10 Historical Movies Like Napoleon You Cannot Miss

An epic drama based on the history-defining general, ‘Napoleon’ chronicles the titular figure’s tumultuous rise to power through war and revolution. Acclaimed director Ridley Scott takes us on a decades-spanning adventure of political intrigue and conquest, with a rising Napoleon supported by a fierce Josephine. The 2023 film takes a broad look at the figure’s legacy, from his tactical genius and political machinations to his personal life and struggles, without losing depth. Films similar to ‘Napoleon,’ which delve into the pivotal moments of historical and legendary figures on an epic scale, are few and far between.

10. King Arthur (2004)

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, ‘King Arthur’ offers a gritty reinterpretation of the legendary tale of King Arthur (Clive Owen) and the Knights of the Round Table. In this rendition, Arthur leads a group of knights on a final mission for the retreating Romans. Torn between his loyalty to Rome and the growing realization of an independent Britonian nation, Arthur must fend off the invading Saxons with support from the Woads. With incredible cinematography and understated battle sequences, the film will appeal to those swayed by similar aspects of ‘Napoleon,’ combining brutal warfare with character-driven drama.

9. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Directed by Michael Mann, ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ is an epic historical drama set against the backdrop of the French and Red Indian War. The film unfolds in the rugged wilderness of colonial America, where the Mohican tribe, led by Chingachgook and his sons Uncas and Hawkeye, becomes entangled in the conflict. Amid the brutal clashes between the French and the British, Hawkeye, raised by the Mohicans, finds himself torn between his loyalties.

Alongside his adopted family, he encounters Cora Munro and her sister Alice, survivors of a massacre. As the group navigates the perilous landscapes and battles, romantic tensions emerge between Hawkeye and Cora. The film’s narrative is powered by a complex geopolitical struggle similar to ‘Napoleon.’ The films capture the harsh realities of war with intense action sequences against breathtaking scenery.

8. Darkest Hour (2017)

With Joe Wright in the director’s chair, ‘Darkest Hour’ immerses us in the pivotal weeks of Winston Churchill’s leadership during World War II. Set against the backdrop of the early days of the war, the film opens with Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister, a time when the threat of Nazi invasion looms over Britain. It captures the essence of the charismatic leader grappling with the complexities of war and politics. Churchill faces internal opposition and skepticism from his own party, prompting intense debates about the nation’s stance on negotiating with Hitler or standing firm against tyranny.

As the narrative builds toward the evacuation of Dunkirk, Churchill’s impassioned speeches and resolute leadership define a critical moment in history, showcasing the indomitable spirit that guided Britain through its darkest hour. Similar to ‘Napoleon,’ the film masterfully balances political intrigue with personal moments, depicting dynamic relationships and workplace politics. If you are looking for a character-driven movie similar to the former, ‘Darkest Hour’ will not disappoint.

7. Lincoln (2012)

A Steven Spielberg directorial, ‘Lincoln’ centers on the titular figure’s determined efforts to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery, while navigating the complexities of the Civil War. The plot intricately traces his political maneuvering, as opposition mounts and conflicting opinions arise within his own cabinet. The narrative explores Lincoln’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) relationships with key figures such as Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) and Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones). If you were awed by how ‘Napoleon’ brings historical events and personalities to life, this film offers a nuanced exploration of Lincoln’s leadership during a tumultuous period in American history.


6. The King (2019)

With director David Michôd at the helm, ‘The King’ reimagines the tumultuous rise of King Henry V. The narrative begins with the young Prince Hal (Timothée Chalamet), a wayward heir to the English throne, reluctantly assuming the crown after the death of his tyrannical father. As he grapples with the responsibilities of leadership, he is drawn into the complexities of medieval politics, betrayal, and war.

The Netflix film explores Henry V’s transformation from a reluctant ruler into a decisive and ruthless monarch, particularly during the iconic Battle of Agincourt. Similar to ‘Napoleon,’ ‘The King’ presents a character-driven historical drama rife with politics and gritty warfare. Michôd’s direction accentuates the psychological and political dimensions of power, depicting the personal transformation and moral dilemmas forced upon Henry V.

