Hollywood is fascinated with medieval times. Mainly, these films are period drama that deals with historical figures and interprets historical events.
There are lots of Medieval movies made for kids mainly because it is magical and fantasy appeal, so do not be shocked if these films are on this list. Whilst many of these films are well-known, there are a few hidden gems you might not have heard of yet, so take out your swords and let the battle begin!
1. Timeline (2003, Netflix)
Time-traveling makes an appearance in Timeline. A group of archaeological students travels back to medieval France to rescue their professor after a wormhole experiment goes wrong. Ok, let’s start with this weird film. Timeline is considered more of a sci-fi film due to the whole wormhole plot. However, some parts of the film do take place in medieval times.
So, it counts. Compared to others, it has a unique charm. The plot is ridiculous, and the characters are one-dimensional. However, it’s worth a watch for its ‘so bad it’s good quality. It’s hard to explain, but it still entertained me despite its flaws. Or rather, because of its flaws.
There are few periods of England’s history as fascinating as the Golden Age, the reign of Elizabeth 1st. One of the reasons this period of history is fascinating to look at is the rivalry between Queen Elizabeth the 1st and Mary, Queen of Scots. This film depicts the relationship between the two Queens as a friendship to enemies.
With Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie as the lead Queens, you know this will be a good film. Like many other medieval movies on this list, do not look for historical accuracy.
However, it is almost like seeing a ‘what-if’ scenario where these two excellent women met and talked. Could things have changed if these two met or talked face to face? The music composed by Max Richter is divine, and the costumes are some of the best on this list.
3. The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)
The story of Joan of Arc is that of bravery and courage. As a young girl, she experienced the brutal English forces first-hand. After receiving what she thinks is a vision of God, she rides to protect France from the English army. Were her visions real? The film leaves that open to the audience to decide. Like the heroine female sword fighter herself, we will never know the answer.
This retelling of Joan of Arc’s story is a stylish Middle Ages epic. The battles are brutal, with sieges and legendary moments such as the Drawbridge scene. The fight scenes are at various angles, quickly changing and even getting blood smeared on the camera to get the point across.
Milla Jovovich sells the role of messenger well, being fierce in battle but also shaky in her private confessions. Her devout faith in God is ever-present, even when it could cost her everything. Joan’s consciousness (played by David Hoffman) gives some great insight into Joan’s inner struggle.
4. Kingdom of Heaven (2005, Disney+)
This film is a fictional retelling of the life of Balian of Lbelin, defender of Jerusalem.
Hollywood’s best medieval movies to take us back to the Crusades and the Black Death plague. This is no exception here in 2005’s ‘Kingdom of Heaven.’ Here, a blacksmith aids the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the Battle of Hattin. Orlando Bloom shines in his role, giving his character depth.
Many characters carry truly heart-breaking scenes that still hold up 17 years later. As expected by the director of the historical epic Gladiator, Ridley Scott nailed the large scale of the battle. Even the more miniature scenes, such as the chess game scene, have so much detail in them. Just prepare lots of snacks and bathroom breaks as this is a 3-hour journey.
5. The Name Of The Rose (1986)
Based on the 1980 novel of the same name by Umberto Eco, ‘The Name of the Rose’ is a historical mystery, where Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and his protegee Adso of Melk investigate a chain of mysterious deaths of monks at an abbey.
This is one of the best medieval movies of all time that broke records when it came out in 1986. The production teams were required to make the whole exterior and interior designs on a hilltop in Rome, making it the most extensive exterior set built since Cleopatra. It paid off as the atmosphere and setting look amazing, even today.
If you want to see some good improv acting, check out this film. ‘The Name Of The Rose’ was adapted into a medieval tv show starring John Turturro in the lead role as friar William of Baskerville.
6. Black Death (2010, Netflix)
‘Black Death’ takes a more realistic approach to how people would react to the Plague. A group of Holy men is sent to a village seemingly unaffected by the Plague. They believe it to be the work of a necromancer.
