War Movies Set in Ancient Greece: A List

While I was compiling this list I realized that I have seen more war movies set in Roman times than movies set in Ancient Greece. Maybe it isn’t surprising as there has not been a proper “Ancient Greece Wave” yet. Most of the movies I found depict the story of Helen of Troy. Surprising. The most famous one is certainly Troy, closely followed by 300. I don’t mind them but they are not among my favourites either. In any case I prefer 300, I must say it is quite special and I included it on my List of 15 Most Original War Movies. My problem with Troy is the fact that I don’t like some of the actors (Who? Guess!).

  • Helen of Troy (US 1956) directed by Robert Wise, starring  Rossana Podesta, Jacques Sernas, Cedric Hardwicke
  • Esther and the King  (IT/US 1960) directed by Raoul Walsh, starring Joan Collins, Richard Egan, Denis O’Dea
  • The 300 Spartans (US 1960) directed by Rudolph Maté, starring Richard Egan, Ralph Richardson. Persian wars.
  • The Trojan Horse aka La guerra di Troia (IT/FR1961) directed by Giorgio Ferroni, starring Steve Reeves, Juliette Mayniel, Edy Vessel, Lidia Alfonsi, John Drew Barrymore
  • The Trojan Women (GB/ US/GRC 1971) directed by Mihalis Kakogiannis, starring Katharine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave
  • Helen of Troy (US 2003, TV series ) directed by John Kent Harrison, starring  Sienna Guillory, Matthew Marsden, Rufus Sewell, John Rhys-Davies
  • Troy (US/MLT/GB 2004) directed by Wolfgang Petersen, starring Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Diane Kruger
  • 300  (US 2007) directed by Zack Snyder, starring Gerard Butler, Lena Headey. Persian wars. (see my review)

Have you seen any of these movies? Which ones do you like? And which are others that need to be included?

18 thoughts on “War Movies Set in Ancient Greece: A List

  1. lifewith4cats says:

    Ester and the king has been in my movie que for a good long while, I really must watch it one of these days.

  2. warmoviebuff says:

    I love when you do these lists. Thanks.

    I have seen 300, Troy, and the Helen of Troy miniseries.

    300 is outstanding and well-deserves its place on your most original list.

    I liked Troy, but was upset with some of the changes of the myth. I did not mind Orlando Bloom as I am not a female who resents his unavailability. Quit being a hater.

    I am always disappointed by the actresses who portray Helen. Their faces would not launch a thousand ships. In fact, in Troy, Brad Pitt was the most beautiful thing on screen.

    I have The Trojan Women in my instant queue, but am not in a hurry to watch it. The others are not highly regarded as far as I know.

    Hollywood should dig into this fertile topic. Marathon, Alcibiades, just to mention two great stories.

    • My pleasure, I like doing them.
      Ha! You got it wrong. I do, admittedly not like Orlando Bloom, but I do really not like Brad Pitt. Good-looking for me, means also intelligent looking which is not his case. And, like Mel Gibbson and others, he looks too modern for me, too 21st century. And not Greek. I thought she was an OK Helen of Troy but a Grace Kelly type would have been more appropriate.
      You didn’t say anything about the mini-series, is it worth hunting down?
      The Trojan Women has an interesting cast.

  3. warmoviebuff says:

    I guess I would have to say the miniseries was forgettable because I do not remember it well. I do recall that there was some nudity even though it was made for TV. Funny how that’s the only thing I recall. Oh, and I do remember the actress was not all that. (And by that I mean all of her was not all that).

    As to Pitt as Achilles, perhaps you should consider that Achilles was very much a modern man – egotistical, anger management problems, sulky, arrogant arrogant. He was not a typical ancient Greek male.

  4. warmoviebuff says:

    You are supposed to stare at the abs, not the hair!

  5. lifewith4cats says:

    I have to add my 2 cents. The Troy movie had lots of eye candy. And it was good but I spent most of the movie being angry at the notion that the Helen character was being SO selfish that she would cause the down fall of her people. A rulers daughter should know better!
    Im not fluent in Greek history so though I know its based on truth… I hope the real Helen had more good reasons than simple petty vanity to do as she did.
    I also thought youngest brother was rather eager to ignore military heirarchy while the eldest was too permisive. Perhaps Im too critical.

  6. warmoviebuff says:

    I felt the Helen character was pretty faithful to Homer in personality. The problem with assessing whether Helen is a villainous who would willingly bring on a war for love is in the myth it is unclear whether the war begins with an elopement or a kidnapping and then you have to factor in whether she was under a love spell or was really in love with Paris. Since the movie dispenses with the gods and Helen is portrayed as eloping, this makes her a despicable character.

    I think Bana’s portrayal of Hector was spot on and I commend the movie for giving him his due. Another site had a thread about movies where the good guy loses. This movie should be at the head of the list. What a tragedy that Achilles is so famous and most people have not heard of Hector. (This movie helped.) Pitt does a pretty good job showing that Achilles was a jerk, but then the film gives him a noble death which he did not get in the myth.

    • I was force-fed Greeky mythology in school and still my memory is a bit sketchy. I had a feeling Helen was not much more than a toy in the hands of the Gods and indeed stolen. I doubt her free-will. Of course the movie showed this in a different light. In the mythology Hector gets his share.
      Not to include the God’s who were omnipresent in the myths is a choice to make it more historical and I didn’t mind that.
      I’ not familiar with the position of women in Ancient Greece but could imagine, she didn’t have much to say.
      I will have to watch it again and try to not see Brad Pitt and may appreciate it more.
      But I agree with lifewith4cats, it is a beautiful movie.

  7. Novroz says:

    I have only seen Troy…never able to finish 300.
    I do enjoy Troy tho I really hate the main actor, Brad Pitt. Who is the one you don’t like? Bloom?
    Till Bana still alive, the movie is good then after that, it isn’t so good because Pitt is all over it.

    This might sound funny but I couldn’t tell which one is Roman and which one is Greek.

  8. Novroz says:

    I like Gerry too…but something about 300 never really click to me. I think it was the color tone and too much CGI

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