Want to feel closer to the Emerald Isle? This might help!
Ballykissangel (TV Series) – not really historical, but set in a small town in Ireland, great funny series.
Father Ted (TV Series) – again, not historical. Three priests (a young one in training, a mature one, and an old one in retirement) live on a remote island in the west of Ireland. Silly comedy. Some strong language.
Waking Ned Devine – an old man wins the lottery – and promptly dies. His friends try to collect his winnings. Hilarious.
The Secret of Kells – a delightful animated movie about the Book of Kells, an exquisite illuminated gospel from the 8th century – the kids would probably love this, too. Some scary bits (mean Vikings).
Leap Year – an American is stuck in the boondocks of Ireland, and tries to make her way to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend on Feb 29th.
P.S., I Love You – A true tearjerker. A man dies in New York, and his wife is sent on a series of quests by him, via notes written before he died, ending up in Ireland where they met.
Darby O’Gill and the Little People – Sean Connery sings! Darby O’Gill tries to get the better of the Fairy Folk to save his daughter from dying.
The Matchmaker – Based on the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, a funny tale with Janeane Garofalo.
The Commitments – A Soul Music group gets together in Dublin
Into the West – a couple young tinker (gypsy) boys find a mystical white horse
The Secret of Roan Inish – a movie about Selkies, mystical creatures that are seals in the water, but humans on land.
The Quiet Man – A classic with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara; a man moves from America to the small town he was born in to reclaim his heritage.
Circle of Friends – Minnie Driver stars in this tale of young men and women in 1950 Ireland.
Once – Set in Dublin, story of a pair of musicians learning the ways of the street.
The Guard – A misfit policeman gets partnered with an uptight FBI agent to investigate drug smugglers
Philomena – A woman searches for word of her child, taken from her in the Magdalene Laundries.
Angela’s Ashes – True story of a child growing up in Limerick.
Ondine – Tale of a water spirit.
Dancing at Lughnasa – Five sisters in rural Ireland in the 1930s.
Gritty/heavy/serious/not for kids:
My Left Foot (Daniel Day-Lewis plays a Irish painter quadriplegic, 1960s)
In the Name of the Father (Daniel Day-Lewis, accused of bombing in Northern Ireland, 1970s)
Michael Collins (Liam Neeson/Alan Rickman) About Ireland’s revolution (1916)
The Wind that Shakes the Barley – Also Ireland’s revolution (1916)
Bloody Sunday – historical drama about the true events that occurred in the beginning of the Troubles in Derry, Northern Ireland (set in 1972).
Ryan’s Daughter – Story of a woman who has an affair with a WWI British officer. (1916)
Excalibur – Classic King Arthur tale filmed in Ireland
Da – Story of a man dealing with his father’s death, with Martin Sheen.
The Field – A feud about who gets to farm a field results in death and pain. (Spoiler! Sean Bean dies)
Omagh – Dramatization of the bombing in Omagh in 1998.
The Crying Game – A British soldier captured by IRA terrorists
Troy – Has Peter O’Toole, Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom – flashy but interesting.
Alexander the Great – Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer
Vercingetorix(Druids – UK title) – Christopher Lambert, about Celts vs. Romans
Gladiator – Russell Crowe, Roman empire
Boudicca – Alex Kingston, Dr. Corday from ER – a Celtic Queen who sacked London in Roman times
Mists of Avalon – miniseries about King Arthur times, mostly from the female/pagan viewpoint
First Knight – Sean Connery/Richard Gere/Julia Ormond – King Arthur tale, lots of Hollywood on this one
Kingdom of Heaven – Orlando Bloom – About the Crusades, and fall of Jerusalem to the Muslims
Thirteenth Warrior – Antonio Banderas is a Muslim who goes and helps Beowulf kill the dragon
Braveheart – Mel Gibson in 12th century Scotland
Henry V – Kenneth Brannagh is the English King who wins at Agincourt against the French
The Messenger – Joan of Arc
The Lion in Winter – my favorite – Katherine Hepburn/Peter O’Toole/Anthony Hopkins – Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, parents of Richard the Lionheart, play political games with their children as pawns
The Agony and the Ecstasy – Michelangelo = Charlton Heston, with Rex Harrison as the Pope
Anne of a Thousand Days – Richard Burton as Henry VIII, story of Anne Boleyn
All the Mornings of the World – Gerard Depardieu – a sad story of a cellist in Provence, France
Dangerous Beauty – courtesans in 15th Century Venice, a true story
Victoria and Albert – about Queen Victoria’s life
Lady Jane – about Jane Grey, who was queen for a few days before Mary took over (daughter of Henry VIII)
A Man for All Seasons – About Thomas More, who dared to say No to Henry VIII.
