy Irons, François Arnaud, Holliday Grainger, Joanne Whalley, Lotte Verbeek, David Oakes Sean Harris
-The scandalous Borgia family of 15th century Italy.

The Conclave (2006) [Wikipedia]
Canada/Germany, 100, Color,
Dir. Christoph Schrewe; Cast includes
-"1458, five years after the fall of Constantinople to the Turk, eighteen cardinals met in Rome to elect a new pope. A 27-year-old Spanish cardinal, Rodrigo Borgia, learns to play a very dangerous game; how to survive his first conclave."

The Black Duke [Aka Il duca nero] (1961) [Wikipedia]
Italy, 105, Italian.
Dir. Pino Mercanti: Cast includes Cameron Mitchell
-"The domain of the cruel Cesare Borgia is opposed by Caterina Sforza, who gives the assignment to the beautiful Geneva to assassinate him. But Geneva and Cesare fall in love."

The Life of Leonardo Da Vinci [Aka La vita di Leonardo da Vinci] (1971) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
Italy, 270 (5x54), Color, Italian
Dir. Renato Castellani; Cast includes Philippe Leroy
-Life of Leonardo (1452-1519). Won a Golden Globe

Leonardo (2011) [Wikipedia] TV series
UK, 2 seasons, 26 episodes, Color
Cast includes Jonathan Bailey
-British children's TV series focused on the life of a teenage Leonardo Da Vinci.

Leonardo (2021-) [Wikipedia] TV series
Italy, First season 8 episodes, Color, in English
Dir. Dan Percival, Alexis Sweet; Cast includes Aiden Turner
-Begins in 1509.

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) [Wikipedia]
US, Biography, 140, No rating, Color
Dir. Carol Reed; Cast includes: Charlton Heston (Michelangelo), Rex Harrison (Pope Julius II)
-Based on Irving Stone's story of Michelangelo. Omits to mention M's homosexuality.

A Season of Giants [Aka La primavera di Michelangelo, Michelangelo: The Last Giant] (1990) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US/Italy, 3 episodes, Color, English
Dir. Jerry London. Cast includes Mark Frankel as Michelangelo, John Glover as Leonardo da Vinci, F. Murray Abraham as Pope Julius II
- Based on the Vincenzo Labella's book Una stagione di giganti, it depicts real life events of Michelangelo, his youth, his approach with art, his friendship with Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael,

The Titan--Story of Michelangelo (1950) [Wikipedia]
US, Documentary/Biography, 68, No rating B&W
Dir. Robert Snyder
Originally a Swiss film made in 1940, it was reedited for U.S. release by Robert Snyder, and won an Oscar as Best Documentary.

The Mandrake [Aka La Mandragola, Mandragola: The Love Root] (1965) [Wikipedia]
Francce.Italy, 103, Italian
Dir. Alberto Lattuada; Cast includes Rosanna Schiaffino,Philippe Leroy
-"Based on the eponymous 16th-century play by Italian author Niccolò Machiavelli. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.

Caravaggio (1986) [Wikipedia]
UK, religious, 97, No rating, Color
Dir. Derek Jarman; Cast includes: Nigel Terry, Tilda Swinton
-Story of Michelangelo Caravaggio (1571-1610) in which Jarman develops his belief that Caravaggio was homosexual. The actors use modern British slang.

Rembrandt (1936) [Wikipedia]
UK, Biography, 84, No rating B&W
Dir. Alexander Korda; Cast includes: Charles Laughton (Rembrandt van Rijn), Gertrude Lawrence, Elsa Lanchester

Rembrandt (1999) [Wikipedia]
Dir. Charles Matto; Cast includes Klaus Maria Brandauer

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Reformation and Catholic Reformation

John Wycliffe: The Morning Star (1984) [Wikipedia]
Dir. Tony Tew; Cast includes Michael Bertenshaw
-Focuses entirely on Wycliffe's later life (14th century)

Martin Luther (1953) [Wikipedia]
US, 105, Black & White
Dir. Irving Pichel; Cast includes: Niall MacGinnis (Martin Luther)

Luther (1974) [Wikipedia]
UK, Biography, 112, No rating, Color
Dir. Guy Green: Cast includes: Stacey Keach
-based on John Osborne's play.

Martin Luther (2002) [Wikipedia] TV movie
US, 115, Color
Dir. Cassian Harrison; Cast includes Laim Neeson, Timothy West
-Part of the PBS Empires series.

Luther (2003) [Wikipedia]
US/Germany, 124, Color
Dir. Eric Till; Cast includes Joseph Fiennes, Bruno Ganz, Peter Ustinov
-The life and works of Martin Luther. Ustinov's last film.

God's Outlaw (1986) [Wikipedia]
UK, historical drama 93, Color
Dir. Tony Tew; Cast includes Roger Rees
-"A dramatized biography of William Tyndale, the 16th Century reformer determined to translate the Bible into English, which illegal act set him at odds with the Catholic Church, Sir Thomas More and King Henry VIII."

A Man for All Seasons (1966) [Wikipedia]
UK, Drama, 120, No rating, Color
Dir. Fred Zinnemann: Cast includes: Paul Scofield
-The story of St. Thomas More as a man of conscience. Won six Oscars.

A Man for All Seasons (1988) [Wikipedia]
US TV, Drama, 120, No rating, Color
Dir. Charlton Heston. With Charlton Heston and Vanessa Redgrave
-Remake of 1996 film and closer to Robert Bolt's play. It is hard to imagine the off-screen conversations between Heston and Redgrave about politics. By all accounts heston has great respect for her as an actress.

Queen Margot [Aka La Reine Margot] (1954) [Wikipedia]
France, Historical/Drama/Biography,
Dir  Jean Dréville; Cast includes: Jeanne Moreau
-About the St. Bartholomew's day massacre.

