Historical epic Marco Polo follows the exploits of renowned Italian explorer Marco Polo and his encounters with Kublai Khan, the Mongol ruler of imperial China.
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History’s greatest adventure, Marco Polo, is a film about the famous Italian explorer and his meetings with Kublai Khan, Emperor of the Mongols, in the 13th century. One of the most expensive TV shows ever had a two-season run starting in 2014. Although the show was budgeted at $200 million, it was so unpopular with viewers that Netflix cancelled it after the second season.
There are a slew of shows like Marco Polo available on Netflix for those looking for historical epics. I’ll give you ten (none of them are from the Viking age):
1. Beecham House
Beecham House focused on the lives of a British family living in India during the colonial era and was directed by Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha. This ITV drama used the talents of its ensemble cast, with Tom Bateman leading them as John Beecham, as the centerpiece for its social commentary.
For history buffs who like Downton Abbey style but want to see two different historical eras, this is a must-see.
2. The White Princess
Elizabeth of York’s attempts to save the kingdom through her marriage to Henry VII and her resolve in the Wars of the Roses were depicted in Philippa Gregory’s Tudor dynasty novel that followed The White Queen.
Jodie Comer, who played Elizabeth I, embodied the fragility and tenacity of a British leader during a turbulent time. And Comer cemented her reputation as a rising star with a performance like that.
Britannia takes place during the Roman invasion of the British Isles, when two Celtic leaders form an unlikely alliance to stop Aulus Plautius’ invasion.
This Prime Video epic series embraced its own identity of peculiar mythos, outlandish characters and fantasy sequences that bend history with creative gusto while balancing action set pieces and political intrigue. The actors are willing to put up with the strangeness because the show is still epic no matter what.
This South Korean Netflix series blends two genres, focusing on a prince investigating a mysterious plague that transforms its victims into zombies.
While the genres are successfully blended, the strength of Kingdom lies in the action scenes’ execution and the film’s production design (which is a staple on Korean TV shows). The zombie-like plague’s realism is so convincing that it seamlessly blends with historical events.
5. The Last Kingdom
For all the attempts to recapture the levels of Game of Thrones or even Vikings, here is one about a Saxon Viking-raised who had to choose between honoring his birthright and considering the consequences that his ancestry had caused…..
The Last Kingdom, a BBC-Netflix co-production, provides a somber look at the Anglo-Saxon era before the British kingdoms united. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, the story’s protagonist, is a rough but endearing figure.
6. The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth is a stirring epic based on Ken Follett’s best-selling novel about the construction of a cathedral during a time of conflict between England and Normandy.
This Golden Globe-winning miniseries depicted the perseverance to keep a legacy running during a turbulent period and the events that came with it by pitting two prominent empirical figures against each other in an ethical battle over ethical ingenuity and resolve.
A warrior (Tom Cullen) haunted by his Crusade exploits but driven by news of the Holy Grail is depicted in the same vein as Marco Polo, who is a charismatic but flawed figure in Knightfall.
Despite its lower-than-average quality, the History Channel’s depiction of the Knights Templar’s tumultuous history was a welcome addition.
8. Troy: Fall of a City
That Brad Pitt film isn’t an exact remake, nor is it an adaptation of Homer’s epic poem The Iliad. It’s more of a reimagining of Achilles’ conquests in Troy, but from the point of view of modern-day Paris.
In terms of plot, Troy: Fall of a City offers nothing new, but the battle scenes, political intrigue, and humanized portrayals of the characters do stand out. Furthermore, it provided a fresh look at Greek mythology with its new perspective.
This gritty epic, which drew inspiration from films like Gladiator and 300, was made into a miniseries, which gave Spartacus the same treatment as other historical warriors.
A Thracian slave uprising led by Spartacus against his fellow gladiators was shown over the course of the show’s three seasons. Both Andy Whitfield (who passed away in 2011) and Liam McIntyre embodied a more gritty version of the titular hero as their respective titular figures.
By far the most popular of these shows, HBO’s Rome is an underrated gem of epic proportion. This series, which aired for a total of two seasons, followed the rise and fall of the storied city as it went from republic to empire.
There are two main characters, Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd), a principled soldier, and reckless Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson), two soldiers who lived in different periods of Roman history. An impressive historical epic that makes good on its $110 million production cost thanks to its intricate production design and artful depiction of historical events, Rome is well worth another look.
Paolo Alfar is a Manila-based freelance writer. When he was a kid, he created a movie theater out of nothing and it became a huge part of his life. His love for movies grew as a result of this experience. And “Blood Diamond,” the Leo DiCaprio epic, may have sparked this interest. Paolo the TPS can be found on Letterboxd.