List of best Rome-based film by Rotten Tomatoes. These movies, some of which feature stunning cinematography, are worth a look for fans of the genre.
There are a few time periods that come to mind when a filmmaker thinks of “history.” A few popular examples include Victorian England, World War II-era Europe, and Ancient Rome. Screenwriters, directors and performers have been interested by the lives of emperors, gladiators and even the average people since the early 1900’s when filmmaking began. Considering that the Bard himself wrote extensively on the subject, it’s hardly unexpected.
In the “sword and sandal” or “peplum movie” genre, there have surely been a number of box office failures. A huge investment in a production like this is no longer prudent, given the current waning popularity of Rome and Roman culture. It was different in the past, when studios had a dedicated “Ancient Roman” area for props storage and sets were sound stages. According to Rotten Tomatoes, below is a list of the greatest Roman films ever made.
It was updated by Kristy Ambrose on the 10th of April 2021: Ancient history never goes out of style, no matter how many different interpretations there are of it. It doesn’t matter how much technology we have, our love for the classical era will never fade. Although the Roman Empire was long over, we can still learn a great deal about it thanks to the many ruins, records, and even a thriving city in Rome. Because of their status as Hollywood blockbusters from a different era, these movies tend to take themselves too seriously. This is why we’ve added some fantasy and comedy to the list.
15. Centurion (2010)
Centurion, despite being set in the Roman era and starring Roman actors, is actually set in Britain. Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender) is a Roman centurion who served in Caledonia, modern-day Scotland, in the second century.
On his side are the Brigantes warriors and scout Etain (Olga Kurylenko) and the Romans who killed her family. However, despite the film’s mixed reviews, its $12 million budget was only recouped at the box office, making it an acknowledged failure.
14. Cleopatra (1963)
One of Elizabeth Taylor’s greatest appearances, parts, and performances is surely a shock to the old world. Cleopatra, played by Richard Burton and Rex Harrison, is as stunningly gorgeous as she is cunning, and she changes the course of history by seducing Marc Antony and Julius Caesar.
It’s not exactly a Shakespearean play, but it’s a stunning representation of the golden age of Hollywood in its genuine form. Despite the fact that it made a lot of money, it almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox.
13. Titus (1999)
Anthony Hopkins stars as Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus in this film adaption, which is directed by the acclaimed stage and screen director Julie Taymor. Titus is mostly set in ancient Rome, despite the fact that historical reality (at least as it appears in Shakespeare’s writing) is stretched and shattered throughout the play.
With Jessica Lange and Alan Cummings as Tamora, the Goth Queen and Saturninus, the Emperor of Rome, Hopkins is joined on-screen. In spite of a $25 million budget and mixed reviews from reviewers, the picture has subsequently become a cult classic.
12. Asterix and Obelix: Mansion of the Gods (2014)
Despite the fact thatAsterix and Obelix: Mansion of the Godsis an animated comedy, it’s easy to overlook the fact that it represents the most common type of Roman enslavement, and believe it or not that wasn’t frequently force. They were able to subdue the people of their empire by cultural absorption, economic pressure, and political influence.
An unexpected shift that offers a challenge for our primary heroes, Asterix and Obelisk who are used to facing the Romans in warfare. How do they resist the temptations of money, extravagance, and glamor?
11. Gladiator (2000)
Films set in Ancient Rome have long been considered some of the greatest ever made, and this Ridley Scott classic was no exception, collecting $460 million at the box office and taking home five Oscars, including Best Picture. Since its release, interest in ancient Roman literature and history has skyrocketed because of the “Gladiator effect.”
the brutal Emperor Commodus in the film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe as Maximus Decimus Meridius, a Roman general forced into slavery (Joaquin Phoenix).
It was Crowe’s idea to include a line about his family farm’s soil being “black like [his] wife’s hair” in the script.
10. Satyricon (1969)
The legends of hedonism and pleasure are more prevalent in this story of life in ancient Rome than the real facts. In order to reflect the fantastical historical period that covered the reign of Emperor Nero, the colors, clothing, and general atmosphere are all exaggerated
Breaking the story into nine separate parts, the film follows the protagonist as he tries to reclaim his young lover from his ex-girlfriend. For a film that relies so heavily on a suspension of disbelief and mystical surrounds, the film’s format is ideal.
9. A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1966)
In comparison to previous films based in Ancient Rome, this one is a little more unique. First and foremost, it’s a musical. The tale revolves around a slave named Pseudolus, played by Zero Mostel, who tries to gain his freedom by helping his master win the heart of the girl next door, based on the Broadway musical of the same name.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forumis the perfect movie for those who need a vacation from the violence and guts ofGladiatorandCenturion, but aren’t quite ready to leave Ancient Rome behind. Fans of Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics will be singing along to the tunes for days.
