Satisfy Your Obsession With Rome With These 7 Great Movies About Roman History

There is something very fascinating about the Romans and Roman history. We have several recommendations for movies about Roman history that we have all really enjoyed. 

I think part of the intrigue with Roman history is the fact that the Romans were so successful for so long to just fall apart in a relatively short amount of time.

Another element is that the Romans (until during the fall) possessed many natural virtues despite being pagans.

Honor, duty, a hate for human sacrifice, a love for beauty and patriotism were all important ideals to the Romans.

While we were working on our FABIOLA project, it was super fun to see what other movie makers had done while working in this era of history.

Several of these movies are made in the 1960s with more modest sets and costumes and others are made in more recent years. 

We enjoyed watching all of them and here are the reviews of the movies about Roman history that we have been able to find.

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1. Watch The Turning Point Of The Roman Empire From Pagan To Christian In Constantine And The Cross

Movies about Roman History

"In this sign, you shall conquer"

This is the movie that follows Constantine and his rise to power as well as his conflicting thoughts on Christianity. 

Constantine is the son of one of the caesars under Emperors Maximian and Dioclesian. When his father dies in battle, Constantine is left with a position and many unanswered questions. 

In his fight to ascend the throne, Constantine meets his mother and learns of her religion. It is then that he starts wondering what the Christians are all about and what they really believe. 

Rome is practically held under a siege from the bad people within it and Constantine knows that he must take Rome for the good of his people and the empire. Divine assistance is with him when he sees the cross in the sky and marches under a Christian banner on Rome.

2. Natural Virtue As Well As Tastefully Shown Base Depravity Are Wrapped In An Exciting Storyline In The Fall of the Roman Empire Starring Stephen Boyd And Christopher Plummer!

The Fall of the Roman Empire

"When my father was dying, I spoke to the gods saying I'm not like my father and if I'm too crowned Caesar, I will change all he did. I offered them my life - and told them if it was not for the good of Rome that I be Caesar, then let me be killed. But, you see - I'm alive."

This movie was so much fun for me to watch the first time because of all the well-known faces that I knew from other movies seemed to have been all gathered together and put into this movie.

It was like watching old friends get together and do something that you never expected. Stephen Boyd, James Mason, Sophia Loren, and Christopher Plummer make this a very fun movie to watch. This is definitely one of our favorite movies about Roman history.

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The plot follows Marcus Aurelius' decision to name Livius (Stephen Boyd), a friend that he has taken into his family, as his successor over of his own son, Commodus (Christopher Plummer). 

Tension begins when Marcus Aurelius is killed and the two young men are left with what they know to be his last wish but are not particularly bound to keep since it was never publicly announced by the dead emperor. 

Although Commodus is already practically lost to reason from over indulgence in all pleasures, Livius giving him the role of emperor makes him completely drunk on power and unabated pleasures. 

Thrown into the mix is the attempt of the Roman army, headed by Livius and his Greek philosopher friend Timonides (James Mason), to welcome the Germanic barbarian tribes into the empire. Commodus would like nothing better than to keep the Germanic tribes as his slaves and laborers. 

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The situation becomes more and more strained as Commodus' hate of Livius continues to grow and now he will rest at nothing until Livius is dead.

This movie did a really good job of showing how bad things can get when corrupt and spoiled men come to power. It also portrays, in Livius and Timonides, the natural virtues nurtured in the Roman world. Both are patriotic to Rome although they see how she is suffering under the rule of Commodus.

Points to Consider: This movie is a romance, so there are a few passionate kisses. The woman who has an arranged marriage continues to love Livius, which is kind of weird but she never tries to have a relationship with him that is forbidden by her marriage.

Commodus indulges in all of his passions. That being said, there is a part when he is drunk and tries to force a woman to drink with him. When she won't, he gives her to Livius saying, "You can have this one. She thinks."

That, of course, has implications, but Livius dismisses the woman with no intention of taking up Commodus' offer.

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3. Experience The Roman Games Up Close With Gladiator

Movies Set In Ancient Rome

"The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an emperor. Striking story! But now, the people want to know how the story ends. Only a famous death will do. And what could be more glorious than to challenge the Emperor himself in the great arena?"