Queen Margot [Aka La Reine Margot] (1994) [Wikipedia]
France-Germany-Italy, Historical/Drama/Biography, 143, Rated R, Color
Dir. Patrice Chéreau; Cast includes: Isabelle Adjani
-Adjani as Marguerite de Valois and the events surrounding the St. Bartholomew's day massacre of 1572. Good critical reception. Based on Alexander Dumas' novel. The French language version runs 166.

Intolerance (1916) [Wikipedia]
US, Drama, 178, No rating B&W
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." It has a section on the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of the French Huguenots in 1572.

The Princess of Montpensier [Aka La Princesse de Montpensier] (2010) [Wikipedia]
France, period romance film, 139, Color
Dir. Bertrand Tavernier; Cast includes Mélanie Thierry, Gaspard Ulliel, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet
-Inspired by a short story of the same name published anonymously by Madame de La Fayette in 1662. Fiction and history in set in the French  Wars of Religion leading to the St Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572.

Queen Christina (1933) [Wikipedia]
US, Romance/Historical, 97, No rating B&W
Dir. Rouben Mamoulian ; Cast includes: Greta Grabo
-Garbo's greatest role, perhaps. Set in Sweden in 1637. Christina was raised as a man, she tells advisors she will not marry and have children. She has eyes only for Countess Ebba (with whom she exchanges a kiss), who betrays her by falling in love with a man. Christina, distraught, dresses as man and takes a room in a local inn. There she meets, and falls in love with a Spanish nobleman. She eventually abdicates to be with him, but is killed before they can marry.

Silence (2016) [Wikipedia]
US, epic historical drama, 161, Color
Dir. Martin Scorcese; Cast includes Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver
-Based on the novel by Shūsaku Endō, about the Jeuit mission to Japan and its violen suppression under the Tokogawa Shogunate, There was a an early version Silence [Wikipedia] made in Japan in 1971.

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Expansion Overseas

The Viking (1928) [Wikipedia] [Available on YouTube]
USA, 9 reels, adventure 1928 Color
Dir. Roy William Neill; Cast includes: Donald Crisp (Leif Ericsson), Pauline Starke
-Amazing, but true, an all color silent Viking movie from 1928. The first full length Technicolor film.

Vikings (2103-2020) [Wikipedia] TV series
Canada/US, six seasons, Color
Creator: Michael Hirst; Cast includes Travis Fimmel.
-Inspired by the sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok, it covers the fortunes of him and his sons in England, Scandanavia, Francia, Rus', the Mediterranean and North America.

Vikings: Valhalla (2022-) [Wikipedia] TV series
Canada/US, 2 seasons so far, Color
Creator: Jeb Stuart; Cast includes Sam Corlett
-Sequel to the Vikings TV series, it begins in 1002 and intend to end at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.

Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America (2007) [Wikipedia]
US, adventure 107, Color
Dir. Tony Stone; Cast includes: Tony Stone
-A story of Norse explorers battling nature, natives and Christianity in North America in the year 1007 AD.

Pathfinder (2007) [Wikipedia]
Dir. Laeta Kalogridis: Cast includes: Karl Urban, Moon Bloodgood
-"A Viking Age expedition arrives in North America, intending to subjugate or slaughter the native "Skræling" population. The party is itself wiped out by another native tribe, the only survivor being the Viking leader's son, who is adopted by a native woman. The boy is taken in by the local tribe and named "Ghost" for his paleness." Panned by critics.

Valhalla Rising (2009) [Wikipedia]
Denmark, adventure, 92, Color, in English
Dir. Nicolas winding Roth; Cast includes Johney Andersen
-Set in the 12th century with a pagan Norse warrier travelling with some Christian Crusades to the Holy Land, however they end up in North America.

Christopher Columbus (1949) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical/Biography, 104, No rating, Color
Dir. David MacDonald; Cast includes: Frederic March
-In some respects still the best Columbus movie.

Christopher Columbus (1985) (TV) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
Dir. Alberto Lattuada. With Gabriel Byrne

1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) [Wikipedia]
France-Spain-UK-US, Historical/Drama/Adventure, 145, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. Ridley Scott; Cast includes: Gerard Depardieu (Columbus), Sigourney Weaver (Queen Isabella)
-Somewhat lumbering. Stirring music by Vangelis. Depardieu is better playing in French!

Christopher Columbus--the Discovery (1992) [Wikipedia]
Spain-US, Historical/Adventure, 120, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. John Glen; Cast includes: Marlon Brando (Torquemada), Tom Selleck {Ferdinand), Rachel Ward (Isabella), George Corraface (Columbus)
-Not well reviewed

Retorno a Aztlan (1991) [Alt: Necuepaliztli in Aztlan, In, Return to Aztlan] [Wikipedia]
Mexico, Drama/historical Color, In Nahuatl
Directors: Juan Mora Catlett
Ancient Mexico before the Spanish conquest.

Captain From Castile (1947) [Wikipedia]
US, Historical/Adventure, 140, No rating, Color
Dir. Henry King: Cast includes: Tyrone Power, Ceasar Romero
Cortez' conquest of Mexico and the Spanish Inquisition all involved in on story. With a famous score by Alfred Newman.

Apocalyto (2006) [Wikipedia]
US, historical epic, 138, in Yucatex Maya
Dir. Mel Gibson; Cast includes Rudy Youngblood, Raoul Trujillo, Mayra Sérbulo
-Set in Yucatán, Mexico, around the year 1502, just as the Spanish arrive.

Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969) [Wikipedia]
UK, Historical/Drama/Adventure, 118, Rated G, Color
Dir. Irving Lerner ; Star; Christopher Plummer (Inca King Atahualpa), Robert Shaw (Pizzaro)
-About Pizzaro and the conquest of Peru
-According to Pauline Kael, Plummer camps it up, while Shaw plays Pizzaro straight.

Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972) [Alt: Aguirre: The Wrath of God] [Wikipedia]
US/West Germany, drama/historical, 90, 1972 Color
Dir. Werner Herzog: Cast includes: Alejandro Repulles, Gonzalo Pizarro, Cecilia Rivera, Helena Rojo, Edward Roland
-16th century ruthless conquerors pursue wealth in South America.

La Otra conquista (1998) [Wikipedia]
Mexico, Drama, 105, Spanish
Dir. Salvador Carrasco
-Set in Mexico in 1520.

Wara Wara (1930) [Wikipedia] [Available on YouTube]
Bolivia, drama, silent
Dir. José María Velasco Maidana; Cast includes Juanita Taillansier
-"Named for the eponymous main character, Inca princess Wara Wara. Set in the 16th century, it is a "historical narrative of the Spanish conquest of Qullasuyu, the Aymara territories of the Inca Empire." 

Juana Inés (2016) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
Mexico, 7 episodes, Color, Spanish
Creator. Patricia Arriaga Jordán; Cast includes Arcelia Ramírez, Arantza Ruiz
-Based on the life and work of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Michiel de Ruyter [Aka Admiral] (2015) [Wikipedia]
Netherlands, 130, Color, Dutch
Dir. Roel Reiné; Cast includes Frank Lammers
-About the 17th-century Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter. Hard to categorise but an interesting film on a subject area oftern overlooked in Anglophone histories.

Shōgun (1980) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
US, historical drama, 5 episodes, Color
Dir. Jerry London; Cast includes Richard Chamberlain, Toshiro Mifune, and Yoko Shimada.
-Set in Japan in 1600

Silence (2016) [Wikipedia]
US, epic historical drama, 161, Color
Dir. Martin Scorcese; Cast includes Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver
-Based on the novel by Shūsaku Endō, about the Jeuit mission to Japan and its violen suppression under the Tokogawa Shogunate, There was a an early version Silence [Wikipedia] made in Japan in 1971.

The Mission (1986) [Wikipedia]
UK, Drama, 125, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Roland Joffe; Cast includes: Robert DeNiro, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson
-The story of the Jesuit mission in Paraguay. Screenwriter Robert Bolt.

Seven Cities of Gold (1955) [Wikipedia]
US. Drama, 103
Dir. Robert D. Webb; Cast includes Anthony Quinn, Richard Egan, Michael Rennie, Jeffrey Hunter, Rita Moreno
The story of the 18th century expedition of Father Juniper Serra and the founding of the California Missions - especially the first at  San Diego.

Black Robe (1991) [Wikipedia]
Australia-Canada, Historical/Drama/Adventure, 101, Rated R, Color
Dir. Bruce Beresford; Cast includes: Lothaire Bluteau, Aden Young
-Based on a splendid novel by Brian Moore. Looks at French Jesuits among "Canadian" Indians and issues of two-way acculturation.

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The Mongols

The Conqueror (1956) [Wikipedia]
US, War/Historical/Adventure, 111, No rating, Color
Dir. Dick Powell: Cast includes: John Wayne
-Mongols vs. Tartars, and John Wayne as Genghis Khan. Shot in Utah downwind of a nuclear facility, a high percentage of stars and crew, including Wayne, later developed cancer.
-[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] Let's not forget The Conqueror, starring John Wayne as Genghis Khan.

Genghis Khan (1965) [Wikipedia]
US, Biography/Adventure, 124, No rating, Color
Dir. Henry Levin: Cast includes: Omar Sharif (as Genghis Khan), Stephen Boyd, James Mason, Telly Savalas.

Genghis Khan (1998) [Wikipedia]
China, 113, Color, in Mandarin and Mongolian
Dir. Sai Fu and Mai Lisi
-A Mongolian take on Genghis Kahn

Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan 2007 [Wikipedia]
Kazakhstan/Russia/Mongolia/Germany/, period epic, 125, in Mongolian and Mandarin
Dir Sergei Bodrov; Cast includes Tadanobu Asano, Sun Honglei,Chuluuny Khulan
-The early life of Genghis Khan.

The Mongols (1961) [Wikipedia]
Italy, Historical/Adventure, 102, No rating, Color
Dir. André de Toth, Leopolda Savona; Cast includes: Jack Palance, Anita Ekberg
-Palance as the son of Genghis Khan on the rampage in 13th century Europe.

The Golden Horde (1951) [Wikipedia]
US, 77, Color
Dir. George Sherman. With Ann Blyth
-The princess of Samarkand and an English knight confront the armies of Ghenghis Khan.

The Fall of Otrar [Aka Gibel Otrara] (1991) [Wikipedia]
Kazakhstan, drama, 176, Color, Kazakh/Mabdarin/Mongolian
Dir. Ardak Amirkulov; Cast includes Dokhdurbek Kydyraliyev
-"Charts political intrigue among the Kipchaks, a confederation of tribes on the steppes of central Asia, before they were overrun by Genghis Khan."

The Black Rose (1950) [Wikipedia]
US. Adventure, 120.
Dir. Henry Hathaway; Cast includes Tyrone Power and Orson Welles.
A noble Saxon youth in Norman England is forced to run away. He takes with him a loyal   retainer who brings along a long bow. The two go all the way to China where they become involved in intrigues in the court of Kublai Khan.

The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 100 min, No rating, BWte
Dir. Archie Mayo; Cast includes; Gary Cooper (Marco Polo), Sigrid Gurie, Basil Rathbone, Lana Turner
[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] What about Marco Polo!?! Gary Cooper stuffing dry pasta in his pocket to take back to Italy, Basil Rathbone looking evilly inscrutable, Alan Hale as some sort of nomadic chief, and best of all the art deco interiors of the Chinese palaces--big, white, and glossy.]

