Best historical movies on Netflix - November 2020

Best historical movies on Netflix - November 2020
History fascinates us, and the advent of cinematography has only amplified this love. Thanks to the imaginative power of cinema and its great stories, many have been able to immerse themselves in distant eras like never before. With the advent of streaming platforms first and then of historical-themed TV series, for years fans have been spoiled for choice.

Perhaps not everyone remembers that if today the offer of History-themed TV series (sometimes sprinkled with mythology) is so extensive it is because of the immediately preceding decade. In fact, between the end of the 1990s and the 2000s, cinemas were invaded by big and small blockbusters, which played a significant role in making human history return as a “cool” topic. But among all these, which are the most important? Today we offer you the most interesting of those years, all available on the Netflix catalog.

The best historical movies on Netflix

Gladiator The Crusades - Kingdom of Heaven Marie Antoinette Troy 300 Saving Private Ryan If you want to try the huge Netflix catalog, you can redeem your month free here!

The Gladiator (2000): where it all began

We couldn't help but start from him: perhaps not the "oldest" of the review, but certainly one of the most significant today as much as yesterday. The search for revenge of the Roman general Massimo Decimo Meridio has now become proverbial. Ridley Scott's Gladiator is a great film, capable of setting a story as human as it is grandiloquent, also thanks to the magnificent soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. The film at the time also sparked some controversy among critics, but had an incredible impact on audiences around the world. Such a success as to be at the origin of the revival of ancient Rome in cinema and television series.

And if it is true that certain sets are now a bit "fake" and that the screenplay takes much more than a poetic and historical license (with some anachronism), the expressive and emotional charge of the film with Russell Crowe convinces to go beyond the fictional fiction to arrive at disclosure. So much so that, twenty years after its release, the scene of the initial battle against the barbarians still remains among the best (if not the best) cinematic representation of what must have been the Roman army at its maximum potential.

The Crusades - Kingdom of Heaven (2005): Scott's epic

Second and final member of the “Ridley Scott couple” is his other great historical blockbuster. Released in 2005, with The Crusades - Kingdom of Heaven, the British director ventured into another great fresco, this time the Middle Ages. The reworked story of Baliano di Ibelin (played by Orlando Bloom) ranges from devastated Europe to the Holy Land, where a humble blacksmith will have to discover himself as a leader. And although here too he has taken his usual poetic licenses, what results is still a great result.

The fate of The Crusades - Kingdom of Heaven was in fact quite controversial. If Scott also in this case reconfirms his skill when it comes to battle scenes, there is also the fact that Kingdom of Heaven in some ways lives on its own excesses. A little-appreciated cinematic version is contrasted by the great revaluation that the film had when it was released on home video in the Director's Cut version, with 45 minutes of additional scenes. All this combined to make up the ambition of an epic poem in motion, with all the merits and defects of the case. Note the presence, in the extended version, of the actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: unknown at the time, today he is known all over the world for his interpretation of Jaime Lannister in the Game of Thrones series.

Marie Antoinette (2006): the revolution in Netflix

We have already talked about Marie Antoinette this summer in the special dedicated to the French Revolution in pop culture. Sofia Coppola's film revisits the life of Marie Antoinette, queen of France in the last days of the absolutist monarchy of Louis XVI in a very “popular” way. Having also written the screenplay, Coppola tries to paint a different figure of Queen Marie Antoinette, also highlighting the rigidity of court life and the duties and pressures to which the Austrian queen (played by Kirsten Dunst) had to submit.

Also in this case there was no lack of controversy, above all because of Sofia Coppola's choice to adopt a vision that was a little too “modernizing” the historical figure; but at the same time Marie Antoniette takes on descriptive traits. It goes without saying that he lingers a lot in the representation of the splendor of those years, also playing a little on the charm of the splendor bordering on decadence. A controversial work but also to be rediscovered, and who knows if its inclusion in Netflix does not give it a further wave of popularity.

Troy (2004): the Iliad according to Hollywood

Another of the "children" born after the great wave of The Gladiator. Wolfgang Petersen's reinterpretation of the Trojan War takes on inevitable epic contours. Once again the adherence to the original myth is rather loose, but the film attracts both for its stellar cast (including Brad Pitt, who knew very well that playing Achilles would make him even more unforgettable) and for the bombast of his scenes.

Scenes and sets that this time do not rely only on battles, but rather seek a dialogic component and the refinement of costumes. In fact, it is no coincidence that the film earned a 2005 Oscar nomination for its costumes. Even considering the wide poetic licenses compared to what is told both in the Iliad and in the Trojan cycle more generally, Troy has had a great success with the public and even now it remains a respectable historical action film, which we recommend. to catch up if you don't know him or to see him again to spend a nice evening.

300 (2007): three hundred Spartans and one destiny

If there was a way to describe 300 by Zack Snyder, it would probably be “the right movie at the right time”. A reworking of the mythological limits (sometimes even exceeding it) of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC, 300 is first of all taken from the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller, of which it is also a faithful transposition from a visual point of view (the shots are modeled directly from the cartoons). Another big box office success, which consecrated the career of Gerald Butler (here in the role of King Leonidas) and was one of the first times that actress Lena Headey, future Cersei of Game of Thrones. In 2014 the film also had a sequel-midquel, 300: Rise of an Empire, which tells stories both parallel and subsequent to Leonidas' enterprise.

The reason why 300 has remained in the memory, in addition to clearly the wide range and the particular coloring and graphic “style”, it is his ability to crudely paint the Spartan culture, although at times he exaggerates it or shows only the most warlike part of it. A re-enactment that however summarizes the mentality and simple thought, but placed in its historical and cultural context and therefore with strongly epic and recognizable roots.

Saving Private Ryan (1998): "Deserve it" .

The latest film in this review is both the least recent and the most serious. Saving Private Ryan earned Steven Spielberg a second Academy Award and chronicles the long flashback of a former US WWII soldier is an epic across devastated France. Even now, the re-enactment of the Allied landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy is one of the modern war sequences that most influenced genre production, going beyond cinema to more general entertainment.

Steven Spielberg directs a film about the second world war of rare crudity, often stripping it of the heroic component to bring out the humanity of the characters and their fight against a hatred so infamous that it risks corrupting them in turn. And in the end, that very Ryan to be saved will be forced to make sense of all that suffering by seeking the resolution of a seemingly unanswered question.

Want another historical film with an ancient Rome theme? On Amazon you can find the beautiful The Eagle, with Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell!

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