Medieval Movies

Seeing as I have a website all about medieval things you probably can imagine that I am a big fan of medieval movies. You would be right. Here are a whole bunch of great medieval movies along with my reviews and thoughts about them.

When we say "medival" we are being rather vague. That word does cover a whole lot of territory. For the most part I am going to stick to movies with knights and castles. And well.... maybe the occasional dragon.

My goal here is to give you a nice selection of some of the best movies that are set in the medieval period. They range from close to historically accurate to outright fantasy.

 

The best Medieval Classics

Excalibur

I started out this page of movie reviews with this movie for a reason.

This movie is simply a masterpiece and without a doubt the best re-telling of the King Arthur saga. If you have never seen this movie and are a fan of medieval movies then you are in for a real treat. There is something special about this movie. At points it almost touches into a dreamlike place. Difficult to describe. This is a very powerful movie. It is based largely on Sir John Malory's 1485 work "Le Morte D'Arthur". There are astonishingly good things in this movie including combat scenes, the lady in the lake and of course the sword in the stone. If you watch one medieval movie please make it this one!

 

The Name of the Rose

This is a brilliant movie set in 1327 and it is based on the Umberto Eco novel by the same name. It stars Sean Connery and a then teenage Christian Slater. It is at heart a murder mystery that takes place in the Middle Ages. And the whole thing is pitch perfect, giving us a real sense of the middle ages and the influence that the church had during those times. Wonderful movie. Umberto Eco is simply a brilliant writer and this movie does his writing some justice.

 

The Seventh Seal (The Criterion Collection)

This is one of those movies that pretty much transcends everything. It starts out with Max von Sydow playing vs death in a game of chess. It takes place during the crusades and the Plague. There are things in this film that will affect you. It is one of the best movies ever made. It was released in 1957 and still relevant. All about man's search for meaning.

 

I would be remiss If I didn't include Braveheart as one of the best medieval movies ever made. It is but it technically isn't a classic yet. Give it a few more years :)

 

Braveheart - Director/star Mel Gibson took home Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards for this historical epic about 13th-century Scottish hero William Wallace, a farmer forced into fighting the forces of England's King Edward I after they kill his father and new wife. Highlighted by amazing battle scenes, the passionate saga also stars Patrick McGoohan, Sophie Marceau, and Catherine McCormack. Note from Will: A lot of this movie was filmed in an Ireland Castle Called Trim Castle. I visited that castle and took a lot of pics and even video. Check that out here: The Braveheart Castle (Trim Castle)

 

The Princess Bride (20th Anniversary Edition)

From celebrated director Rob Reiner ( When Harry Met Sally ) and Oscar-winning* screenwriter William Goldman ( Chaplin ) comes "an enchanting fantasy" (Time) filled with adventure, romance and plenty of "good-hearted fun" (Roger Ebert)! Featuring a spectacular cast that includes Robin Wright ( Forrest Gump ), Cary Elwes ( Liar, Liar ), Mandy Patinkin ( Dick Tracy ) and Billy Crystal ( City Slickers ), this wonderful fairy tale about a Princess named Buttercup and her beloved is "a real dream of a movie" (People)!

 

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring / The Two Towers / The Return of the King Extended Editions) [Blu-ray]

I don't even have to say anything about this!

 

 

 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

 

 

 

 

 

Willow (Blu-ray / DVD Combo)

an excellent and very entertaining medieval fantasy film, well worth watching

Journey to the far corners of your imagination with Willow, for the first time ever on Blu-ray! Now fully digitally restored, this release features a dazzling array of extras, including new, never-before-seen exclusive content. From legendary filmmakers George Lucas and Ron Howard comes a timeless fantasy tale in which heroes comes in all sizes...and adventure is the greatest magic of all. When young Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) finds an abandoned baby girl, he learns she is destined to end the reign of the wicked Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh). In order to protect the child, Willow must team up with a rogue swordsman (Val Kilmer) and overcome the forces of darkness in the ultimate battle of good versus evil!

Stardust

A great film, more fantasy than medieval, but still a really enjoyable film.

Escape into the enchanted world of chivalry and romance in Stardust, an epic tale starring Claire Danes with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro.

 

 

Arthurian Movies

 

Merlin, is outstanding and one of my favorite King Arthur retellings.

 

King Arthur

Really Good action movie that takes the perspective that Arthur was a half British and half Roman Warlord ( Lucius Artorius Castus or Arthur). Might be correct.