Marco Polo (1962) [Wikipedia]
Italy, Biography/Adventure, 90, No rating, Color, there was an Italian and an English language version
Dir. Hugo Fregonese, Piero Pierotti; Cast includes: Rory Calhoun
-Epic about journey to China

Marco the Magnificent (1965) [Wikipedia]
US, Biography/Adventure, 100, No rating, Color
Dir. Denys de la Patelliere, et al; Cast includes: Horst Bucholtz (Marco), Anthony Quinn (Kublai Khan), Omar Sharif

Marco (1973) [Wikipedia]
US, Musical/Biography/Adventure, 109, Rated G, Color
Dir. Seymour Robie: Cast includes: Desi Arnaz (Marco Polo), Zero Mostel (Kublai Khan)

The Incredible Adventures of Marco Polo (1998) [Wikipedia] TV moives
US
Dir. George Erschbamer; Cast includes Don Diamont, Oliver Reed, Jack Palance
-Panned by all.

Marco Polo (2007) [Wikipedia] TV movie
US, historical drama, 131, Color
Dir. Kevin Connor; Cast includes Ian Sommerhalder, DD Wong, Brian Dennehy
-"In the 13th Century, imprisoned in Genoa, Marco Polo, a Venetian trader, recounts his days as a young man in China to a fellow prisoner who is dying. He reminisces about his fantastic adventures, his rise to governorship in Kublai Khan's court in Mongolia, his love for a kidnapped concubine and his escape back to Italy as a wealthy man.

Marco Polo (2014-2016) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, historical drama, 2 seasons, 21 episodes, Color
Creator. John Fusco; Cast includes Lorenzo Richelmy, Benedict Wong, Joan Chen, Rick Yune
-Marco Polo's early years at Kublai Khan's court.

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Medieval China, Japan, India

[Note: There is no effort to be comprehensive under this category.]

See also Wikipedia: List of Historical Films Set in Asia

Asoka (2001) [Wikipedia]
India: Drama, 180 mins (plus various cut versions), Color
Dir. Santosh Sivan.
-The early life of the Emperor Asoka (3rd cent BCE), and his conversion to Buddhism.

The Emperor and the Assassin (1999) [Alt: ing ke ci qin wang] [Wikipedia]
China, Historical,  161 mins, Color
Dir. Kaige Chen
-The story of the first Chinese Emperor, Qin Shih Huang Di

Temptation of a Monk (1993) [Alt: You seng] [Wikipedia]
Hong Kong, Historical,  118 mins, Color
Dir. Clara Law
-The story of a general who becomes a monk in Tang dynasty China.

The Silk Road (1988) [Wikipedia]
China-Japan: Drama, 126 min, ,Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. Junya Sato
-Epic set in 11th-century China.

Gate of Hell (1953) [Alt: Jigokuman] [Wikipedia]
Japan, Historical/Drama, 89, No rating, Color
Dir. Teinsuke Kinugasa
-12th century samurai falls in love with and shames a married woman. Oscar for best foreign film and costume design.

Ran (1985) [Wikipedia]
France-Japan, War/Historical, 161, Rated R, Color
Dir. Akira Kurosawa:
-Set in 16th century Japan, this is a version of King Lear.

Lightning Swords of Death (1974)
Japan, Action, 83, Rated R, Color
Dir. Kenji Misumi
-Violent story of an outlaw samurai wandering Medieval Japan

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Medieval Fantasy

The genre of medieval fantasy is popular, but hard to define, and hard to limit. Westeros in Game of Thrones is like medieval Europe in some respects, but not others (for example there are potatoes in Westeros but there were none in medieval Europe). Similarly, the novels, illustration, and filmed productions of Lord of the Rings have all sorts of medieval references, but Middleearth is not medieval Europe. This section of the list then notes the great hits of recent years, but is not comprehensive.

Dragonheart (1996) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure/Fantasy, 108 min, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. Rob Cohen; Cast includes: Dennis Quaid, Sean Connery
-Roger Ebert called this "sublimely silly". About the last of the Dragonslayers.
-Also a 2000 sequel

The High Crusade (1994) [Wikipedia]
Germany, Sci-Fi / aliens / knights / comedy, 100, 1994 Color
Dir. Klaus Knoesel, Holger Neuhäuser; Cast includes: John Rhys-Davies, Rick Overton

Ladyhawke (1985) [Wikipedia]
US, Fantasy/Adventure, 124, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. Richard Donner; Cast includes: Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Broderick
-rightly called a fantasy, but set in Medieval France.

The Lair of the White Worm (1988) [Wikipedia]
UK, Horror, 94, Rated R, Color
Dir. Ken Russell; Cast includes: Hugh Grant, Amanda Donahue
-"campy"

Leonor (1975) [Wikipedia]
France-Italy-Spain, Drama, 90, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Juan Luis Buñuel ; Cast includes: Liv Ullman
-woman rises from the dead

Mannequin Two: On the Move (1991) [Wikipedia]
US, Comedy, 95, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Stewart Rafill; Cast includes: Kristy Swanson
-Medieval peasant's spirit trapped for a 1000 years in a dummy is released in the modern world.

Your Highness (2011) [Wikipedia]
US, stoner fantasy, 102, Color
Dir. David Gordon Green; Cast includes Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux, Toby Jones,Damian Lewis
-A completely unfunny comedy. One of the worst medieval films ever made.

Masque of the Red Death (1989) [Wikipedia]
US, Horror, 83, Rated R, Color
Dir. Larry Brand; Cast includes: Adrian Paul, Patrick McNee
-Plague in a "Renaissance Kingdom."

The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988) [Wikipedia]
New Zealand, Fantasy/Adventure, 92, Rated PG, Color, B&W
Dir. Vincent Ward; Cast includes: Bruce Lyons, Chris Hayward
-An odd story, but a good film. About an English boy who leads a group of villagers into a tunnel to escape the plague, and emerges in a modern city (Auckland?)

