20 films and series about ancient Rome

For cinematographers, the great ancient state is a real gift with inexhaustible vivid plots. Emperors, legionnaires, gladiators, vestals – what kind of heroes does the ancient civilization not offer for action movies, fantasy and dramas. Many feature films about Ancient Rome are based on real events, and bring forgotten stories across the centuries in a powerful modern visual language.

Domina (TV series 2021)

The list of the best foreign premieres of 2021 includes a new epic series about Ancient Rome in the family saga genre. There are women in the ancient Roman villages, and we will be shown one of them – Livia Drusilla, who fearlessly cleared the way to the throne for herself and her offspring. The friend of Octavian Augustus’ life did not have children together with him, but the emperor’s wife made sure that Tiberius, her son from her first marriage, ended up being the only living heir.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
Domina

Genre:
Biography, history, drama

Actors:
Kasia Smutnyak, Liam Cunningham, Alex Lani …

Country:
UK, Italy

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 7.0

Age restrictions:
12+


Romulus (TV series 2020)

The action of the new movie takes place several centuries before the birth of Christ, when Italy was not Catholic, and people were afraid of the powerful forces of nature. The reign of the king of Alba was marked by drought and famine, but not all representatives of the Latin tribes agree to meekly obey the fate and will of the gods . Vestal Elijah, slave Viros and heir to the throne Long Yemos are ready to become masters of their own lives.

Original title:
Romulus

Genre:
Drama, history

Actors:
Andrea Arcangeli, Marianna Fontana, Francesco Di Napoli …

Country:
Italy, UK

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.9, IMDb – 6.7

Age restrictions:
18+


Barbarians (mini-series, 2020)

Among the best films about the Roman Empire is a new foreign mini-series about the legendary battle in the Teutoburg Forest. Arminius, the son of the leader of an ancient Germanic tribe, was kidnapped as a child. Patrician Quintilius Var replaced the kidnapped boy’s family. Years later, the German becomes a Roman officer – and on the eve of a fateful battle, he is forced to make a choice between his people and his adoptive father.

Original title:
Barbaren

Genre:
Action, history, drama

Actors:
Lawrence Rupp, Jeanne Gourso, David Schütter …

Country:
Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
18+


First King of Rome (2019)

The poor twin brothers Remus and Romulus are captured while fleeing the flood, but soon the guys manage to make a daring escape along with other slaves. As a hostage , a group of fugitives takes the priestess of the goddess Vesta. The sorceress predicts one of the twins a great fate and the position of the ruler of the empire, but in order to fulfill the prophecy, the future ruler must sacrifice his own brother.

Original title:
Il primo re

Genre:
Drama, history

Actors:
Alessandro Borghi, Alessio Lapiche, Fabrizio Rongione, Massimiliano Rossi …

Country:
Italy, Belgium

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.8, IMDb – 6.5


Ben-Hur (2016)

The plot of a historical film about Rome and the legendary heroes of the imperial era will tell about the vile betrayal that destroyed the life of a Jewish aristocrat. The half-brother accuses Ben-Hur of an attempt on power and the “criminal” is sent to the galleys into slavery. Thoughts of revenge do not leave the man , and one day he is given a chance to return to his native land. Ben-Hur is eager to call his brother to account for all the suffering, but it is not so easy to get close to the Roman tribune.

Original title:
Ben-Hur

Genre:
Action, drama, adventure, history

Actors:
Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro, Morgan Freeman…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.9, IMDb – 5.7

Age restrictions:
16+


Barbarian Invasion (mini-series 2016)

The Roman Empire is associated with power, authority and numerous triumphs, but the creators of this multi-part film offer a look at the historical past from a different perspective. The episodes are narrated on behalf of a tribesman who refused to kneel before the great emperor. The series is worth watching for fans of documentaries filmed in modern American traditions.

Original title:
Barbarians Rising

Genre:
Documentary, Action, Drama, History

Actors:
Michael Ealy, Barry Strauss, Richard Riddell…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 7.8


Pompeii (2014)

A spectacular historical movie about the Roman Empire tells about sincere love against the backdrop of a terrible natural disaster . Slave Milo enters the arena, risking his own life for the amusement of wealthy nobles. The feeling for the beautiful Cassia will be mutual and will awaken dreams of more in the heart of the gladiator, but the girl has a fiancé – a Roman senator. The raging Vesuvius will make its own adjustments to the fate of the heroes of the romantic drama.