8. Ben-Hur (1959)
The original 1925 silent film, which was redone in 2016, is itself a rework of this classic movie. When Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) is dragged into Roman slavery, he becomes a charioteer and vows revenge on Messala (Stephen Boyd), a Roman citizen who has harmed him tremendously.
Ben-Hur was the most costly film ever filmed, with a $15 million budget, at the time of its premiere. Sets for the film required 200 camels and 2,500 horses as well as a whopping 10,000 more cast members. Everything worked out in the end, as the film grossed $146 million worldwide, making it the second biggest grossing film of its era, behind only Gone with the Wind.
7. Quo Vadis (1951)
To convey the story of the Roman Empire’s battle against Christianity and the plight of early Christians, MGM’s epic historical drama combines real and fictional elements. Peter Ustinov and Leo Genn also star. Walter Pidgeon narrates. Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Leo Genn, and Peter Taylor (Funny Girl, Forbidden Planet).
An astonishing $21 million was made on a $7 million budget, and it received mixed to excellent reviews at the box office. Initially, critics were more taken with the film’s epic scope rather than the actual filmmaking or narrative merits, but it doesn’t seem to matter now.
6. TIE: Barabbas (1962)
Barabbas presents the account of Barabbas, a New Testament historical figure, in the form of a religious epic. However, this picture was not only shot in Rome and Verona (Italy), but it also featured some of the most epic scenes in cinematic history, including an actual gladiatorial conflict and an actual solar eclipse.
To play Barabbas and Pilate are Anthony Quinn, Arthur Kennedy and Arnold Foa. Joseph of Arimathea, the man who buried Jesus after his crucifixion, also appears in the film. At the box office, it raked in $2.9 million, and the film has gotten favorable reviews from both contemporary and modern critics.
5. TIE: Cabiria (1914)
It’s the only silent film on this list, but Cabiria is set during the Second Punic War and covers some of the war’s most iconic scenes, including Hannibal’s march across the Alps, the Siege of Syracuse, and the Roman general Scipio’s military campaign in Northern Africa.
This film is credited by Martin Scorsese as the beginning of the epic genre. Cabiria is the spiritual ancestor of films likeBen-Hur andGladiator if he is correct. For the first time, it was shown on the White House lawn for President Woodrow Wilson when it premiered there in 1914. It was restored and released in Cannes in 2006.
4. Spartacus (1960)
Starz’s television series Spartacus has made Spartacus’ story well-known to a new generation of viewers. Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1960 film of the same name, directed by the director himself and written by Dalton Trumbo, a blacklisted screenwriter, introduced the character to the public long earlier.
Even more fascinating than the story it portrays is the role it played in ending the practice of blacklisting communist or communist sympathizer filmmakers, which President John F. Kennedy personally crossed picket lines to see.
3. Julius Caesar (1953)
Julius Caesar has been the subject of numerous films, including two starring Charlton Heston in the 1950s and 1970s. It’s hard to argue with the number one spot going to Shakespeare’s Mark Antony (1953), featuring Marlon Brando as the title character.
It tells the story of Julius Caesar’s treachery and assassination by those who were supposed to be his closest friends and allies. The actors’ and director’s personal issues hampered production, and sets from Quo Vadis, which came out two years prior, were reused.
2. Life of Brian (1979)
Life of Brian, one of Monty Python’s finest films, has the resources and writing of a major motion picture. Furthermore, it is the most authentic portrayal of life in a Roman province ever filmed. The film is set in the Roman province of Judea, rather than in the capital city, and it offers a fun but realistic look at life in the region. Occasionally, the satire takes a scathing edge when addressing the Romans’ tyranny and that of the Judean rulers in particular.
When stonings were banned, did it really mean that women were not allowed to attend?
However, we can’t rule out the possibility that Pontius Pilate did, either.
1. The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964)
The Fall of the Roman Empire, released in 1963, is primarily characterized by its use of spectacle, drama, political intrigue, and a desire for power. This is the kind of film that makes movie buffs mourn the passing of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Ridley Scott’s reduced version of this for modern audiences is also included on this list to show how the industry has evolved. There’s no comparison between Gladiator and this.
For the most part, this film is a genuine historical epic that explores the grandeur and scope of Rome’s golden period and the events that led to its downfall from inside. Empire’s glory is displayed in vivid technicolor for all to see thanks to the likes of Alec Guinness and Christopher Plummer, among other standouts.