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

Internet Ancient History Sourcebook

Ancient History in the Movies


Version 2.0 [2023]

Compiler: Paul Halsall

(Archived older version of this page here)

See Main Page for a guide to all contents of all sections.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Other Lists like this

Pre-Historic Humans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Egyptian (1954)
Dir. Michael Curtiz. With Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Peter Ustinov
Conflates the Egyptian story of Sinuhe with the events of Akhenaten's reign. It's ca costume drama, but an enjoyable one. Based on a novel by Mika Waltari.

Land of the Pharaohs (1955)
Dir. Howard Hawks; Cast includes Jack Hawkins and Joan Collins.
This one has "proto-Hebrews" building pharonic tombs.

Princess of the Nile (1954) 71 mins.
Dir. Harmon Jones; Cast includes Debra Paget and Jeffrey Hunter

Sudan (1945) 76 mins.
Dir. John Rawlins; Cast includes Maria Montez

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Biblical Epic/Ancient Israel

The Bible [Aka La Bibbia] (1966)
174 mins.
Dir. John Huston; Cast includes  Michael Parks, Richard Harris, Stephen Boyd, George C. Scott, Ava Gardner, Peter O'Toole.
Covers: Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah, Sodom & Gomorrah and Abraham & Isaac.

Abraham (1994) (TV) 175 mins
Dir. Joseph Sargent; Cast includes Vittorio Gassman, Richard Harris, and Barbara Hershey.

Sodom und Gomorrah (1922) 150 mins, BW
Dir. Michael Curtiz

Last Days of Sodom and Gomorrah (1962) 154 mins
Dir. Robert Aldrich; Cast includes Stewart Granger (as Lot) and Ainouk Aimée (as Queen of Sodom).

The Story of Jacob and Joseph, (1974) (TV)
Dir. Michael Cacoyannis; Cast includes Alan Bates, and  Colleen Dewhurst.

Joseph (1995) (TV)
Dir. Roger Young; Cast includes Ben Kingsley, Paul Mercurio, Martin Landau, Lesley Ann Warren.

Moses the Lawgiver (1975)(TV) 140 mins
Dir. Gianfranco De Bosio; Cast includes Burt Lancaster.

Moses (1996) (TV) 188 mins
Dir. Roger Young; Cast includes Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lee, and Geraldine McEwan

The Ten Commandments (1923)
146 mins.
Dir. Cecil B. DeMille; Cast includes Charles De Roche
Silent Movie.

The Ten Commandments (1956)
220 mins.
Dir. Cecil B. DeMille; Cast includes Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, and Anne Baxter.
De Mille's last movie, and curiously old fashioned. Best scenes are the Parting of the Red Sea, the engraving of the Ten Commandments, and the orgy around the Golden Calf.

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

Samson and Delilah (1996) TV
Dir. Nicolas Roeg; Cast includes Elizabeth Hurley, Michael Gambon, Dennis Hopper, Diana Rigg.

King David (1985)
114 mins
Dir. Bruce Beresford; Cast includes Richard Gere as David.

Solomon and Sheba (1959)
139 mins
Dir. King Vidor; Cast includes Yul Brynner and Gina Lollobrigida.

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

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Classical Greece

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

The 300 Spartans (1962)
Dir. Rudolph Maté. With Diane Baker, Robert Brown
Based on the history of Spartan king Leonidis and 300 soldiers holding off Xerxes attack at Thermopylae.

300 [Wikipedia]

Socrates (TV)(1970) in Italian
Dir. Roberto Rossellini

Barefoot in Athens (TV) (1966) 76 mins.
Dir. George Schaefer
The last days of Socrates, including his trial.

Clash of the Titans (1981) 118 mins
Dir. Desmond Davis; Cast includes Harry Hamlin, Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Siân Phillips,
Flora Robson, Anna Manahan.
An Incredible cast wasted in an adaptation of the Perseus myth.


The Odyssey (1997) [Wikipedia] TV Miniseries
2 hours 49 mins
Dir. Andrei Konchalovsky; Cast includes Armand Assante (Odysseus), Greta Scacchi (Penelope), Isabella Rossellini (Athene), Bernadette Peters (Circe), Eric Roberts, Irene Papas, Vanessa L. Williams (Calypso)



Oresteia (1979) [TV Miniseries]

Agamemnon (Oresteia, Part 1) 90 min. 1983
Dir. Peter Hall, transl. Tony Harrison. National Theatre of Great Britain. Films For The Humanities. 

Choephori: The Libation Bearers (Oresteia, Part 2) 70 mins. 1982
Dir. Peter Hall, transl. Tony Harrison. National Theatre of Great Britain. Films For The Humanities. 

Eumenides: The Furies (Oresteia, Part 3) 70 mins, 1983
Dir. Peter Hall, transl. Tony Harrison. National Theatre of Great Britain. Films For The Humanities.

