Historical movies

The 10 Best Historical Movies Ever Made

Winston Churchill said: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” By studying historical events, one can learn more about humanity and have a deeper understanding of current events. A great way to fully immerse yourself in another time period and another perspective is to watch historical movies.

Films steeped in a rich history engage their audience and educate them about the clothing, language, setting, sounds, and tone of the time period in question. They can help viewers understand the inner life of a well-known character or tell an untold story that the history books might have missed. Historical films are unique in that they allow you to imagine what it would be like to live in another time and place. As a bonus, you don’t have to feel guilty about spending too much time in front of the TV, because you actually learn something.

Here are the 10 best historical movies of all time, which you can dive into when you feel like traveling back in time or just learning something new about who we are and where we came from.

Apollo 13

This historic film tells the story of the 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission. It was America’s fifth crewed mission to the Moon and was to be the third to land. When an onboard explosion occurs and limits the crew’s oxygen and power, the mission’s objectives quickly shift from scientific to survival for astronauts Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) and Fred Haise (Bill Paxton). The Ron Howard-directed film also stars Ed Harris as Gene Kranz and Gary Sinise as Ken Mattingly Hamilton. It won Academy Awards for Best Sound and Best Editing and is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane is widely regarded as one of the best films ever made. It centers on journalist Jerry Thompson, who is on a mission to find out what wealthy and ostentatious newspaper publisher and businessman Charles Foster Kane’s last word means, “rosebud.” Through a series of interviews conducted by Thompson, we learn about Kane’s rise to power and financial success. Kane is a fictional character, but is believed to be based on real-life publisher and businessman William Randolph Hearst Sr. Similarities between Kane and Hearst include their attempts to help secure the women in their lives in the showbusiness.

Kane tries to make his second wife, Susan Alexander, an opera star while Hearst tries to make his mistress, Marion Davies, a dramatic actress. Orson Welles not only stars as Charles Foster Kane, but also directed, produced and co-wrote the screenplay. In 1989, the Library of Congress chose Citizen Kane be part of the first group of films in the new National Film Registry, which was created to preserve “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” films. It is available to stream on HBO Max.

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12 years of slavery

2013 Steve McQueen movie 12 years of slavery is based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir of the same name. It tells the horrifying and heartbreaking true story of when Northup’s life as a free African-American man was stolen from him when he was kidnapped and sold as a slave. For 12 years, Northup lived as a slave named Platt in the South. The film is difficult but important to watch. It won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup in this landmark film, which can be streamed on HBO Max.

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Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima

These two historical films directed by Clint Eastwood tell the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. Flags of Our Fathers tells the story from the perspective of American soldiers while Letters from Iwo Jima says so from the side of the Japanese soldier. Audiences will recognize Ryan Phillippe as John “Doc” Bradley in Flag of our fathers. In Letters from Iwo Jima, Ken Watanabe plays General Kuribayashi. You can stream Flag of our fathers by renting it on Apple TV or Amazon. Letters from Iwo Jima is currently streaming for free on the Roku Channel.

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The Queen

Helen Mirren plays Queen Elizabeth II in this historical drama from 2006. It tells the more contemporary story of the period following the death of Princess Diana in 1997. Due in part to Diana’s strained relationship and status in the within the royal family, they wished to mourn his death in private. The British public as well as Prime Minister Tony Blair (played by Michael Sheen) disagreed with these wishes, wanting to share their grief. Mirren won the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal. The Queen can currently be streamed on HBO Max.

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Malcolm X

Spike Lee’s biopic tells the story of Nation of Islam leader and human rights and civil rights activist Malcolm X. Denzel Washington stars in this epic film, which follows Malcolm from his childhood in rural Michigan when he was called Malcolm Little until his death by assassination in Harlem, New York. It is based on Alex Haley’s 1965 book The Autobiography of Malcolm X and was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry in 2010. It can currently be streamed on HBO Max.

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This historical film directed by Sam Mendes is inspired by the stories his grandfather, writer Alfred Mendes, told Sam about his service in World War I. With communications broken, British soldiers Will Schofield (George MacKay) and Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are given orders by General Erinmore (Colin Firth) to send a message to Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) to call off an attack. planned. The Germans only seem to be retreating but are actually setting a trap for the British army. Cinematographer Roger Deakins and editor Lee Smith create the film’s beautiful visual style designed to appear as two continuous planes. This film won 3 Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Mixing. It is available for purchase on Apple TV and will be available to rent on April 30, 2022.

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Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne and her early reign are the subjects of the 1998 film Elizabeth. When Catholic Queen Mary dies, her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth becomes Queen. Religious tensions between Protestants and Catholics in England and the nobleman’s desire to see Elizabeth marry create tension in his reign. Cate Blanchett plays the title role and Shekhar Kapur directs. Blanchett’s work as Queen Elizabeth was critically acclaimed and helped her gain wide international recognition. Elizabeth won the Best Makeup Oscar and is available to stream on Netflix.

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Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun is a coming-of-age story set during World War II. It follows young Briton Jamie “Jim” Graham as he grows from a wealthy and privileged kid in Shanghai to a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp. The film stars 13-year-old Christian Bale as Jim in his amazing breakout role. It really is a pleasure to watch. The screenplay was written by Tom Stoppard and directed by Steven Spielberg. Empire of the Sun is available to stream on HBO Max.

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Schindler’s list

Schindler’s list is another important but difficult historical film to watch. It has an all-star creative team including director Steven Speilberg, cinematographer Janusz Kamiński and composer John Williams. It tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who first moved to Poland to take advantage of cheap Jewish labor and get rich. Once there, he risks everything to save his Jewish workers from certain death in the concentration camps thanks to his munitions factory during the Holocaust. Liam Neeson stars as Oskar Schindler, Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern and Ralph Fiennes as Amon Göth. This historic Holocaust film won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography. It is available to rent on Amazon Prime and Apple TV.

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Learning something new is always worthwhile, and watching the historical movies on this list will help you do just that.

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