Talk:List of historical period drama films and series

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missing film titles[edit]

Helen of Troy (2003) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pablonf (talkcontribs) 00:42, 7 December 2015 (UTC)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northmen:_A_Viking_Saga should be added.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Paul_Jones_(film) should be added.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackbeard_the_Pirate should be added. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 85.180.148.231 (talk) 13:42, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Richard_and_the_Crusaders should be added. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 85.180.148.231 (talk) 13:36, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

East of The Sun, West of the Moon about Assizi...? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 208.54.44.230 (talk) 02:53, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

Italics[edit]

All of these film titles need to be in italics. I'll do my part, but there are a lot of them to be sure.

Definition[edit]

Ok -- I think we need definition here -- are these films based on actual historical characters or events -- or just any crap set in the past? My vote is for the former, in which case GWTW and Barry Lyndon (although it is at times brilliant) should be ousted. They're based on books, not actual events or persons. I would vote to leave in the Shakespeare, though, since it is drama about historical people and events...opinions??JHK

But Shakespeare's take on history is as dubious as say the authors of the screenplay of Pearl Harbour... His stuff is politically motivated (e.g. the blackening of the character of King Richard III, etc). One in, all in... I do think we can accept that while Robin Hood, Men in Tights, (amusing though it is), probably doesn't belong here, Monty Python and The Holy Grail which makes some fairly heavyweight points about historical social and political conditions as well as the nature of history itself probably does. sjc

I agree about Shakespeare's motivations, but maintain that, since his historical plays are about real people, they go here -- they're actually great for teaching Tudor/Stuart politics -- and for teaching how we need to be critical of our sources. I would also keep Holy Grail and Life of Brian -- but not Ben Hur. And would keep Pearl Harbor -- it happened, and it's interesting to compare with Tora Tora Tora...JHK

My understanding is that historical drama is separated from Docudrama by the former being fictional events in a historical setting and the latter being based on true events. So Titanic would be a historical drama as the main plot of the movie, the story of Rose and jack, was fictional, whereas something that was about true events, such as Ray, is docudrama. Even though it took some liberties with the material, the main plot really happened. So in short, historical dramas get their setting from history and docudramas get their plot from history. Ace of Sevens 13:02, 7 June 2006 (UTC)


I would like to see this excellent list divided into two classes: (1) Dramas that adhere closely to historical events and (2) dramas that are stories based loosely, or closely, on historical events and personages. Thus, Zulu and Zulu Dawn would be Class 1 but the almost entirely fictional Shaka Zulu would be in Class 2. Docudramas of the kind shown on B.B.C. Knowledge, History Channel, etc., would go in Class 1. Class 2 would also also provide for the Errol Flynn / Olivia de Havilland "historical" movies that have been left out (e.g., other versions Charge of the Light Brigade and Robin Hood are included but not poor ol' Errol's; even, ugh, They Died With Their Boots On would be eligible for Class 2 inclusion). User:Mzee Mvuvi

Prehistorical films and films based on greek mythology are per definition not historic. The content of this page has nothing to do with its title! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 62.199.254.149 (talk) 15:51, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

Look here, who on Earth decided that "Pope Joan" was an historical film? It is pure fiction. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 105.236.198.58 (talk) 22:04, 18 March 2013 (UTC)

we need to be more strict about time period[edit]

I propose that all World War 2 films are merged and linked with the article labelled List of World War II films You can see that once you look there, how big of a task it would be to list them all.

I would support that. There are just too many to include them in this list without completely overwhelming it. Matthew Dillenburg (talk) 18:24, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Good idea. I would also support that! DannyLee9 (talk) 01:53, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Cleanup[edit]

All films need dates. Each section needs to be ordered, either by historical time period, which may be difficult, or by date of film, or in alphabetical order. There are other minor formatting issues that will be encountered by anyone attempting the above cleanup. Yworo (talk) 16:41, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

Agreed. We need to have it by historical time period, but more accurate. Not a film listed for 300 BC followed by a 1000BC. These lists are a mess and outdated, but are still more precise. http://www.vernonjohns.org/snuffy1186/movies.html--98.64.19.42 (talk) 01:40, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

Well, for the sake of good order, I guess I'll come back to wikipedia for this. The movies should be in a sortable table, to be ordered by time period (earliest possible time period in case of ambiguity), release date, or title, with a section for notes. Tealwisp (talk) 20:12, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

I would appreciate anyone's help building this table in my userspace at User:Tealwisp/Miscellaneous Construction Tealwisp (talk) 20:33, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

The table is a really good idea, and I'll try to help out with that now that I've kind of got the hang of the formatting.Matthew Dillenburg (talk) 20:52, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

I feel I should propose that the BCE/CE format be reverted to BC/AD since there has not been obvious discussion and consensus which should have happened as stated in WP:ERA. If there has not been any discussion then the date formats will be changed to the latter. 78.146.132.102 (talk) 20:49, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm a noob at editing, but how can Ivanhoe (1962) starring Elizabeth Taylor have been missed?Thorsson64 (talk) 23:01, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

