10 Medieval Movies – A Journey Through Time and Cinematic Excellence
Medieval movies have long been a popular genre for filmmakers and audiences alike. Transporting viewers back to a time of knights, kings, and epic battles, these films offer a unique blend of action, drama, and historical significance.
This article will explore the best medieval movies in detail, discussing their memorable stories, outstanding performances, and the reasons they have left such a lasting impression on audiences worldwide. So, without further ado, let us embark on a journey through time and cinematic excellence.
1. Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, released in 2005, is often cited as one of the best medieval movies of all time. The film, set during the Crusades in the 12th century, follows the story of Balian (played by Orlando Bloom), a blacksmith who discovers he is the illegitimate son of a powerful baron (played by Liam Neeson). Balian embarks on a journey to Jerusalem, where he joins the Crusader forces defending the city against the Muslim armies.
The director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven is widely considered superior to the original theatrical release, featuring additional scenes and character development that enhance the overall experience. The movie boasts impressive battle sequences and an all-star cast, including Edward Norton, Brendan Gleeson, and Ghassan Massoud.
2. Braveheart (1995)
Mel Gibson’s 1995 epic Braveheart is another standout in the genre of medieval movies. The film tells the story of Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace (played by Gibson), who leads a rebellion against English tyranny in the 13th century. Braveheart was a critical and commercial success, winning four Oscars, including Best Picture.
The film’s thrilling battle sequences and sweeping storytelling have solidified its place as a classic in the world of medieval movies. In addition to Gibson’s powerful performance as the titular character, the movie also features memorable roles from actors such as Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, and Brendan Gleeson.
3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The 1975 comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a unique entry on this list, as it takes a humorous approach to the medieval period. The film, which follows the legendary King Arthur and his knights on their quest for the Holy Grail, is known for its iconic British humor and parodies of various aspects of medieval life.
The Monty Python comedy troupe, consisting of John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam, each play multiple roles in the film, with Cleese’s portrayal of the Black Knight and Lancelot being particularly memorable.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail remains a beloved and influential comedy classic, showcasing the troupe’s unique ability to make even the most serious of subjects entertaining.
4. Vikings (2013-2020)
While technically a television series rather than a movie, Vikings (2013-2020) is a must-watch for fans of medieval movies. This History Channel series follows the legendary Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok (played by Travis Fimmel) and his adventures as he rises from a simple farmer to the King of Denmark.
Vikings showcases a rich tapestry of characters and storylines that delve deep into Norse culture and history. The series features a talented ensemble cast, including Katheryn Winnick as the fierce shieldmaiden Lagertha and George Blagden as the conflicted English monk Athelstan.
With its gripping drama, stunning visuals, and intricate world-building, Vikings stands as an exceptional contribution to the genre of medieval movies.
5. The Last Kingdom (2015-2020)
Another television series that will appeal to fans of medieval movies is The Last Kingdom (2015-2020), a Netflix original based on Bernard Cornwell’s book series, The Saxon Stories. The show follows Uhtred of Bebbanburg (played by Alexander Dreymon), a Saxon nobleman who is captured and raised by the invading Danes.
The Last Kingdom masterfully blends political intrigue, passionate characters, and thrilling battle sequences to create a captivating viewing experience. The series explores complex themes such as identity, loyalty, and the struggle for power, all set against a backdrop of historical events and figures.
With its compelling narrative and strong performances, The Last Kingdom is a must-watch for fans of medieval movies.
6. A Knight’s Tale (2001)
A Knight’s Tale (2001), directed by Brian Helgeland, is a unique and entertaining entry in the world of medieval movies. The film stars the late Heath Ledger as William Thatcher, a young squire who dreams of becoming a knight and competes in jousting tournaments under a false identity.
With its blend of modern humor, rock music, and classic storytelling, A Knight’s Tale offers a fresh take on the medieval genre. The movie features a talented supporting cast, including Mark Addy, Alan Tudyk, and Paul Bettany, who bring charm and humor to the story. A Knight’s Tale is a fun and engaging medieval movie that is well worth a watch.
7. The Hollow Crown (2012-2016)
The Hollow Crown (2012-2016) is a BBC anthology series that adapts several of William Shakespeare’s historical plays, spanning from Richard II to Richard III. This ambitious project brings together some of the best actors in modern cinema, including Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Tom Sturridge, and Benedict Cumberbatch, to portray the various kings and nobles of English history.
With its masterful performances and captivating storytelling, The Hollow Crown offers a unique and engaging take on medieval movies. The series showcases the political intrigue, power struggles, and human drama that defined the lives of these historical figures, all presented through the timeless and eloquent language of Shakespeare.
8. Valhalla Rising (2009)
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), Valhalla Rising (2009) is a visually stunning and thought-provoking entry in the realm of medieval movies. The film stars Mads Mikkelsen as One-Eye, a mute Norse slave who escapes his captors and embarks on a perilous journey with a young boy.
Valhalla Rising is a slow-burning, atmospheric film that explores themes of identity, survival, and the nature of violence. Refn’s unique directorial style and Mikkelsen’s intense performance create a haunting and unforgettable cinematic experience, making Valhalla Rising a must-see for fans of medieval movies and art-house cinema alike.
9. The Name of the Rose (1986)
The Name of the Rose (1986), based on the novel by Umberto Eco, is a captivating medieval murder mystery starring Sean Connery as William of Baskerville, a Franciscan friar with a keen intellect. William is tasked with investigating a series of mysterious deaths at a remote Italian abbey, only to find his efforts hindered by the fanatical tactics of the Inquisition.
Connery’s commanding performance, supported by a strong cast that includes F. Murray Abraham and Ron Perlman, elevates this gripping tale of intrigue and suspense. The Name of the Rose stands out as a unique and engaging entry in the world of medieval movies.
10. Vikings: Valhalla (2022-)
The most recent addition to our list of top medieval movies is actually another television series, Vikings: Valhalla (2022-), a Netflix original that serves as a sequel to the popular Vikings series. Vikings: Valhalla is set 100 years after the events of its predecessor and follows the stories of legendary Norse figures such as Harald Sigurdsson, Leif Erikson, and Freydis Eirsdottir.
With its high-stakes drama, impressive production values, and thrilling battle sequences, Vikings: Valhalla is quickly becoming a must-watch for fans of medieval movies and television.
The Greatest Medieval Movies You Have Yet to See
In conclusion, these ten exceptional medieval movies and television series offer viewers a captivating glimpse into the past, showcasing the struggles, triumphs, and complexities of life during these tumultuous times.
With their unforgettable stories, compelling characters, and outstanding performances, these films and series are sure to leave a lasting impression on audiences for years to come.