Prince Valiant (1954) [Wikipedia]
US, Adventure, 100, No rating, Color
Dir. Henry Hathaway; Cast includes: James Mason, Janet Leigh,
-A cartoon character in the middle ages, with Arthurian characters.
-Also a TV series (1991) and a  "real" version (1997).

The Princess Bride (1987) [Wikipedia]
US, Comedy/Children's/Adventure, 98, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Rob Reiner: Cast includes: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) [Wikipedia]
US, Fantasy, 100 min, Rated R, Color
Dir. Albert Pyun
-Warlocks and sword fighters.

Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003) [Wikipedia]
US. 586/686 mins
Dir. Peter Jackson: Cast includes Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis,Sean Bean
-Three films.

Galavant (2015-2016) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, s seasons, 18 episodes, Color
Creator. Dan Fogelman; Cast includes Joshua Sasse Timothy Omundson Vinnie Jones

Game of Thrones (2011-2019) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, 73 episodes
Showrunners:  David Benioff and D. B. Weiss
-Based of George RR Martin's novels.

House of the Dragon (2022-) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, 10 episodes so far.
Showrunner. Ryan Condal
-Based on the backstory to the Game of Thrones series.

Outlander ( 2014-) [Wikipedia] TV series
US, 6 seasons, 75 episosdes so far.
Creator. Ronald D. Moore
-Based on the Outlander novesl by Diana Gabaldon, about  former Second World War military nurse in Scotland who, in 1945, finds herself transported back in time to 1743. So, very marginally "medieval".

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Modern Periods/ Medieval Themes

Tempest (1959) [Wikipedia]
Italy, Historical, 125, No rating, Color
Dir. Alberto Lattuada
-On the Pugachev peasant uprising in Catherine the Great's Russia.

The Green Glove (1952) [Wikipedia]
Dir. Rudolph Mate; Cast includes: Glenn Ford
US, Crime, 88, No rating B&W
-Post WWII France, ex-solider returns to find a medieval jewelled religious item.

Knightriders (1981) [Wikipedia]
US, Drama, 145, Rated R, Color
Dir. George Romero; Cast includes: Ed Harris
-About a traveling band which stages "medieval fairs" at which they joust in full medieval gear, from motorcyles.

Agnes of God (1985) [Wikipedia]
US, Mystery, 98, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. Norman Jewison: Cast includes: Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, Meg Tilly
-A pregnant Quebecker nun.

Mazes and Monsters (1982) [Wikipedia]
Canada 100, No rating, Color
Dir. Steven H. Stern; Cast includes: Tom Hanks
-Four teenagers caught up in Medieval role-playing games.

The Milky Way (1970) [Alt: La Voie Lactée] [Wikipedia]
France, Religious, 102 min, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Luis Buñuel
-About two pilgrim-tramps and their encounters with the Devil, the Virgin Mary, people who are arguing about Catholic doctrine, and assorted religious zealots.

A Month in the Country (1987) [Wikipedia]
UK, Drama, 96, Rated PG, Color
Dir. Pat O'Connor; Cast includes: Colin Firth, Kenneth Branagh
-A modern story, but with a medieval painting as a focus as a man recovers from WWI shell shock by restoring the painting in a Yorkshire church.

My Own Private Idaho (1991) [Wikipedia]
Dir. Gus Van Sant. With Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix.
-The plot of Shakespeare's Henry IV Part I, moved to the context of rent boys in Seattle. I kid you not.

The Rapture (1991) [Wikipedia]
US, Drama, 102, Rated R, Color
Dir. Michael Tolkin; Cast includes: Mimi Rogers, David Duchovny
-Modern millennialism. The movie represents, quite literally, the coming of the Apocalypse.

Romero (1989) [Wikipedia]
US, Political/Biography, 102, Rated PG-13, Color
Dir. John Duigan; Cast includes: Raul Julia.
Compare with Becket.

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Documentary Series

There have been a lot of cheaply-made talking-head documentary series, especially for cable channels. In this section only more substantial series which show high poduction valuses woll be indicated.

Civilisation (1969) [Wikipedia]
UK, 14 episodes
Presented Kenneth Clark
-A very patrician Clark gave one of the most humane introductions to art since Charlemagne. Filmed on location it is far superior to later efforts at emulation, mainly because it is so much the expression of Clark's own insight. When first shown, just a colour TV was available, and shown with same week repeats so that people could really grasp it, it was a sensation in Britain.

A History of Christianity (2009) [Wikipedia]
UK, 6 episodes
Presenter: Diarmaid MacCulloch

In Search of the Dark Ages (1979, 1981) [Wikipedia]
UK, 8 episodes across two seasons
Presenter: Michael Wood
-On Anglo-Saxon England. "The programmes were filmed entirely on location with no studio-based scenes. Wood's concept was that the entire production should occur in the actual places associated with the historical events on which he was reporting." 

Crusades (1995) [Wikipedia]
UK, 4 episodes
Presenter: Terry Jones.
-Hugely controversial among historians, but Jones (of Monty Python) has a historyt degree and this was a serious effort with some interesting graphics.

Medieval Lives: Birth, Marriage Death (2013) [Wikipedia]
UK
Presenter: Helen Castor

Inside the Medieval Mind (2008) [Wikipedia]
UK, 3 episodes
Presenter: Robert Bartlett

The Normans (2010) [Wikipedia]
UK, 3 episodes
Presenter: Robert Bartlett

The Plantagenets (2014) [Wikipedia]
UK, 3 episodes
Presenter: Robert Bartlett

Michael Wood's The Story of England (2010) [Wikipedia]
UK, 6 episodes
Presenter: Michael Wood
-"It tells the story of one place, the Leicestershire village of Kibworth, throughout the whole of English history from the Roman era to modern times. The series focuses on tracing history through ordinary people in an ordinary English town." 