We could quibble over any number of dramas included or excluded but I think one is worth mentioning because of what it says about the cultural orientation of the list and of discussions in general about movies and literature. The movie is The Messanger, the life of the Prophet. How many other dramas from Asia and Africa have gone unnoted? User:Mzee Mvuvi


2001 Prehistorical?[edit]

How is 2001 set in a prehistorical time? There is a few minutes at the very beginning that would be "prehistorical," but this is only a few minutes, and the rest of the movie (the by-far overwhelming majority) is set in the (at the time it was filmed) future. — al-Shimoni (talk) 22:41, 28 April 2011 (UTC)


Suggestion!!! - Column with Country of Origin/Language[edit]

And possibly other details as well like whether an entry is a tv series like "The Tudors" for example. That way the list will be more comprehensive and useful. Many thanks! DannyLee9 (talk) 01:52, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

The entire list needs clarification, especially "Films set in the later 20th century"[edit]

This list is too unwieldy in its scope - it needs to be broken down into sub-sections. For example, a list called "War Films" could surely encompass the majority of the films here. Another list could be "Historical television dramas" - The Tudors, for example, is not a film.

However, the worst culprit is the Films set in the later 20th century section. How on earth can films like Open Water, Quiz Show, Great Ball of Fire and The Social Network be included on this page? These films cannot sit comfortably in a section predominantly made up of war films, and their inclusion is frankly absurd. Adam1516 (talk) 16:27, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

A film that is missing within this time period: Deep Soul (Greek: Ψυχή Βαθιά) is a 2009 Greek drama film directed by Pantelis Voulgaris, on the 1946–49 Greek Civil War.

The story takes place during Greek Civil War. Two brothers from the Greek countryside find themselves fighting on the two opposing sides. Both of them serve as guides for the mountainous paths of Western Macedonia, an area with many battlefields. Gradually the two boys are fanaticized and become crueler by war conditions but never forget their brotherly love. The film shows the hard condition of battlefields, the impact of the war on the civilians, as well as the first ever use of Napalm in the Grammos Mountains of Western Macedonia, Greece.123.211.73.217 (talk) 02:07, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

The Social Network ?[edit]

Facebook doesn't have anything to do with a historical event that involves power/territorial changes. It has been removed.

Why do historical events need to involve "power/territorial changes"? That seems like an arbitrary and restrictive definition of historical films...Ballofstring (talk) 03:52, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Regardless of a social website's popularity it isn't a part of history, including movies based about them. --94.68.177.119 (talk) 06:41, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Everything is part of history and if a film is overtly set in the past then it is a historical film. It doesn't matter if its about a king, a merchant, or a housewife, and it doesn't matter if its set in ancient Egypt or the late 1990s. The Social Network is restored.theBOBbobato (talk) 20:37, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

I find it an absurdity that this film can be classed as historical drama. Most people have a good idea what historical drama constitutes, and this is not it. Ridiculous. Adam1516 (talk) 21:53, 11 July 2012 (UTC)

I think I understand what you mean, but it would be difficult to set up a rule for what is and isn't a historical film. What would be the cut-off point - films set how many years before the film was made, films set in how different a period? Does it have to be set before living memory? Films with what subject matter? If historical dramas ought to be about war or big social movements, are Pride and Prejudice or the Name of the Rose not historical then? What about The Help? It's better - and safer - to just use the most objective criteria possible.theBOBbobato (talk) 12:15, 13 October 2012 (UTC)

WorldCat Genres[edit]

Hello, I'm working with OCLC, and we are algorithmically generating data about different Genres, like notable Authors, Book, Movies, Subjects, Characters and Places. We have determined that this Wikipedia page has a close affintity to our detected Genere of historical-fiction. It might be useful to look at [1] for more information. Thanks. Maximilianklein (talk) 23:32, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Not moved. Nathan Johnson (talk) 19:34, 25 May 2013 (UTC)



List of historical drama filmsList of historical films – While the term "historical drama film" can be valid, I think the term "historical film" has much more common use. Searching the current term in Google Books does not show many good results. When one searches for the proposed term, there are numerous results, even books with "historical film" in the title. It is the same case when looking in Google Scholar and Amazon.com. I think "film" in "historical drama film" was an excessive modifier since "historical drama" can refer to a film (though not always). However, just "historical drama" already refers to historical fiction, which makes sense as a broad topic. That leaves "historical film" as the best option. I think it is beneficial to shorten the term to both be more concise and to be more in line with reliable sources. Thanks, Erik (talk | contribs) 17:16, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

