Motion Picture industry fails ancient world

I love to write, create scenes, characters, storylines, and plotting what’s going to happen, but I also enjoy good movies. It may be a surprise to you that I am a visual learner, given that I write. However, this article is not about my writing style. I am disappointed by the lack of decent movies centred on our historical past, and I don’t mean the 20th Century or even going back 600 years. I am referring to flicks that reflect the ancient past.


A fairly decent movie was Gladiator, it had good a story, where the hero, loyal servant to the Roman Emperor is tested by the upstart of a false emperor, who was rejected by the hero. Revenge comes into play, followed by many trials [think Herakles and his 12 trials] but less obvious, then colluding against the false emperor, only to be found out, placed in a life/death situation, and where the hero must choose whether the promise of a better life is more agreeable than death. For those who watched Gladiator, knows how it ends. The best movie by far was Agora. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you do. It is based on the life of Hypatia, the first female philosopher and mathematician born in Alexandria and now considered as one the great thinkers of ancient Alexandria.

What I am not impressed with is the lack of good movies that have been produced on the ancient world. I will admit to watching Troy, only because The Iliad is my favourite book and the inspiration behind my trilogy, Servant of the Gods. Though compared to Alexander and the graphic comic version of 300 (both laughable, I did laugh out loud at the cinemas when a hippopotamus came charging at the Spartans) it was better! I will never get my hours back after watching those dismal movies.

There have been some good television series created, such as Rome and the first few seasons of Spartacus. Atlantis was enjoyable, quirky and had interesting twists to well-known mythologies, which I can relate to as that is what I have done in my stories.

What I don’t understand is why the recent releases, such as Exodus: gods and kings, Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans, Immortals are lacking. Emphasis, as it appeared to me, was on the special effects. What about the story? I like to see movies set in the ancient world but they need a good storyline. I understand that it is difficult to create in 90 minutes to two hours an epic story. Oh, wait, they did do that, back in the 1950s… my dad was a big fan of Ben Hur, Exodus etc, etc… we had to watch them or go to bed really early.

Courtesy of Macmillan 1959’s ‘Ben-Hur’

What I want to say is: where are the good movies based on the ancient world? Enough now, had my gripe.

Thank you for your continued support and as always, I look forward to your comments and will respond.

Historical fiction novelist and a secondary teacher, Luciana Cavallaro, burnt out but not done… yet.

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    • cav12

      What a great rant, Jacqui. I don’t think I’ve even used a historical movie for any of my classes. The closest one I’d use is Agora, and that would be for my senior students.


    • cav12

      That is very true, and sanitised so much of the history. We need producers and directors to go against the masses and produce quality movies.


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