5. Outlaw King (2018)

Directed by David Mackenzie, ‘Outlaw King’ is a gripping historical biopic that delves into the turbulent life of Robert the Bruce, a Scottish nobleman turned outlaw leader during the Wars of Scottish Independence. The film commences with Robert’s submission to the English crown but swiftly pivots into a narrative of rebellion and resilience. After witnessing the brutal oppression of his people by the English, Robert (Chris Pine) rallies Scottish clans and knights to fight for their freedom.

Those who appreciated ‘Napoleon’ for its depiction of the brilliant tactical mind of the general, will find themselves captivated by the iconic Battle of Loudoun Hill, where Robert faces overwhelming odds to reclaim his kingdom. Mackenzie’s direction skillfully balances grand-scale battle sequences with intimate character moments, offering a visceral and emotionally charged portrayal of a pivotal chapter in Scottish history.

4. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

Directed by Peter Weir, ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’ sails into the tempestuous waters of the Napoleonic Wars. Set in 1805, the film follows Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) as he commands the HMS Surprise in a relentless pursuit of the French privateer Acheron. Weir skillfully captures the harsh realities of warfare at sea, as Ridley Scott does for land warfare in ‘Napoleon.’ The plot intensifies as the pursuit takes the Surprise around Cape Horn, where the relentless sea becomes an adversary as formidable as the Acheron. Aubrey’s strategic brilliance and leadership being tested are reminiscent of the struggles of Napoleon in battle, albeit with much lighter spirits.

3. Robin Hood (2010)

With acclaimed director Ridley Scott at the helm, ‘Robin Hood’ presents a fresh take on the legendary outlaw’s origins and his role in the medieval politics of England. The film begins with Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe), an archer in the army of King Richard the Lionheart returning from the Crusades. After Richard’s death, Robin assumes the identity of a fallen knight and returns to England. Against the backdrop of political intrigue and rebellion, Robin joins forces with Lady Marion to oppose the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham and the scheming Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong). As tensions rise, Robin transforms from a skilled archer to a symbol of resistance, leading a band of rebels against the oppressive regime.

Much like ‘Napoleon,’ ‘Robin Hood’ presents a gripping blend of action, political maneuvering, and character development, providing a more nuanced exploration of the iconic figure. Both films offer a dynamic narrative that combines elements of historical drama, romance, and realism in tales of men who became legends.

2. The Last Samurai (2003)

An Edward Zwick directorial, ‘The Last Samurai’ presents an epic historical drama set in 19th-century Japan. Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), a disillusioned and alcoholic Civil War veteran, is hired to train the newly formed Imperial Japanese Army. The film takes a transformative turn when Algren is captured by the samurai rebels led by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe) during a brutal ambush. As Algren immerses himself in samurai culture, he undergoes a profound change, finding honor and purpose in the code of the warriors he was sent to eradicate.

If you were enthralled by the large-scale battle sequences in ‘Napoleon,’ you will be blown away by the intense depiction of warfare in ‘The Last Samurai.’ Both films revel in their complex exploration of the cultures and structures of the worlds they inhabit, submersing us into their narratives.

1. Alexander (2004)

Helmed by Oliver Stone, ‘Alexander’ chronicles the extraordinary life and conquests of Alexander the Great. The film skillfully showcases pivotal moments in Alexander’s journey, from his childhood under the tutelage of Aristotle to his mind-boggling Eurasian conquest. Like Joaquin Phoenix in ‘Napoleon,’ Colin Farrell delivers a charismatic portrayal of the historical figure, capturing his ambition, strategic brilliance, and complex relationships with close companions. Both ‘’Napoleon,’ and ‘Alexander’ follow their conquerors on their grand conquests, vividly depicting military campaigns and various challenges.

Read More: How Much of Ridley Scott’s Napoleon is True?