6 Great Films About Greek Myths & Roman History

It can be hard to relate to the world of the Greek and Roman Empires in the 21st century. Here is a list of 6 classic films about Greece and Rome that might help your student become more interested in a part of history that disappeared 2,500 years ago. These films can be used as a resource for Dave Raymond’s Antiquity series.

Ulysses (1954) – PG (11+)

Starring Kirk Douglas as the titular character, this film is one of the only well-made interpretations of the Odyssey. It is definitely worth watching if your student enjoys learning about Greek myths.  The film combines a few parts of the original story and excludes others, but there is a reason it has remained as famous as it is today.

If you know the story of the Odyssey, there are some unsavory plot points: the cannibal cyclops Polyphemus, the seductive Circe, and various horrible monsters.  Since the film was made in the 1950s, there is not a lot of violence or sex, but it is something to keep in mind.  However, if your student has read or knows the story, it shouldn’t be too overwhelming.

You can rent the film on Amazon.

Alexander the Great (1956) – PG (11+)

At 32, he was the youngest man in history to conquer such a vast amount of land and die before he was able to rule.  Richard Burton is Alexander and Frederic March his tyrannical father Philip II.  Most people know Alexander the Great from Colin Farrell’s performance in the 2006 version Alexander, but this 1956 interpretation is by far the best.

Much like Ulysses, this film is not overly graphic or sexual, but there are themes of adultery and war violence.

You can rent the film on Amazon.

Julius Caesar (1953) – PG (10+)

This film is an incredible adaptation of Shakespeare’s play of the same name.  Marlon Brando leads the star studded cast as Mark Antony, James Mason is Brutus, and Deborah Kerr is Portia.  Despite its subject matter of one of the world’s most infamous assassinations, Julius Caesar is a relatively small production unlike most Hollywood epics.

There is some bloodshed when Caesar is killed but it looks more like paint than blood.  You see men stabbing him, but it is not graphic and looks well rehearsed while still being believable.  Overall, there is little violence in the film.

You can rent the film on Amazon.

The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) – PG (10+)

This version of the fall of one of the most powerful empires in the world combines the glamour of Hollywood and the power of Rome in a classic epic.  Starring Alec Guinness, Christopher Plummer, Sophia Loren, and Stephen Boyd (who stars in another movie on this list), The Fall of the Roman Empire will completely capture the interest your students.

As most Hollywood epics go, this one has very little violence or sex in it.  There is a romance and lots of fighting, but nothing graphic.

You can rent the film on Amazon.

Spartacus (1960) – PG-14

Another Kirk Douglas classic, Spartacus has claimed a spot on the list of the most famous films ever made since its opening.  It relates the story of Spartacus, a Greek enslaved in the Roman Empire who revolts against its tyrannical rule.  The film is both moving and thrilling, and definitely worth watching.

This is one of the more intense films on this list.  Major plot points include intense fighting (on the battlefield and gladiator ring), sexual issues between slaves and masters, and crucifixion.  None of it is overly graphic though.  For more information, click here.  

You can rent the film on Amazon.

Looking for an ancient history curriculum?

Try 4 Free Lessons of Dave Raymond’s Antiquity

Ben-Hur (1959) – PG-14

Possibly the most well-known film on this list, Charlton Heston plays Ben-Hur, a Jew falsely accused of a crime who must fight against the injustice of the Roman Empire towards himself and his race.  Christianity, Judaism, and Paganism collide in this epic of massive proportions.  It should go to the top of your watch list whether your student is studying Roman history or not.

Like Spartacus, this film is for ages 14 up due to intense fight scenes, general abuse of various people groups, the crucifixion of Jesus, and a scene depicting a camp of lepers.  To know more, click here.

You can rent the film on Amazon.

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