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Tell me the best movies with knights, swordplay, and the like.
December 5, 2009 11:35 AM   Subscribe

What are some of the best medieval movies?

What are some of the best movies set in medieval times? Hint: Not A Knight's Tale.
posted by mtphoto to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Passion of Joan of Arc
posted by exogenous at 11:39 AM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It would help to know what you mean by "best." For example, are you looking for excellent films set in medieval times regardless of their accuracy, or for the most accurate representations of medieval life?
posted by Elsa at 11:40 AM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lion in Winter.
posted by you're a kitty! at 11:42 AM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Name of the Rose is very good, in both book and film form. It's on this selection of Medieval films along with you're a kitty!'s suggestion.
posted by permafrost at 11:50 AM on December 5, 2009


The Reckoning
Flesh+Blood
The Virgin Spring
The Seventh Seal
Lancelot du Lac

Seconding The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Also, I've discovered a marvelous webpage from Fordham University more or less on this topic.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:58 AM on December 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Nthing the Lion in Winter.

For sheer swords and sorcery badassery, there's Excalibur.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:06 PM on December 5, 2009


Having a pretty solid university background in medieval history, I have to say that of all the medieval-era movies I've seen, The Seventh Seal comes by far the closest in capturing the major cultural themes - or the "mindset" - of the period.

Yes, it's a touch anachronistic, as the protagonist is a Crusader from the later Middle Ages, when in fact there were no major ongoing Crusades at the time. But that's merely a quibble.

The genius of the movie is the Bergman fused his modern existential philosophy to a story set in the post-Black Death era, when people were in fact questioning God and the meaning of everything in a similar way.

If you want to understand how medieval people thought and behaved, I would argue that no movie comes closer.
posted by hiteleven at 12:10 PM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Army of Darkness. It is the best. The best.
posted by Dreamcast at 12:11 PM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


+1 on Lion in Winter, and if you like that, be sure to also check out Beckett.

Also, on a more general note, the website www.jinni.com is a great place to search for movies by all sorts of criteria, like plot elements, time period, mood, audience, critical acclaim, etc.
posted by patnasty at 12:11 PM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:19 PM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's a lot to be said for BRAVEHEART, although real medieval armies did not actually use pitch on the battlefield, and they get the Battle of Stirling Bridge utterly wrong for no good reason.

Shakespeare wrote a good deal about the medieval kings, and the movies of those plays are often good. Polanski's MACBETH is quite effective.

THE NAME OF THE ROSE has no swordplay, but is an excellent medieval movie.

EXCALIBUR has almost nothing to do with the medieval period, but captures the essence of the Arthurian legend. That is to say, medievals would have dug it.

Many of the Monty Python movies have surprisingly accurate period recreations amid all the silliness.

And there's Pasolini's DECAMON...
posted by musofire at 12:24 PM on December 5, 2009


Oh! And DRAGONSLAYER. And ROBIN AND MARIAN.
posted by musofire at 12:30 PM on December 5, 2009


I was going to say, The Passion of Joan of Arc, but looks like I am a bit late. The 1938 Robin Hood is fun, but a bit more old Hollywood than medieval. I know this is a TV series, but Cadfael is great.
posted by fifilaru at 12:40 PM on December 5, 2009


Tell me the best movies with knights, swordplay, and the like.

The Lord of the Rings for fantasy swordplay...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:03 PM on December 5, 2009


Flesh and Blood.
posted by CarlRossi at 1:18 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmm, depends on your definition of medieval or middle ages, I guess, because these movies are set a bit on the late side kind of that time, but I would say try A Man for All Seasons and The Return of Martin Guerre (not a lot of swordplay in either but good movies.)
posted by gudrun at 1:23 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


might be a lillte late timewise, but Brotherhood of the Wolf is a great period piece
posted by Redhush at 1:36 PM on December 5, 2009


Definitely agree with Dreyer's Joan of Arc. I'd also recommend Häxan.
posted by kickingtheground at 1:44 PM on December 5, 2009


The Hour of the Pig had its moments, if not a lot of knights.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:33 PM on December 5, 2009


Andrei Rublev

Seconding the Passion of Joan of Arc. The Trial of Joan of Arc by Bresson is also excellent.
posted by fire&wings at 3:06 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tree of Wooden Clogs for peasant life.

Kingdom of Heaven for some battle.
posted by effluvia at 4:03 PM on December 5, 2009


Cosign Andrei Rublev.
posted by citron at 4:19 PM on December 5, 2009


The 13th Warrior has no knights, per se, but it has lots of swordplay. Accurate? Well, it's an odd case. It's partly based on the memoirs of an actual person (the protagonist of the movie, Ibn Fadlan). And it's partly based on the Beowulf saga. Well made and lots of rousing moments.
posted by bricoleur at 5:55 PM on December 5, 2009


Thirding The Name of the Rose.
posted by ixohoxi at 7:24 PM on December 5, 2009


Oh, and if medieval Japan counts for your purposes, anything by Kurosawa is good.
posted by ixohoxi at 7:25 PM on December 5, 2009


This list can't be complete without Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky, a critically important and influential Soviet-era film about the failed 13th century invasion of Novgorod. Accurate...no. Powerful...yes.
posted by hiteleven at 9:58 PM on December 5, 2009


Definitely Andrei Rublev.
posted by TrialByMedia at 6:29 AM on December 6, 2009


If you can find it, "The Devils" is good. It's based on a Huxley book, "The Devils of Loudon."
posted by WyoWhy at 9:42 AM on December 6, 2009


A pet peeve re: The Name of the Rose - if memory serves, there's a sex scene with a young man and a young woman, with nekkidness, and the young woman has no hair under her arms. Eh? She's not *that* young....

It's a pet peeve I have with many "period" films, in that the women seem to have the costume of whatever time period is being depicted, but once the costume is off, they have the barbering habits of late-twentieth century/early-twentyfirst century females.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:37 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to give you a TV series: Robin of Sherwood. There's a bit of pagan mysticism involved, but (to me) the prime Robin Hood interpretation.
posted by Harry at 1:53 PM on December 6, 2009


The Navigator: A Mediaeval Odyssey (1988)
posted by neuron at 9:24 PM on December 6, 2009


"Ladyhawke" with Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer was pretty good, with lots of authentically medieval bad lighting and rain.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:17 AM on December 7, 2009


Harry! Robin of Sherwood! I crushed on Michael Praed long into adulthood thanks to that well-made series. When I think of Robin Hood, I think first of Michael Praed's image (then the face of the dashing Disney fox Robin Hood....)
posted by Jezebella at 7:53 PM on December 8, 2009


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