  • Disagree "Historical films" is overly ambiguous; it can also refer to very early films, or films of substantial historical importance. I believe the current title is clear and appropriate. 84.92.117.93 (talk) 21:18, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
    84.92.117.93, like I said, the current term is not very common. I recommend searching it to see how reliable sources report it. Per Wikipedia's policy on article titles, we need to use the common name "as determined by its prevalence in reliable English-language sources". There are numerous books that use "historical film" in their title: Historical Film (Film Genres), The Historical Film: History and Memory in Media, A Companion to the Historical Film, The Hollywood Historical Film, History Goes to the Movies: A Viewer's Guide to the Best (and Some of the Worst) Historical Films Ever Made, and Hollywood and the American Historical Film. In contrast, "historical drama film" is not at all a common name appropriate for the article title. If we need to be clear that it is a genre—and I disagree that we have to do that—we could perhaps add "(genre)" as a disambiguation term. Erik (talk | contribs) 15:36, 11 May 2013 (UTC)
  • 'Comment this increased the scope of the article, there have been historical horror films, historical comedy films, etc. "Life of Brian" comes to mind for a period comedy piece. -- 65.94.76.126 (talk) 23:44, 12 May 2013 (UTC)
    @65.94.76.126: That would be of benefit to readers, I think. For example, Gladiator is hardly a slice of history, but it is considered a historical epic. (And historical epics may be another sub-genre of historical films in general.) This list was nominated for AfD, and the nominator expressed concern about the list being indiscriminate in size. I thought that concern was valid but said the solution was to split the main list into several specific ones. We can still do that here with the rename; I would say it would suit that splitting approach even more. Erik (talk | contribs) 00:44, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Too ambiguous. Contrary to the claims above, I don't think "historical drama film" is "not very common" at all. Certainly in the UK, I would say it's the common term. -- Necrothesp (talk) 10:38, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
    Are you citing your personal experience? I say it is not common because it does not show up in books and newspapers as often as "historical film" itself. EDIT: For The Guardian, see this vs. this. Erik (talk | contribs) 12:43, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Requested moves[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: consensus to move Asian historical period drama films to List of historical period drama films set in Asia, per the discussion below. There is also consensus to move this page to List of historical period drama films set in Europe, but the move cannot be performed unless someone is going to do the concomitant work involved. The Africa/Americas articles that would capture cuts from this page don't exist, and it would be unhelpful to move this article to the Europe title while it still has dramas that can be added to the pages on other regions. I suggest referring back to the consensus in this discussion as support for the changes to the other articles that need to take place. Once the Europe article and articles for other regions are created, the history from here can be moved under the Europe article and a set index can be put at this title. Dekimasuよ! 19:55, 16 December 2014 (UTC)


– It is a Eurocentric bias to have the "default" page of historical period drama films only focus on Western and Near Eastern history while Asian history gets relegated to its own ghetto. The page's title should reflect its content. At best, it implies that readers of the English Wikipedia would be interested in Western history by default. At worst, it implies Asian history is unimportant and not worthy of being on the "default" history list. Apart from all of this, because of the present disconnect between title and content (as well as the ambiguity of the borders of what "Western civilisation" constitutes), there are numerous instances of contributors adding films that would otherwise be in the Asian list, such as The Flowers of War, Gandhi or Sangolli Rayanna (film).

I propose "List of historical period drama films" be a landing page for either list.

Additionally, I propose the Asian historical period drama films page be renamed to use parentheses, as it otherwise implies the listed films are only Asian (as opposed to Western-made films set in Asia, such as Kundun or Siddhartha. --Relisted. Dekimasuよ! 20:57, 9 December 2014 (UTC) Sabre (talk) 06:41, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

I think the lists should be by continents: List of historical period drama films set in Africa, List of historical period drama films set in the Americas, List of historical period drama films set in Asia, List of historical period drama films set in Europe and List of historical period drama films set in Oceania. This way it's more objective and less ambiguous. Some films would be in more than one list, but I don't think that would be a problem.--Cattus talk 18:07, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
I can go along with the suggestion by Cattus. Betty Logan (talk) 19:23, 2 December 2014 (UTC)
This would be best, I agree to this suggestion. Sabre (talk) 05:26, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
I also support grouping the listed films by continent. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 16:38, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
What's the status of this move request, then? Should this be moved to List of historical period drama films set in Europe, or should it be left alone since not everything fits there and merged as necessary? Dekimasuよ! 08:09, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, if there is consensus on creating lists by continent, all content that is not about Europe should be moved to the respective lists and then this can be moved to List of historical period drama films set in Europe.--Cattus talk 12:11, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
@Sabretooth, Cattus, Betty Logan, and Erik: As someone looking to close the discussion, I'm content with the consensus here, and would be happy to close this with moves to List of historical period drama films set in Europe and List of historical period drama films set in Asia if there are volunteers to actually do the splitting that will then be required. Dekimasuよ! 05:52, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose both but agree with the concerns of nom, which need to be addressed. The proposal as currently before us would make it appear to be a case of disambiguation, which it is not. Perhaps relist to discuss the alternative proposals above? Andrewa (talk) 16:42, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
Presumably the result would be a set index article at List of historical period drama films, with no disambiguation involved. At any rate, I take it you are objecting to the original proposal and not the alternative proposals? The editor who made the original proposal has already agreed to support the alternative, and the alternative has enjoyed unanimous support, so I don't think the original proposal is in play at this point. It is a bit hard to close this as it stands without some work being started elsewhere, so it may not even be a move request anymore; it may just be a case in which the edit history of this page is moved under the Europe page once the splitting work has concluded. Anyway, there is no rush; relisting. Dekimasuよ! 20:57, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support a move of some sort. At the moment the issue relates to two articles which I would present without the final "history" as List of historical period drama films (Western and Near Eastern) and List of historical period drama films (Asian). I think that any disambiguation may have problems. If continents or geographical areas are the basis of categorisation then problems arise with dramas involving travel during a single film or that change locations as sequels develop. Divisions by culture cause problems with cross cultural films. I think the main suggestion will work well for now but with thw slight shortening suggested. gregkaye 23:10, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support the current name should be a disambiguation page. We should not exhibit bias in favouring Europe/Mediterranean/Near East. -- 67.70.35.44 (talk) 04:55, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. Seems like a reasonable proposal both for avoiding systemic bias and for helping users figure out what belongs on the page. –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 21:34, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Missing titles[edit]

