Authentic And Flawless Medieval Movies To Put On Your Watch List
After the fall of the Roman state came Medieval times. The Middle or Dark Ages spanned nearly 1,000 years, filled with knights, nobles, and peasants.
Disputes were settled with sword-fighting and jousting in traditional armor and chainmail. While people can’t imagine living in such a time, Hollywood has brought it to the silver screen with some authentic and nearly flawless portrayals of medieval times!
Director of Beowulf, Robert Zemeckis, effectively combines CGI graphics, animation, and motion capture with his depiction of the Medieval period.
Ray Winstone’s (Beowulf) costume perfectly represents traditional warriors’ armor. Animation and make-up realistically enhance the battle scenes. Fire-breathing dragons and other monsters come to life in the film and look as life-like as possible.
Director Ridley Scott’s version of Robin Hood breaks away from the tradition of its predecessors in favor of realistic sets, costumes, and scenery.
Filming took place in actual castles and towers that were restored and altered for the movie. A battering ram was made for the film and later donated to charity by Russell Crowe.
Roman Polanski personally made sure of the authenticity of his 1971 classic Medieval film Macbeth. Polanski used various locations in the British Isles, selecting and using the props and horses before any of the actors.
Filming took place in actual castles and churches. Actors complained about having to endure poor weather conditions.
Troy is a historically accurate film about the Trojan War. The city of the same name as the title was built on the Mediterranean island of Malta over two months.
The city’s outer walls were constructed from scratch. Troy was also nominated for Best Costume Design at the 77th Academy Awards.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
What immediately points to what King Arthur: Legend of the Sword getting it right about Medieval times is the landscape it was filmed on.
It was filmed in Windsor Great Park, a Royal Park, which is 2,020 hectares and includes a bonafide deer park. The movie is shot across several locations like North Wales and the Scottish Highlands.
300, directed and co-written by Zack Snyder, is set in 479 B.C. The movie is Snyder’s depiction of the Battle of Thermopylae which Russell Crowe’s character, Leonidas, the King of Sparta, leads an army of 300 soldiers.
A Blue Screen gave the film its genuine Medieval background and was manipulated to vary the moods.
Conan the Barbarian
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in Conan the Barbarian. The 1982 film allocated $3 million to build nearly 50 sets.
Approximately 200 Construction workers and artists from all over Europe were recruited for filming. Schwarzenegger and other actors did most of their stunts. The weapons were made lightweight to replicate the Medieval-style combat scenes easier.
The Princess Bride
Although The Princess Bride is a fantasy-comedy film, the Library of Congress chose it for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry for its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance.
The main actors learned fencing with either hand to best prepare for the sword-fighting scenes giving them the authenticity of actual Medieval duels.
Channing Tatum stars in The Eagle, a film set in 140 A.D. It focuses on the Roman occupation of Britain, and Tatum is a soldier named Marcus who is determined to restore his father’s damaged reputation.
Characters were historically authentic with the Gaelic accents and portrayals of local tribespeople. Sword-fighting and battle scenes are genuine, with little to no CGI assistance.
Look no further than the five Oscars the movie Gladiator won to verify its genuine Medieval depiction.
It received an Academy Award for Best Picture, Costume Design, Sound, and Visual Effects. Russell Crowe’s portrayal of General Maximus Decimus Meridius earned him the Oscar for Best Actor. The movie is credited with revamping the Medieval genre and influencing future historical pieces.
Lord of the Rings Triology
The Lord of the Rings was adapted from a novel and is visually translated accurately on screen. It is set in the fictional Middle-earth.
Every one of the three films in the franchise won Academy Awards for Visual Effects, and the last of them, The Return of the King, earned an incredible 11 categories, including Best Picture, Makeup, Visual Effects, Costume Design, and Art Direction.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was filmed in a modern-day medieval city. Director Kevin Reynolds uses an entire second team to film the walls and towers of Cite de Carcassonne in France.
Restored castles in France and Britain were featured to represent the city of Nottingham, and “Sherwood Forest” was filmed in various locations in England.
While the premise of the movie Highlander is a fantasy war between immortal warriors, the sword-fighting scenes and 16th Century setting of the Scottish Highlands eerily resemble Medieval themes.
Scotland’s Eilean Donan Castle and its trademark bridge were among the authentic buildings and locations featured in the production. French-American actor Christopher Lambert is Connor Macleod, the main character. Lambert worked several hours daily with a dialect coach for his Medieval accent.
As far as realistic portrayals of Medieval times in movies go, the storyline of Elizabeth is as good as it gets. The film centers around the life and times of Elizabeth I and is set in 1558.
It captured the Best Makeup award at the 71st Academy Awards, and actress Cate Blanchett was nominated for Best Actress for her role as Queen Elizabeth.
Willow and any movie involving filmmaker George Lucas and his company Lucasfilms is bound to leave no stone unturned for visual and special effects.
