History is enthralling. Knowing who and what came before us interests many individuals more than anything else. Historical literature and media are universally adored, whether they are based on fact or are works of fiction. Historical fantasy is also a popular film genre. Gladiator, a 2000 film, is an excellent illustration of this.
Films like Gladiator are uncommon; not only because they are difficult to create, but also because they frequently include a minefield of potential pitfalls. While filmmakers of conventional stories are primarily concerned with people and plot, in historical films, production and costume design are just as essential as a story. Therefore, if you enjoy the film, here are the 35 greatest epic flicks that Gladiator fans are certain to enjoy.
1. 300 (2006)
At 480 BC, the Battle of Thermopylae pitted an alliance of Greek city-states against an invading Persian army in the Thermopylae mountain pass. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the invaders in one of history’s most renowned final stands.
Persian King Xerxes brought an army of well over 100,000 soldiers to Greece, where he was met by 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, and 400 Thebans. Xerxes waited ten days for King Leonidas to surrender or retire, but when he was left with no choice, he advanced. After three days of combat, the Greeks were all slain.
Sparta’s defeat was not anticipated, since a local shepherd called Ephialtes defected to the Persians and told Xerxes that the Persians’ independent route through Thermopylae, which they might use to outflank the Greeks, was not as strongly guarded as they believed.
2. Centurion (2010)
On the frontiers of the Roman Empire, in 117 AD Scotland, the valiant Centurion Quintus Dias, accompanied by the fearless General Titus Virilus and a small unit of the Ninth Legion, marches north after seeing the annihilation of his distant station.
On the trail of Gorlacon, the bloodthirsty Pict chieftain, and tasked with eradicating the ever-growing threat posed by the brave Caledonian tribes, the soldiers are nearly all slain in an unexpected attack.
Under those circumstances—trapped and surrounded by the powerful warriors—a handful of survivors headed by Quintus must now battle tooth and nail to reach the safety of the frontier before a vicious traitor leads them astray. Can they, however, evade the silent adversary’s trap?
3. The Last Samurai (2003)
In 1876, while still scarred by the murders of American-Indian tribes, Captain Nathan Algren, a former Civil War soldier and now an angry alcoholic, is offered the opportunity to teach the Japanese Emperor’s inexperienced army.
However, when the inexperienced Imperial soldiers are pitted against the seasoned warriors of samurai commander Katsumoto, Algren becomes a prisoner of war. Katsumoto spares Algren’s life to learn about his adversary, only to witness him gradually adopt Bushido: the samurai’s dying code.
Nathan now faces a completely different adversary. Will the final samurai find forgiveness in his quest for peace?
4. Spartacus (1960)
In 73 B.C., a Thracian slave revolts against Lentulus Batiatus’ gladiatorial school (Sir Peter Ustinov). Thousands of slaves join the rebellion, which quickly spreads over the Italian Peninsula.
The aim is to raise enough money to purchase ships from Silesian pirates, who will then carry them to other regions from Brandisium in the south. The Roman Senator Gracchus (Charles Laughton) plots to have Marcus Publius Glabrus (John Dall), Commander of Rome’s garrison, lead an army against the slaves atop Vesuvius.
When Glabrus is beaten, his tutor, Senator, and General Marcus Licinius Crassus (Sir Laurence Olivier) are humiliated and takes command of his army against the slaves. Spartacus and the thousands of liberated slaves reach Brandisium, only to discover that the Silesians had abandoned them. They then turn north and come face to face with Rome’s strength.
5. Braveheart (1995)
William Wallace is a Scottish rebel who leads an insurrection against the harsh English monarch Edward the Longshanks, who seeks to usurp Scotland’s throne.
When William Wallace was a small child, his father and brother, along with a large number of others, died attempting to free Scotland. After losing another loved one, William Wallace embarks on a lengthy mission to liberate Scotland once and for all, aided by Robert the Bruce.
6. Troy (2004)
It is 1250 B.C., late in the Bronze era. Two newly formed countries battle after Paris, the Trojan prince, persuade Helen, Queen of Sparta, to abandon her husband, Menelaus, and sail back to Troy with him.
When Menelaus discovers that his wife has been kidnapped by the Trojans, he approaches his brother Agamemnon for assistance in reclaiming her. Agamemnon views this as a chance to consolidate his authority. Thus, they set off for Troy with 1,000 ships carrying 50,000 Greeks. The Greeks can overcome the Trojans for the first time with the assistance of Achilles.