Agamemnon (Oresteia, Part 1) 108 mins
London Small Theatre Company, translation for the stage by Peter Meineck, 1991. 


New translation; featuring Yasmin Sidhwa, James Moriarty. 71 min.Video/C 2698 

Oedipus Rex (1967) 119 mins
Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini; Cast includes Silvana Mangano (Jocasta) and Franco Citti (Oedipus), Alida Valli (Merope), Carmelo Bene (Creon), Julian Beck (Tiresias).

Oedipus Rex (Theban Plays) 45 mins.
With Anthony Quayle, James Mason, Claire Bloom, Ian Richardson.
A presentation of Sophocles' Oedipus the King, performed in the authentic setting of a fifth-century Greek theater; Cast includes the use of masks made after ancient models. 

Oedipus the King (1968) 97 mins
Dir. Philip Saville; Cast includes Christopher Plummer and Orson Welles.

Oedipus the King (1984) (TV) 111 mins
Dir. Don Taylor; Cast includes Michael Pennington (I)

Edipo alcalde AKA Oedipus Mayor (1996) 100 mins.
Dir. Jorge Alí Triana
Sophocles Oedipus as rendered by Gabriel García Márquez.

Oedipus at Colonus (1984)(TV)
Dir. Don Taylor; Cast includes Anthony Quayle and Juliet Stevenson.

Antigone (1960) (TV)
Dir. Hans Dahlin; Cast includes Ulla Sjöblom as Antigone
In Swedish

Antigone, Aka Rites for the Dead (1961) 86 mins.
Dir. George Tzavellas; Cast includes Irene Papas as Antigone
In Greek with English subtitles.

Antigone (1984) (TV) 111 mins
Dir. Don Taylor; Cast includes Juliet Stevenson as Antigone.
[Princeton, N.J.: Films for the Humanities, c 1988 (120 min., color). Videocassette release of the 1984 television production by BBC-TV.

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

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

I Cannibali  AKA The Year of the Canibals (1970) 88 mins
Dir. Liliana Cavani; Cast includes Britt Ecklund
Italian version of Antigone -- by a major Italin auteur director.


The Bacchae (1999)
Dir. Bradford Mays; Cast includes Brian Blessed.

Electra (1962)
Dir. Michael Cacoyannis; Cast includes Irene Papas
In Greek.

Iphigenia (1977) 127 Mins
Dir. Michael Cacoyannis; Cast includes Irene Papas
In Greek 

Le Baccanti [aka The Bacchantes] (1961)
Dir. Giorgio Ferroni

Medea (1963) (TV) 95 mons
Dir. Keve Hjelm
In Swedish

Medea (1970) 
Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini; Cast includes Maria Callas
In Italian 
Medea was one of Callas' great operative roles, but here she acts without music.

Medea (1982) 90 mins.
Dir. Mark Cunningham; Cast includes Zoe Caldwell.
A Kennedy Center production about a proud woman betrayed by the man she loves.

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

Medea (1987) (TV)
Dir. Lars von Trier
Danish TV  version.

A Dream of Passion (1978)
Dir. Jules Dassin; Cast includes Melina Mecouri
Adaptation of Medea.

The Trojan Women (1971) 109 Min
Dir. Michael Cacoyannis; Cast includes Katherine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, and Irene Papas.


Lysistrata (1972) in Modern Greek, 97 mins
Dir. Georgos Zervoulakos; Cast includes Jenny Karezi.
[New York] : New York Film Annex, c1987 ISBN 1558814965  [At UC Berkeley]
The date of the movie is needed to understand it. It combines a fairly accurate rendtion of the play with intense anti-Americanism and a variety of modern Greek songs.

The Second Greatest Sex (1955) 87 Mins
Dir. George Marshall (I)
A "Western/Musical" movie based on Lysistrata.

Escuela de seductoras (1962) 83 mins
Dir. León Klimovsky
Spanish version of Lysistrata

Flickorna AKA The Girls (1968) 100 mins
Dir. Mai Zetterling; Cast includes Bibi Andersson
Version of Lysistrata in Swedish, BW

The Birds (Excerpts)
With Neil Pepe, Ed Porter, Todd Weeks, Phil Reilly, Clare Tattersull, Terry Hardcastle, 1991. 43 min. Video/C 2549 

With Rick Smith, Rachel Springs, Jon Williams, Fiona Laird--cast of the London Small Theatre Company, 1991. 110 min. Video/C 3239

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Hellenistic Greece

Alexander the Great (1956) 143 mins
Dir. Michael Forlong and Robert Rossen. With Richard Burton, Fredric March, Claire Bloom, Peter Cushing, Michael Hordern
Currently the main Hollywood-made Alexander movie.

Alexander the Great

The Ptolemies
BBC TV series.