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LISTS

A. Worst Medieval Movies [by readers of the Mediev-l list] [In no particular order]

  • 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.
  • The Long Ships (1964) [Wikipedia]
    UK-Yugoslavia, Adventure, 125 min, No rating, Color
    Dir. Jack Cardiff; Cast includes: Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier.
    [From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] This took some deciding, though. I almost voted for The Long Ships (to an Old Norse specialist, awful Viking movies have a special awfulness) Then there is the Long Ships, with Richard Widmark as the Viking hero and Sidney Poitier as his northern African, Muslim, bad-guy counterpart. This is film with the Golden Bell in Morocco, with Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier emoting vociferously but to no effect. The most enjoyable characterization in the film is Lionel Jeffries' mute harem eunuch.
  • The Vikings (1958) [Wikipedia]
    US, Historical/Adventure, 114, No rating, Color
    Dir. Richard Fleischer: Cast includes: Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, Janet Leigh
    [From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] There was also a REAL stinker back in the '50s called "The Viking" with Tony Curtis (of Black Shield fame) and Kirk Douglas with Janet Leigh as the Anglo-Saxon princess they were fighting over. If you look closely at some of the rowing scenes, one of the Vikings has a very visible vaccination scar and another is wearing an equally visible gold wristwatch.
    -This one has Kirk Douglas as a clean-shaven Viking, and his father explaining that "he's so vain he scrapes his face".
  • The Norseman (1978) [Wikipedia]
    US, Adventure, 90, Rated PG, Color
    Dir. Charles B. Pierce: Cast includes: Lee Majors, Cornel Wilde
    -About an 11th-century Viking prince sailing to America in search of his father, abducted by Indians.
    [From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] Perhaps the worst was The Norseman starring Lee Majors with a cadre of football players who wend their way to America to free Major's dad from the Indians. This one is so bad that it is a classic.
    - The Majors entry was one clunker I had managed to make myself forget all about! Talk about suppressed memories. Right down there with Plan 9 from Outer Space..... I once taught a course on medieval literature into film and discovered that film and things medieval are apples and oranges.
  • The Crusades (1935) [Wikipedia]
    US, Historical/Drama, 123, No rating B&W
    Dir. Cecil B. DeMille; Cast includes: Loretta Young (Berengaria), Henry Wilcoxon (Richard), Ian Keith (Saladin)
    -[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] - May I nominate Cecil B. De Mille's The Crusades. It is memorable not only for its conflation of all Crusades into one big mess but most especially Loretta Young as Berengaria spending a brief vacation in Saladin's harem. I defy anyone to beat that! Jo Ann.
    -Ah, yes, and with C. Aubrey Smith as "The Hermit", tied to a stake on the Saracens' parapet, arms outstretched, crying "In this sign, you will conquer!!"
    -Pauline Kael notes that "DeMille wilfully garbled every single character and incident".
  • King Richard and the Crusaders (1954) [Wikipedia]
    US, Historical, 114, No rating, Color
    Dir. David Butler; Cast includes: Rex Harrison, George Sanders, Virginia Mayo
    -Not well regarded. Based on Sir Walter Scott's The Talisman.
    -[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] This is the film with a disguised Saladin sneaking into the Christian camp to cure Richard. Sanders is very unconvincing as Richard. There is also an otherwise unknown cousin of Richard's named Edith Plantagenet (!!!) in love with a mere knight. Certainly a strong contender in any event..
  • The Black Shield of Falworth (1954) [Wikipedia]
    US, Adventure, 99, No rating, Color
    Dir. Rudolph Mate; Cast includes: Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh
    -Knighthood in medieval England. Based on Howard Pyle's Men of Iron
    -[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] In any event, I haven't heard anyone's nomination for the worst medieval movie ever filmed. I have a special place in my heart for The Black Shield of Falworth, but I'm sure that there are many others equally, or even more, despicable. God! tough to top that.
  • Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Gawain and the Green Knight. (1982) [Wikipedia]
    UK, Adventure, 101, Rated PG, Color
    Dir. Stephan Weeks; Cast includes: Miles O'Keeffe (Gawain), Sean Connery (Green Knight), Trevor Howard (Arthur), Peter Cushing
    [From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] Sword of the Valiant with Miles O'Keefe as Gawain. Great hair that didn't move...at all!!! Medieval theme taken to the mystic outer limits!. O'Keefe previously played Tarzan.
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) [Wikipedia]
    US, Historical/Adventure/Action, 138, Rated PG-13, Color
    Dir. Kevin Reynolds; Cast includes: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Alan Rickman
    -Quite good in fact, although very 1990's. Stay for the last shot!
    [From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] But my favorite Worst Medieval Movie remains Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I've never quite gotten over the moment when Kevin Costner's Robin asks a belligerent Will Scarlett, "Why do you hate me? Did I harm you in some former life?"
  • Braveheart (1995) [Wikipedia]
    US, Romance/Historical/Action, 177, Rated R, Color
    Dir. Mel Gibson; Cast includes: Mel Gibson
    -Massively inaccurate portrayal of the life of the 13th-centiry hero William Wallace. Won a lot of Oscars.
  • Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972) [Wikipedia]
    Italy-UK, Historical, 121, Rated PG, Color
    Dir. Franco Zeffirelli; Cast includes: Graham Faulkner (Francesco) [Wikipedia], Judi Bowker (Clare), Alec Guinness (Pope Innocent III)
    -Zeffirelli's hippy St. Francis. Music by Donovan.
    -[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] May I enter a nomination for Brother Sun, Sister Moon? I recently had an opportunity to view it for the first time since its original release in the early '70s and wound up rather wishing I hadn't paid to experience it then--especially the Donovan "Do your own thing" soundtrack.
  • The Conqueror (1956) [Wikipedia]
    US, War/Historical/Adventure, 111, No rating, Color
    Dir. Dick Powell: Cast includes: John Wayne
    -Mongols vs. Tartars, and John Wayne as Genghis Khan. Shot in Utah downwind of a nuclear facility, a high percentage of stars and crew, including Wayne, later developed cancer.
    -[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] Let's not forget The Conqueror, starring John Wayne as Genghis Khan.
  • The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938) [Wikipedia]
    US, Adventure, 100 min, No rating, Black & White
    Dir. Archie Mayo; Cast includes; Gary Cooper (Marco Polo), Sigrid Gurie, Basil Rathbone, Lana Turner
    [From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] What about Marco Polo!?! Gary Cooper stuffing dry pasta in his pocket to take back to Italy, Basil Rathbone looking evilly inscrutable, Alan Hale as some sort of nomadic chief, and best of all the art deco interiors of the Chinese palaces--big, white, and glossy.
  • Your Highness (2011) [Wikipedia]
    US, stoner fantasy, 102, Color
    Dir. David Gordon Green; Cast includes Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschane, Justin Theroux, Toby Jones,Damian Lewis
    -A completely unfunny comedy. One of the worst medieval films ever made.

