Since I have my fingers limbered up, I thought I would list some of my favorite movies. This is not in any particular order or ranking of my favorites, but it will show that my taste are somewhat eclectic if nothing else.
One of my points that I have covered in this blog is that reenactors/living historians have a very strange relationship with historic movies. We both love and hate them with a passion that can only be experienced not explained. I thought I would share some of my favorite movies and some of the reasons that they are my favorites.
Barry Lyndon I.M.H.O. one of the best films set in the 18th century. It is the story of the rise and fall of a young gentleman in the middle 1700's. It is a long story but pure eye candy. The clothing, sets, filming, lighting is excellent and you can sit there and get the overwhelming feeling that this is how it really was. It also gives a good view of the manners and mores of the time period. I think it is as close to being able to take a time machine back as we can come.
Land and Freedom This is a small jewel of a independent film with limited release but very well done. It is sorta hard to find but worth it when you do. It follows the story of a young idealistic English communist who goes to fight against the fascist in the Spanish civil war. He joins the POUM the communist people's militia which ends up being betrayed by the Stalinist/mainstream communist/republican forces. This movie is loosely based on George Orwell's book, Homage to Catalonia.
Restoration This is a well done period piece staring Meg Ryan and Robert Downey Jr. It is set in the late 17th century at the time of the restoration of Charles II to the English throne. Downey portrays a doctor of the time period who goes from a ner' do well to a person who rediscovers his humanity. Medicine and redemption all in one movie, what more could you want?
Farewell to the King This film is set in WWII Borneo and stars Nick Nolte as the last king of a tribe of head hunters. This is a movie that on a superficial level is strictly an adventure film, but you can dig a little deeper and see a wee bit of Lord Jim in it.
Ride with the Devil This is a good film about the guerrilla war that raged in both Kansas and Missouri in the Civil War. This is the area and time that spawned Jesse and Frank James as well as the Younger brothers. Very few movies have covered this area of the war to this detail. Plus Jewell is one hot babe.....-grin-
Master and Commander My favorite naval movie. This is the movie that started me on the path of naval reenacting. Damn Russel Crow's eyes........-grin-
Blackrobe Again, a wonderful movie that has the look and feel of the period. This is the story of the Jesuits bringing Christianity to the Hurons in 1600's Canada. This is eye candy of the best sort for living historians.
The Wild Bunch "If they move, Kill 'em" How can you NOT like a movie that starts out with that as some of the first words said by the actors? This movie deals with the changes that were happening in the west of the early 1900s and how a band of outlaws deal with these changes. I liked the approach that these outlaws while they were ruthless and deadly, had a code that they lived and died by. On the other hand, the rest of the world with the coming of the first world war had nothing of that kind.
The Agony and Ecstasy This is a personal favorite of mine not very historically accurate but for some reason it is still one of my favorites. I guess I like watching Michelangelo struggling to finish his task, the painting of the Sistine chapel. Not to compare myself with the artist, but I understand the compulsion he had to create something from nothing.
Breaker Morant Set in the Boer War, it deals with the court martial of three British colonial officers for allegedly shooting prisoners of war. It looks the subject of not only what is a crime in time of war, it also ask where does the true guilt lie? On the men who give the orders or the men who carry them out? This is another independent film out of Australia and most of the actors are unknown to us Americans (or they were actors who hadn't become famous yet at the time of the filming of the movie)
There are a BUNCH of other movies that I could list here, but I figured that this would be a good start. Later on, I will list some more.