25 Best Movies About Historical Events That You Should Watching Update 07/2024

Movies About Historical Events

When it comes to the best movie plots, many of them are based on historical events that have been repeated and re-examined several times in film. The opportunity to portray historical figures revered by audiences is coveted by many performers, but revolutionaries, whether men or women, are more difficult to portray. It’s common for movies based on historical events to highlight previously untold stories that were overlooked in the classroom.

When it comes to movies based on 25 key historical events, Stacker delved into each one’s facts. Many of these stories are verbatim retellings of the event, while others are metaphors for the event or stories that have a strong connection to the event in some way. The film with the highest IMDb user rating and a minimum of 2,500 votes was declared the event’s top pick.

Read on to discover the best-reviewed film that depicts the life of Jesus, early American history, world wars, and other significant historical events.

1. Life of Jesus: ‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew’

The Gospel According to St. Matthew

Enrique Irazoqui, an academic for most of his life, played Jesus Christ in this three-time Oscar-nominated film. Using the Gospel of Matthew, the film relates the story of Jesus Christ and follows the protagonist’s journey to the Sea of Galilee, where his devotion grows.

2. Triumph of the Roman Empire: ‘Gladiator’

Maximus Decimus Meridius, the Roman gladiator played by Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s epic, made him a bona fide movie star. Gladiator life, ancient Rome, and Marcus Aurelius and his family are depicted in the film. The Best Picture Oscar went to “Gladiator.”

3. The Trial of Joan of Arc: ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc’

Joan of Arc made her big-screen debut in this 1928 silent picture, one of the first depictions of the French heroine. Joan’s trial and execution are the focus of the story, which starred Renée Jeanne Falconetti. Falconetti’s performance was widely praised by film reviewers, although she never appeared in another film following this one.

4. Atlantic slave trade: ‘Amistad’


This epic film by Steven Spielberg tells the story of the 1839 insurrection on board the slave ship La Amistad. Hounsou and Freeman appeared in a controversial script written by David Franzoni. A number of academics have noted that the video has numerous historical mistakes, and have questioned its usefulness as a vehicle for teaching about slavery.

5. French and Indian War: ‘The Last of the Mohicans’

An attack on Fort William Henry in upstate New York during the French and Indian War is depicted in the film adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper’s novel, “The Last of the Mohicans.” After earning an Oscar for his role in My Left Foot, Daniel Day-Lewis followed up with this picture, which was praised by many film fans for its score.

6. The American Revolution: ‘Hamilton’

The biography of American founding father Alexander Hamilton is depicted in this biopic based on the smash hit musical. The film’s director, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is known for its varied ensemble, wit, and intricacy. Other notable characters are Jefferson and Burr.

7. Napoleonic Wars: ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’

Master and Commander The Far Side of the World

Films about life at sea, aside from those inspired by pirates, haven’t always done well at the box office. But with Russell Crowe coming off of “Gladiator,” this epic set during the Napoleonic Wars proved to have a long-lasting impact on the public’s consciousness. Crowe portrays a fictional British Royal Navy officer named Jack Aubrey, whose army ends up in the Galápagos Islands.

8. The Civil War: ‘Dances with Wolves’

When an Army lieutenant is dispatched to the West to deal with Sioux tribes, Kevin Costner stars as his commanding officer. However, some have taken issue with the film’s depiction of the Sioux and Pawnee in relation to each other in the plot. Still, the film won Best Picture at the Oscars, with Kevin Costner taking home the Best Director award.

9. World War I: ‘Paths of Glory’

During World War I, trench warfare resulted in some of the most violent fighting ever witnessed in combat. By defying instructions to carry out an attack that will almost certainly result in death, the French soldiers who make up the crew of “Paths of Glory” raise questions about patriotism, heroism, and compassion. Before Kirk Douglas helped bring the film to theaters for over two decades, the script was bouncing around Hollywood on the basis of a true story of soldiers executed for cowardice.

10. Russian Revolution: ‘Doctor Zhivago’

Doctor Zhivago

As Western audiences devoured this story set during the Russian Revolution, the novel on which it is based was banned in the Soviet Union. The CIA smuggled copies of the book into the Soviet Union to inflame anti-communist sentiment during the Cold War. The film spans several decades as it chronicles a family’s quest for self-understanding.

11. Irish Civil War: ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’

This historical drama centers on a pair of brothers who enlist in the Irish Republican Army during the struggle for Irish independence. The film’s title is derived from an Irish folk song, and it explores a number of historical topics that foreshadowed the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The depiction of British crimes in various episodes upset several viewers.

12. Nazi concentration camps: ‘Schindler’s List’

There was a heavyweight acting trifecta in this black and white film: Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, and Liam Neeson. German Oskar Schindler opposes the Nazi authorities by saving the lives of over 1,000 Jews in a story set during the Holocaust.

