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10 Most Popular Historic Periods Portrayed in Movies


Some periods in history are inevitably so interesting that they could pass for a perfect setting of a film. Filmmakers are well aware of this fact. This list is about some historic periods popular among filmmakers and often portrayed in films. We also mentioned some popular movies about that era to get you an idea on how many great and memorable films are actually produced by that historic time period. To get eligible for this list films must have produced outside of the time period in which they are set. Here are 10 most popular historic periods portrayed in movies:

10. Golden Age Of Piracy

Historic Periods Portrayed In Movies
Popular Movies: Pirates of the Caribbean series, Peter Pen and Treasure Island.

The time period between 1650s and 1730s is generally referred as the golden age of piracy. Pirates are always been a popular subject in movies but most of the pirates based films disappointed audience, only few could become successful and most of them were panned by critics until Pirates of the Caribbean franchise showed up. This film series not only saved the genre but also became one of the most beloved in today’s time. $3.7 billion earning with only 4 films says it all. Most credit of its success goes to Johnny Depp’s Oscar worthy acting and ILM’s mind boggling visual effects.

9. French Revolution

Historic Periods Portrayed In Movies
Popular Movies: Les Miserable, Marie Antoinette and The Lady And The Duke.

Among the most popular historic periods portrayed in movies, this period from history gave us the memorable character “Fatine” from the musical film “Les Miserable” which is inspired by the Victor Hugo’s famous novel with the same name, detailing the rise of the rebellion. Those who prefer violence over singing however may wanna check out classic “Lady and the Duke” portraying harsh truths of the time. This period also produces many films about popular figures of this era such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Marie Antoinette. This revolutionary era has given us movies of different genres ranging from violent historic dramas to the musicals.

8. Ancient Greece

Historic Periods Portrayed In Movies
Popular Movies: 300 Series, Alexandra The Great, Clash Of The Titans, Hercules, Troy And Wrath Of The Titans.

Gods, heroes, monsters and epic battles, no wonder ancient Greece is an absolutely perfect setting for a super entertaining summer blockbusters. What other genre can give you war between 300 Spartans and hundreds of thousands of Persians but also a half man and half god fighting with monsters like Kraken. Although this time period doesn’t produces Oscar winning movies but definitely entertain wide casual audiences. Only few movies from this era are nonfictional but we have no complain for movies about Juggernaut Hercules and Leonidas.

7. Ancient Rome

Historic Periods Portrayed In Movies
Popular Movies: The Gladiator, Ben Hur, The Passion Of The Christ, Hail Ceaser.

Perhaps no period in history has most popular historic periods portrayed in movies or gave us more famous characters than ancient Rome. Julio, Ceaser, Celia Petra and Commodus are just the names of few from the countless legendary names of this era, but the most popular one is the fictional “Maximus DecimusMeridus” from the Ridley Scott‘s Oscar winning movie “The Gladiator“. This movie practically defines this amazing era. Gladiators, chariot races and massive battles there is nothing not to love about ancient Rome. It was also the largest empire in the ancient world with over 90 million inhabitants so, undoubtedly it is one of the most popular historic period for entertainment industries.

6. Medieval Period

Historic Periods Portrayed In Movies
Popular Movies: Robin Hood, Braveheart, Excalibur, Snow White, Huntsman, Maleficent, The Viking Sagas And King Arthur.

It’s also known as middle ages that lasted from 5th to 15th century after the fall of Roman empire. This time period is big and probably the most important in the history of mankind. In this time period we saw the rise of Arab world and Vikings. But things that make this period so perfect and popular for movies are strong Knights, memorable Kings, Princesses and beautiful castles all translate to the perfect cinematic setting. Many iconic Disney movies are also set in this period. There’s also no shortage of characters for filmmakers to choose from both real and fictional including Henry the 2nd, black Prince, King Arthur and Robin Hood.

5. 1920s of America

Historic Periods Portrayed In Movies
Popular Movies: The Great Gatsby, Bullets Over Broadway, Some Like It Hot, Chicago And Boardwalk Empire.

Also known as roaring twenties, this decade was absolute party and widely considered as one of the greatest decade in American history, naturally it is popular setting for Hollywood movies. It gave us classic comedy “some like it hot” as well as iconic Jay Gatsby and his desperate attempt for love. This decade also saw the rise of jazz and crime in society that are particularly shown in movies like “Chicago” and “Broadwalk Empire”. An upcoming trilogy “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is also set in this time period. The 1920s of America comes fifth in our list of most popular historic periods portrayed in movies.

4. 1970s

Historic Periods Portrayed In Movies
Popular Movies: American Hustle, Almost Famous, Anchorman And That ’70s Show.

Long hair, bell bottom trousers and platform shoes, this period referred to by some as the iconic decade for fashion. Both men and women used to wear tight upper wear and loose bottom wear. This decade has been used to great effect in wide variety of films. From rising Rock bands to news anchors, this distinctive setting has given cinema some of the most interesting characters in movies. “that ’70s show” shows the bunch of teenagers growing up at the height of the decade. From cars to rock stars everything was great about this decade. Unsurprisingly one of the most memorable decade and popular for movies around the world.

3. Victorian Era

Historic Periods Portrayed In Movies
Popular Movies: Sherlock Holmes Series, Alice In The Wonderland, The Prestige, David Copperfield, Oliver And Sweeney Todd.

Time period ranging from 1837 to 1901 of Britain under the leadership of queen Victoria is known as the period of peace, prosperity and national self confidence for Britain. It is an extremely popular time period for filmmakers, one of the main reason is author Charles Dickens, numerous of his work has been adapted for both small and big screen. This time period is also the home of vicious criminals such as real life “Jack the Ripper” and fictional “Sweeny Todd”. Its among the most popular historic periods portrayed in movies. With bad guys like this roaming the streets no wonder people need detective like “Sherlock Holmes“. Director Christopher Nolan also made an acclaimed film set in this time period named “The Prestige”.

2. Old West

Historic Periods Portrayed In Movies
Popular Movies: Unforgiven, Django Unchained, Slow West, True Grit And The Hateful Eight.

If you like cowboys and pistils instead of Rock stars and guitars and prefer living under the constant threat of killing then the old west is only for you. Also known as wild west, it is the era of American history that has given heavyweights like John Wayne, Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood some of their finest roles. While western genre went through dry period after 1960s but directors like Quentin Tarantino won’t let the genre die so easily, recent outstanding movies like “Django Unchained” and “the hateful eight” proved that genre is alive and well today, people can still fall in love with old west’s gun holding badass cowboys.

1. World War II

Most Popular Historic Periods Portrayed In Movies
Popular Movies: Schindler’s list, Saving Private Ryan, Inglorious Bastards, The Pianist, The Great Escape And Fury.

Guns, conflict, explosions and millions of death no wonder World War II was one of the most brutal periods in human history. It’s at number one among most popular historic periods portrayed in movies. This period is also most popular among acclaimed filmmakers for past few decades, it seems like new world war II movie is released every year. “Saving private Ryan” and “Schindler’s List” were Oscar favorites and explored different elements of war. The success of 2014’s fury shows that audiences aren’t tired of seeing this period on screen and filmmakers aren’t bored to make movies about this period, even Christopher Nolan’s next film is set in this time period.

10 Most Popular Historic Periods Portrayed in Movies

  1. World War II
  2. Old West
  3. Victorian Era
  4. 1970s
  5. 1920s of America
  6. Medieval Period
  7. Ancient Rome
  8. Ancient Greece
  9. French Revolution
  10. Golden Age Of Piracy

Written by: Khizar Hasan


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