Title change?[edit]

The article is currently titled "List of historical period drama films", yet these tables also contain listings for tv series, such as Rome (TV series) and Spartacus (TV series) (as examples). Isn't this somewhat misleading? Should we perhaps change the title, if only slightly, to reflect the fact that cable shows and mini-series are also listed here? Thoughts, anyone? - theWOLFchild 06:17, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

Prehistorical films[edit]

An issue was raised by one editor that by definition films set in prehistory do not count as historical dramas. I would argue against this on several points

  • This may be more an issue with the title than the intention of the list. How the information of past events was arrived at is irrelevant to the viewer of a movie. The viewer would not care whether or not the information was derived from written records, or by archaeology, or by other preserved artefacts. Thus the untrained viewer would not be able to tell what is history, what is proto-history, and what is pre-history, and thus the intent of the list is to include all events in human history including human prehistory. Note that both links are redirected to history of the world. Which leads into the second point
  • The definition of the terms history and pre-history which sets them to be mutually exclusive is somewhat antiquated, both in usage and in practicality. History has come to mean "a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events", and this includes prehistory. An example of this is History of Earth. In strict academic circles history still refers to the branch of science that studies the past through written documents. Thus distinguishes itself from fields such as archaeology. Both fields contribute to our understanding of the past or history in its general sense. The confusion arises through the invention of the term pre-history at a time when archaeology was still in its early stages. Prior to that, understanding of the past had been determined almost solely by the written record, but as archaeology developed and provided a way of understanding the past prior to written records, the term pre-history was coined. Archaeology has since further developed and contributes extensively to our understanding of the past for era for which there is written records, such that our past is extensively informed by both of the fields of history and archaeology, thus blurring the line between prehistory and history.
  • It would be a shame to lose this small addition of films to the list, based purely on a particular definition of the term historical. If there were a large number of such films then this could be reasoned as an acceptable split, with a new list generated if necessary.
  • Films set in deep antiquity rely more heavily on archaeology than on history, thus though are set in an historical period, are essentially prehistorically based. The more recently the film is set the greater reliance on history and the less on archaeology, with the exception of films such as Apocalypto which is essentially prehistorical in nature

Jameel the Saluki (talk) 07:58, 5 January 2017 (UTC)

This is absurd. The criteria are set out in the very first sentence: "based upon historical events and famous people." Unless you're a Trump supporter, that rules out prehistoric films by definition, as someone complained about above in 2012. Should we expand color films to include black-and-white ones because black and white are colors? War is not peace. Freedom is not slavery. Up is not down. Clarityfiend (talk) 08:16, 5 January 2017 (UTC)