However, they are brought to a halt by Hector, Prince of Troy. The entirety of this rendition of Homer’s masterpiece “The Iliad” depicts their war hardships and foreboding of fate.
7. Spartacus (2010)
Spartacus, a Thracian Gladiator who led an insurrection against the Roman Republic, serves as the inspiration for this series. Claudius Glaber had convinced the Thracians to join the Roman troops as an auxiliary in a battle against the Getae, who frequently ravaged Thracian territories.
However, when Glaber backs out of the arrangement and refocuses his attention on Mithridates in Asia Minor, the Thracians feel deceived and revolt. Spartacus is sentenced to death as a Gladiator after being captured by Glaber, while his wife Sura is sentenced to slavery.
Spartacus, on the other hand, proved to be a powerful gladiator, defeating the four gladiators assigned to his execution. He quickly becomes a public favorite, prompting Senator Albinius to reduce his death sentence to life in servitude. Spartacus is acquired for gladiator training by Batiatus, who offers to assist him in locating Sura if he excels in training. As the series progresses, the plot follows the betrayals and intrigues of Roman life, as well as the heroic desire for revenge of one man.
8. Cleopatra (1963)
The narrative of Egypt’s Queen Cleopatra VII (Dame Elizabeth Taylor), who seeks to consolidate her authority by exploiting the Roman Empire’s conflicts. Julius Caesar (Sir Rex Harrison) travels to Egypt, engages in sexual relations with a woman, and then returns to Rome. She becomes pregnant with his kid and travels to Rome to reclaim her rightful place at Caesar’s side.
He is assassinated before this can occur. She returns to Egypt, causing havoc in Rome. Richard Burton’s Mark Antony (follows her to Egypt and the two fall in love. Octavian (Roddy McDowall), on the other hand, defeats Antony in combat.
9. Kingdom Of Heaven (2005)
In 1184, a French village blacksmith named Balian has just lost his wife to suicide, grief-stricken over the loss of their child; the crusader Lord Godfrey, Baron of Ibelin, reveals himself as Balian’s father and offers him a crusader life, which the youngster initially rejects but eventually accepts after the local priest taunts him ’till his sword strikes fatally, fleeing the French bishop’s bloody justice and Balian is trained in battle skills and the chivalric honor code along the journey and is called a knight in Messina by his father, who was killed fending against the bishop’s soldiers.
After surviving a shipwreck on the Levantine coast, Balian quickly establishes himself as a superior knight in the loyal service of leper King Baldwin, whose pragmatic right hand, the Count of Tiberias, fails to convince Balian that the ruthless knight Reynald de Chatillon and his traitorous master, candidate-heir to the throne Guy de Lusignan, must be stopped at all costs before they plunge the kingdom into chaos.
When Tiberias is vindicated, he flees to Cyprus, leaving courageous Balian to defend besieged Jerusalem against insurmountable odds.
10. Hero (2002)
The King of Qin is launching a brutal war to capture the entire country in medieval China. Three deadly assassins have targeted him: the spear-wielding Sky and the lovers Broken Sword and Flying Snow. One day, he receives word that he no longer has to fear anybody; a prefect known only as Nameless has assassinated all three assassins.
Nameless is summoned to the palace and enquired as to how he accomplished this incredible accomplishment. However, when he relates his narrative, the King discovers several inconsistencies…
11. King Arthur (2004)
In 400 AD, the Roman Empire expands to Britain, and the Romans are impressed by the fighting abilities of the Sarmatian warriors, who are spared but must give their sons to serve in Rome’s cavalry for fifteen years.
Their knights are not permitted to return home until they have performed these tasks. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are about to go on their final quest before winning their independence.
12. Last Knights (2015)
When the unscrupulous minister Geza Mott seeks further taxes from Lord Bartok, he summons Commander Raiden and his warriors to his castle. He challenges and attempts to assassinate Geza Mott, but the Emperor condemns him to be decapitated by Raiden.
Additionally, he deprives his family of the castle and estates. Geza Mott instructs his commander to pursue Raiden and constructs an iron gate at the entrance to his castle in anticipation of retribution, but Raiden prefers to drink and becomes a drunkard.
One year later, the knights seek vengeance for their Lord’s disgrace. Since Raiden is an alcoholic, Geza Mott has ignored his security. What becomes of Raiden?
