The fantasy genre, which combines fantasy and medieval setting, is one of the most popular in the world. The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Witcher … We could quote many legends to you. But what about purely medieval films set in a real historical and / or realistic setting? They may be less popular with the general public overall, but some masterpieces have made a name for themselves that has lingered over the decades. Here is a selection of the 10 (you need to make choices!) The best medieval movies that you should absolutely watch.
the name of the rose (1986)
By the time The Name of the Rose was released in 1986, Sean Connery was already making a name for himself, thanks in particular to his role as the first James Bond in the saga. This time a change of register, as he plays Guillaume de Baskerville, a Franciscan monk who is accompanied by a beginner’s game and who leads the investigation into the mysterious death of many other monks.
Monty Python: Holy Grail! (1975)
In 1975 the British comedy company Monty Python released the film Monty Python: Sacré Graal !, a totally insane comedy in which the English humor takes its toll. The style is unique and consists of several stories linked by a common thread: the search for the Grail. A theme and style that is inevitably reminiscent of the very popular Kaamelott series, which took some of its inspiration from it.
Brave Heart (1995)
Mel Gibson, best known for his role as Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon Saga (1987-1998), also dabbled in medieval cinema, playing William Wallace, a knight who was considered one of the greatest figures in the Scottish resistance to British forces during the Scottish War is known of independence at the end of the 13th century. Some historical inaccuracies and great violence have tarnished the image of the film somewhat, but it remains a classic of the genre.
We talked about the search for the Grail above, and the Arthurian legend confirms once again that it is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for directors. In Excalibur, John Boorman follows the rise of the legendary king, from his rise as ruler of the Kingdom of Brittany to the duel against his son and the founding of the Round Table. If the reviews are mixed when the film is released, it will find recognition over the years.
Flesh and Blood (1985)
It is a world in full transition between the Middle Ages and the modern age that The Flesh and the Blood depicts through a very contemporary violence. A gang of mercenaries decides to turn against their master, kidnaps and rapes their daughter and then conquers a castle. The siege that follows to drive the mercenaries out is particularly bloody. In 1985 the feature film was awarded the Golden Calf, which honors the best Dutch people.
the last duel (2021)
No, you are not dreaming: it is indeed a new film! The Last Duel is a movie released in late 2021 and it’s hard to look back on, but the critics almost agree. Director Ridley Scott tells the story of one of the last legal duels approved in France in 1386, between battle scenes and flashbacks that tell what led to it. Note a first-line cast of Matt Damon, Adam Driver, or Ben Affleck, who may be better actors than we thought.
the passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Go back almost a century with La passion de Jeanne d’Arc. It is considered a true masterpiece, is quiet and therefore will not appeal to everyone. Still, the film remains very strong and presents us with a raw and poignant story from the end of Joan of Arc’s life, from her trial to her stake, based on real and official historical documents as sources.
the seventh seal (1957)
New black and white film with The Seventh Seal, a Swedish film that is also considered a masterpiece of cinema and made its director Ingmar Berman famous at the time. Metaphysical and philosophical questions occupy a central place there when a knight returns from the crusades and personally encounters death, which he challenges in a game of chess.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
The first half of the 2000s was extremely favorable for actor Orlando Bloom, who multiplied his successes (The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean) at the time of his engagement in Kingdom of Heaven. There he plays in a fictional way the young bastard blacksmith Balian d’Ibelin, who gets involved in the Crusades and finally defends Jerusalem. It’s the only film on this list that received surprisingly poor reviews from critics, but it did very well with viewers.
the seven samurai (1954)
We end with a classic of Japanese cinema with The Seven Samurai, in which samurai are hired by the inhabitants of a village to hunt bandits who are ravaging the surrounding land in medieval Japan in the 16th century. Despite its initially shortened release outside of Japan, Akira Kurosawa’s film enjoyed phenomenal critical and commercial success and is now considered one of the greatest Japanese films in cinema history.
If you would like to suggest any other references, please mention them in the comments.
And since we’re talking about cinema, you’ll also discover these actors who have appeared in films without their names featured in the credits!