Please do not resort to personal abuse, and please read what I have written. The clear cut difference between historical and prehistorical is a historical definition that is becoming less and less relevant. History does now have a use and a definition that includes prehistory. Further the intent of the list is not to define what is and is not an historical movie, but to provide the reader with the ability to select from a range of representative movies in the genre that they want. If you find what I have said absurd then please argue against it. With regards your other spurious points.
    • the difference between black and white films and colour films relates not the the visual effect but the technology behind involved in the recording.
    • there is no clear cut difference between war and peace. Nothing is all-out war and nothing is conflict free. Hence the term cold war was invented to cope with a very real and expensive conflict that had no directly evident casualties
    • Again freedom and slavery are relative terms. Though a society has to have legal definitions of freedom and slavery in order to function, the relative rights that have existed have varied considerably over time and geography. For example a serf in the middle ages was legally free but had less freedom and rights than a many slaves in ancient Rome.
    • Up and down are relative terms that have meaning only in the context of a form of measure. Relative metrics can be devised by which there is no absolute value, thus up and down would have only a local meaning, and going up could result in getting to the same place as going down. East/West is the most obvious case of this.
The only reason I went through these is that you appear to have a very literalist view of the world, whereby you give words a sense of reality and meaning above what actually exists, rather than realise that words are tools used in order to convey concepts and meanings. So with the case of historic and prehistoric I am arguing that the intent for the majority of the editors would be that these prehistoric films be included, and that the title of the page is the problem (if there is one). Jameel the Saluki (talk) 08:53, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
Wow. Just wow. I'm dumbfounded. I'm going to ask for other opinions at the film project, since you have your own idiosyncratic vision of how things should be. Clarityfiend (talk) 00:09, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
thanks again for more personal abuse. And these aren't personal idiosyncratic views, I'm merely putting forward a contrary opinion in support of the editors who clearly thought that the prehistoric films did belong in this list. It is also not, as I have pointed out with evidence, a fixed definition that historical specifically excludes pre-historical. Although I personally would like the prehistoric films kept, I do not have a strong opinion of it. I do however, have a strong opinion on your strong opinions. I found your initial comment of "Duh" when removing the prehistoric films to be particularly offensive. Jameel the Saluki (talk) 15:04, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
Per WP:NOTFORUM this page is for discusions to improve the article, not for pettty bickering and insults. If you neeed to discuss each other's personal foibles please use your respective private talk pages. Mediatech492 (talk) 15:25, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
  • Comment First off I think there are very good arguments on both sides and I have spent a good 20 minutes or so thinking over this. This list does have a very clearly defined scope: The historical period drama is a film genre in which stories are based upon historical events and famous people. My interpretation is that such a definition excludes pre-historical drama because there is no historical record of this period. But then, that leads me to ponder whether the other example referenced here, Apocalypto, belongs on the list too? Apocalypto—like One Million Years BC—is not based on a historical event or famous people, it is set during a definable historical period but the story and characters are fiction. This is true of any period drama, such as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, which I note is not included here. There is a clear distinction between historical drama (which relies extensively on the historical record) and period drama (which relies extensively on a historical setting). The purpose of this list is clearly to document the former, and I would firmly classify pre-historical films as "period drama" as opposed to "historical drama" and beyond the scope of this list. Betty Logan (talk) 01:05, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
thankyou for your comment. Can I argue then that many of the films set in ancient but historical times, are then also period dramas rather than historical dramas, in that the bulk of what is presented has been learned through non-historical sources? For example 'Land of the Pharaohs' which is described as a 'a fictional account of the building of the Great Pyramid'. As we get achieve greater recency with the settings, the greater the reliance on historical research and the more historical drama the film becomes, so where is the cut off? If the cut-off is purely a date at which writing was invented, surely this is arbitrary, and different for different cultures? I don't have a great objection for period dramas being culled from the list, but I think that the implications should be clear. On a personal matter I took interest in this list as a way of essentially time-travelling through the past to today by viewing movies chronologically. In doing so I gained a better insight into the impacts of varies developments, and how culture passed through society. Having said that none of the prehistoric films listed were of sufficient quality or accuracy to learn anything. Jameel the Saluki (talk) 15:04, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
I am not familiar with Land of the Pharoahs, but based on the description (i.e. the reign of Khufu centering on an event that occurred during his reign) I don't really have a problem with it. I don't think being "heavily fictionalised" necessarily precludes a film from being added to the list. Personally the bigger problem for me is the inclusion of mythical figures/events such Beowulf, biblical epics such as Ben-Hur and period dramas like Hamlet. They are not what immediately springs to mind when I think of "historical drama". Researching the various different categories I have discovered that Allmovie breaks these types of films down in the following different ways: Historical film (basically what this list is aiming to cover), Period film (a sub-category of "historical film" but characterized as "unlike historical films, often dealing with fictional characters or events and using period settings and costumes"), religious epics, mythological and prehistoric fantasy. Before making any major alterations to this list I would like to see what other editors think, but I think it would be in the interests of this list to remove biblical epics and fantasy films. I think we should remove period films too, but if the consensus is to include them then the lead needs to be re-written to explicitly include them. Betty Logan (talk) 18:18, 6 January 2017 (UTC)