13. Quo Vadis (1951)
General Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) returns to Rome after three years in the field and falls in love with Lygia (Deborah Kerr), even though she is a Christian and has no desire to be associated with a warrior.
Though Lygia was raised in Rome as the adoptive daughter of a retired General, she is officially a Roman prisoner. Marcus convinces Emperor Nero (Sir Peter Ustinov) to deliver her to him in exchange for services done but eventually falls victim to her Christian beliefs.
14. Exodus: God and the King (2014)
Raised as brothers, Moses, the competent leader, and Ramses, Pharaoh Seti’s egocentric biological son, would eventually get embroiled in a violent conflict when Ramses discovers Moses’ Hebrew ancestry. When Egypt’s new Pharaoh, Ramses II, banishes Moses in the harsh desert, God charges him with the arduous job of liberating and transporting six hundred thousand captive Israelites.
Now, amid a backdrop of pitiless and catastrophic plagues, Moses must fulfill God’s purpose by leading His long-suffering people across the Red Sea: the final yet impenetrable barrier. Is Moses capable of fulfilling his destiny?
15. Robin Hood (2010)
The beginning of a legend. Following King Richard’s assassination in France, archer Robin Longstride travels to England with Will Scarlet, Allan A’Dayle, and Little John. They come upon Sir Robert Loxley, who is dying after his company was attacked by the treacherous Godfrey, who wishes to aid a French invasion of England.
Robin makes a vow to the death knight that he would deliver the sword to his father, Sir Walter Loxley, in Nottingham. Sir Walter urges him to mimic the deceased man to avoid the crown seizing his estate, and he ends up with Marion, a ready-made wife.
Godfrey, hoping to incite baronial resistance to the Prince’s (Oscar Isaac) weakness and facilitate a French takeover, worms his way into the Prince’s service as Earl Marshal of England and ruthlessly invades towns under the guise of collecting Royal taxes. Can Robin manage the barons’, royals’, traitors’, and French’s politics?
16. Ben-Hur (1959)
When Prince Judah Ben-Hur learns that his boyhood friend Messala has been appointed commander of Jerusalem’s Roman garrison, he is overjoyed. He quickly discovers, however, that his friend has transformed into an arrogant conqueror oozing with Rome’s grandeur.
Messala decides to make an example of Judah by sending him out as a galley slave after he refuses to disclose the names of Jews who resist Roman control. Judah survives the galleys and returns to Jerusalem in the hope of locating his mother and sister, who were also imprisoned, and of exacting revenge on his one-time buddy.
17. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
British and French forces fight their way through colonial America, aided by different indigenous American war groups. British forces recruit the assistance of colonial militia members who are averse to leaving their homes undefended.
A developing passion between the daughter of a British officer and an independent Mohican complicates matters for the British officer, as the adopted Mohican pursues his agenda despite the anger of many individuals on both sides of the battle.
18. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence is dispatched to Arabia to find Prince Faisal and act as a liaison between the Arabs and the British in their struggle against the Turks due to his understanding of the indigenous Bedouin tribes.
Lawrence defies his senior officer’s instructions and embarks on a hazardous camel trek over the hard desert to attack a well-defended Turkish port with the assistance of native Sherif Ali.
19. The Eagle (2011)
In 140 AD, twenty years after the mysterious disappearance of the whole Ninth Legion in the Scottish mountains, young centurion Marcus Aquila (Tatum) travels from Rome to unravel the mystery and rehabilitate his father, the Ninth’s commander.
Marcus goes off beyond Hadrian’s Wall, accompanied only by his British slave Esca (Bell), into the unknown highlands of Caledonia – to confront its wild tribes, make peace with his father’s memories, and reclaim the legion’s golden symbol, the Eagle of the Ninth.
20. 300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
Following its victory over Leonidas’ 300, Xerxes’ Persian Army marches towards the main Greek city-states. Athens, the first city on the road of Xerxes’ army, relies on its navy, headed by admiral Themistocles.
Themistocles is compelled to form an uneasy alliance with Athens’ old adversary, oligarchic Sparta, whose strength is based on its superior infantry forces. However, Xerxes retains numerical superiority over sea and land.
21. Pompeii (2014)
POMPEII is set in 79 A.D. and follows Milo (Kit Harington), an indestructible gladiator who finds himself in a race against time to save his true love Cassia (Emily Browning), the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant who has been forced to marry a corrupt Roman Senator.