Mary, Queen of Scots – about Elizabeth I’s cousin, unhappy in love.
The Count de Monte Cristo – Not really historical, but based in 17th C. France, and a well-done movie
Brother Cadfael – great medieval mystery series, with Derek Jacobi, set in 12th century England.
Gypsy (Natalie Wood as a young girl, who ends up as a stripper)
Mississippi Masala (Denzel Washington – Indian girl falls in love with black man in Mississippi)
Memoirs of a Geisha – set in Japan before WWII
Mrs. Brown (Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria, depressed after the death of her husband)
Valmont (Annette Benning, Colin Firth, 18th century French nobles playing games)
Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth)
Rob Roy (Liam Neeson – historical character in the 17th C. Scottish highlands)
Last of the Mohicans (Daniel Day-Lewis plays a white man raised by Indians after the French/Indian wars)
John Adams (excellent miniseries on the birth of the US)
The Queen (Helen Mirrim, about Elizabeth II during Princess Diana’s death)
Les Miserables (Liam Neeson)
Sharpe’s Rifles (first in a series of 14 BBC episodes with Sean Bean, about the Napoleonic wars)
Horatio Hornblower (another series, with Iain Gryffud, life on the high seas with the British Navy)
Master and Commander (Russell Crowe on the high seas with the British Navy)
Becoming Jane (life of Jane Austen)
Emma (a Jane Austen book)
Sense and Sensibility (another Jane Austen)
Tess of the D’Urbevilles (depressing story set in England in 19th C.)
Ivanhoe – set in 12th C. England, about crusaders returning from the wars
Ladyhawke – Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Broderick, set in medieval times, with magic and revenge.
Outlander – a British WWII nurse gets sent back in time to 1743 Scotland, thrust into the heart of the Jacobite rising. (based on a series of bestselling books)
Frontier – Jason Mamoa as a trader in the American French/Indian war time.
The Crown – An in-depth look at Queen Elizabeth I
Victoria – Queen Victoria done well
The Last Kingdom – Based on Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series, a decent take, though they do take liberties with both the books and history. Great portrayal of King Alfred.
Poldark – Dark, gothic tale of mining in 18th century Cornwall
Princess Bride (a requirement!)
Willow – very early Val Kilmer
Ballykissangel – not really historical, but set in a small town in Ireland, great funny series
Monarch of the Glen – again, not really historical, but set in the highlands of Scotland, and my favorite TV series, period.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (silliness and fun)
Princess Caraboo (exotic girl found in Edwardian England)
Black Adder (more silliness and fun, 4 series – each a different era. Has Hugh Laurie in the later seasons, and Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) is the main character)
Shakespeare in Love (Gwyneth Paltrow) – Fun in life meets art
Amadeus – Funny/tragic account of Mozart’s life
Beau Brummell (James Purefoy, who was Marc Anthony in the above Rome, plays the man who turns the Prince Regent from a fop to a dandy, both fashions of the time)
Gritty/heavy/serious/not for kids:
300 (Spartans make a stand against the Persions)
Rome (HBO series) – excellent series with Ciaran Hinds, James Purefoy. Lots of violence/sex, but great historical accuracy and acting.
I, Claudius (BBC Series) – 1970s series with Derek Jacobi of late Roman empire
Excalibur – King Arthur story
The Name of the Rose (Sean Connery, Christian Slater) – A 12th century monk tries to solve a murder mystery
Elizabeth – Queen Elizabeth I first days in power
The King’s Whore (Timothy Dalton) – gritty and violent, but very well done
Immortal Beloved (Gary Oldman as Beethoven)
Queen Margot (16th century Catholic marries protestant prince)
Water (the tragedy of widowhood in India)
The Madness of King George (the king that lost the US)
My Left Foot (Daniel Day-Lewis plays a Irish painter quadriplegic)
In the Name of the Father (Daniel Day-Lewis, accused of bombing in Northern Ireland)
Kama Sutra (Indian love story)
Michael Collins (Liam Neeson/Alan Rickman) About Ireland’s revolution
The Wind that Shakes the Barley – Also Ireland’s revolution
Quills (about the Marquis de Sade, with Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix and Geoffrey Rush)
The Tudors – series by Showtime about Henry VIII and his wives
Game of Thrones – while more fantasy than historical, the storylines are based on several incidents in history, such as the War of the Roses and the Glencoe Massacre, among others.
Brittania – More on the fantasy side than historical, it still shows an interesting take on the Roman invasion of Britain.