I have been culling movies from time to time, starting with the most obviously not suitable. Beowulf was definitely in my crosshairs. I've been a bit reluctant to make large-scale changes, because clearly their are a wide variety of opinions about what should be included. I've also avoided removing Biblical stories, for fear of upsetting particular groups of people. The Shakespearean dramas were also in my cross-hairs (I notice that someone has just added MacBeth). The logic behind the removal of a movie such as Land of the Pharoahs, was not so much that it was heavily fictionalised, but that virtually all of the realistic content of the movie has been derived from non-historical sources. Except for the names of some of the characters, the movie is no different to a pre-historic movie. I like the categories put forward by Allmovie, and would be happy to cull on that basis, however, it seems to me that editors in the past have tried to have it both ways by including both historic and period pieces in the list - evident by the title, the list and by the comments in both the article and the talk page, and the article Historical period drama which does not differentiate between historical and period. However given that the list is so ridiculously long and getting longer I think it appropriate that a split be made as you suggest and separate the list out into different subgenres, of which historical, period, and Biblical would at least be three. What constitutes a historical film may need a bit a clarification, with the Land of the Pharoahs being an example - are the building of the pyramids historical events or pre-historical events, they were built at a time when writing existed, but nothing about their building has been left in written sources, in fact if they did not exist now we probably wouldn't have known that they had been built at all until fairly recently. But in essence I think what you are suggesting is a good idea and should be implemented, though by splitting rather than strict culling, because as I mentioned my use of the list has entirely been to examine and learn from the period elements of the movies on the list. Jameel the Saluki (talk) 11:43, 7 January 2017 (UTC)
Adding to above - I'm going to go through all of the movies and summarise them based on historical, period, fictional, Biblical, and myth content Jameel the Saluki (talk) 12:10, 7 January 2017 (UTC)
Adding to above - I've made it through to 180AD, and have noticed one particular issue coming up with the separation between period and historical, and that is there is a massive grey area where something that is, for all purposes, a period drama is set against an historical event for the purposes of heightened drama. One example (I am picking because AllMovie categorised it as a period piece) is Titanic. There are vaguer cases where the film merely mentions that historic event is going on, or some historic figure is portrayed but for no other reason than to put a famous character in the film, such as when set against the background of a war. So if a movie intends to portray life of ordinary people in a major event is the intent of the movie to provide an adventurous backdrop, or to portray the major event from a particular perspective?
In any case I'll present a quick summary what I've found so far, as the earliest in the list will be the most controversial
  • In the prehistoric section only 4 of the films have serious period drama intent, the rest are fluff. Of these the only significant event portrayed is the invention/early use of fire. Interestingly the novel Clan of the Cave Bear is given the genre of historical novel
  • Numerous Biblical movies. The ones based on the old testament are easier to categorise. There are a couple of movies which deal with the Roman reaction to Jesus, and are in a sense half-biblical half-historical eg: The Inquiry.
  • The Pharaohs' Woman portrays an event for which we have no historical information
  • A number of movies use names of historical characters for which we know virtually nothing, thus the movies are a work of fiction attempting to imagine what could have happened eg: Land of the Pharaohs, Cleopatra's Daughter
  • Movies where something is known about the character, but the movie invents a story around that eg: Nefertiti, Queen of the Nile. The Egyptian
  • Numerous movies about the siege of Troy. Unknown how much of the tale is fiction and history, thought to contain historical elements. Further there are movies based on plays by Greeks set around the siege, where the writers believed the siege to be a real event. Compounding this is the belief that ancient Greeks had the gods were real, and so history becomes inseparable from myth
  • A few clear period pieces eg:Pharaoh
  • Semi-historical, semi-mythical figures portrayed eg: Io, Semiramide
  • Myths once believed to be history portrayed eg: Romolo e Remo
  • Movies made up of historical elements but mixed together anachronistically for drama eg:War Gods of Babylon
  • Asian films - which have their own list.
  • Multiple sword and sandal films and peplum films where the intent and execution varies. Some less historical films include La cortigiana di Babilonia, L'eroe di Babilonia, Il Colosso di Roma
  • Films about ancient battles - of varying intent and fiction, but most would qualify as historical eg:The 300 Spartans, Massacre in the Black Forest; and some would be dubious eg:Brenno il nemico di Roma
  • Films that are biopics - eg Alexander the Great, Spartacus, Cleopatra. All would be considered historic, though varying in quality.
  • Films that portray historic events, but without any historic characters. This can be because event is a backdrop or no historic characters worth mentioning. Varying quality of portrayal (remembering that all movies have a commercial element) eg:Il Colosso di Rodi, Revak the Rebel, Pompeii
  • Films that follow fictional characters through historical events with named historic characters eg: Cabiria, Rome, Centurion
  • Shakespearean history eg: Julius Caesar
  • Some documentary dramas eg: The Cleopatras
  • Drama that follows an historical character, but is not a biopic (seems to be characterised as period piece by allmovie) eg:I, Claudius
  • The Sign of the Cross is an interesting movie in that it is Christian propaganda but portrays the persecution of Christians by Nero as an event very accurately by what is recorded.