Milo must battle his way out of the arena as Mount Vesuvius erupts in a stream of flaming lava to save his lover as the once-magnificent Pompeii ruins around him.
22. Rome (2005)
The turbulent transition from Roman republic to autocratic empire, which altered the course of world history through civil war and conquest, is sketched in this British historical drama from the aristocratic perspective of Julius Caesar, his family, adopted successor Octavian Augustus, and their political allies and adversaries, as well as from the politically naive perspective of a few ordinary Romans.
23. Alexander (2004)
A beautiful historical biopic (with mystical and religious overtones) about the life of legendary Macedonian king and conqueror Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) (Colin Farrell), focusing on his childhood and conquest of Persia and India.
The son of Macedonian King Phillip II (Val Kilmer) and Olympias (Angelina Jolie), he became King at the age of twenty and died at the age of thirty-two, having conquered ninety percent of the world as it was discovered during his lifetime, ruling over portions of three continents and several countries.
24. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Following their arrest by Turks during the Crusades, Robin of Locksley and a Moor, Azeem, flee to England, where Azeem pledges to stay until Robin repays him for sparing his life.
Meanwhile, Robin’s father, a nobleman loyal to King Richard the Lionheart, has been assassinated by the vicious Sheriff of Nottingham, who assisted in the installation of Richard’s traitorous brother, Prince John, as king while Richard is away fighting in the Crusades.
When Robin comes home, he swears to revenge his father’s death and reclaims the kingdom for Richard. Even though his childhood companion Maid Marian is powerless to assist him, he flees to the Forest of Sherwood, where he joins a gang of exiled peasants and eventually becomes their leader.
He enlists their assistance in an attempt to rid the country of the evil that the Sheriff has spread.
25. Immortals (2011)
The gods defeated the Titans eons ago. Now, a new menace has shown itself. King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), the wicked king, is on the prowl for a formidable weapon known as the Epirus Bow.
This enables him to defeat the gods and ascend to the throne of the world. As towns are devastated and innocent people are slaughtered, the warrior Theseus (Henry Cahill) and the oracle Phaedra have the destiny of humanity in their hands (Freida Pinto).
26. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ is a film version of the same-named Alexander Dumas novel. Dantes, a sailor wrongly convicted of treason by his closest buddy Fernand, who desires Mercedes, Dantes’ lover.
Dantes spends 13 years imprisoned on the island prison of Chateau d’If, plotting vengeance against those who have betrayed him. He escapes the island with the assistance of another prisoner and proceeds to disguise himself as the rich Count of Monte Cristo as part of his plan to wreak retribution.
27. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
An ancient Ring believed to have been lost for centuries has been found and handed to a little Hobbit named Frodo in a weird twist of fate. When Gandalf discovers that the Ring is the One Ring of Sauron, Frodo goes on an epic quest to destroy it in the Cracks of Doom.
However, he does not go alone. He is joined by Gandalf, Legolas the elf, Gimli the dwarf, Aragorn, Boromir, and his three Hobbit companions Merry, Pippin, and Samwise. The Fellowship of the Ring must traverse mountains, snow, darkness, woodlands, rivers, and plains, coming face to face with evil and danger at every step.
Their goal to destroy the One Ring is necessary if the Dark Lords’ reign is to be brought to an end.
28. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
The War of the Ring reaches a peak as Sauron’s Dark Lord sets his eyes on Minas Tirith, Gondor’s capital. When Pippin cannot resist staring into Saruman’s Palantir and is momentarily contacted by the Dark Lord, the Fellowship members in Rohan are informed of the imminent onslaught.
Because King Théoden is too arrogant to deploy his soldiers without being requested, Gandalf and Pippin journey to Minas Tirith to see that this request is delivered. They come up against Denethor, the city’s steward and father of Faramir and the late Boromir. Denethor’s family has served as interim guardians of Gondor for generations, awaiting the return of a member of the real line of Kings.
This member is none other than Aragorn, who must overcome his self-doubt to perform the role for which he was intended. Meanwhile, led by Gollum, Frodo and Sam continue to carry the One Ring into Mordor. They are unaware, however, that Gollum is luring them into a trap to regain the Ring for himself.
