The American Film Institute has defined an epic film as “a genre of large scale films set in a cinematic interpretation of the past”. The Epic films can have stories which are part of any genre but due to their grandeur and their majestic scales, they occupy a space of their own.
Here are ten of the really good ones:
1. Lawrence of Arabia – 1962
Directed by David Lean and starring Peter O’Toole in his finest role, this film is believed to be the best epic ever made. Phenomenal cinematography and the expanse of the Sahara desert just added to the grandeur of this film. Many consider it to be one of the most influential films ever made.
2. Ben Hur – 1959
Winner of eleven Academy awards, this film directed by William Wyler, has been a great box-office success. It brought the biblical time period into the homes of the cinemagoers, and Charlton Heston went on to be the best epic film actor of all times!
3. Schindler’s List – 1993
Steven Spielberg’s epic about the Holocaust won innumerable awards and was judged to be a milestone in the genre of war and epic films. The story of a German businessman who saves countless Jewish lives, it is believed to be Spielberg’s finest film till now.
4. Gone with the Wind – 1939
Many consider this to be the best epic film ever made. Set in the time period of the American Civil War, it had extraordinary performances by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. A Hollywood blockbuster, it is an unforgettable film, and an epic of grand proportions.
5. Spartacus - 1960
Some great performances by Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier and Charles Laughton, raised this Stanley Kubrick above the ordinary. As time has passed it has grown in artistic value, and has been appreciated for its cinematic achievements.
6. Titanic – 1997
Modern days greatest epic and one of the biggest blockbusters of all times, this film cost a lot to make, and also earned a lot of money for the producers. Flawlessly crafted, made with intelligence and creativity, it took the story of a tragic romance and a shipwreck and converted it into a much loved film.
7. All Quiet on the Western Front – 1930
A 1930s harrowing story about World War 1, it is considered to be one of the finest war movies of all times. It’s anti war message became the reason why it was banned in Germany, and many perceive it as the best film made to show the horrors of war.
8. Reds – 1981
With a cast of Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, this film was destined to reach great heights. The story of John Reed, a journalist who chronicled the Russian Revolution, it won the best director award for Warren Beatty.
9. The Ten Commandments – 1956
Directed by Cecil DeMille, a biblical story about Moses, this film was an epoch making film in the field of historical films. Cecil DeMille’s grand films found their culmination in this imposing movie. Charlton Heston gave another memorable performance, ably assisted by Yul Brynner.
10. Saving Private Ryan – 1998
The opening 24 minutes of this film are what place it in the epic category. They depict the Omaha beachhead assault in 1944, and then they move on to the search of a missing paratrooper. This was another fine war epic presented by Steven Spielberg.