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B. Best Medieval Movies - by historical accuracy [Halsall]

These are not necessarily completely accurate, but do try to stick to the period and known facts.

  • Mohammad, Messenger of God/The Message (1976) [Wikipedia]
    Lebanon-UK, Religious, 180, Rated PG, Color
    Dir. Moustapha Akkad; Cast includes: Anthony Quinn, Irene Pappas
    -In accordance with Islamic law, Muhammad is not actually shown on screen.
  • Becket (1964) [Wikipedia]
    US, Historical/Drama, 148, No rating, Color
    Dir. Peter Glenville; Cast includes: Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton
    -Based on Jean Anouilh's play about Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket and his English King, Henry II. Although there is no historical data to support the suggestion, Anouilh sees a homosexual relationship. Superb film.
  • The Lion in Winter (1968) [Wikipedia]
    UK, Historical/Drama, 135, No rating, Color
    Dir. Anthony Harvey: Cast includes: Katherine Hepburn (Eleanor), Peter O'Toole (Henry II), Anthony Hopkins (Richard the Lionheart)
    -Probably the greatest of all "medieval movies." For sheer enjoyment.
  • A Man for All Seasons (1966) [Wikipedia]
    UK, Drama, 120, No rating, Color
    Dir. Fred Zinnemann: Cast includes: Paul Scofield
    -The story of St. Thomas More as a man of conscience. Won six Oscars.
  • The Return of Martin Guerre (1982) [Alt: La Retour de Martin Guerre] [Wikipedia]
    France, Historical, 111, No rating, Color
    Dir. Daniel Vigne, Jean Claude Carrierè: Cast includes: Gerard Depardieu
    -Based on trial records about an impostor in 16th century Southern France. An excellent movie, with solid historical advice given by Natalie Zemon Davis to the film makers. Try to see subtitled version, not the dubbed one.
  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) [Alt: La Passion de Jeanne D'Arc] [Wikipedia]
    France, Historical, 77, No rating B&W
    Dir. Carl Dreyer; Cast includes: Renée Maria Falconetti
    -held by Pauline Kael to be the greatest performance ever captured on film. The film was so powerful that it was initially banned in England. Based on actual trial transcripts.
  • The Mission (1986) [Wikipedia]
    UK, Drama, 125, Rated PG, Color
    Dir. Roland Joffe; Cast includes: Robert DeNiro, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson
    -The story of the Jesuit mission in Paraguay. Screenwriter Robert Bolt.

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C. Best Medieval Movies - as films [Halsall] [In no particular order]