Though Sam suspects him of deception, Frodo is beginning to be corrupted by the Ring’s power, and Gollum thoroughly exploits the resulting distrust of Sam. The only way for good to triumph in this fight is for the Ring to be destroyed, which is growing increasingly difficult for Frodo to accomplish by the minute.
As the Quest of the Ringbearer nears its conclusion, the fate of every living thing in Middle-earth will be decided once and for all.
29. 47 Ronin (2013)
Lord Asano and his samurai Ishi are hunting in Ako when they come upon a half-breed kid. Lord Asano brings him to Ako, where he is nurtured by his daughter Mika. Years later, Mika and Kai discover that they are secretly in love with one another.
Lord Asano extends a warm greeting to Shogun Tsunayoshi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and Lord Kira. Kira’s Witch, on the other hand, casts a spell on Lord Asano, who attempts to murder Kira. The Shogun executes Lord Asano and allows Harakiri to die with dignity.
Ishi and his samurai become ronin, and he is imprisoned in a pit; Kai is sold as a slave in another town. After being freed from jail a year later, ishi conspires with Kai and the other ronin to get revenge on Lord Asano.
30. The Patriot (2000)
Benjamin Martin is a South Carolina plantation owner who is tormented by his notoriously harsh past as a French and Indian War soldier. When the American Revolution begins, he declines to join the Continental Army to defend his family.
However, when British Colonel Tavington jeopardizes family wellbeing and murders one of his sons, he decides to enlist. Martin takes command of a makeshift militia made up of peasants, slaves, a clergyman, and many other irregulars.
Martin and his soldiers realize during the fight that they would pay a high personal price for their revolt. However, they are also destined to play a key part in turning the tide against the Redcoats, owing to their daring and bravery.
31. The 13th Warrior (1999)
Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a Muslim envoy banished from his nation, finds himself in the company of Vikings. While ibn-i Fadlan is first offended by the Norsemen’s conduct, the more refined foreigner comes to appreciate the strong, albeit vulgar, warriors.
Ibn Fadlan and the Vikings receive information of an evil presence closing in on them throughout their journey, and they must battle the terrifying and fearsome entity that was previously believed to exist only in mythology.
32. Gettysburg (1993)
The four-and-a-quarter-hour representation of the historical and personal events leading up to and including the pivotal American civil war fight involves thousands of civil war re-enactors walking through the exact land on which the federal army and the army of North Virginia fought.
The defense of Little Round Top and Pickett’s Charge are featured in the three-day combat itself, which is framed by commanding commanders’ speeches and personal comments from the fighting troops. The novel ‘The Killer Angels’ served as the inspiration for this film.
33. Red Cliff (2008)
In 208 A.D., during the last years of the Han Dynasty, cunning Prime Minister Cao Cao convinced Emperor Han that the only way to unite all of China was to wage war on the kingdoms of Xu to the west and East Wu to the south.
Thus started an extraordinary military effort, headed by the Prime Minister himself. With no other option for survival, the Xu and East Wu kingdoms forged an unusual alliance. Numerous contests of power and intelligence occurred, both on land and sea, culminating in the Battle of Red Cliff.
Two thousand ships were destroyed in the fight, and the path of Chinese history was irrevocably altered.
34. The Crossing (2000)
In 1776, less than six months after the Declaration of Independence, General George Washington’s Continental Army was on the verge of annihilation. With soldiers, guns, and supplies running low, Washington resolves to risk all in one more desperate attempt on Trenton, which is garrisoned by over 1000 of the feared Hessian mercenaries.
To do this, the army must cross the Delaware River and engage in a hopeless fight that proves to be more effective than Washington ever imagined.
35. Beowulf (2007)
This is the narrative of the last hero, set against the advent of Christianity: in 507, a gigantic troll wreaks havoc in the mead hall of Danish King Hrothgar (Sir Anthony Hopkins). He offers prizes for the assassination of Grendel (Crispin Glover), prompting the arrival of Beowulf (Ray Winstone), a renowned and arrogant Geat warrior, and his thanes.
Beowulf discards his armor and prepares to face the monster. A violent fight ensues, culminating in Beowolf’s entrance into Grendel’s Mother’s (Angelina Jolie) underwater cave, where a devil’s deal awaits. Beowulf returns to Herot and ascends to the throne. Many years later, Beowulf and his realm are visited by the father’s misdeeds. The hero must confront his weakness and reclaim his heroic nature. Is the age of demons drawing to a close?