8 Historical Romance Movies That Are Just as Intense as Pompeii

‘Pompeii’ is an action-packed historical drama based on the fateful day Mount Vesuvius erupted and charred the inhabitants of an entire city. Filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson, known for his video game adaptations like the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise, tries to build a convincing world as close to the ancient Roman city as possible. In the 2014 movie, a young boy whose entire village, including his family, is slaughtered by a ruthless Roman general must find a way to survive. He eventually reaches Pompeii and meets a woman he can never be with because he is a slave and she is an aristocrat.

This disaster movie is largely inspired by ‘Gladiator (2000)’ and ‘Titanic (1997)’, and discusses the importance of kindness, true love, and the perils of living in a city with a volcano everyone believes is dormant. Attempting to weave the historical incident with a fictional tale of two lovers, this movie turns out to be a real tearjerker for lovers of historical romance. A movie that hits all the right chords is hard to find, so it’ll be a treat to watch these films like ‘Pompeii.’

8. The Last Legion (2007)

There’s plenty of Roman history in the narrative of ‘The Last Legion’, directed by Doug Lefler. There’s not much left of the Roman empire at the time when Roman Commander Aurelius attempts to help the last young Ceasar flee from captivity in Capri. But betrayal again comes in unexpected forms, and the soldiers must fight for what they believe in. This movie also has an interesting reference to the Excalibur, which eventually finds its way to King Arthur. With a star cast that includes Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, this historical action-adventure is similar to ‘Pompeii’ in terms of its references to the Roman Empire and the plenty of war scenes that seem essential for a period drama film.

7. Inferno (2016)

When history is used as the basis for an engaging fictional narrative, the line between the two starts to blur. ‘Inferno’ is based on a book by Dan Brown of the same name and stars Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones. With Ron Howard at the helm, the film more or less follows the story of the book but with a possible end-of-the-world plot. Symbology professor Robert Langdon, who has lost his memory, needs to find what the man who wants to kill half the population of the world is planning, with help from a map to hell referencing Dante’s Inferno. Those who enjoyed ‘Pompeii’ can appreciate the historical references to the ancient Roman poet Virgil and the plot that hints at large-scale destruction.

6. Dante’s Peak (1997)

Pierce Brosnan plays a volcanologist in this disaster film directed by Roger Donaldson. In ‘Dante’s Peak’, he has to work with the mayor of a countryside town to convince the people there that the long-dormant volcano might erupt very soon. What follows is a series of turbulent moments for the characters. It is similar to ‘Pompeii’ where the inhabitants, too, have to struggle with an upcoming natural disaster, even if this is placed in a more modern setting. Both these movies depict heavy destruction by a volcano that mirrors the fears of those who face certain death, even if they are set in different time frames.

5. Centurian (2010)

Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, and Olga Kurylenko star in this historical action-drama directed by Neil Marshall, where Roman soldiers protest against the destruction of their legion. Celtics or the Picts try their best to prevent the Roman soldiers from reaching their safety net, using guerilla warfare, since their job is to eliminate the Romans altogether. ‘Centurion’ dodges the need for historical accuracy to create a thrilling narrative that keeps the Roman soldiers and the audience on their toes. Like ‘Pompeii’, this historical drama also sheds light on the Roman empire when it still existed and shows plenty of war scenes to capture similar audiences of both movies, even if the Romans don’t seem to have the upper hand in this one.

4. Ben-Hur (2016)

Jack Huston stars in this historical drama along with Morgan Freeman. Huston plays a Jew in ‘Ben-Hur,’ directed by Timur Bekmambetov, who is betrayed by his adopted Roman brother, who joins the Roman army. As the Jews start opposing Roman rule, his brother becomes a nightmare for the family, and Ben-Hur has to fight for what’s right. Just as Harington as a slave, fell for an aristocratic woman in ‘Pompeii’, Ben-Hur falls in love with his family slave and marries her in this period drama. In this movie, too, Roman rule comes as a nightmare for lovers and those seeking justice.

3. Pompeii: The Last Day (2003)

This dramatized documentary depicts the feelings of those present in Pompeii in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed all the inhabitants. Directed by Peter Nicholson, ‘Pompeii: The Last Day’ tries to give a historically accurate account of the happenings while taking some creative liberties to depict instances of earth-shattering changes in the inhabitants’ lives, whose charred remains were found by the end of it. It stars Rachel Atkins and Jim Carter in a narrative that is similar to ‘Pompeii’, which also depicts what happened on the day of the eruption. Both movies have depicted historical and dramatized instances to portray the infamous natural disaster.

2. Titus (1999)

Titus Andronicus (Anthony Hopkins) commands an army of Romans and wins the war at a time when the emperor Ceasar has just died. ‘Titus,’ directed by Julie Taymor, is a story filled with war and revenge and the consequences of people’s actions. It’s got plenty of gore and violence, with Titus dealing with troubled family dynamics and atrocities. This film brings out another ugly side of the Roman Empire, just like ‘Pompeii’, but with a lot more action and violence. While it’s not a historical disaster film, it certainly manages to pique the interest of those who are looking to understand more detailed aspects of the Roman Empire.

1. Agora (2009)

Rachel Weisz, as Hypatia of Alexandria, is learned and influential in astronomy and philosophy at a time when the Roman Empire is ceasing to exist and Christianity is gaining prominence. Her slave soon converts to Christianity for his freedom in this historical drama, which is set in Roman Egypt. Oscar Isaac also plays the role of her student in ‘Agora’, and is in love with Hypatia. While ‘Pompeii’ shows a still strong-standing Roman Empire, this movie shows its demise, but both these historical dramas are similar in terms of Roman history, wars, and the need for strong women to not bow down to the consensus of the rulers and governors.

Read More: Pompeii: Where Was the Kit Harington Movie Filmed?