Top 10 Accurate Movies Set In Medieval Times

Top 10 Accurate Movies Set In Medieval Times

The medieval period, spanning from the 5th to the 15th century, was a vibrant era filled with knights, castles, feudal systems, and significant societal changes. It has served as a profound inspiration for many filmmakers. Some movies about medieval times succeed in creating a historically accurate portrayal of the period, while others take liberties for the sake of storylines and aesthetics. This article lists the top 10 good medieval movies that strike a balance between historical accuracy and engaging storytelling. These medieval times movies transport us back in time, offering a glimpse into a bygone era.

1. “The Name of the Rose” (1986)

This adaptation of Umberto Eco’s novel is one of the most striking movies set in medieval times. Sean Connery stars as William of Baskerville, a 14th-century Franciscan friar investigating mysterious deaths in a Benedictine abbey. The film captures the period’s religious tensions and intellectual debates, combined with detailed set designs and costumes, making it a must-see for history and mystery lovers alike.

2. “A Knight’s Tale” (2001)

Though “A Knight’s Tale” is noted for its anachronistic use of rock music, it deserves a place on this list for its accurate portrayal of the social dynamics of medieval tournaments. The film highlights the divide between the nobility and the common folk. It’s an entertaining blend of jousting, romance, and friendship, where viewers can appreciate a nuanced depiction of social mobility in medieval society.

3. “The Seventh Seal” (1957)

This classic medieval time movie by Ingmar Bergman is a compelling portrayal of the Dark Ages. Set during the Black Death, it features a knight playing a game of chess with Death personified. The film is rich with historical and religious symbolism and gives viewers a haunting, existential perspective on the middle ages.

4. “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928)

A silent film that relies heavily on facial expressions, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is a masterful and accurate representation of one of the most famous figures of the medieval era – Joan of Arc. The film focuses on her trial and execution, highlighting the political and religious complexities of the time. Despite its age, this movie remains one of medieval history’s most potent cinematic treatments.

5. “Henry V” (1989)

Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Henry V” is a masterpiece. It presents the Battle of Agincourt in all its grim reality, contrasting starkly with more romanticized portrayals of chivalric warfare. The film accurately shows the realities of war during medieval times, making it an essential viewing for anyone interested in this era.

6. “The Lion in Winter” (1968)

“The Lion in Winter” provides an excellent insight into the intricate world of medieval politics. It showcases the power struggles within the family of King Henry II of England and his estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. With a remarkable script and stellar performances by Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn, the film gives a historically accurate depiction of the tensions and games of power in the 12th-century English court.

7. “The War Lord” (1965)

This medieval times movie starring Charlton Heston delves into the life of a Norman knight who falls in love with a village girl in 11th-century Normandy. The film excellently portrays medieval Europe’s feudal system and social hierarchies.

8. “Ironclad” (2011)

“Ironclad” is a gripping retelling of the Siege of Rochester Castle during the First Barons’ War in the early 13th century. Despite some historical liberties, the film accurately depicts medieval warfare’s brutality and the castle defense strategies of the time.

9. “Braveheart” (1995)

Despite some historical inaccuracies, Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” deserves a spot on this list for its epic scale and depiction of the Scottish resistance against English rule. It provides an unforgettable cinematic experience, offering insights into the life of one of Scotland’s most legendary figures, William Wallace.

10. “Kingdom of Heaven” (2005)

Ridley Scott’s epic captures the drama and complexity of the Crusades, a key event in the medieval era. The Director’s Cut, in particular, adds depth to its characters and the moral issues of the time. Despite some historical inaccuracies, the film offers a largely realistic portrayal of the period’s warfare and political intrigue.

Best Medieval War Movies

The medieval era was a time of knights, castles, and seemingly endless warfare. For filmmakers, it’s an era ripe for dramatic, action-packed storytelling. Let’s dive into three more outstanding war films set in this tumultuous era, different from those previously mentioned.

“Arn: The Knight Templar” (2007)

Set in the 12th century, “Arn: The Knight Templar” is a Swedish epic that follows the life of Arn Magnusson, who is forced to become a Knight Templar in the Holy Land. The movie does an excellent job of bringing to life the reality of being a soldier in one of history’s most significant religious conflicts – The Crusades.

“The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” (1999)

This visually stunning and dramatic film offers a different take on the Joan of Arc legend. Directed by Luc Besson, “The Messenger” provides a unique psychological study of Joan, showcasing her spiritual visions and unwavering belief that led her to wage war against the English.

“Outlaw King” (2018)

Chris Pine stars in this underappreciated Netflix film as Robert the Bruce, the nobleman who became a national hero and the King of Scots. “Outlaw King,” tells the story of his guerilla war against the larger and better-equipped English army. It’s a gritty, brutal film showing medieval warfare’s harsh realities.

These films transport the audience back to a time of honor and violence, highlighting the human stories at the heart of history’s most significant conflicts. Whether a history enthusiast or a lover of epic battles and compelling stories, these films offer something for everyone. They not only provide an authentic taste of medieval warfare but also serve as reminders of the resilience and determination of the human spirit amidst the harshest of times.

