THE HISTORICAL GENRE
Historical movies and tv shows are much self-explanatory. They are in a sense representative of a time and place from history. Sure, you could watch a documentary but would it be as juicy and captivating as The Crown? National Geographic may produce some stellar pieces but are they as adventurous as Vikings? I'm guessing not which is why Historical movies are so popular. They can dramatise one small moment in history and give the viewer a far more intimate portrayal than any other medium.
The problem however often comes with artistic license. A lot of the time, while the productions themselves are steeped in historical accuracy, the creators do fudge timelines and write what they ‘think' happened, as opposed to what ‘actually' happened. A case in point being The Crown which has garnered a lot of criticism for simply making up the conversations that happen in private, leading the audience to believe what they are watching is true. In most cases, it is not.
That said, historical drama is designed for 100% entertainment, not 100% accuracy though many filmmakers have managed to strike an excellent balance. As an example, The Last Czars blends dramatic re-enactments with a documentary-style commentary which in turn makes it informative as well as highly entertaining. Likewise with movies such as The Darkest Hour (though critics have pointed up that some characters and situations simply never happened). And of course, the Awards bodies love a high-budget historical drama!
AMAZON PRIME HISTORICAL
CLASSIC HISTORICAL FILMS
On the subject of awards, a quick glance through the recipients of all the major Oscars categories highlights this point perfectly. Rami Malek for playing Freddie Mercury, Gary Oldman for playing Winston Churchill, Eddie Redmayne for playing Stephen Hawking, and Daniel Day-Lewis for playing Abraham Lincoln have all won Best Actor in the last 10 years.
Likewise for the Best Actress category which has seen Renée Zellweger (Judy Garland), Olivia Colman (Anne, Queen of Great Britain), and Meryl Streep (Margaret Thatcher) all win in recent years. And that doesn't include all of the other actors who were nominated for their portrayals of historic figures but didn't win. Judi Dench (Philomena), Natalie Portman (Jackie Kennedy), and Margot Robbie (Tonya Harding) are just the tip of the iceberg.
So where does our love of historical drama come from? It started with The Birth of a Nation (1915) from D. W. Griffith. A glorification of the pre–Civil War South, it may the first movie of the genre, but it also one of the most racist, horrifying, and controversial. An objective view on history, it ain't.
Thankfully we have moved on significantly from 1915 and can instead look at the often brilliant contributions from some of the world's greatest Directors. Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Edward Zwick, and Bernardo Bertolucci are responsible for some of the great all-time classics. Schindler's List, JKF, Courage Under Fire, Saving Private Ryan, and Platoon are among the best the genre has to offer.
Today streaming platforms are really getting in on the action with the likes of The Trial Of The Chicago 7, Midway, and The King all widely received by critics and viewers alike. And long may the trend continue!
DISNEY HISTORICAL REVIEWS
APPLE TV HISTORICAL REVIEWS
PARAMOUNT HISTORICAL REVIEWS
RECENT HISTORICAL REVIEWS
Here you can view our latest Historical movies and series reviews from major streaming services.
HISTORICAL HIDDEN GEMS
Here you can view hidden gems which you may have missed on original release.