20 Films That Transformed History Into Epic Cinema

History and cinema have a long-standing relationship, with filmmakers often turning to the past for stories that are as engaging as they are enlightening. These 20 films stand out for their distinctive interpretations of real-life events, offering viewers a mix of education, entertainment, and occasionally, controversy.

The King’s Speech (2010)

Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company

It’s not every day a movie makes a speech impediment the crux of a historical drama, especially one as significant as King George VI’s battle with his stammer. This film, climaxing with the king’s war declaration, highlights an often-overlooked aspect of leadership during World War II.

Gandhi (1982)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Gandhi’s life and his quest for Indian independence and peace showcase the power of non-violence against severe adversity. This film not only celebrates Gandhi’s philosophy but also immerses viewers in the turbulent times that shaped a nation.

Schindler’s List (1993)

Photo Credit: Universal Studios

Although based on a true story, Schindler’s List shows the kindness of the human spirit, even in war. Spielberg’s direction makes the film all the more unique, as it tells how a German industrialist attempts to save Jewish people during the Holocaust.

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Audiences have described this Steve McQueen-directed movie as almost a first-hand experience of slavery and life in the South of America before the Civil War. Also, based on the true story of Solomon Northup, it recaps the years he spent as a slave after being kidnapped.

The Pianist (2002)

Photo Credit: Focus Features

Telling the story of the Holocaust from the experiences of a pianist who survived it, The Pianist’s director was also a survivor of the Holocaust. Something that stood out with this is that the characters experienced no deliberate survival—most survivors had only luck to thank.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Generally regarded as one of the best films ever made, the movie won seven Oscars at the 35th Academy Awards. Telling the story of the Arab Revolt from the viewpoint of T.E. Lawrence, a lieutenant in the British Army, it was ranked fifth on the 1998 American Film Institute’s Greatest American Films list.

Amadeus (1984)

Photo Credit: Orion Pictures

The key to understanding this uniqueness in cinema is that it is fantastical and not meant to be historically accurate. However, the film revolves around two of the most essential composers of the Classical period—Wolfgang Mozart and Antonio Salieri. The movie depicts Mozart as a talented genius and Salieri as mediocre.

Braveheart (1995)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Most times, telling a story exactly how it happened would bore cinemagoers. That’s exactly why Braveheart adds a lot of spice to the Scottish fight for independence, which was, in reality, a long and arduous process, not really exciting. Even the face paint is not historically correct.

The Last Emperor (1987)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

This film details the life of the last Chinese Emperor, the end of his empire, his unwitting participation in World War II, and subsequent imprisonment. Through a series of flashbacks and other narrative techniques, the film takes viewers through the highs and lows of Puyi’s life.

Lincoln (2012)

Photo Credit: DreamWorks Pictures

Focusing on the final months of President Abraham Lincoln’s life, this movie prioritizes his efforts to pass the 13th Amendment, ending financing for the Confederacy and abolishing slavery. It also shows American politics in its founding days, before it became as glorified as it is today.

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Photo Credit: MGM Studios

During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager, used his position in the hotel to save and assist over 1,000 Rwandans fleeing for their lives. Based on a true story, it attempted to tell an African story in a world where most are overlooked.

In the Name of the Father (1993)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

The Guildford Four, in 1974, were framed and wrongly convicted of bombing a pub in England. When it was proved that evidence was withheld, the sentence was overturned in 1989. The director, Jim Sheridan, has since explained that this is more of an in-depth look into family relationships.

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

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

This film surprisingly discards the “formula” for executing a typical plot. Some have even described it as incomplete, but I think it does a good job of addressing all the issues raised in it, even if it leaves you wanting more or without all the context one would usually desire.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

Photo Credit: Sixteen Films

This film focuses on key elements in the struggle for Irish Independence and the Civil War, like Flying Columns, the British sending in the military, etc. It tells the story as many experienced it, from the perspective of a family torn apart by the political landscape.

Downfall (2004)

Photo Credit: Newmarket Films

What makes Downfall unique? It’s an almost flawless depiction of Hitler’s last days in the bunker as Germany loses World War II. Told through one of Hitler’s secretaries, Traudl Junge, it also relies on other eyewitness testimonies to create a reliable account.

Amistad (1997)

Photo Credit: Dreamworks

This movie is a fresh and unusual take on slavery, but relies on a true story. In this film, Spielberg shares the story of Cinqué, who was captured but, along with other captives, overthrows his captors on the schooner La Amistad. He is subsequently tried in America and wins his freedom to return to Africa.

Paths of Glory (1957)

Photo Credit: United Artists

Stanley Kubrick has long been hailed as one of the true masters of cinema, and Paths of Glory is one of the films that really established him. Depicting the senselessness of war, Kubrick employs French soldiers who are court-martialed for cowardice in World War I.

Apollo 13 (1995)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

In man’s journey to conquering space, a few voyages have garnered popular attention, like Apollo 13. Most likely, the existence of this film has contributed to the popularity that the voyage continues to enjoy today, especially since the voyage wasn’t a success, but just shows the determination of the human spirit.

The Battle of Algiers (1966)

Photo Credit: Igor Film

You don’t often see actual resistance fighters producing and starring in films about their struggle for independence, but that’s exactly what happens here. The film is presented like a typical military action documentary. However, it ultimately carries in it a message of hope.

The Big Short (2015)

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

The 2008 financial crisis was definitely a historical event. The Big Short does an amazing job of not only explaining what exactly happened but also how it happened, and how some people somehow profited from it. Christian Bale’s performance as financial genius Michael Burry is outstanding.

Up Next: 19 Movies With Endings So Wild, We’re Still Arguing About Them

Image Credit: Warner Bros

Movies are supposed to wrap things up nicely, giving us that satisfying end to the stories we’ve been glued to for a couple of hours. But then there are those movies that just love to mess with our heads, leaving us with more questions than answers as the credits roll. Let’s dive into 20 films that kept us up at night, debating their wild endings.


The 16 Greatest Classic Hollywood Actors of All Time

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

The Golden Age of Hollywood was an exceptional era for cinema, delivering countless classics and introducing the world to numerous legendary actors. Here, I’m going to explore 16 of these remarkable actors who made an undeniable impact on the film industry as they lit up the silver screen.


15 Forgotten Disney Movies No One Talks About Anymore

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Disney has churned out some real gems over the years, movies that have grabbed hearts and refused to let go. But tucked away in that treasure chest are some sparkling jewels that haven’t quite caught everyone’s eye yet. Today, I’m thrilled to share with you 15 Disney movies that are totally underrated and definitely deserve a spot on your watch list.