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The Worst-Reviewed Historical Movies Of All Time

Updated September 21, 2019 1.7k votes 435 voters 20.0k views12 items

List RulesVote up the historical movies that were just the worst.

Not every movie is a perfect 10. In fact, most movies aren't, and those that fall closer to the lower end of the scale tend to get savaged by critics. Historical movies that get things wrong, because they are dealing with real events and people, can be particularly lambasted by reviewers, and the most panned movies about history offer an eye-opening look into how not to make a historical film. From downright strange cartoons made out of real life tragedies to remarkably tone-deaf attempts at splashy historical epics, the worst-reviewed historical movies are probably not what you'd call an educational viewing experience. Nonetheless, these historical films critics hated just might be considered so bad you can't tear yourself away. So long as you understand you're watching a very poor and probably wholly inaccurate movie about something that really happened, you may even enjoy these historical movies that bombed. Just promise us you won't take a history test immediately afterward.

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    If you're one of the millions of people who hear Titanic and automatically think of James Cameron's 1997 uber-epic and not the animated Italian film from 2000, consider yourself lucky. This stinker of a movie has consistently ranked as one of the worst animated movies ever made and even as the worst movie ever made in any genre. Titanic: The Legend Goes On sounds just as ludicrous as you'd might imagine. The world's most famous sinking ship does hit an iceberg in the animated version, but…everyone survives. Including all of the talking, singing, and, yes, rapping animals onboard. One writer noted how Titanic: The Legend Goes On "excels in bad taste." Ya think?

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      Making it through Nathaniel Hawthorne's dense 1850 novel is difficult enough. Making it through the 1995 film version is even tougher. Critics roasted this massive misfire of a film, from the miscasting of Demi Moore (!) as Hester Prynne to the blatant historical inaccuracies. While the source novel is a study in repression and an examination of the hypocrisy of a small Puritan village, the movie is a glutton's feast of sex, nudity, and unintentional laughter. As the New York Times film critic put it,

      If you've read the book you won't know the ending. Let's just say that Indians with flaming arrows come to the rescue. They manage to keep a straight face, which is more than anyone in the audience will be able to do.

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        Imagine this: Christopher Columbus as a buff, Superman-like hero, Magnum, P.I., as the King of Aragon, and Marlon Brando as the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. Sound absurd? Well this interesting constellation came together in the 1992 film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. Film4 may have said it best in their review: "Seeming to last somewhat longer than Columbus's original journey across the Atlantic, this dull and unintentionally funny turkey is best left to chronic insomniacs."

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          There was a time when Nick Nolte wasn't primarily known as a grizzled old grump who looked like he was found in a backwoods cabin with Nell. Once upon a time, Nolte was a dashing leading man, but not even he could save the abominable 1995 historical drama Jefferson in Paris. Ostensibly, the movie was supposed to be about Jefferson's ambassadorship in Paris. Instead, it was a historically inaccurate exploration of his personal life. Critics hated this unstructured and chaotic movie, and it's easy to understand why.

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