Medieval movies have been popular since the early days of Hollywood and still continue to attract attention. Although such films are very popular, many of them stretch the truth by giving up real medieval events in the name of cinematic show. Despite this, some movies are pretty finicky about reality. Movies set in the Middle Ages often feature jousting and sword-fighting knights, their ladies waiting for them, armies fighting each other, and fights for the throne. But there are some movies that tell the truth, or at least some of the truth, as it really is. Here are all the real medieval movies…
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1. The Passion of Jeanne d’Arc – The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) – IMDb: 8.2
The 1928 silent film The Passion of Jeanne d’Arc tells the story of the trial of the saint Jeanne d’Arc. The story of the movie is based on actual transcripts of his trial. Maria Falconetti plays the martyred saint with great conviction in her only major movie role. According to the story, director Carl Theodor Dreyer asked him to kneel on the stone for a long time and remain expressionless in the process so that his pain would be more evident. Silent film actors often wore copious amounts of makeup. However, Dreyer wanted his actors to be makeup-free, just like in real life. In addition, the film was shot on a stage made entirely of concrete and modeled on the architecture of the day.
2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail – Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – IMDb: 8.2
The classic comedy is about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as they search for the Holy Grail. Although the movie contains comedic elements, it reflects many things correctly. The Middle Ages was a time of rampant disease, filth, and staggering deaths. Among true medieval movies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail illustrate this in scenes where plague victims are driven through the streets and villagers roll in the dirt. The cow jumping over a castle wall is also factual; In some cases in the past, fecal matter, plague-infected bodies and animal cadavers were used as biological weapons. The film also reveals how primitive science was in the Middle Ages and how superstition influenced the masses.
3. Name of the Rose – The Name of the Rose (1986) – IMDb: 7.7
The Name of the Rose tells the story of a Franciscan monk named William of Baskerville (Sean Connery), who investigates a series of murders in a 14th-century Benedictine monastery. Based on the book by Umberto Eco, this grim film takes the viewer on a journey through one of Catholicism’s darkest ages. During this time, the Inquisition, an institution created by the Catholic Church to combat heresy and punish those who believed it had done so, was at its height, and monasteries hid books that did not conform to the doctrine of the day. The film accurately reflects this period, as the murders are based on a scriptorium (the workshop where manuscripts were produced and copied in the Middle Ages) in the monastery William visited and a scriptorium for books believed to be pagan in nature.
4. Outlaw King (2018) – IMDb: 6.9
The film tells the story of the struggle and sacrifices of Robert the Bruce during the invasion of medieval Scotland by King Edward I of England. Outlaw King, while not the pinnacle of historical realism, is far more successful at telling the story of the Scottish Wars of Independence than Braveheart. The character of Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) was written with the right events in the life of a real man in mind.
5. The Seventh Seal – The Seventh Seal (1957) – IMDb: 8.1
The Seventh Seal, one of the true medieval movies, is about a plot where a knight named Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) returns from the Crusades, playing chess with Death for his soul. Ingmar Bergman’s story appears to have been inspired by Albertus Pictor’s Death Playing Chess, a real-life painting from the 15th century. The film is also set against the background of the black plague that swept across Europe in the Middle Ages and claimed millions of lives. Although Bergman did not try to make a historical film, he succeeded in capturing the pessimism and religious reverence of the period shaped by widespread disease, famine and armed conflict.
6. Henry V (1989) – IMDb: 7.5
One of the real medieval movies, Henry V is based on the Shakespeare play of the same name. Kenneth Branagh, the film’s director and lead actor, was the same age as the king he portrayed when the events in the story took place. Henry V is about the time of the Battle of Agincourt, which was fought using a bow and arrow. Because it would be difficult to stage a fight of this magnitude in a theater, Shakespeare tells the story with hand-to-hand combat instead, but Branagh was able to recreate the battle in an original way using archery, horses and armies.
7. Kingdom of Heaven – Kingdom of Heaven (2005) – IMDb: 7.2
Kingdom of Heaven, one of the true medieval movies, was unsuccessful when it came out in 2005. However, it received thumbs up from critics for both drama and historical accuracy. This Crusades saga dramatizes the conflict between Christians and Muslims during the Siege of Jerusalem, where Christian knights try to reclaim the holy land from the Arabs. The film focuses on the events before and during the Battle of Hattin, in which many Crusader soldiers lost their lives. This war led to the Third Crusade, in which the British and French also sought to recapture the Holy Land.
According to historians, Kingdom of Heaven is a very realistic film, with its depiction of the Crusaders being orientalized over the decades, realistic battle sequences, and a depiction of Saladin. The sequence that followed the battle in Saladin’s tent and the eventual surrender of Jerusalem is said to be largely true.
8. Robin Hood (2010) – IMDb: 6.6
In the film, Robin and the gang of his men rise up to represent England’s impoverished citizens against corruption. In the 2010 movie, a great effort was made to get the visuals of the period accurately. As depicted in the movie, weapons such as swords, arrows, boiling oil and fire were used in the 12th century. One of the facts that Robin Hood accurately portrayed was the hardships of the people of that time. Most people lived in dirty shacks under the constant threat of disease and starvation, and there were vermin almost everywhere.
9. The 13th Warrior – The 13th Warrior (1999) – IMDb: 6.6
Ahmet Ibn Fahdlan is one of the few men in the most important position of the 10th century civilization in which he lived. He is a highly respected and feared person. One day, Ahmet’s entire past is erased when his relationship with a woman is revealed. He is exiled from his country and assigned to a special mission. Now Ahmet’s life has changed. He listens to the soldiers who want to talk to him wherever he goes. They say that if a 13th warrior does not join them, they will be defeated. They believe that Ahmet Ibn Fahdlan is the chosen one. Ahmet, who did not take kindly to this at first, will join them after a while.
13. The warrior is very realistic about the costumes of the period. In the movie, Ibn Fadlan wears armor close to that of a real Viking. In addition, the knives used by the Vikings and Viking ships are depicted as they are in reality.
10. Hard To Be A God – Hard to Be a God (2013) – IMDb: 6.6
The film takes place on the planet Arkanar, where people live as if they were in the Middle Ages and are ruled by the so-called son of a pagan god. An emissary from Earth goes to Arkanar to spread humanitarian ideas. Director Aleksey German takes a look at the hierarchy between God and man in his latest film.
It’s Hard To Be A God reveals all the scum of the Middle Ages. In the villages full of animals, blacksmiths and warriors, the viewer can feel all the diseases of the period come out of the screen as the characters vomit and urinate around.