110 voters

The Best Movies Based On History Novels

Updated January 11, 2021 1.2k votes 110 voters 5.8k 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.

  • Forrest Gump1

    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field


    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

    Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic romantic-comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the...  more
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  • Gone with the Wind2

    Gone with the Wind

    Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh


    Directed bySam Wood, George Cukor, Victor Fleming

    Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from Margaret...  more
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  • Schindler's List3

    Schindler's List

    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes


    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by...  more
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  • The Help4

    The Help

    Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain


    Directed byTate Taylor

    The Help is a 2011 American period drama film directed and written by Tate Taylor, and adapted...  more
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  • Spartacus5


    Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier


    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The...  more
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  • The Godfather6

    The Godfather

    Al Pacino, Marlon Brando


    Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola

    The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the...  more
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  • The Last of the Mohicans7

    The Last of the Mohicans

    Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe


    Directed byMichael Mann

    The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 and produced by Morgan...  more
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  • Dances with Wolves8

    Dances with Wolves

    Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell


    Directed byKevin Costner

    Dances with Wolves is a 1990 American epic western film directed, produced by, and starring...  more
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  • The Sound of Music9

    The Sound of Music

    Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer


    Directed byRobert Wise

    The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical drama film produced and directed by Robert Wise...  more
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  • Hidden Figures10

    Hidden Figures

    Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer


    Directed byTheodore Melfi

    Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi, based on...  more
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  • Glory11


    Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington


    Directed byEdward Zwick

    Glory is a 1989 American drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick,...  more
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  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame12

    The Hunchback of Notre Dame

    Demi Moore, Kevin Kline


    Directed byGary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

    Madacy Kids brings to life Victor Hugo's classic novel for this entry in their animated...  more
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  • The Three Musketeers13

    The Three Musketeers

    Charlie Sheen, Tim Curry


    Directed byStephen Herek

    The Three Musketeers is a 1993 Austrian-American action-adventure film from Walt Disney...  more
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  • The Pianist14

    The Pianist

    Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann


    Directed byRoman Polanski

    The Pianist is a 2002 historical drama film co-produced and directed by Roman Polanski,...  more
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  • Troy15


    Brad Pitt, Eric Bana


    Directed byWolfgang Petersen

    Troy is a 2004 epic period war film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, loosely based on Homer's...  more
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  • True Grit16

    True Grit

    Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon


    Directed byEthan Coen, Joel Coen

    True Grit is a 2010 American Revisionist Western film directed by the Coen brothers, based on...  more
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  • Shutter Island17

    Shutter Island

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams


    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    Shutter Island is a 2010 American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese. The...  more
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  • Downfall18


    Alexandra Lara, Bruno Ganz


    Directed byOliver Hirschbiegel

    Downfall is a 2004 German film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the final ten days...  more
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  • Enemy at the Gates19

    Enemy at the Gates

    Rachel Weisz, Jude Law


    Directed byJean-Jacques Annaud

    Enemy at the Gates is a 2001 film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The film's title is taken...  more
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  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World20


    Directed byPeter Weir

    Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a 2003 epic historical drama film...  more
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  • The Grapes of Wrath21

    The Grapes of Wrath

    Henry Fonda, John Carradine


    Directed byJohn Ford

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  • The Physician22

    The Physician

    Ben Kingsley, Stellan Skarsgård


    Directed byPhilipp Stölzl

    The Physician is a 2013 adventure, drama and history film written by Jan Berger and Noah...  more
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  • Cold Mountain23

    Cold Mountain

    Natalie Portman, Nicole Kidman


    Directed byAnthony Minghella

    Cold Mountain is a 2003 epic drama film written and directed by Anthony Minghella. The film is...  more
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  • The English Patient24

    The English Patient

    Willem Dafoe, Ralph Fiennes


    Directed byAnthony Minghella

    The English Patient is a 1996 romantic drama directed by Anthony Minghella from his own script...  more
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  • L.A. Confidential25

    L.A. Confidential

    Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe


    Directed byCurtis Hanson

    L.A. Confidential is a 1997 neo-noir film based on James Ellroy's 1990 novel of the same...  more
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