13. D-Day: ‘Saving Private Ryan’

Saving Private Ryan

Immediately following “Amistad,” Steven Spielberg completed another historical epic, this one based on the Normandy assault. A military battalion, fresh from clearing Normandy Beach, is tasked with the task of tracking down the remains of a soldier whose brothers were killed in action. For a picture that has been lauded for capturing the horror and intensity of World War II, Tom Hanks and Matt Damon star.

14. Life of Gandhi: ‘Gandhi’

For the first time, Ben Kingsley plays Mahatma Gandhi on the big screen in this biopic. He was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Gandhi’s nonviolent fight to the British Empire, which earned him the title of Best Actor. Kingsley has previously stated that portraying Gandhi would be “impossible” before to taking the job.

15. The Vietnam War: ‘Apocalypse Now’

Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, and Robert Duvall star in this Vietnam War drama, which is loosely based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon. Francis Ford Coppola’s grandiose vision garnered eight Oscar nominations despite the fact that George Lucas was originally slated to direct. It was one of the best depictions of the psychological toll of war that has ever been produced for film.

16. U.S. Civil Rights Movement: ‘Malcolm X’

Malcolm X

Angela Bassett, Delroy Lindo, and Nelson Mandela all make appearances in the film, but Denzel Washington’s portrayal of Malcolm X is the star of the show. The film was released immediately after the riots in Los Angeles, and its exploration of American race relations and the civil rights struggle continues to reverberate today. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley served as a major inspiration for the screenplay.

17. Assassination of JFK: ‘JFK’

This Academy Award-winning dramatization of the events leading up to and following the killing of President John F. Kennedy stars Kevin Costner as the film’s charismatic leader. The film was widely condemned for its historical inaccuracies, yet filmmaker Oliver Stone continued to make films about American presidents despite the criticism (George W. Bush and Richard Nixon). Keith Hernandez and a strange wad of spit appeared on “Seinfeld” in a parody of “JFK,” which became a global sensation.

18. Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.: ‘Selma’

On the heels of the 1965 voting rights marches, Selma powerfully depicts Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taking on the policies of Alabama Governor George Wallace. Voting restriction laws were finally repealed as a result of the large-scale protests, but the battle was far from finished; today, states are enacting legislation to restrict voting rights once more.

19. The moon landing: ‘The Right Stuff’

The Right Stuff

It’s a rarity these days, but “The Right Stuff” remained a beloved award season favorite despite its box revenue failure. Despite starring young actors like Dennis Quaid, Ed Harris, and Sam Shepard, the narrative of the first military people picked to become astronauts was not well received by moviegoers. For some reason, the audience may have grown accustomed to outer space films based on the use of lasers and alien technology, rather than historical retellings about America’s pursuit of space exploration.

20. Watergate: ‘All the President’s Men’

As a result of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s investigation into Watergate in 1974, a film was made two years later. Richard Nixon was forced to resign after he was exposed as a liar by reporters Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford. Woodward and Bernstein’s reporting for The Washington Post earned them a Pulitzer Prize and four Oscars for their film.

21. Apartheid: ‘District 9’

As a science fiction film, “District 9” was groundbreaking because it was based on genuine events that occurred in Cape Town during apartheid. Neill Blomkamp’s career was started after the film’s box financial and critical success. The film’s severe condemnation of racial injustice is made possible by the use of spliced-in documentary material.

22. The Cold War: ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’

Kubrick, at the height of the Cold War, took on the panic surrounding nuclear posturing between the USSR and the US. Peter Sellers and George C. Scott were recruited by Kubrick for the project, and their chemistry resulted in a slew of memorable lines from the actors. Early on, the film’s influence on the 1960s counterculture would be widely acknowledged.

23. Rwandan genocide: ‘Hotel Rwanda’

Hotel Rwanda

Don Cheadle’s performance as a hotel manager during the Rwandan genocide left viewers speechless. Despite the brutality, Cheadle’s character manages to save a large number of lives, and the film was nominated for a number of awards. Rwandan officials, on the other hand, were inconsistent in their support and criticism of “Hotel Rwanda.”

24. 9/11: ‘United 93’

“United 93” was one of the most well regarded films on 9/11. Passengers and crew members attempted to seize control of the United 93 flight before it crashed in Pennsylvania, and the film depicts their efforts to do so in stunning detail. In the opinion of many critics, the film did not exploit people who lost their lives in the attacks of September 11th, 2001.

25. 2007 financial crisis: ‘The Big Short’


Big banks, housing bubbles, and financial markets are all difficult for the average moviegoer to understand, but “The Big Short” broke down the 2007 financial crisis into manageable chunks that could be understood and enjoyed by a wide range of viewers. The film stars Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and a host of other actors, all of whom discover a golden opportunity to profit from poor home loans before the rest of the public does. The film is notable for its intentionally faulty edited scenes and cameo appearances by Margot Robbie and others who explain various aspects of the market in layman’s terms.