By far, this was one of the scariest movies on this list with large amounts of gore and blood and a soundtrack that will freak you out.
There are no heroes here, even though the main crew claims to follow the word of God. Whilst the Plague is a deadly disease, no one dies from it. Instead, it’s the characters and their ideologies.
This is an excellent medieval film for horror lovers with a cast of Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, Kimberley Nixon, and Carice van Houten.
7. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017, Netflix)
Raised by prostitutes after his parent’s murder, Arthur is forced to face his destiny as the future king However, his Uncle and current king, Vortigern of Briton, will not give up without a fight.
Every adaptation of the Arthurian legends brings something new. Whilst some classic adaptations focus mainly on the characters, ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ takes a more action-oriented approach, with frequent battles and assassinations.
It’s exciting to see Arthur as a street hustler, not a prince born into wealth. The CGI in this battle is impressive, but what draws viewers in is the natural landscape. Couple this with the humor of the director Guy Ritchie and a cast that bounces off one another, and you have a fun movie to watch on the classic legend.
8. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991, Netflix)
Hollywood takes another classic British folktale legend to the big screen.
Filled with a vengeance for his father’s death, Robin of Locksley plans to save his home from the Sherriff of Nottingham.
If you are looking for some cheesy 90’s fantasy, look no further than ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.’ With Bryant Adam’s Emmy-winning actors such as Morgan Freeman, Kevin Constar, and Michael McShane. Alan Rickman as the Sherriff is a scene-stealer you should watch it purely for his performance, this medieval film is a cult classic.
9. Ran (1985)
Inspired by “King Lear” and “Macbeth,” Akira Kurosawa’s cinematic masterpiece is set in the historical period of 16th-century Japan, known as the Sengoku period, and traces the chaos (“ran” in Japanese) created when an elderly feudal son passes power to his three sons.
Kurosawa worked on the film for a decade and completed it when he was 75. The incredible visual ability, the wonderfully staged medieval battles, and the intimacy of the court intrigue – all these make the film a tragic epic of betrayal, greed, and lust for power, and one of the world cinema pinnacles Of the 80s.
10. Outlaw King (2018, Netflix)
This medieval movie follows the Scottish rebellion turned warrior King Robert the Bruce against the English army. Robert the Bruce is declared an outlaw after rebelling against the rule of King Edward I of England, with the climax of the film taking place at the Battle of Loudoun Hill in 1307.
Although his accent is a bit off, the American-born actor, Chris Pine gave an excellent performance. The focus of this medieval film was the various sieges and battles of Bruce’s guerrilla force. These are high-end production scenes, with fireballs being hurled at castles and more.
Netflix’s Outlaw King is not the most historically accurate, but it is entertaining. It is a worthy successor to Braveheart.
11. The King (2019, Netflix)
This is how you do a coming-of-age story about a teenager becoming a king. In this Netflix adaptation of the Shakespearean play, Henry the 5th was never the first choice to be king. Instead, his father tried to have his younger brother Thomas take the throne. But, after the death of his brother and father, it is up to him to pick up the pieces.
‘The King’ demonstrates the pressure and loneliness of the throne. At first, it looks like another typical medieval film that we’ve seen time and time again, but it has an unexpected twist.
Timothée Chalamet plays the nuanced role of King Henry V, who is young but underestimated. The costumes are excellent and some of the most accurate to the period.
Whilst the battles are enjoyable, it is the script and internal politics of the court where the film shines. These are so intriguing and add to the film’s unique charm.
12. Excalibur (1981, Amazon Prime)
This tale of the legendary sword sees Merlin guiding Uther Pendragon’s bastard son to become a King and unite the Knights of the Round Table against Morgana Frey and Mordred.
Filmed in 1981, this version of the Arthurian legends is still considered the best among fans. It holds nothing back, bringing the grandeur, elegance, and strangeness this story deserves.