Gladiator is a different telling of the same story in The Fall of the Roman Empire. Much like the movie from the 1960s, it begins with Marcus Aurelius telling one of his favorite soldiers, Maximus, that he will be the next emperor instead of Marcus' son, Commodus.

Commodus kills his father and tries to also do away with Maximus but Maximus escapes just to return home and get captured to be sold as a gladiator. 

This turn of events makes it so that Commodus' and Maximus' paths once again cross. Although Commodus is the emperor and Maximus is a slave, Maximus is still the only man who challenges the emperor's position. 

Maximus is popular among the people as a gifted fighter and he still has a vision for a better Rome, and Commodus needs to get rid of him. The end is to be decided in Rome's most popular gathering place: the arena.

Points to Consider: Commodus is crazy. Part of his mental illness is an obsession of finding love. When he gives up on ever getting love from his father, he turns his attention to his sister and insists that she loves him as a husband. There is a kind of immodest scene when he is trying to get her to "love him".

There is also a bit of immodesty between two men as well.

On another note, Commodus does suffocate his father, which is not graphic, just a gross thought.

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4. Macky And His Friends Tell The Stories Of Their Heroes To Keep Christian Morals Alive In Friends And Heroes

Movies About The Roman Empire

We really enjoyed watching this cartoon series, big kids and little kids included.

This is a series of movies about Roman history that follows some of the most interesting events in the first century, including the destruction of Jerusalem, the governing of places far from Rome like Alexandria, Egypt, and the politics in the very city of Rome. 

Macky begins by living with his family in Alexandria before moving on to Jerusalem and finally Rome. In all of these places, Macky shares the stories of Jesus and the prophets that he has learned from his Christian upbringing with those around him. 

Macky and his family must learn to live as Christians in a pagan world and evangelize those around them in Friends And Heroes

5. Watch The Well-Known Story About Nero's Fire In Fire Over Rome

List of Roman Movies

Fire Over Rome was an interesting movie that covered the story of Nero's fire. It follows Marcus Valerius as he stumbles upon Christianity and seeks to find the truth. 

He must choose whether he wishes to do what his emperor tells him and persecute the Christians, or do what his heart tells him is right and resist Nero's tyranny. 

Despite the interesting subject of the movie, there were a few things that were quite distracting that took away from the movie.

In the first place, the movie had been recorded in Italian and and dubbed with English. This made it so that the character's mouths never matched what they were saying. 

The storyline didn't have very much to it and it ended unsatisfyingly. 

One thing the movie had going for it was their Nero. He looked just like the real guy and was purely evil without showing too much. Ridiculous, selfish and vain. You could totally see him saying, "What an artist dies in me," while he killed himself. This fact in an of itself makes this one of the movies about Roman history that is worth watching.

6. The Story Keepers

The Story Keepers Movie Cover

At first glance, this series is a lot like Friends and Heroes, but it is actually quite different. This series follows a family in Rome and the stories they pass along about Jesus and his apostles. 

This one is placed in the years just after the death of St. Peter when Nero ruled Rome. I paid attention to it a little at first but soon lost interest as I realized how inaccurate the story was. 

In this series, the baker Ben is a "Christian leader" who organizes and gathers the Christians together to talk about Jesus. This is, of course, ignoring the fact that there were priests who gathered the faithful together to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I was a little perturbed that the baker is here being given a leadership role and no reference was made to Apostolic succession or the priesthood. 

One of the things that is kind of a highlight in this film is Nero's birthday party, where he sings "Happy Birthday" to himself.

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7. The Ancient Roman Empire Comes To Life In The Classic Movie Ben-Hur With Charleton Heston And Stephen Boyd

Good Movies For Easter

"It's a Roman world, Judah. If you want to live in it, you must become part of it."

A classic in our home at Christmas and Easter, Ben-Hur is definitely one of our favorite movies about Roman history!

Ben-Hur follows the story of the young Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur and his relationship with an old Roman friend-turned-enemy, Marsala. 

Judah blames the change in Marsala on the influence of Roman society and hates all of Rome for it. When he encounters Christ at Calvary, he learns that he must forgive if he wishes to obtain eternal life and to live in peace. 

Experience ancient Rome in the classic movie, Ben Hur.


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