Best Medieval Fantasy Movies

The genre of fantasy has often borrowed heavily from medieval imagery and themes, creating mesmerizing tales filled with magic, mythical creatures, and epic battles. Let’s journey into some enchanting realms with three outstanding medieval fantasy movies.

“The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy (2001-2003)

One can hardly discuss medieval fantasy films without mentioning Peter Jackson’s monumental “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Based on the novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, these films create a fully-realized world of Middle-earth, complete with its languages, races, and history. The trilogy excellently fuses medieval aesthetics with a high-fantasy narrative, creating an epic tale of courage, fellowship, and the struggle against evil.

“The Princess Bride” (1987)

A cult classic, “The Princess Bride” is a delightful mix of romance, adventure, comedy, and fantasy. Set in a pseudo-medieval fairytale world, the film tells the tale of a farmhand, Westley, on a quest to rescue his true love, Princess Buttercup. The film’s clever dialogue, memorable characters, and charming story make it a timeless piece of medieval fantasy cinema.

“Excalibur” (1981)

“Excalibur” is a rich and dark cinematic retelling of the Arthurian legend. Directed by John Boorman, the film is an imaginative exploration of the mythic King Arthur, his knights, the wizard Merlin, and the iconic magical sword, Excalibur. With its visually impressive cinematography, the film blends the medieval and the mystical to perfection.

In their unique ways, these three films capture the magic and allure of the medieval fantasy genre. They provide audiences an escape into worlds where knights, magic, dragons, and noble quests are commonplace. Each film, in its fantastical narrative and medieval settings, transports viewers to different realms, all while offering tales of heroism, love, and the eternal struggle between good and evil. These films are a must-watch if you’re a fan of medieval settings and fantasy tales.

Would Game of Thrones Be Considered Medieval?

“Game of Thrones,” based on the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, is a phenomenon that has profoundly influenced modern pop culture. The series’ aesthetics, narrative themes, and societal structures certainly echo aspects of the medieval period, leading many viewers to categorize it as ‘medieval.’ However, it’s worth considering this classification more deeply.

While “Game of Thrones” draws inspiration from historical events and societies, particularly from the medieval era, it is a work of high fantasy. It takes place in a fictional world and includes elements such as dragons, magic, and mystical creatures that are not part of historical periods. The societies of Westeros and Essos exhibit a wide range of technological, cultural, and political characteristics, some of which are reminiscent of ancient, medieval, and even Renaissance societies.

Yet, the series does reflect specific medieval aspects quite accurately. It depicts feudal structures, knighthood, hand-to-hand combat, and the significance of heraldry and family crests, which were all typical of the medieval period. The intrigue, alliances, and betrayals seen in the court of King’s Landing share similarities with the complex politics of medieval European courts.

Moreover, George R.R. Martin has acknowledged the influence of historical events such as the War of the Roses, a series of English civil wars during the 15th century, on his storytelling. This historical event has many parallels in the series, including the central conflict between the rival houses of Stark and Lannister.

Ultimately, even though “Game of Thrones” does not provide a historically accurate depiction of the medieval period, it incorporates elements reminiscent. Its use of a fantasy setting allows it to explore medieval themes and concepts in a heightened and exaggerated manner. Therefore, while it might not strictly be ‘medieval,’ “Game of Thrones” can indeed be seen as a fantastical interpretation of the medieval era.

Is Harry Potter a Medieval Series?

When considering the “Harry Potter” series, penned by J.K. Rowling, one might be tempted to connect it to the medieval era due to its prominent use of castles, mythical creatures, and magical practices. Still, categorizing “Harry Potter” as a medieval series would not accurately reflect its setting, themes, or influences.

The “Harry Potter” series, in essence, is a contemporary fantasy set in the late 20th and early 21st century. It incorporates modern elements, including current British schools and lifestyles and its magical world. The series notably integrates these supernatural elements into the contemporary world, creating a unique blend of the ordinary and the extraordinary.

While Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with its castle setting and the magical creatures and spells, may evoke a sense of the medieval, these elements are more in line with the conventions of the fantasy genre rather than specific references to the medieval period. The medieval-like elements serve to highlight the timeless and enchanting qualities of the magical world, contrasting sharply with the modern Muggle (non-magical) world.

Furthermore, the societal structures and themes explored in the series, such as prejudice, the abuse of power, and the value of friendship and courage, are universal rather than specifically medieval. The political system within the magical world, with a Minister of Magic and various departments and workers, seems more akin to modern-day bureaucracy than to a feudal system.

Therefore, while “Harry Potter” does include certain elements that may remind readers of the medieval—such as castles, mythical beasts, and a focus on magical learning—it is not, strictly speaking, a medieval series. Its blending of the modern world with a hidden magical one is part of what gives the series its unique appeal and timeless quality.

Final Thoughts on Movies About Medieval Times

These medieval time movies offer a captivating blend of accuracy, adventure, drama, and insight. They not only entertain but also inform viewers about the medieval period’s societal dynamics, political struggles, religious debates, and warfare techniques. From intense battles to courtly intrigues and the simple efforts of the common folk, these good medieval movies bring the fascinating medieval era to life. Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of grand tales, or just an avid movie fan, these films promise to take you on an unforgettable journey to the past.