This two-and-a-half-hour medieval movie has so much to unpack, from magical fantasy creatures to epic Middle Ages war scenes. Whilst there are plenty of stars such as Dame Herrin Marin, Nigel Terry, and Paul Geoffrey, the film’s real star is Nicol Williamson as Merlin. His wisecracks are hilarious, and his quotes are still remembered today.
13. Brave (2012, Disney+)
The animated movie takes us to the medieval Scottish Highlands, where Princess Merida of DunBroch, a red head girl, tries to break an age-old tradition without realizing the consequences. Magic also plays a significant role in this story, being a Disney fairytale.
At its core, this is a story about a mother and daughter struggling to communicate with one another. The excellent voice acting by Kelly Macdonald (Merida) and Emma Thompson (Queen Elinor) sells the tension and love of this relationship even more.
14. The Physician / Der Medicus (2013, Amazon Prime)
We travel back to the Black Death in ‘The Physician’. Traumatized by the death of his mother, Rob Cole becomes determined to become a physician. He travels to the Middle East and discovers more than he thought he could.
Whilst many of these films are based on warriors, murders, and legends, The Physician chooses to pick up a scapple (not really) rather than the sword.
The history is fascinating, as we see a sizeable cultural shift throughout ‘Der. Medicus’. It is a humbling experience for a Christian in those times to seek out knowledge from another culture and religion. It makes you think about many things that still affect us today, such as refusing an autopsy for religious reasons. The visuals are excellent, and the same can be said about the cast and music.
15. Henry V (1989, Amazon Prime)
Another adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play about the monarch.
Kenneth Branagh created the epic film in 1989, so do not expect the best visual quality. However, this is a faithful Shakespearian adaptation. From the dialogue to the exquisite costumes, the medieval film makes everything look spectacular.
Kenneth Branagh gives his all in his performance, giving off the aura of an experienced theatre performer. Another selling point is the music. While some soundtracks are generic, the score enhances legendary speeches such as the St. Crispin’s Day Speech.
16. Army Of Darkness (1992, Apple TV)
The third installment of the “Evil Dead” franchise.
The one-man army, Ash Williams, is transported to the Middle Ages (around King Arthur’s time). Now, it is his mission to find a way home. The trope of having a modern person transported into the past is weird, and ‘Army of Darkness’ knows this premise is ridiculous and roles with it.
Plenty of comedic scenes play on this trope such as Ash advertising his gun as a ‘boomstick’ and even including its price to a medieval village. It is as ridiculous and hilarious as it sounds, but Bruce Campbell’s performance sells the whole story.
Of course, this is a horror comedy, so it is loosely based on historical accuracy. But this is one of the funniest medieval films on this list.
17. Willow (1988, Disney+)
When a prophecy foresees the Queen’s doomed future linked to a Daikin baby girl, the Queen seeks her destruction. The child upon birth is smuggled away, landing in Willow’s care. Willow is a Nelwyn (little person) and is tasked to find the child’s family. Along the way, he meets a warrior named Madmartigan, a tall person. Together, they try to protect the child from the evil queen and find out who she is.
The best thing about this fantasy medieval movie is the relationship between Willow Ufgood and Madmartigan. Actors Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer play off one another, bringing oneliners that will make you laugh. The rest of the cast does fantastic too. The scene where the queen turns everyone into pigs is still creepy to this day.
18. The Kid Who Would Be King (2019, Apple TV)
When a bullied kid named Alex discovers the legendary Excalibur, he must band together his friends and enemies to aid Merlin against the rise of Morgana.
So many times (other than Monty Python), these films focus on portraying the myth faithfully. This fantasy medieval movie took the trope to the extreme with a knight car chase, or an entire school being knighted. Nothing feels forced, as even the kids marvel at the absurdity of the plot at times.
The hilarious moments with Angus Imrie’s Merlin, decent CGI, and acting makes ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ enjoyable.
19. How To Train Your Dragon (2010, Netflix)
Available on: Netflix
Soar amongst the skies on a dragon’s back with this excellent medieval film. ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ takes us to the Viking village of Berk, where humans and dragons are at constant war.