  • Movies based on Roman emperors involve the use of history, but given the bias of the sources available can lead to some peculiar presentations that can't be stated to be incorrect eg:Caligula
  • Movies that are often stated to be pseudo-historical (a number in that category in the list), how bad a presentation of history does it have to be to be classified as not an historical piece?
  • Centurion is an interesting case. It's a realistic fictional account, of a historic event that may or may not have happened. Is the hypothesising of the event fiction or history?
Fuller evaluation available if necessary. My estimate is that more than half of the movies prior to 180AD would be culled. Also requires a clearer definition of historical vs period. Eg: why is Titanic classified as period and not historic by allmovie? Jameel the Saluki (talk) 14:46, 7 January 2017 (UTC)
(ec) My two cents. First off (and tangentially), I have not resorted to "personal abuse". I've questioned your arguments and logic, not you yourself, Jameel. Now, to the main point. IMO, this list should be about historical events and people. That should not include works that just use famous people's names to attach to events that mostly never took place. (That rules out Land of the Pharoahs, which I have seen. Khufu builds his pyramid, but that's about all of the story that's historic.) Myths, biblical stories, etc. should be removed or split off to their own lists. I'm not, however, convinced of the efficacy of period drama lists. Every film set in the "real" past belongs to a period (or possibly multiple ones). That's a lot of entries. Clarityfiend (talk) 14:51, 7 January 2017 (UTC)
It's a good question about Titanic. Presumably the reason Allmovie classify it as a period drama is because it is essentially more of a period drama than a historical film i.e. the main plot and characters are fictional and just use real events as a backdrop. That said, real-life characters do play a significant role in the film so I would not exclude it on that basis. It is worth noting that in Allmovie's case "Period films" are a sub-category of "Historical films" so they are not actually saying it is not a historical film, but rather it has been placed in a more specialized category. Betty Logan (talk) 16:39, 7 January 2017 (UTC)
I think that we are in agreement that the list needs culling. Let me try to summarise to see if this is a suitable standard by which to do so
  • To keep all movies about notable specific historic events, even if they involve fictional characters, so long the film is a genuine attempt to present that real historic event, from known historical facts. Exclude if there are insufficient known facts to support the film, or where it relies on excessive imagination for key points that the film is trying to make.
  • exclude films for which significant historic events happen, but are not the central focus of the film, or for which the story is essentially fictionalised to an excessive degree to not make it any more about an historical event (plenty of grey areas there - but use inclusion of Titanic as standard)
  • exclude films about historic characters if the events are purely or largely fictional, in this way exclude Land of the Pharoahs. However, this is contrary to the introducing paragraph of the list which states Other historical dramas are fictionalized tales that are based on an actual person and their deeds, such as Braveheart, which is loosely based on the 13th-century knight William Wallace's fight for Scotland's independence.
  • include films that are about historic events and are intended to represent those historic events even though a great deal of artistic license is used. (Does this allow Braveheart to be included?)
  • exclude films which explore the impact of events on society or which look at general historical eras eg: industrial revolution, plagues and epidemics, the holocaust
  • exclude films that present an historical interpretation as seen from a non-modern society, the most extreme of which is myth, but also includes Shakespeare.
  • exclude everything else (have I missed something that needs to be included?)
If and when we reach agreement it will mean extensive changes to the list. I think I'll hack away, probably genre by genre, with explanation, and if anybody else complains it can always be reverted.
Clarityfiend With regards period films, I think you will find that there aren't as many non-historical period films as you think. A true period film has to attempt to accurately represent the world that existed at the time, merely without a particular single historical event to draw upon. Allmovie has period films as a subset of historical films. My estimation is that the number of genuine period films around is about the same as the number of historical films suitable to this list. I went through the top 100 movies of 2015 by RottenTomatoes and got Historical films 9, period films 8, and got one I couldn't decide between them (The Revenant (2015 film)) Jameel the Saluki (talk) 14:59, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
I think there is a huge grey area, and while I have no desire to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter added to the list I think we need to avoid taking a subjective approach. While some of us may consider Braveheart too fictionalized others may not (I have seen the film many years ago but confess I know nothing of William Wallace beyond the film). Ultimately we need to be able to justify our selections in regards to sourcing, rather than arguments based on personal knowledge/academic backgrounds. The most problematic grey area seems to be the overlap between Historical films (something that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is most definitely not) and Period films (something that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter actually is) so for a first pass I would concentrate on uncontroversial deletions and remove anything that does not fall into one of those two categories on Allmovie. That would get rid of a lot of the really obvious stuff that shouldn't be here, but would retain the grey area i.e. quasi-period/historical films like Titanic. Once the uncontroversial stuff is taken care of we need to take a good look at what is left and decide how to tackle the grey area. Ideally we need to come up with an objective criteria but I think we should take an incremental approach. Betty Logan (talk) 23:44, 9 January 2017 (UTC)
I agree with your sentiments. I'll look at using allmovie as additional justification (though that's not objective either, who knows how those classifications are decided and by whom), and keep all of the ones under Historical (period or otherwise) for now.
I still need to list out criteria and not just rely on allmovie. So my modified criteria is as above with the following changes, which in essence merely allows for period pieces to remain included.