Original title:
Pompeii

Genre:
Action, drama, romance, adventure

Actors:
Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinoye-Agbaje, Kiefer Sutherland, Carrie-Anne Moss…

Country:
Canada, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.1, IMDb – 5.5

Age restrictions:
12+


Spartacus: Blood and Sand (TV series 2010-2013)

The American series begins with an alliance between Roman warriors and Thracian tribes. The peace treaty is supposed to unite yesterday’s adversaries in the fight against a common enemy, but discontent is growing among the recruits. The Romans send the Thracians into battle, ensuring their safe conquest of territories. The indignation of the soldiers is replaced by a riot, which only aggravates the position of the instigators. The wives of the rebels are enslaved, and the troublemakers are turned into gladiators.

Original title:
Spartacus: Blood and Sand

Genre:
Action, drama, romance, adventure, biography

Actors:
Andy Whitfield, Liam McIntyre, Manu Bennett…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.3, IMDb – 8.5

Age restrictions:
18+


Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (mini-series 2010)

The list of the best historical films with a high rating continues the series about Ancient Rome, where one of the most beloved spectacles was gladiator fights. Quintus Batiatus takes the place of the head of a noble family with the hope of returning the family to its former glory. A wealthy slave owner restores the school of gladiators, and makes the main bet on the best fighter – Gannik, who skillfully owns different types of weapons.

Original title:
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena

Genre:
Action, drama, romance, adventure, biography, history

Actors:
John Hanna, Manu Bennett, Peter Mensah …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.3, IMDb – 8.5

Age restrictions:
18+


Eagle of the Ninth Legion (2010)

At the beginning of the 2nd century AD, the ancient Roman commander Flavius ​​Aquila, together with his warriors, set off to conquer new lands in the distant British Isles. Since then, no one has seen the valiant legionnaires, and 20 years later, the hero’s son decides to find out the secret of the mysterious disappearance of the Romans. Marcus intends to restore the reputation of his missing father and return the symbol of the legendary legion to his homeland.

Original title:
The Eagle

Genre:
Drama, history

Actors:
Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.8, IMDb – 6.2

Age restrictions:
12+


Centurion (2009)

A war film in the genre of an action movie tells about the Roman legions, who tried to capture the lands of the Picts. Battle-hardened warriors are tasked with penetrating deep into Britain to destroy the barbarians. The mission seems easy, because the legionnaires have the necessary equipment and a numerical advantage. A well-thought-out operation turns into a bloody trap – the Picts know how to fight on their native land and are ready to fight to the death.

Original title:
Centurion

Actors:
Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko…

Country:
Great Britain, France, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.3

Age restrictions:
18+


The Last Legion (2006)

The second half of the 5th century turned out to be tragic for Ancient Rome – the great empire experienced the fall of the Caesar dynasty. The last emperor was the 12-year-old Romulus, whom the barbarians sent to prison on a remote island. The boy manages to escape with the help of a loyal legionnaire, but he has a mission full of dangerous adventures ahead of him . Romulus will lead the Ninth Legion, which has retained allegiance to the rightful ruler.

Original title:
The Last Legion

Genre:
Action, adventure, military

Actors:
Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan…

Country:
UK, France, Slovakia, Tunisia, Italy, Bulgaria

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.1, IMDb – 5.4

Age restrictions:
12+


Rome (TV series 2005-2007)

The monumental series about the Roman Empire is a fictional epic about political intrigues and bloody conflicts. The great general Julius Caesar returns from the war in Gaul to become embroiled in a violent power struggle. The Republic is living its final days before the formation of an empire destined to become the most powerful of all ancient civilizations.

Original title:
Rome

Genre:
Drama, Action, Romance, Military

Actors:
Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker…

Country:
UK, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.3, IMDb – 8.7

Age Limits :
18+


Empire (mini-series 2005)

In Rome, Caesar, who fell at the hands of traitors, dies, and the will of the ruler comes into force. According to the last will of the emperor, power should pass to the young Octavius. An inexperienced youngster now separates the conspirators from the throne, and the rebels are ready to remove the obstacle at any cost. Octavius ​​is forced to flee Rome in order to save his life and in the future to get even with the traitors.