Hiccup, the chief’s son, is no warrior. Using an invention, he manages to shoot down a dragon. Determined to prove himself, Hiccup goes to try and kill this dragon. Instead, the two bond and begin a friendship that would change Berk forever.
Dreamwork animations know how to do films for everyone. How To Train Your Dragon, is a film with a lot of depth. Like Dragon Prince, it’s full of humor and the plot is easy to follow.
However, the real enjoyment comes from the characters and their development. The dragon says nothing, yet this fluid and amazing animation gives him so much personality.
The music, composed by John Powell, adds to the atmosphere of a human and dragon finding a new understanding of one another. The medieval animated film is one you won’t get tired of watching.
20. The Last Duel (2022, Disney+)
Legendary director Ridley Scott’s latest epic film tells a fascinating story of betrayal and revenge mixed with the brutality and oppression of women in 14th-century France. It is a thought-provoking historical and cinematic drama that examines the extensive control of men, the fragility of justice, and the power and courage of one woman, who is willing to stand alone in the name of truth.
The film is based on real events, researching previous hypotheses about the duel between Jean de Carrougesand and Jacques Le Gris, two friends who have become bitter rivals.
When Marguerite de Carrouges’ wife, is attacked by Le Gris, he denies her accusations. She refuses to be silent and dares to come out with an accusation against her attacker, she makes a bold move of courage and defiance that puts her life in danger. The result is a duel for life or death, placing the fate of the three in the hands of God.
21. Braveheart (1995)
One of Mel Gibson’s most famous roles, Braveheart, tells Sir William Wallace’s tale and his crusade for Scottish Independence from King Edward I of England. Inspired by the 15th-century poem about Sir William Wallace, it depicts everything from the Battle of Stirling Bridge to his eventual execution.
Let’s get one thing out there, this film is not historically accurate. However, it is entertaining. Mel Gibson’s performance is still talked about today in historical dramas.
Before The Lord of the Rings came out, Braveheart gave us legendary battles like no other film at the time. It’s muddy, bloody, and well-choreographed. When it first came out in theatres, it was reported that an animal welfare investigation was opened into whether any horses were killed during the making of Braveheart (none were). The medieval movie has so much cultural significance, that you’ll be screaming ‘FREEDOM’ by the end of it.
22. Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975, Netflix)
What happens when you mix Arthurian legend and a British comedic group known for cutaway gags and stream-of-consciousness humor? You get ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail!’ As the title suggests, the story revolves around (Yet again) King Arthur’s quest to find the Holy Grail.
To say this film is hilarious is an understatement. Some reviews have stated it is more of a parody and study of life in medieval times. I’d have to agree. There is something fun for everyone, from jokes such as the infamous, ‘Just a flesh wound’, Black Knight to the killer rabbit gag.
The animations done for comedic purposes are also highly stylish and hold up today. There is a reason why this film is still considered one of the best comedies in British Film history. The rest of the world also agrees.
23. The Seventh Seal (1957, Apple TV)
Set during The Black Death (the 14th century) in Sweden, a Knight named Antonius Block has lost his faith and meaning in his life. He challenges the personification of Death in a game of chess, hoping to win. However, no one wins this game.
Hailed as one of the greatest films, ‘The Seventh Seal’ has many themes and symbols tied to religion. Delving into faith is arguably one of history’s darkest moments (after the Crusades and in the Black Death); Block is a man with many questions and doubts about God. Throughout the game, Block knows he cannot win. But, in a confession, he wants to do one significant act before his time is over. his film puts many of the questions humans have had multiple times and even why people believe in God, as this belief gives life some meaning.
While it does not claim any answers, it provides a new perspective on these questions. The black-and-white look emphasizes the core messages of life and death, with both lead actors, Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot, playing their roles once more. You need to watch one of those films to fully experience its power and meaning, as no review can really give it justice.
