Myths on Screen: Top 5 Mythology Films

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
March 5th, 2014

Mythology films are a ton of fun and always put an original spin on stories that are hundreds or thousands of years old. The stories these films are based on often have roots in truth, but over the years they have become legends and myths that encourage imagination and creativity in everyone who hears or sees them. Greek mythology is by far the most popular and well-known, as is reflected in the wonderful films listed here, but there are also great examples of other mythologies, such as Anglo-Saxon myths.



hercules.jpgPhoto Credit: Buena Vista Pictures


Released by Disney in 1997, "Hercules" follows the usual formula of Disney movies from the era. Music, beautiful, simple art and a great romance help tell the myth of Hercules. As a baby, Hercules is made almost completely mortal by the villain of the movie, Hades. The baby is found by a farmer couple and raised as their son.

Over the course of the film, Hercules grows and trains to become a hero and earn a place living with his divine parents. The film explores what it means to be a hero, the importance of different types of family and trying to find a place to belong. The myth of Hercules is a wonderful canvas on which to explore these themes.



troy.jpgPhoto Credit: Warner Bros.


This 2004 movie is based off of the epic poem "Illiad" by the ancient Greek poet Homer. It tells the story of the Greeks traveling to war against Troy, an event that is steeped in legends and myths that obscure how much truth is involved. The film covers roughly 10 years of the war and includes iconic scenes, such as the Trojan Horse and the desecration of Hector's corpse by dragging it behind a chariot.

The movie stars many big-name actors, such as Orlando Bloom, Brad Pitt and Sean Bean. "Troy" won two of the 11 awards it was nominated for and is one of the most successful mythology-based movies to be released in the new millennium.


300.jpgPhoto Credit: Warner Bros.


"300" is a 2007 film that is based off of a comic series that, in turn, was based off of the legendary Battle of Thermopylae, which was a key battle in the lengthy Greco-Persian Wars. The focus is on the Spartan king Leonidas and his rival, King Xerxes, the Persian leader. The film title refers to an impressive battle during which a mere 300 Spartans break through a significantly larger group of Persians and win despite the odds.

The film is a direct representation of the comic fictionalization, and relies heavily on special effects to paint the impressive scenery and get the right thematic feel in each scene. Many of the props, such as weapons, shields and armor were recycled from earlier era movies, such as Troy.



the-odyssey.jpgPhoto Credit: NBC

"The Odyssey"

This 1997 television film was released and billed as a miniseries and was aired in two parts, though it is generally considered a single work, and the two parts are usually viewed together. The film is an adaptation of the epic poem "The Odyssey" written by Homer. The story happens after the events of "Illiad," and the main character, Odysseus, is in both epics.

Armand Assante plays Odysseus and faces peril after peril in his attempts to get home after the Trojan war. Setbacks are plenty, but he manages to free himself from them and eventually manages to get home. The goddess Athena is highly present in the story, as she has a special connection with Odysseus.



beowulf.jpgPhoto Credit: Paramount Pictures


Heading north a little brings the Anglo-Saxon myth of "Beowulf" into the limelight. "Beowulf" was released in 2007, and is based on an epic poem with the same title that was written some time during the mid-Middle Ages. Beowulf is a warrior who is boastful and responds to a plea for help against a monster called Grendel. The film follows his battle with Grendel, and continues to follow Beowulf as he lives his life as king.

What sets this film apart from the rest is its unique use of motion capture and animation to create a look and feel that is similar to graphic novels or video games. The film appears to be live action in some scenes, but all of it has been repainted and effects have been added to turn it into a fantastical world.

These movies based on mythology are some of the best choices to watch to get a dose of mythology. Taking an ancient text and translating it to the screen for modern audiences is a difficult task, and having the film be a success is even harder, but these take on the challenge. The movies on this list appeal to a wide variety of people, from those who love cartoons to lovers of rough and tumble action flicks, so anyone can enjoy a great film based on mythology.

Tags: Beowulf, 300, Troy