Top 5 Best History movies and Epic google movies of All Time
There are big movies and then these movies, films that pack in scope, scale, and spectacle to create an experience that feels truly massive. So enormous we couldn’t even fit ten on this list. These are our picks for the top five best historical epic movies of all time.
5) Red Cliff
We’re going to do this list age by era. So let’s start at the beginning and look at ancient times. And the most epic movie recreations of classical antiquity take us to places like Egypt to films like Cleopatra with its humongous sets, and the ten commandments with its revolutionary VFX. And then to Greece and films like the strangely hammy Troy and these strangely not hammy Jason and the Argonauts.
And then Rome in a million different films, the best of which includes Scorsese’s biblical The Last Temptation of Christ, Kubrick’s iconic Spartacus, one of the first true epic google movies of all time, Cabiria, and the all-mighty Ben-Hur. In The Message, the Arabian Peninsula is mentioned, as is a reference to Babylon in the half epic Intolerance.
Epic google movie description for Red Cliff
But it’s China where we find our most extravagant of ancient yarns. Gorgeously colored and often list-topping hero, along with Yimou Zhang’s somehow even more colorful Curse of the Golden Flower, vastly less colorful Shadow, and the peculiarly Matt Damon led The Great Wall. But it’s another director, John Woo, who snags this spot with his enormous two-parter Red Cliff.
If you weren’t looking you may have missed China has entered a new era of epic moviemaking. Cranking out bigger and more spectacular takes on their country’s top history movies just about as fast as America turns out Marvel movies. And none is quite as spectacular as Red Cliff, Parts I and II, which mark John Woo’s return to his home country after a long stint in Hollywood. The film recounts the Battle of Red Cliffs at the beginning of China’s Three Kingdoms period that is so ensconced in legend and lore.
The country’s most expensive film ever at the time of its making, Red Cliff is full to the brim with fantastic actors in awesome roles, exciting strategy, and counter strategy. Culminating in a final 40-minute showdown that starts somewhere between a wateryHelm’s Deep in the Battle of Blackwater and ends in an all-out melee. It is an epic google movie in absolutely every possible sense of the term and a fantastic way to jump on board with some of the most exciting contemporary epic movie cinema.
4) RAN (1985)
We’re fast-forwarding to the Middle Ages to see how the idea of best history movies has changed, and it’s pretty much the same but more in Northern Europe now. You can get your fixed rebellion in Braveheart and the Crusades and kingdom of Heaven and El Cid. A little further East, you get the incredible Czechfilm Marketa Lazarova and the rare, mostly non-violent, epic movie Andri Rublev, which’s more about the casting of a bell.
Of course, if bells aren’t for you, you can get huge battles in Eisenstein’sIvan the Terrible and Alexander Nevsky. We get some incredible stories out of India. This era is bests are probably DHA Akbar and Mughal E-Azem, especially if you like your top history movies brightly colored, badass, and filled with song. And we even start to see some epic movie set in the Americas, namely Apocalypto.
Epic google movie description for RAN
But for our second slot, our choice finds us in Japan with the master of the Jidaigeki, none other than Akira Kurosawa whose seven Samurai is unparalleled. But almost too small to be on the list of the best history movies when compared to his later films, Kagemusha and our number four pick, RAN. A Samurai adaptation of Shakespeare, and not Kurosawa’s first.
Ran retells the story of King Lear in feudal Japan as managing ruler abdicates, leaving his three sons to do battle for his throne, and how. Ran has some of the biggest, boldest, no BS battlefield scenes without the obscurity of cuts or camera tricks or CGI. It’s all right there in a wide shot right in front of you. Watching it, we’re frankly not entirely sure Kurosawa didn’t just stage an actual war and film it.
Shot near the end of his career, Ran is the culmination of years of the very best in Samurai filmmaking. Beautifully photographed, expertly set, and ambitious as hell, the film was expanded to the largest size money could purchase. The only thing higher than our praise for an are Lady Kaede’s eyebrows.