 

 

 

First Knight

This isn't a definitive re-telling of the Arthurian legend. It varies a lot of the Malory story. But it is a great movie set in the time period and focuses a lot on the love triangle between Sean Connery (Arthur) Lancelot (Richard Gere) and Julia Ormond (Guinevere). Well done movie and grand in scope with some great battle scenes.

 

 

The Mists of Avalon

This is an adaptation of the Marion Zimmer Bradley book by the same name. It covers the Arthurian legend from the perspective of the women.

 

 

 

Other Medieval Period Movies

 

Dragonslayer: When Dragons Were Real

Back in the days when everyone believed in magic, a horrifying fire-breathing dragon terrorized the sixth-century British countryside. The only hope for the beleaguered citizens is an aging sorcerer (Sir Ralph Richardson). But when he is killed before he can save the people, the task falls on his young apprentice, Galen (Peter MacNicol). Galen's mission is complicated by resistance from the king - and by falling in love - but his biggest challenge comes when he is suddenly face to face with the dreaded monster. Is his magic enough to save him?

 

Flesh & Blood

Director Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Total Recall) brings no-holds-barred action and sensuality to the Middle Ages. A band of mercenaries led by Martin (Rutger Hauer) triumph in battle for their leader Arnolfini. When Martin is betrayed by the tryrant Arnolfini, he seeks revenge! Martin's mercenaries abduct Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a convent girl and the bride-to-be of Arnolfini's son Steven (Tom Burlinson). She in turn manipulates Martin to protect her from his men. But is she feigning devotion in order to survive or has she fallen in love? Scripted by Gerard Soeteman and Paul Verhoeven this is a passionate tale of survival in a pitiless world.

 

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc

This is the story of Joan of Arc and it takes place in 15th century France. Good movie and I really like Milla Jovovich who is in the starring role.

 

 

 

Dragonheart - Collector's Edition

This is a fantasy set in the middle ages. That makes it a little bit of a deviation from most of the other movies in this list. But I love this movie. And Sean Connery is the perfect voice for the dragon. Lot of fun this movie is.

 

 

 

Robin Hood (Unrated)

I couldn't do this list without at least one movie about the legendary Robin Hood. This is a really good movie and Mark Addy has a great part in it as a beekeeper and mead maker. I do love mead and its great to see it get some attention. One of the people who worked on the publicity of this film had actually contacted me about mead making. Kind of cool. Not for anything to do with the making of the film but just for some stuff about doing publicity for the film.

 

Ironclad

This is not a big blockbuster movie. It is more of a medium budget movie but it is well done and stars Paul Giamatti who I really love since he did Sideways.

Its based on the siege of the castle at Rochester which was an event that really happened. This was a great event in the medieval period because it was after King John had signed the Magna Carta then renegged on it. If you want to watch something that is medieval yet not very glamorous hollywood this is a great choice. Enjoyable movie.

 

Kingdom of heaven

Kingdom Of Heaven

An Epic Film about the Crusades which was a very prolonged and important period of time in the Middle ages. Pretty good movie. I would be remiss if I didn't include a movie that covers the crusades!

 

 

More Medieval Movies:

  • Ladyhawke - In medieval times, a youthful pickpocket befriends a strange knight who is on a mysterious quest.
  • Black Death - In the time of the black plague, a grizzled band of soldiers armed with torture devices roam the English countryside on a mission to stamp out witchcraft and paganism in the name of the church. - I was really surprised by how good this movie is. Really enjoyed it. Not a big budget movie but well done.
  • Henry V - He ruled a massive empire...and fought a mighty war! Kenneth Branagh, Paul Scofield, Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson and Judi Dench star in this heroic, action-packed epic based on the timeless play by William Shakespeare. "Magnificent, passionate and steeped in powerful emotion" (The Washington Post), Henry V is a "stunning," (Leonard Maltin) OscarÂ(r)-nominated* adventure that takes its place amongst the greatest war films of all time.Having recently been crowned King of England, Henry (Branagh) commands a massive invasion to assert what he believes is his legal right to the throne of France. But a mighty army stands in his wayÂ...and the young monarch must rely on untested reserves of courage and cunning as he personally leads his outnumbered forces into a desperate battle for the honor and glory of the British Empire
  • George and the Dragon a fun, humorous, and entertaining film that moves along quickly and incorporates a good deal of the legend of Saint George and the dragon with a great twist ending. And it has some great music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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