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Roman Empire

Spartacus (1960) 
Dir. Stanley Kubrick; Cast includes Lawrence Olivier, Tony Curtis, and Kirk Douglas

Spartacus [Wikipedia] TV series

Cleopatra (1963)  243 mins
Dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz. With Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison.
-Not as bad as it is reputed to be, but not as camp as the 1934 Cecil B. DeMille version [102 mins] with Claudette Colbert.

Cleopatra (1999) [TV Miniseries; also reduced film version]
Dir. Franc Roddam; Cast includes Leonor Varela, Timothy Dalton, Billy Zane and Rupert Graves

Caesar and Cleopatra (1946)
Dir. Gabriel Pascal; Cast includes Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh
Writer -- George Bernard Shaw

Julius Caesar (1953) 
Dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz. after Shakespeare

Rome [Wikipedia] TV Series

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

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.

Age of Treason (1993) 93 mins.
Dir. Kevin Connor; Cast includes Matthias Hues
Murder mystery set in 69 CE.

The Arena (1973)
Dir. Steve Carver; Cast includes Pam Grier.
Women slaves fight in the Arena. A Blaxpolitation movie.

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

The 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.

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.

Titus (2000) 162 mins.
Dir. Julie Taymor


Amphitryon (1935) 105 mins
Dir. Reinhold Schünzel
A musical made in Nazi Germany based on Plautus

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)
Dir. Richard Lester; Cast includes Zero Mostel and Phil Silvers.
Based on Plautus' play  Miles Gloriosus.


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


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.


Fedra (1956)
Dir. Manuel Mur Oti

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Late Antiquity/Decline of the Roman Empire

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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Biblical Epic/Life of Christ

From the Manger to the Cross (1912) BW, Silent
Dir. Sidney Olcott. With Robert Henderson-Bland as Jesus.

The King of Kings (1927) BW, Silent
Dir. Cecil B. Demille; Cast includes H.B. Warner as Jesus.

King of Kings (1961) 168 mins
Dir. Nicholas Ray; Cast includes Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus.
Hunter is very whitebread ideal of Jesus.

Gospel According to Matthew (1964) 136 mins
Dir. Pier Paol Pasolini; Cast includes Enrique Irazoqui as Jesus.
Pasolini, an agnostic or atheist Marxist, made what is often considered the purest Jesus movie by using only the Gospel of Matthew (he left out the "Saint" in the Italian title) and the services of local non-professional actors.

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) 268 mins
Dir, George Stevens; Cast includes Max von Sydow as Jesus.
Very long, and full of "guest stars," including a famous appearance by John Wayne as the centurion at the cross. With von Sydow as a very in control Jesus, this film perhaps best presents the Jesus of the Gospel of John.

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) 108 mins
Dir. Norman Jewison; Cast includes Ted Neely as Jesus.
A filmed version of Andrew Lloyd-Weber and Tim Rice's musical. Although many enjoy the music, it was widely criticized for its stressed-out Jesus and failure to go beyond the crucifixion. In effect, this is the most "de-mythologizing" of all the Jesus movies.

Godspell (1973) 103 mins   
Dir. David Greene; Cast includes Victor Garber as Jesus
In general this was a more "religious" musical adaptation of Jesus's life than Superstar.

Jesus of Nazareth (TV)(1977) 371 mins
Dir. Franco Zeffirelli; Cast includes Robert Powell as Jesus.
As a made-for-TV series, Zeffirelli was able to take longer with his story, and his is probably the most faithful to the gospel's telling of the story. Although no actor has satisfactorily played Jesus, Robert Powell looked the part (at least as established in Western art), and played it without the gauchness (Hunter) or sheer weirdness (von Sydow, Neely) of others.

Jesus (1979), 117 mins /DVD
Dir. John Krish and Peter Sykes; Cast includes Brian Deacon as Jesus.
Apart from the prologue, this movie is entirely based on the Gospel of Luke. It was produced by evangelical Protestants (Campus Crusade for Christ) who rave over it, and have made audio tracks in over 660 languages! The whole film is available to view online. Unfortunately the acting is lousy and Jesus presented as a tepid bourgeois, perhaps just as men in suits would like him to be. It is, however, interesting to compare this with Pasolini's version of the Gospel of Matthew.

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

Jesus of Montreal (1989) in French. 120 mins.
Dir. Denys Arcand
A group of actors puts on a play about Jesus, while their lives come to echo the play.

Jesus (TV)(1999) 2x 60 mins.
Dir. Robert Young; Cast includes Jeremy Sisto as Jesus.

The Miracle Maker (TV)(2000) 90 mins
Dir. Derek W. Hayes and Stanislav Sokolov; Cast includes Ralph Fiennes as Jesus.
A claymation version of the life of Jesus.

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Biblical Epic/Early Christian

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.

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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See also

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