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Defining an epic can be a little difficult, I guess. If I were to base it solely on length then there are several films missing from this page. Instead however, I have based it a little on content as well. The following are all long movies which also incorporate a distant time and place. They are also all big production movies, filled with spectacles of war or nature or human endeavor and often stellar musical contributions that round out the viewing experience. Make it a late night and catch up on one of these you haven't seen in a while.

BEN-HUR (1959)

The master of all epics, this film has fantastic drama as well as action-- a neat naval battle and an unbeatable chariot race scene. The love story is a little lacking, but given all the other high points of this film, that's easily over looked. William Wyler directed title character Charlton Heston (king of Biblical epics) and supporting characters Stephen Boyd and Hugh Griffith while Andrew Marton did the chariot race. Marvelous music by Miklos Rozsa too. You have to see this film in wide-screen to truly experience its grandeur.


You've heard about this movie all your life for a reason, now go watch it. David O. Selznick's Technicolor Civil War epic has drama, courage, wit, and of course the roller coaster of love among the ruins of the American South. Wonderful performances all around, especially from the star of the show, Vivien Leigh. Unforgettable Max Steiner music as well. This one was made before the wide-screen days, so beware of a 1967 "cropped" version where the editors cut the top and bottom off the picture to make it "wide-screen."  BUT, it's still worth seeing the original on the big screen in a theatre.  Especially with the newly restored prints available, it's quite an experience.


Another magnificent spectacle with considerable dramatic value as well, though there is surprisingly little plot. Peter O'Toole plays the elusive T.E. Lawrence, a British soldier during who is able to unite the Arabs to the British side against the Turks in World War I. Supporting characters include Claude Rains, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quinn and Alec Guinness, but it is not really the characters that are important in this film. It's almost just the experience of seeing it-- heat, desert sands as far as the eye can see. Still another that must be seen wide-screen if not on the big screen itself.


  • EL CID (1961)
  • SPARTACUS (1960)
  • WAR AND PEACE (1956)
  • GANDHI (1982)

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Last updated: March 10, 2011.
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