Looking for good historical dramas
March 4, 2004 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Looking for good historical dramas, especially ones where the main character sticks to his/her principles, regardless of the consequences. Watched Matewan (John Sayles) recently, as an example. Movies or books would do.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink to Media & Arts (14 answers total)
I've always loved A Man for All Seasons, which is exactly what you describe.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:37 PM on March 4, 2004

can't remember if there's a lot of principle-sticking or not, but one of the few historical dramas i've enjoyed was unsworth's sacred hunger.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:03 PM on March 4, 2004

Horribly Obvious: To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee Harper

Not So Obvious: Mr. Roberts by Thomas Heggen

Somewhat Obscure: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Of course these three are both books AND movies. And if you haven't seen the latter, it may surprise you. The lengths to which the heroine goes to pay back a "debt of honor" will stun you and illuminate just how much our society has changed in the last hundred years.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:28 PM on March 4, 2004

The Crucible. I've never seen a movie version of it, though imdb shows at least five. But the play is one of my favorites -- it's quite short, nothing you couldn't knock off in an evening if you wanted to. Highly recommend.
posted by Aaorn at 5:59 PM on March 4, 2004

by Lee Harper

Er, reverse that. :-)
posted by Asparagirl at 6:02 PM on March 4, 2004

An Enemy of the People by Ibsen.

King Lear by Shakespeare.
posted by grumblebee at 8:46 PM on March 4, 2004

Shogun, by James Clavell?

Both a book and a miniseries (recently available on DVD).
posted by ODiV at 10:16 PM on March 4, 2004

Lawrence of Arabia is brilliant
The Thin Red Line
The Train
the Band of Brothers series
the Pianist
Malcolm X
Inherit the Wind
The Ox Bow Incident
The Grapes or Wrath
Europa Europa
Young Mr. Lincoln
The Lion in Winter
Battleship Potemkin
Andrei Rublev
I Shot Andy Warhol
The Mission
Shaka Zulu
The Agony and the Ecstasy
The Red and the Black
Nicholas and Alexadra
Battle of Algiers
Childen of Paradise
Battle of Narayama
Queen Margot
Soldier of Orange
posted by dobbs at 10:53 PM on March 4, 2004

The Name of the Rose
posted by Dagobert at 11:43 PM on March 4, 2004

> Shogun, by James Clavell?
> Both a book and a miniseries (recently available on DVD).

Totally off-topic, but if you ever see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III movie (set in feudal Japan) you will never ever again be able to watch Shogun without seeing guys in turtle suits running around in the background in every scene. Wonderful added flavorfulness, IMHO. (ObligOnTopic, the Turtles stick to their principles regardless of consequences.)
posted by jfuller at 5:11 AM on March 5, 2004

Any of Mary Renault's historical novels set in ancient Greece. They're well written and gripping, and personal honor is always a central issue.
posted by languagehat at 8:18 AM on March 5, 2004

Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West [not me, the other one] is a great story about Quakers during the Civil War, trying to decide if it was more important to stick to your non-violence religious principles and let others do the fighting protecting your turf, or get out and fight. It's a father/son drama, in that one of them decides to fight and one does not fight. A lot of soul searching and discussion. Good characters [including the women who don't have to deal with the pressing issue as much but still have choices to make]. Made into a movie with Gary Cooper and a very young Anthony Perkins, way back when. Either the movie or the book is worthwhile, though they are a bit different.
posted by jessamyn at 1:30 PM on March 5, 2004

More personal than political AND very recent but I just saw Whale Rider last night and was blown away by the Keisha Castle-Hughes character. Her Oscar nomination is not so surprising after actually seeing the movie.
posted by billsaysthis at 5:42 PM on March 5, 2004

Not exactly a historical drama, but The Contender (with Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges) is about a woman who sticks to her principles. Personally I loved that movie but it's apparently not for everyone.
posted by Slimemonster at 9:04 PM on March 5, 2004

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