  • 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.
  • Alexander Nevsky (1938) [Wikipedia]
    Russia, War/Historical, 107, No rating B&W
    Dir. Sergei Eisenstein, D.I. Vassillev; Cast includes: Nikolai Cherkassov
    -The repelling of a German invasion in the 13th century. Score by Prokofiev. One of the great movies.
  • Andrei Rublev (1966) [Wikipedia]
    Russia, Historical, 185, No rating, Color, B&W
    Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky
    -about the 15th-century icon painter.
    -[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] On the other side of the ledger, has anyone else seen Tarkowski's Andrei Rublev? I don't know enough about Medieval Russia to judge it. It seemed to do a reasonable job portraying the period, and is cinematically outstanding, although Rublev's character struck me as a bit too modern.
  • The War Lord (1965) [Wikipedia]
    US, War/Historical/Drama, 123, No rating, Color
    Dir. Franklin Schaffner; Cast includes: Charlton Heston
    -Based on Leslie Stevens' The Lovers. Heston is a knight invoking the "right" to sleep with another man's bride on their wedding night. (See Braveheart for the same myth)
    -[From Mediev-l List "Worst Medieval Films" Discussion] -I must protest at the inclusion of The Warlord in this discussion. it is a very interesting film which Heston made after his success with Ben Hur and chose to do things like wear a bowl-cut hairdo which his PR men told him would ruin his reputation as a sex-symbol. Aside from the ius primae noctis, for which an interesting rationale is provided, the film is really quite realistic (the claustrophobic quarters of a dungeon fortress) and very interesting. recently re-released and worth a look.
  • The Seventh Seal (1957) [Wikipedia]
    Sweden, Drama, 96, No rating B&W
    Dir. Ingmar Bergman: Cast includes: Max Von Sydow
    -Set in 14th-century Sweden, about a knight returning from a crusade playing a chess game with death. The film made Bergman famous.
  • Becket (1964) [Wikipedia]
    US, Historical/Drama, 148, No rating, Color
    Dir. Peter Glenville; Cast includes: Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton
    -Based on Jean Anouilh's play about Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket and his English King, Henry II. Although there is no historical data to support the suggestion, Anouilh sees a homosexual relationship. Superb film.
  • The Lion in Winter (1968) [Wikipedia]
    UK, Historical/Drama, 135, No rating, Color
    Dir. Anthony Harvey: Cast includes: Katherine Hepburn (Eleanor), Peter O'Toole (Henry II), Anthony Hopkins (Richard the Lionheart)
    -Probably the greatest of all "medieval movies" for sheer enjoyment.
  • A Man for All Seasons (1966) [Wikipedia]
    UK, Drama, 120, No rating, Color
    Dir. Fred Zinnemann: Cast includes: Paul Scofield
    -The story of St. Thomas More as a man of conscience. Won six Oscars.
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) [Wikipedia]
    US, Adventure, 102, No rating, Color
    Dir. Michael Curtiz, Willim Keighley ; Cast includes: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains
  • The Advocate [Alt: The Hour of the Pig] [Wikipedia]
    US (1994): Historical/Drama/Crime
    Dir. David Thompson: Cast includes: Colin Firth
    -A 15th-century lawyer defends a pig put on trial for murder.
  • The Return of Martin Guerre (1982) [Alt: La Retour de Martin Guerre] [Wikipedia]
    France, Historical, 111, No rating, Color
    Dir. Daniel Vigne, Jean Claude Carrierè: Cast includes: Gerard Depardieu
    -Based on trial records about an impostor in 16th century Southern France. An excellent movie, with solid historical advice given by Natalie Zemon Davis to the film makers. Try to see subtitled version, not the dubbed one.
  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) [Alt: La Passion de Jeanne D'Arc] [Wikipedia]
    France, Historical, 77, No rating B&W
    Dir. Carl Dreyer; Cast includes: Renée Maria Falconetti
    -held by Pauline Kael to be the greatest performance ever captured on film. The film was so powerful that it was initially banned in England. Based on actual trial transcripts.
  • El Cid (1961) [Wikipedia]
    US, War/Biography, 184, No rating, Color
    Dir. Anthony Mann; Cast includes: Sophia Loren (Chimene), Charlton Heston (Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar El Cid), John Fraser (King Alfonso).
    -Quite good, in fact.
  • The Name of the Rose (1986) [Wikipedia]
    France-Germany-Italy, Mystery/Historical, 130, Rated R, Color
    Dir. Cast includes: Sean Connery
    -Based on the novel by Umberto Eco.
  • The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988) [Wikipedia]
    New Zealand, Fantasy/Adventure, 92, Rated PG, Color, B&W
    Dir. Vincent Ward; Cast includes: Bruce Lyons, Chris Hayward
    -An odd story, but a good film. About an English boy who leads a group of villagers into a tunnel to escape the plague, and emerges in a modern city (Auckland?)
  • The Virgin Spring [Aka Jungfrukällan] (1959) [Wikipedia]
    Sweden, Drama, 88, No rating B&W
    Dir. Ingmar Bergman: Cast includes: Max Von Sydow
    Story of religious medieval Swedish family whose daughter is raped by vagrants. Oscar for best foreign movie.
  • The Mission (1986) [Wikipedia]
    UK, Drama, 125, Rated PG, Color
    Dir. Roland Joffe; Cast includes: Robert DeNiro, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson
    -The story of the Jesuit mission in Paraguay. Screenwriter Robert Bolt.

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D. Medieval Movie Misconceptions (Aka Myths) [Halsall] [In no particular order]

Some myths (or rather misconceptions) about the Middle Ages come up again and again. This is the beginning of a list.

  • Jus Primae Noctis
    The right of "first night" - i.e. that a "lord" had the right to sleep with male subordinate's new wives. This is a 19th-century myth.
    - Featured in: Braveheart, The War Lord, Magnificat, The Sorceress.
  • Continual Persecution of Christians by Rome.
    In fact persecution was intermittent, and rare, with periods of many decades between attacks.
    - Featured in most "early Christian" genre movies.
  • Clinking Swords
    From Cathy Hanley  [Here is a myth, or rather] an inaccuracy which appears in every medieval film I've ever seen. Why is it that whenever anyone picks up or draws a sword the filmmakers feel obliged to add that annoying "ching" sound, even when the sword is drawn from a leather scabbard or picked up off a table? Anyone who has ever tried to draw a sword (I have several) will know that it's almost impossible to produce this sound. The only way I've found is to deliberately pull the sword across the back of a mail glove, but this isn't very authentic! I know it's probably more dramatic, but it sounds so false and is highly annoying.
  • Knights and Mobility
    That knights could easily get up by themselves (& easily) after falling off a horse with all their heavy chain mail and armor on their bodies. Some commentators have disputed this "myth."
  • Saxons and Normans
    Perhaps because of Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, or perhaps because of the success of The Adventures of Robin Hood, the idea that Saxon Englishmen were raging against Norman conquerors comes up again and again in movies about England.
    - Featured in: mostly Robin Hood movies, all versions of Ivanhoe, Becket (where the real Becket was not even a "Saxon"), The Black Rose, and so on
  • Nuns
    All nuns were virgins admitted into a convent as lovely, nubile waifs.
  • Sex
    No one ever had sex outside of marriage or before marriage. Also, that all marriage ceremonies -- even of peasants in small outlying communities-- were performed by priests in a church.

Further Reading on Medieval History and Film

Scott Manning's bibliography is the starting point here for English language materials.

Scott Manning: Medievalism on Screen: An Annotated Bibliography [Internet Archive version here]

Wikipedia: Middle Ages in Film [with bibliography]

Arthur Lindley: The Ahistoricism of Medieval Film 1998 [Internet Archive version here]

Richard Utz: "Mes souvenirs sont peut-être reconstruits": Medieval Studies, Medievalism, and the Scholarly and Popular Memories of the 'Right of the Lord's First Night 2005 [Internet Archive version here]

Esther Cuenca: Medieval Hollywood Syllabus 2018

Elizabeth Lapina: The Middle Ages in Film Syllabus 2014 [Internert Archive version here]

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© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 14 June 2024 [CV]