114 voters

The Best Movies Based On History Novels

Updated January 11, 2021 1.3k votes 114 voters 6.1k views60 items

List RulesVote up your favorite movies based on or inspired by historical literature.

From the Trojan War to the Civil Rights Movement, film adaptations of historical novels combine fact and fiction. The best movies based on history books feature real life events. Many films based on historical novels feature political figures while other good history movies that are books feature fictional characters living in historic times. Some of the best history films based off books have even won Academy Awards.

What historic novels adapted into movies will you find on this list. Forrest Gump has to be near the top. Based on Winston Groom's book of the same name, Forrest Gump stars Tom Hanks as the title character who finds himself at several historic events. The March on the Pentagon, The Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, and the Vietnam War are just a few of the noteworthy events featured in the film. Dances with Wolves is another good movie based on a historical novel.

Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas star in The English Patient, based on Michael Ondaatje's novel. Other good movies based on historical books include Enemy at the Gates, Spartacus, The Scarlet Letter, and Troy.

Which movie based on a historical novel is the best? Give your favorites a vote and and please add any great new films we may have missed.

  • 26

    The Grapes of Wrath

    Henry Fonda, John Carradine
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  • 27

    The Hunchback of Notre Dame

    Lon Chaney, Ernest Torrence
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1923 American film starring Lon Chaney, directed by Wallace...  more
  • 28

    Sleepy Hollow

    Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci
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  • 29

    Mama Flora's Family

    Queen Latifah, Shemar Moore
    Mama Flora's Family is a 1998 drama film directed by Peter Werner....
  • 30

    The Scarlet Letter

    Lillian Gish, Karl Dane
    The Scarlet Letter is a 1926 American drama film, based on the book by the same name, and...  more
  • 31

    The Eagle

    Channing Tatum, Donald Sutherland
    The Eagle is a 2011 historical adventure film set in Roman Britain directed by Kevin...  more

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  • 32

    Moll Flanders

    Morgan Freeman, Robin Wright
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  • 33

    Out of Africa

    Meryl Streep, Robert Redford
    Out of Africa is a 1985 American epic romantic drama film directed and produced by Sydney...  more

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  • 34


    John David Washington, Adam Driver
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  • 35

    Sherlock Holmes

    Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law
    Sherlock Holmes is a 2009 period mystery action film directed by Guy Ritchie, based on the...  more

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  • 36


    Danny DeVito, James Woods
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  • 37


    Rosie O'Donnell, Glenn Close
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  • 38

    The King's Speech

    Helena Bonham Carter, Colin Firth
    The King's Speech is a 2010 British historical drama film directed by Tom Hooper and written...  more

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  • 39

    Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

    Rachel McAdams, Robert Downey Jr.
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  • 40

    Les Miserables

    Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried
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  • 41

    Enola Holmes

    Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill
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  • 42

    The Godfather Part II

    Al Pacino, Robert De Niro
    The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American epic crime film produced and directed by Francis Ford...  more

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  • 43

    The Monuments Men

    George Clooney, Cate Blanchett
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  • 44


    Tom Hanks, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
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  • 45

    Unbroken: Path to Redemption

    Samuel Hunt, Merritt Patterson
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  • 46

    Jojo Rabbit

    Roman Griffin, Scarlett Johansson
    Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 dark comedy drama film directed by Taika Waititi, based on the book...  more

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  • 47

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

    Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh
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  • 48

    12 Years a Slave

    Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender
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  • 49

    Woman in Gold

    Katie Holmes, Helen Mirren
    Woman in Gold is a 2015 British-American drama film directed by Simon Curtis and written by...  more
  • 50

    The Legend of Tarzan

    Alexander Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson
    The Legend of Tarzan is a 2016 American adventure film directed by David Yates, based on the...  more

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