Definition of an “Epic” movie: Pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in an elevated style. Epic movies usually involve an historical setting, often in a large “landscape” of the world, with the hero put to the test in some sort of “legendary” battle or fight. There’s typically a romance between the hero and their love at the core of the story.
I’ve been wanting to put together this Top 10 list for a long time. And it’s changed over the course of my work on it this year. The final key for me was to define the components of an “epic” film. Once I had those components settled upon, I could really look at each movie on the list and decide if it truly fit my definition of “epic”. There are a few atypical choices in my Top 10 Epic Movies. Raiders of the Lost Ark was one I struggled with including on this list initially, but decided that it really did have a poetic composition, an elevated style, a historical setting in the landscape, a battle, and a love story at its core. And while The Empire Strikes Back might not initially be thought of as “epic”, it definitely fits all of the criteria as well. Just think of that opening paragraph of text where they set up the film in a galaxy far, far away. The text alone is epic! Inception is probably the hardest one to fit into this category, but it really is epic in my opinion if you look at the criteria. And I think that’s partly why I have fallen so madly in love with it. The setting may be in the brain, but the world of dreams is by far an epic place to be. Titanic by its vary title implies epic.
So while a Top 10 Epic Movie list is certainly open to varying interpretations and definitions, this is mine for now. One interesting note is that all 10 of these movies are “perfect” or 5 stars. In fact, all but Titanic are in my Top 25 films of all time, which is just outside the Top 25 but within the Top 50. And the Top 5 on this list are within my Top 10 Movies of all time. So clearly I love epic movies!!
10. Titanic (5 stars)
9. Inception (5 stars)
8. Legends of the Fall (5 stars)
7. The Last Samurai (5 stars)
6. Braveheart (5 stars)
5. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (5 stars)
4. Dances With Wolves (5 stars)
3. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (5 stars)
2. The Last of the Mohicans (5 stars)
1. Gladiator (5 stars)