Movies like ‘Gladiator’ are rare; not just because they are difficult to make but also due to the fact that there are often a minefield of things that can go wrong. While in films with typical storylines, filmmakers only have to worry about characters and plot, in historical films the production and costume design is as important as story. ‘Gladiator’ itself is not a perfect film, but it pulls off a grand story in spectacular fashion. Over the years, the film has held its own and still enjoys worldwide following. So, if you happen to like the film, here is the list of great movies similar to ‘Gladiator’ that are our recommendations. You can watch some of these movies like Gladiator on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime.
8. 300 (2006)
Zac Snyder, or as I like to call him, “The King of SloMos and Dark Palettes” burst into the mainstream with this visually stunning masterpiece which combined history and fantasy, the scales tipping heavily towards the latter. The film is based on a graphic novel based on the battle of Thermopylae, one of the greatest last stands in history. With epic battle scenes and mindless action sequences, ‘300’ is more violent than ‘Troy’ but an apt companion piece.
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7. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
This 1992 historical drama is set in 1757 during the French and Indian War. Apart from the well-orchestrated battle scenes, the film features a tremendously brilliant, fierce physical performance from Danial-Day Lewis. As Hawkeye the hero of the James Fenimore Cooper novel, he is terrific as a pioneer hero fighting the men over taking the land he loves so dearly. Michael Mann’s superb film was elevated by the performance.
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6. The Last Samurai (2003)
Tom Cruise plays United States Captain, whose personal and emotional conflicts bring him into contact with samurai warriors in the wake of the Meiji Restoration in 19th Century Japan. Captured by the samurai he becomes their friend and ally, and marries himself to their ways, finding peace as a warrior for the first time in his life. Watching the evolution of this character is thrilling to see, and Cruise is perfect throughout this powerful film. The film’s plot was inspired by the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion led by Saigō Takamori, and the westernization of Japan by foreign powers, though in the film the United States is portrayed as the primary force behind the push for westernization.
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5. Brave Heart (1995)
Mel Gibson’s epic war drama followed the journey of William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. The film opened to critical acclaim, getting eight Academy nominations and going on to win five, including Best Picture. The film is said to be inspired by Blind Harry’s epic poem, ‘The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Compiun Schir William Wallace’. The film set new land marks in terms of the magnanimity of the sets and use of thousands of on-set extras.
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4. Troy (2004)
‘Troy’ follows Greek King Agamemnon’s invasion of Troy when his brother’s wife, Helen of Sparta leaves him for Paris, the young Prince of Troy. The film is based on “Illiad”, a Greek poem which illustrates a decade-long Trojan war in a short span. Written by ‘Game of Thrones’ creator David Benioff, ‘Troy’s lead protagonist is Achilles played by Brad Pitt. Pitt’s furious and arrogant and at the same time honorable and caring portrayal of the character is very riveting. The rest of the cast — from Orlando Bloom to Eric Bana to Diane Kruger — are also great.
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3. Spartacus (1960)
When I watched ‘The Shining’, I couldn’t stop watching all Stanley Kubrick’s films. The filmography had a perfect ending with this epic historical drama, inspired by the life story of the leader of a slave revolt in antiquity, Spartacus, and the events of the Third Servile War. The master that he is, Kubrick made painstaking endeavors to be meticulous and get a realistic grip of authenticity on the film. The result was one of the greatest movies ever made!
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2. Ben-Hur (1959)
This 1959 epic historical-drama held the mantle of the greatest film ever made for a long time. Inspired by true events, Ben-Hur tells the tale of its titular namesake, and his struggles in life. The film was the costliest film ever made at that time, and had the biggest set and production in the history of cinema. The film won a record eleven Academy Awards, setting a precedent which still has yet to be surpassed. The film starred Charlton Heston in the main role and catapulted him into global stardom. The film still is remembered for the epic war scenes, the sets and the highly influential musical score.
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1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Probably the greatest film ever made. Lawrence of Arabia sent shock-waves through the industry with its release. The film garnered a total of seven, out of ten nominations, including the Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The film shadows the life of TE Lawrence, the charismatic British officer who helped the Arabians fight the Turks through tact and strategies. Peter O’Toole, also the most nominated Academy actor without a win, gave a performance if a life time assuming the titular role. The film is considered as the most influential piece of cinema ever made and is even today remembered as one of the classic masterpieces of David Lean.
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