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Well-Made Movies About Slavery 

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Updated November 6, 2019 12.5k votes 4.8k voters 754.7k views 38 items

List Rules Feature films that portray slavery as a main theme

A list of slave movies, ranked by their quality and storytelling. These are the top movies that deal with the issue of slaves, the slave trade, and slavery in general. What are the best slavery movies of all time? If you believe we left something off of this list,  please feel free to add it yourself. Slavery is among the most despicable institutions of any society that supports it. The United States came close to permanently splitting in two because of slavery. It's a delicate subject that deserves attention, so we can learn from history and never fall into it again. These movies handle slavery with aplomb (sometimes metaphorically) and are definitely worth watching.
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1
12 Years a Slave is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch

Released: 2013

Directed by: Steve McQueen

12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film directed by Steve McQueen, based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free ...more

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#161 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #12 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

2
Roots is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
DarrenDesepoli added Louis Gossett, Jr., LeVar Burton

Released: 1977

Directed by: Kevin Hooks

 

 

 

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#91 of 287 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #153 of 214 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #20 of 36 The Most Inspirational Black Movies

3
Django Unchained is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
carlybobarly added Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson

Released: 2012

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Django Unchained is a 2012 American revisionist Western film directed by Quentin Tarantino. With the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) sets out to ...more

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#75 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #52 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #442 of 1,027 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

4
Amistad is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Anna Paquin

Released: 1997

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Amistad is a 1997 historical drama film directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the true story of the 1839 mutiny aboard the slave ship La Amistad, during which Mende tribesmen taken and managed ...more

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#247 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #79 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #43 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories

5
Glory is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick

Released: 1989

Directed by: Edward Zwick

Glory is a 1989 American drama film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman. The screenplay was written by Kevin Jarre, based on ...more

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#16 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #219 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
Rosewood is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Malibu369 added Jon Voight, Don Cheadle, Ving Rhames

Released: 1997

Directed by: John Singleton

Rosewood is a 1997 film directed by John Singleton. While based on historic events of the 1923 in Florida, when a white mob takes out blacks and destroyed their town, the film introduces ...more

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#61 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked #17 of 40 Great Historical Black Movies Based On True Stories #11 of 27 The Greatest African American Biopics

7
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
zxray added Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

Released: 2000

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, ...more

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Gladiator Might Be One of The Most Historically Inaccurate Movies Ever #17 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

8
Gone with the Wind is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland

Released: 1939

Directed by: Sam Wood, George Cukor, Victor Fleming

Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel. It was produced by David O. Selznick of Selznick International ...more

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The Most Memorable 'Gone with the Wind' Quotes #69 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

9
Mandingo is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Sylvester Stallone, Ken Norton, Laura Misch

Released: 1975

Directed by: Richard Fleischer

Mandingo is an American motion picture released by Paramount Pictures in 1975. It is based on the novel Mandingo by Kyle Onstott, and on the play Mandingo by Jack Kirkland. The film was directed ...more

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#17 of 63 The Best R-Rated Melodrama Movies #158 of 206 The Best R-Rated Period Piece Movies #40 of 57 The Best R-Rated Blaxploitation Movies

10
Spartacus is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis

Released: 1960

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Dalton Trumbo was based on the novel Spartacus by Howard Fast. It was inspired by the life ...more

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#51 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #58 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Storieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
Uncle Tom's Cabin is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Virginia Grey, Margarita Fischer, Arthur Edmund Carewe

Released: 1927

Directed by: Harry A. Pollard

Uncle Tom's Cabin is a silent film directed by Harry A. Pollard and released by Universal Pictures. The film is based on the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin written by Harriett Beecher Stowe and was the ...more
12
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
zxray added Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

Released: 1995

Directed by: Mel Gibson

Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more

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#23 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #88 of 336 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
The Ten Commandments is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
zxray added Charlton Heston, Vincent Price, Yul Brynner

Released: 1956

Directed by: Cecil B. DeMille

The Ten Commandments is a 1956 American religious epic film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille, shot in VistaVision, and released by Paramount Pictures. It dramatizes the biblical story ...more

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#59 of 242 The Best Movies Based on True Stories #274 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

14
Queen: The Story of an A... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
annsmithcole added
Queen: The Story of an American Family is a 1993 partly factual historical novel by Alex Haley and David Stevens. It brought back to the consciousness of many white Americans the plight of the ...more

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#1,050 of 1,293 The Best Novels Ever Written #168 of 726 The Best Black Movies Ever Made, Ranked

15
Amazing Grace is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
stephaniebabatola added Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Gambon, Ioan Gruffudd

Released: 2006

Directed by: Michael Apted

Amazing Grace is a 2006 American-British biographical drama film directed by Michael Apted, about the campaign against slave trade in the British Empire, led by William Wilberforce, who was ...more
16
Huckleberry Finn is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Harvey Korman, Paul Winfield, Arthur O'Connell

Released: 1974

Directed by: J. Lee Thompson

Huckleberry Finn is the 1974 musical film version of Mark Twain's American classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The movie was produced by Reader's Digest and Arthur P. Jacobs, directed ...more
17
Memoirs of a Geisha is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh, Gong Li

Released: 2005

Directed by: Rob Marshall

Released: 2005 Memoirs of a Geisha is a 2005 American epic film adaptation of the novel of the same name, produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment and Spyglass Entertainment and by Douglas Wick's ...more

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#201 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #176 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Bookslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

18
I Am Slave is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
darren-bell added I Am Slave Lubna Azabal, Nonso Anozie, Isaach de Bankolé

Released: 2010

Directed by: Gabriel Range

I Am Slave is a 2010 television film produced for Channel 4 on the story of one woman's fight for freedom from modern-day slavery. It premiered on Channel 4 on 30 August 2010. The movie is ...more
19
The Birth of a Nation is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King

Released: 2016

Directed by: Nate Parker

The Birth of a Nation is a 2016 American period drama film based on the story of Nat Turner, the enslaved man who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831. The film is ...more
20
Harriet is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn

Released: 2019

Directed by: Kasi Lemmons

Harriet is a 2019 American biographical film directed by Kasi Lemmons, based on the life of abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) escapes slavery and leads hundreds of ...more
21
Planet of the Apes is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, Paul Giamatti

Released: 2001

Directed by: Tim Burton

Planet of the Apes is a 2001 American science fiction film directed by Tim Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, and Estella ...more

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#51 of 112 The Very Best Movie Franchises #233 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #116 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time

22
Sally Hemings: An Americ... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
annsmithcole added Sam Neill, Diahann Carroll, Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Released: 2000

Directed by: Charles Haid

Sally Hemings: An American Scandal is a 2000 film written by Tina Andrews and directed by Charles Haid.
23
Goodbye Uncle Tom is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
PeteBoyle added Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi

Released: 1971

Directed by: Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi

Goodbye Uncle Tom is a 1971 Italian film directed by Mondo film documentary directors Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi with music by Riz Ortolani. The film is based on true events in ...more
24
The Journey of August Ki... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Clifanovich added Thandie Newton, Maya Angelou, Sam Waterston

Released: 1995

Directed by: John Duigan

The Journey of August King is a 1996 American drama film directed by John Duigan. It stars Jason Patric and Thandie Newton.
25
Free State of Jones is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Well-Made Movies About Slavery
Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali

Released: 2016

Directed by: Gary Ross

Free State of Jones is a 2016 American film inspired by the life of Newton Knight and his armed revolt against the Confederacy in Jones County, Mississippi, throughout the American Civil War. ...more