3) WAR AND PEACE (1967)
Moving right along to the early modern period, top history movies start to look a little different in the 18th and 19th centuries. Fewer words, more power of the gun and wig varieties. America gives us Western epic movies like Last of the Mohicans, The Alamo, How the West Was Won, and Heaven’s Gate, and southern best history movies like Gone With the Wind.
In China, we have Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, while in Africa, we get Zulu. But it’s in Europe this time that we find our pick, alongside such strong entries as Napoleon and The Charge of the Light Brigade, it’s Bondarchuk’s War and peace that wins the day this time.
Epic google movie description for War and Peace
Seven hours over four parts shot over five years with more money than any other Soviet project before it. Sergei Bondarchu’s behemothadaptation is every bit a match for its notoriously weighty source material. There is a sequence within it (the Battle of Borodino), that took two years to film, 12,000 extras, 200 operational cannons, gave the director one of the two heart attacks he suffered while shooting this monster, and is today still the largest battle scene ever shot.
However, putting War and Peace into numerical terms does a disservice. Its generous length provides latitude to be both big and small, adapting Tolstoy at scales both imperial and personal, and it extends this intimacy over nearly 300 actual characters. It’s unheard of, yet it’d still be one of the best films ever made. If it didn’t stretch to the horizon, it was well worth the effort.
2) Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
For our last two stops, we arrive in the 20th century, which we’ll split roughly down the middle between its two great wars. Many of the films set in the first half of the century, such as The Big Parade, A Very Long Engagement, and especially All Quiet on the Western Front, concentrated on Europe during the first half of the century. Although last years 1917 has surely established itself right up there with the best of it.
But there were other top history movies to cover too, the Russian Revolution in Reds, Battleship Potemkin, and Doctor Zhivago.The Indian revolution in Gandhi, a big boat that didn’t float so well in Titanic, the Wyche Incident in Seediq Bale, the Nanjing massacre in the Flowers of War, and a whole bunch of American mob best history movies in Once Upon a Time in America.
Epic google movie description for Lawrence of Arabia
But it was in Arabia where a man named Lawrence took part in one of the World War’s lesser-known conflicts to bigger effect, landing here at the top of this slot for our number two pick. When we think epic google movies we think of CinemaScope live screenshots of vast expanses dotted with figures so small they might be miniatures. And no movie has ever used the highly rectangular frame quite as David Lean managed in Lawrence of Arabia.
Truly massive in sight and sound, lest we forget about the Maurice Jarre score. It is impossible to watch this film on a big screen and not feel the endless extent of the barren desert stretching out before you and wrapping around you until you’re practically in it. It’s just so massive, and it fits the character so well, always larger than life in everything he did. This is a film that was made to be seen on a large screen.
1) Apocalypse Now (1979)
And finally, we arrived at the last half of the 20th century, a period that gave us World War II most cinematically rendered in the Thin Red Line, the Bridge on the River Kwai, Stalingrad, The Longest Day, Patton, Dunkirk, and Saving Private Ryan. The Sino-Japanese War is best shown in City of Life and Death, while The Last Emperor depicts the end of the Chinese Imperial line. But our last slot belongs to a depiction of the Vietnam War, the scope of which we see best dramatized in Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. But never as brilliantly as Apocalypse Now, our ultimate decision.
Epic google movie description for Apocalypse Now
Vietnam, with all its guerrilla jungle warfare, is a strange conflict to render broadly. And amidst Apocalypse Now’s increasingly surreal onset of psychosis, it’s easy to forget how massive the film set pieces are. But they were destroying whole villages, napalming giant swaths of the jungle for real, dispatching entire squadrons of helicopters, and spanning bridges in conflict.
Hell, even the troop’s entertainment has a certain epicness to it. It makes the departure from civilization and descent into madness all the more impactful for the scope of the chaos we leave behind and trade-in for this different kind of insanity. It’s gorgeous, haunting, and a genuine masterpiece, which is why it’s our pick for one of the top history movies of all time.
So what do you think? Disagree with any of our picks? Did we leave out any of your favorite epic movies? Let us know in the comments below.
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