  • (2)include the films for which significant historic events happen
  • (3) (a) include films about historic characters if its a period piece, even if a total fiction (b) but exclude as above if not a period piece (note that what is and is not a period piece is also a grey area
  • (5) Include films which explore the impact of event etc
  • (6) a) exclude films that present an historical interpretation as seen from a non-modern society etc unless b) can fit into the period piece category - so some some shakespeare and myth films may be included for now
  • (7) (new) exclude animation, unless CGI is intended to be indistinguishable from real footage.
To assist in future management I think that I might consider adding a column to the table relating to subgenre or how the film meets the criteria Jameel the Saluki (talk) 14:46, 11 January 2017 (UTC)
Editors shouldn't be inventing criteria themselves per WP:Original research. We are under obligation to make all our edits WP:Verifiable. Now, Allmovie may not be objective in itself—and no source will be if it is making qualitative judgments about the plot content of films—but it is verifiable and independent from Wikipedia's editorial process. I am not saying our decisions should begin and end with Allmovie; in fact complete reliance on a single source is never a good idea IMO because you then incorporporate the quirks and errors of the source. As we have already seen Allmovie presents something of a dilemma in regards to Titanic. We need to look to further sources to tackle the grey area, but my point is that selection in this case is content so it needs to observe verifiable sources. Betty Logan (talk) 00:16, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
With respect to original research, I understand where you are coming from, but there are no clear-cut objective criteria either for what is an historical movie, nor what should be included in this list (if indeed they are the same thing). So, if we were going to be absolutely strict about that this list wouldn't exist, or alternatively it might be titled 'list of movies considered historical by allmovie'. There are already criteria written for this list, namely the first two paragraphs with associated links. These criteria, as well as the ones I am suggesting, are not there to define what is an historical movie, but what this list is and is not going to cover. It is taking existing definitions and then applying them for the purposes of generating the list. In this sense this is not original research (any and all activity on Wikipedia could be described as original research under the broadest definition). In fact any entry or removal on this list is based on the individual editor's personal criteria in interpreting the definitions. That is why there is so much disagreement in this list. Thus clearer criteria are needed than already exist that all editors can explicitly agree on, and then enforce. This isn't 'inventing' criteria, this is formalising and agreeing upon what is already happening and must happen.
In terms of verifiability, again I agree. However currently effectively none exists. So any improvement in this area at all must be a plus. We certainly can't move into 100% straight away.
I sense that you are worried that I am trying to impose my views on this list. I assure you that I am not. The purpose my criteria, and indeed all the discussion that I am having is to achieve an open and explicit consensus by which this list can be uniformly maintained.
With regards Allmovie. I've set up a spreadsheet and gone through all of the ancient movies, and put the categories of both Allmovie and IMDB in there, as well as my opinion on the movies. There is some agreement between all three, but it isn't really good. It is very clear in going through the Allmovie categories that the selection is based on the particular reviewer responsible for the entry, so that there are clear internal inconsistencies and, in my opinion, outright mistakes in the categorisation. IMDB is not much different, and there is only a mild correspondence between IMDB and Allmovie.
Currently I'm still in a position of research effectively. I have made changes to the list, but only ones I can't see as remotely controversial. When I've been through the entire set of movies I'll post a summary of my findings here.
I am listening to you, and I can assure you that I agree with your aims completely. However, I disagree about the criteria. At the end of the process there must be some agreed upon criteria, even if it is simply 'Historical movies as defined by Allmovie'. It cannot be left open to any editor coming along and deciding for himself. We shouldn't avoid getting some sort of uniformity in the process on the basis that it isn't objective, because currently there is none, so all we can look for is improvement.
I do have a question for you. If at the end of this process it is found that there is no possibility of getting anything like a verifiable and objective list what would you like to do with the list? Jameel the Saluki (talk) 06:58, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
adding to above: I just found an excellent example of the problem with IMDB and Allmovie, by comparing Hagbard and Signe with Arthur of the Britons. Hagbard and Signe was written in the 12th century, based on an ancient Norse legend. The film is a simple presentation of that story. Whilst the actors are in costume, no date is given for the action (none seems intended), and no great care is made to portray a particular era. Arthur of the Britons was an attempt to realistically portray one possible historic origin of the Arthurian legend, using detailed presentations and characterisations of the time, and using real historical characters and events. Yet both IMDB and Allmovie have Hagbard and Signe as historical and Arthur of the Britons as adventure. From what I see there is absolutely no justification for this categorisation, and I am at a loss to explain it. Any ideas? Jameel the Saluki (talk) 07:30, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
While I enjoy using IMDB, their genre categories are few and rather limited in describing the genres. Every film or other project is categorized in one or more of the following 27 categories:
  • Action.
  • Adult.
  • Adventure.
  • Animation.
  • Biography.
  • Comedy.
  • Crime.
  • Documentary.
  • Drama.
  • Family.
  • Fantasy.
  • Game-Show.
  • History.
  • Horror.
  • Music.
  • Musical.
  • Mystery.
  • News.
  • Reality-TV.
  • Romance.
  • Sci-Fi.
  • Short.
  • Sport.
  • Talk-Show.
  • Thriller.
  • War.
  • Western.

There is no real distinction between the historical settings involved in these genres, and no acknowledgement of the sub-genres within the genres. The source material for the films is not mentioned in categories, although it is (often) mentioned in other features of the website. Dimadick (talk) 22:56, 12 January 2017 (UTC)