Original title:
Empire

Genre:
Action, drama, history

Actors:
Santiago Cabrera, Vincent Regan, Emily Blunt…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.5, IMDb – 6.3

Age restrictions:
16+


Spartacus (mini-series, 2004)

An interesting action movie about the gladiators of Ancient Rome will take viewers back to ancient times. Spartacus was sold into slavery as a child and mentors prepared him to participate in bloody battles in the arena. At the school of gladiators, the guy acquired the necessary skills that one day will turn against a powerful empire. Spartacus will escape and organize the largest slave uprising in the history of mankind.

Original title:
Spartacus

Genre:
Action, drama, history

Actors:
Goran Visnjic, Alan Bates, Angus Macfadyen…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.9, IMDb – 6.7

Age restrictions:
16+


Roman Empire (dilogue, 2003 and 2004)

The time frame of the film captures the era of the reign of Augustus and Nero – the legendary rulers who played an important role in the formation of the new state. The death of Caesar plunged the empire into chaos for a long time, which came because of the fierce battle for the throne and power. Secret intrigues, treacherous assassination attempts and betrayals destroyed the system from the inside much more efficiently and quickly than external enemies.

Original title:
Imperium

Genre:
Drama, melodrama, military, history

Actors:
Peter O’Toole, Charlotte Rampling, Vittoria Belvedere …

Country:
Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Austria

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.3

Age restrictions:
12 +


Julius Caesar (mini-series 2002)

The atmospheric historical film about the great ruler of the Romans earned praise from the audience thanks to the excellent work of actors and artists. The young Gaius Julius Caesar was forced to leave his homeland in a hurry when the military leader Sulla usurped power. Life trials hardened the spirit of the commander, and decades later, the brave and incredibly gifted patrician became the dictator of Ancient Rome.

Original title:
Julius Caesar

Genre:
Drama, military, biography, history

Actors:
Jeremy Sisto, Richard Harris, Christopher Walken…

Country:
Netherlands, Italy, Germany, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.2, IMDb – 6.7

Age restrictions:
16+


Quo Vadis (2001)

Contemporaries left the most conflicting memories of the era of Emperor Nero. If in the early years the Roman monarch fought corruption and reduced taxes, then he lost interest in governing the state and took up creativity and sports . Especially the main Roman became famous for unheard-of orgies and inventive executions. According to one legend, in search of poetic inspiration, Nero set fire to the ancient capital, blaming Christians for the fire. The slander provoked mass reprisals against the followers of Christ, which the creative ruler never regretted.

Original title:
Quo Vadis

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Pavel Delong, Magdalena Meltsazh, Boguslaw Linda …

Country:
Poland, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.8, IMDb – 5.7

Age restrictions:
16+


Gladiator (2000)

A film about Roman legionnaires is a highly rated historical drama that made it to the top of the best peplums. The army under the command of General Maximus wins battles in the name of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The democratic ruler is ready to transfer power to the Senate, but his son wants to rule the state alone. As a result, Aurelius accepts death at the hands of Commodus, and the recalcitrant Maximus joins the ranks of the gladiators, but does not miss the opportunity to take revenge on the new emperor years later.

Original title:
Gladiator

Genre:
Action, history, drama, adventure

Actors:
Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen …

Country:
USA, UK, Malta, Morocco

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.6, IMDb – 8.5

Age restrictions:
16+


Attila the Conqueror (mini-series, 2000)

An ancient prophecy about a great warrior who will unite the tribes in a decisive campaign against a powerful empire has been passed down from generation to generation. The legendary leader was Attila, the leader of the Huns, who dared to challenge the Roman general Flavius. The film in the genre of a historical thriller will show both the personal drama of Attila and the largest military battle between the Romans and the Huns – the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields.

Original title:
Attila

Genre:
Action, drama, melodrama, adventure, military, biography, history

Actors:
Gerard Butler, Powers Booth, Simon McKinnon …

Country:
USA, Lithuania

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 6.7

Age restrictions:
12+


Titus – Ruler of Rome (1999)

The illustrious general Titus Andronicus had many battles on his account, from which he managed to emerge victorious. The military leader returns to Rome with prisoners, demanding the execution of the rebellious sons of the defeated queen ready. Now Tamora, who has lost loved ones, is obsessed with a thirst for revenge, and Titus has a dangerous opponent. The queen knows how to calculate the situation a few steps ahead, and a skilled tactician can envy her patience and endurance.

Original title:
Titus

Genre:
Thriller, drama, story

Actors:
Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Angus Macfadyen …

Country:
UK, Italy, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.1

Age restrictions:
16+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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