The film won an award for Best Costume Design and narrowly missed out on winning an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects to Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Valhalla Rising is set during the twelfth century chronicling the lives of Norse warriors and Christian Crusaders. It is filmed entirely in Scotland, and like many other Medieval movies, it features the Scottish Highlands as its backdrop.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn uses a blend of Viking and Norwegian history, which is most evident in the movie’s action scenes.
Set in AD 895 on a fictional island, The Northman is the most recent adaptation of Medieval times.
It effectively incorporates Viking history and mythology, narrowly missing out on awards for Outstanding Locations in a Period Film, Best Costume Design, and Cinematography. Some filming took place in Iceland using a glacier on set.
In the movie El Cid, a tremendous amount of detail went into the medieval-style costume design by director Anthony Mann. With a staff of 400 seamstresses for wardrobe, Mann dedicated $500,000 to a local company to produce clothes resembling the Middle Ages.
The film features 3,000 war helmets, 7,000 swords, 40,000 arrows, 5,780 shields, 1,253 medieval harnesses, 800 maces and daggers, and 650 chain mail suits for armor.
The Last Duel
Set in medieval France during the Hundred Years War, The Last Duel uses combat scenes behind the premise of honor to show its authenticity. Scenes were filmed in modern French communes and castles like Cahir Castle.
Kings, knights, squires, and nobility are involved in a dispute that is settled in a medieval-style jousting duel.
A Knight’s Tale
A Knight’s Tale focuses on a jousting tournament, so special attention was paid to the construction of weapons and costume design.
Jousts were designed to explode on contact, ensuring the actors riding the horses’ safety and giving the film a genuine medieval appearance. The knights’ suits were fashioned with lightweight steel for the armor to better facilitate movement on horseback for the fight scenes.
The King chronicles the rise of Henry V and the succession of his father. Director David Michod bases the film’s premise on several works by William Shakespeare.
Sharpened wooden stakes that the English used as a defense to line the shores of the wars and realistic recreations of actual battles like the Battle of Agincourt and the Siege of Harfleur are incorporated into the movie.
Richard III is a 1955 screen adaptation based on the Shakespeare play of the same name. The film incorporates most of its dialogue directly from the play into the script, written, directed, and starring Laurence Olivier.
A convincing replication of battles like the Battle of Bosworth Field and Olivier suffering an arrow wound during filming adds to the movie’s medieval setting.
Kingdom of Heaven
Director Ridley Scott hit the bullseye if the medieval style of his Kingdom of Heaven movie was the intended target. The historical drama was set after the Second Crusade.
Scott emphasized cinematography and set design in the production of the film. Combat scenes were painstakingly replicated to mirror 12th-century battles.
John Boorman directed and co-wrote Excalibur, which many have designated a medieval fantasy film. Its plot takes aim at the 15th century and, specifically, the historical folklore surrounding King Arthur.
Boorman’s recreation of Arthur amid the turmoil of the Dark Ages received critical acclaim, including winning the award for Best Artistic Contribution at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival.
Many cinema pundits have Braveheart as one of the greatest movies of all time because of its brilliant portrayal of medieval times.
Director and star of the film, Mel Gibson, focus the storyline on a verified Scottish knight named Sir William Wallace. Specifically, it tells the tale of Wallace leading the Scottish in their quest for independence from England in the late 13th century.
Henry V is director Kenneth Branagh’s modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s original play. Branagh’s version of this tale differs from the others because it accentuates the Battle of Agincourt by setting it in rainy and muddy conditions.
Branagh’s costume designer, Phyllis Dalton, won an Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work in the production of the film.
The 1948 version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet was directed by and starred Laurence Olivier. Olivier’s adaptation won an Academy Award for Best Picture and was the first sound version produced in English.
Olivier won the Oscar for Best Actor, and his film won the Academy Award for Art Direction, Set Direction, and Costume Design due to the movie’s authenticity.
Monty Python & the Holy Grail
While it is rare to review a satirical comedy for its authenticity, Monty Python & the Holy Grail deserves recognition. The comedy group playfully delivers the story of King Arthur in AD 932.
The movie was filmed in modern-day Doune Castle and Castle Stalker. Live white rabbits were used in the film’s combat scene with the Rabbit of Caerbannog and puppets of them in killing scenes.
The Seventh Seal
Ingmar Bergman directs The Seventh Seal, set in Sweden during the Black Death. The classic medieval tale personifies Death, who engages a knight in a game of chess.
The historical fantasy film features stories from the Book of Revelation as the inspiration for its medieval adaptation. Revelation’s passage is where the movie’s title is derived from.
Claire McCarthy directs Ophelia, a 2018 film version of Shakespeare’s character from the play Hamlet. McCarthy chronicles Hamlet from the rare perspective of Ophelia.
McCarthy’s use of modern-day English as a replacement for the language used in previous versions of the play is hidden by the realistic portrayal of Ophelia’s viewpoint of events.