Thursday Movie Picks: Ancient World

It's Thursday again which only means it's time for another episode of Thursday Movie Picks, the weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves where you share three movies to fit the theme of the week each Thursday.

I've always loved ancient history, but the truth is I haven't seen a lot of films set in this time period - which is 3600 BC - 500 AD -, therefore my dream of picking three movies set in ancient Greece or ancient Rome didn't come through. However, I still was able to find three good films with everything, there's Greece, Rome and Egypt.

Hercules (1997)

The son of Zeus is turned into a half-god and half-mortal and he's raised by mortals. Years later, he finds out that he is the son of a God and that in order to reclaim his immortality he must become a hero. This was one of my favourite Disneys when I was a kid and still is because it's so fun and the songs are great.

Gladiator (2000)

After being betrayed and seeing his family murdered, Maximus Decimus Meridias is taken into slavery and trained as a gladiator, and he lives only to someday take his revenge. I haven't seen this in ages, but it is a fantastic epic film.

Agora (2009)

Although many say it's a biography of Hypatia of Alexandria, it is more the story of a slave who becomes a Christian in the hope of pursuing freedom and falls in love with his mistress, the philosopher and mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria. As you can tell the plot is a mess, but I believe the purpose of this film was to show the conflict between human intellect and faith and that it does good. 


  1. I LOVE Gladiator! It tried to add a bit of texture to the old sword & sandal sagas and did pretty well thanks to solid direction and a bunch of excellent portrayals from Russell Crowe and company. I should really give it a look, it's been a while.

    I've never purposefully sat down and watched Hercules but I've surely seen the whole thing thanks to repeated viewings by my nieces and nephews. As those things go it's a well made film.

    I had such high hopes for Agora. I'm a huge fan of Rachel Weisz and I'm always up for a film set in this time period but I couldn't get into it. She was fine as usual but the film was draggy and kind of a mess.

    As I said I'm partial to films set in this period but to me the best of them are the big 50's Biblical epics so I chose three I enjoy, I probably could have come up with a dozen or more-sadly I already used the ne plus ultra of them C.B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments.

    Quo Vadis? (1951)-Huge, impressive epic of Nero’s (Peter Ustinov) reign and his persecution of the Christians. Against the broader scale of the story (with amazing sets and a literal cast of thousands) is the tale of Roman general Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor) who falls in love with the Christian Lygia (Deborah Kerr) and slowly adopts her religion, a very dangerous decision for the time. Vast in scope with pageantry and a human feel that can’t be replicated by CGI that thanks to the direction and performances, Leo Genn is particularly fine as Marcus’s Uncle Petronius, remains more accessible than many similar films of the period.

    Land of the Pharaohs (1955)-Hooty nonsense about the building of the Great Pyramid in ancient Egypt. Packed with quality British actors, including Jack Hawkins, James Robertson Justice and Sydney Chaplin, extravagantly playing to the back row and best of all (well most campily of all anyway) a young and very beautiful Joan Collins vamping it up as the pharaoh’s wife Nellifer. To say she’s good would be a stretch but she sure is entertaining. The usually excellent Howard Hawks doesn’t seem to have a handle on the pace of the story so despite the florid ridiculousness of the picture it occasionally drags.

    Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954)-Fictional sequel to The Robe picks up where that film ended. The movie follows two stories: faithful Demetrius (Victor Mature) the soldier converted to Christianity in the first picture is pressed into being a gladiator and catches the eye of the salacious Messalina (Susan Hayward) wife of Emperor Caligula’s uncle which causes a crisis of conscience. Meanwhile the mad Caligula pursues Jesus’s robe believing it to have magical powers. Star-studded if improbably cast (i.e. Ernest Borgnine as a Roman centurion) with future stars Anne Bancroft and Julie Newmar appearing briefly. Nicely produced if a bit overblown.

  2. Haven't seen Agora, but I do like your other two picks. I'm especially fond of Gladiator. Excellent film, that one.

  3. Haven't watched Agora, but it seems intriguing. I like Gladiator, 'cause it reminds me of some game I played on Playstation. Hercules is also a fun ride, though I like Kevin Sorbo's TV series much better.

  4. I love Gladiator from the great acting to the beautiful music. It is such a well done film and deserved the accolades. I haven't seen the animated Hercules but I did see the 1950's movie which was so bad it's funny( Hercules subduing the Minotaur is really hilarious because you see that the horns are attached to a jeep which you see in the cameras shadow) I like Rachel Weisz but have no desire to see this film.