24. The Northman (2022 Amazon Prime)
The action-packed medieval movie is certainly an ambitious project by Robert Eggers (The Witcher) following Amleth a young Viking prince who is an heir to the Viking throne. When his father gets killed by his uncle Fjolnir he goes on a quest to avenge his father.
The brutal revenge story takes place in 10th-century Iceland in the early 900s. It’s a dark, bloody film. There is a scene where Amleth fights with a Viking warrior, he tears out his throat with only his teeth, he shouts to the gods and he is without a shirt.
This is the third medieval movie on this list that is based on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The acclaimed Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgard plays the lead role of Amleth, a prominent figure in the Scandinavian saga.
Alexander follows the footsteps of his brother Gustaf Skarsgård, known for his role in the acclaimed ‘Vikings’. Eggers said in an interview “It is Viking Hamlet.” The combination of Egger’s fantasy and the Viking myth makes ‘The Northman an epic medieval movie.
Finally, a good Vikings movie! The ensemble also includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Claes Bang, Björk, and Gustav Lindh.
25. The Princess Bride (1987)
Available on: Amazon Prime
“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” You may not have watched ‘The Princess Bride’ but have heard this phrase. We could not forget this cult classic from this list of the best Medieval movies. The Princess Bride is a story of love and hope. Princess Buttercup loses the man she loves and is forcibly betrothed to Prince Humperdinck. However, her love Westley is still alive and, along with her friends, is determined to stop this wedding.
‘The Princess Bride’ is a comforting 1987 film. Yes, the plot is predictable. Yes, the action is not quite up to the standards of today. However, it is a comforting fantasy medieval movie that sweeps you off your feet. Before you know it, the credits are already rolling. It’s hilarious and best known for its eternal quote, the characters and cast including Fezzik the Giant, are so enduring you won’t forget them after you’ve seen this film once.
26. Medieval (2022)
The story of fifteenth-century Czech icon and warlord Jan Zizka, who defeated armies of the Teutonic Order and the Holy Roman Empire.
After the death of its reigning emperor, the Holy Roman Empire plummets into chaos while feuding brothers King Wenceslas of Czech and King Sigismund of Hungary battled for control of the empty throne.
Daring and righteous mercenary leader Jan Zizka (Ben Foster) is soon hired by Lord Boresh (Michael Caine) to kidnap the powerful Lord Rosenberg’s (Til Schweiger) fiancée, Lady Katherine (Sophie Lowe), to prevent Rosenberg’s rise to power alongside the corrupt King Sigismund.
Jan believes that Kings are the right hand of God and should be respected & obeyed, no matter what. As Katherine becomes caught in a dangerous political game between the monarchs, Jan falls in love with her strong spirit and dedication to saving the people. Director: Petr Jákl
27. Shrek (2001, Netflix)
A green ogre sets off on a quest to help rescue Princess Fiona and get back to his swamp. The ogre seems like an anti-social hater, however, it is later revealed that he gets judged for his appearance before getting to know him.
This animated medieval movie teaches its audience through multiple angles about not judging a book by its cover. Or, in Shrek’s case, ogres and onions have layers. You will understand that reference as soon as you watch the film.
28. Nimona (Coming Soon on Netflix)
Nimona is an animated film based on the light novel of the same name by Noelle Stevenson. It is one of the very last projects developed by Blue Sky Studios. Unfortunately, Disney canceled the studio and didn’t want to continue production, however, Netflix stepped in as a savior and will be releasing future episodes of the medieval show in 2023.
Nimona is set in a medieval world where science and magic are at war with each other. Nimona is a shapeshifting girl who works for the villain, Lord Ballister Blackheart. Blackheart is trying to destroy the Kingdom of Ambrosia and take over the world. Nimona’s goal is to help him achieve this goal, but she has second thoughts about killing.
The animated medieval film has been praised for its strong female lead, its positive representation of LGBT characters, and its overall message of acceptance. It has been nominated for several awards, including the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature Film.