“Historically accurate” movies as voted for in 2017….

Well, it’s interesting to see the top 33 “historically accurate” movies , as voted for in 2017 by IMDb readers. I confess to being disappointed that only three of the medieval period made it to the list (which is in number-of-votes order).

Well, three if Elizabeth actually counts as medieval. This last of the Tudor monarchs, 1998 version, was at number 25. I’ve included her here because she’s sort-of medievalish. At a stretch. Anyway, she was rated at 7.4 and managed 93,085 votes. I haven’t seen the movie, my appreciation of Elizabeth being fixed back with Glenda Jackson. Which dates me.

At number 27 was the 1928 movie The Passion of Joan of Arc, set in 1431. Now I confess to never having seen this one either, nor am I likely to, because I’m just not a fan of Joan of Arc. But it had 47,619 votes and was rated at 8.1.

At number 30 was the 1968 version of The Lion in Winter, set in 1183. Yes, yes! Definitely an accurate film of a totally dysfunctional royal family of the medieval period. Brilliantly cast and presented. All of them scheming against each other. It was rated at 7.9, with 28,980 votes. I’d have placed it much higher in the list. Alas no.

And the first five? Schindler’s List, The Wolf of Wall Street, Goodfellas, The Pianist and City of God. The last three after The Lion in Winter? Gettysberg, A Night to Remember and lastly, Black Robe.

I have yet looked to see if there are similar lists for subsequent years… But I will.


  1. The Passion of Joan of Arc was an incredible movie. It was based on the actual transcripts of her trial, the camera work was gorgeous, and the lead actress incandescent. Her performance was so taxing both physically and emotionally that she reportedly never acted in another film again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kelly, I fear there are some events from the past that will never inspire me, and Joan of Arc’s story is one of them. I don’t know why. I will certainly never watch a movie about her, but I’m quite prepared to believe this particular one is everything you say.

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  3. The problem is, most people are not qualified to judge historical accuracy. And it is 999th on the list of importance for filmmakers. That s why, unlike many, I would not like to see Sunne in Spendor made into a film. They would ruin it!

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    1. Once we’ve read a book, everything in it is framed in our minds. We “see” the characters and the scenes. When a film is made, we see what someone else sees, and it’s never the same. For instance, I know Aneurin Barnard’s portrayal of Richard III is the one everyone praises, and yes, it’s good. But he isn’t my idea of Richard. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. And, as you say, how can we possibly judge whether anything is accurate when we weren’t around when it all happened. And there isn’t likely to be a lost roll of film in that crumbling old chest at the top of that winding stairs in that dark cobweb-hung tower in the middle of that endless forest….


  4. Fully agree about The Lion in Winter. For another medieval one, I’d say “The Hour of the Pig” with Colin Firth, Ian Hom and Donald Pleasence. Firth plays a young lawyer who leaves Paris for the simpler life in the country, but is soon drawn into intrigue and conspiracy – both political and amorous. The pig in question is accused of murdering a boy and it is the hapless lawyer’s task to defend it – with all the powers of the locality stacked against him. Released as “The Advocate” in USA.

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  5. The Hour of the Pig is based on historical fact – animals were accused of murder in France.Here’s a link to the film https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5494894/ BTW, Black Robe (mentioned above) was an excellent film too, in French with English subtitles, a Jesuit priest travels to Canada in the mid C17th to convert the Huron to Christianity, only to find his own faith challenged. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101465/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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  6. I totally agree sighthound6, that doesn’t bear thinking about!
    Also the fact that the majority of people just take everything they see or read as being gospel. Looking at the movies mentioned in the list, one jumped out at me. A Night to Remember, is known to be nowhere near factionally correct.

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  7. Agree about Lion in Winter. If the actual incident of the play/movie never took place, it is true in spirit. I watched Victoria (the series) and couldn’t find anything specifically terribly wrong with it, it just didn’t seem right. For example, Victoria’s uncles, the Duke of Cumberland, and the Duke of Sussex, were miscast. I also had a feeling that the ‘side stories’ about the palace staff were completely made up.
    Downton Abbey, OTOH, rings true, even though entirely fiction. Perhaps no aristocratic English family ever had that much bad luck, or was that fashionable, but we still accept them as ‘real people’ Maybe it has to do with the quality of the writing, acting, and production?

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