For this list, we’ll be looking at our favorite adventures on the big and small screens influenced by pre-modern sagas. Dashing feats of daring are described so consider this a spoiler alert.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Kevin Costner’s run as the proto-marxist archer still lands a bull’s-eye nearly three decades after heroically swinging into theaters partly it’s the star-studded cast including a scene stealing Alan Rickman, Morgan Freeman and even an uncredited appearance by the late great Sean Connery.
The gory battles stirring score and stylish costumes also help. The grittier take on this english fable didn’t sit well with all critics but its charm won the love of the people just like the old hood himself.
There’s a horde of anachronistic screaming celts body highwayman and one very creepy witch. Even if this swashbuckler wasn’t your favorite remember without it we might not have ever gotten the delightful mel brooks parody “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”
O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000) The odyssey
This may be a rather loose adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey but it’s still a delightful take on an ancient tale where Homer’s epic poem told the story of Odysseus’s return home from the Trojan war.
The coen brothers crime comedy drama follows george clooney’s ulysses as he escapes a chain gang. Like Odysseus, Ulysses Everett Mcgill encounters a blind prophet as well as seductive sirens. He also faces off against the cyclops of sorts. Both stories end with our hero overcoming rivals to reunite with his wife.
There are other truer adaptations of the legends such as 1954’s Ulysses and the 1997 miniseries The Odyssey but we’d argue that “O Brother, Where Art Thou” is the most fun.
Back in the day, this demigod was the biggest and baddest of them all. Disney’s take on the tale is definitely more kid-friendly than the original considering how messed up the classic rendition was.
We think this is a big plus, for instance instead of battling his traditional nemesis hera this time our hunky hero faces off against the lord of the underworld what this flick lacks in mythological fidelity it more than makes up for with catchy song numbers beautiful animation and a star-studded crew of voice actors.
While the live-action 2014 version perfectly cast dwayne johnson as the totally toned toga wearer. Danny Devito as Phil and James Woods as the hot-headed hades crack us up every time.
Jason and the Argonauts (1963) Jason and the Golden Fleece
Billed as a colossus of adventure on the original theatrical poster this feature definitely lives up to the hype. The story follows Jason, the rightful king of thessaly as he quests for the golden fleece long before you could just stroll into an old navy on the way.
Our hero battles sneaky usurpers angry seas and hordes of monsters to help out our lead recruits a literal boatload of heroes including hercules himself.
Good thing too as the Rogue’s gallery includes skeleton soldiers harpies and even a hydra all memorably brought to life by the king of clay Ray HarryHausen.
Sure the movie is a little dated but it’s undeniable charm still warms our hearts better than any woolly jacket ever could.
The First King Birth of an Empire (2019)
After being swept away by a flash flood, two brothers face off against sadistic slavers, a murderous band of runaways and finally each other. You have never seen the story of Romulus the founder of Rome and his brother Remus quite so vividly rendered.
This recent italian historical drama is an underappreciated gem featuring well-developed characters, visceral fights and a smart but spare script. The use of an archaic form of latin for the dialogue further adds to the sense of realness. These siblings pull no punches and the filmmakers don’t either we’re very excited to see what director Matteo Rivera does with other tales from the past in the future.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – The Quest for the Holy Grail
Few fables are as retold as often as those of king arthur and the knights of the round table. Of these many adaptations none is funnier than this version by britain’s favorite comedy troupe.
Ostensibly following the mythic monarch and his retainers on a quest for the world’s most famous cup this film is about the journey and not the destination much like life.
There are loads of memorable bits from a knight who doesn’t know when to quit to a very scary rabbit. Despite a limited budget, these comedic giants succeeded in crafting something both amusing and absurd their timeless wit continues to crack up audiences almost a half century after they first pretended to ride horses onto the silver screen.
Dragon Ball (1986-89)- Journey to the West
This beloved japanese franchise was actually inspired by a chinese novel from the 1500s called Journey to the West which was in turn based on the adventures of a wandering monk.
One of the books characters sun moo kong the monkey king was the model for sun goku which is the japanese version of the name.
From his unmatched strength to his kryptonite tale, goku owes much to his simeon forbearer even our favorite fighter’s supernatural origin bears some resemblance to the prime primates birth. With a pinch of superman characteristics added for good measure from archaic text to comic book to cartoon to global phenomenon the original series not only has the epic fights of later installments but also solid character development world building and humor.
The Clash of the Titans (1981)
This sword and sandal classic incorporates a number of greek myths most notably those surrounding the half-man half-god perseus. We follow the hero’s journey from birth to triumph as he battles claymation monsters like medusa calibos and the non-greek but nonetheless unforgettable kraken.
Equally indelible are the mechanical owl bubo and the winged horse pegasus who both provide crucial assists this film’s energetic cast creative script and magical special effects brought all these ancient wonders to life in a time before cgi.
The 2010 version reimagines the story on a grander cinematic scale yet it doesn’t quite worm its way into our hearts like the original did. Though liam neeson crying release the kraken still gives us the chills
Black Orpheus (1959) Orpheus and Eurydice
French director Marcel Camus romantic comedy black orpheus reimagines the greek legend of orpheus and eurydice against the backdrop of carnival in rio de janeiro.
In the original myth orpheus descends to the underworld to rescue his dead love uredesi. He draws out hades with music from his liar. Music also plays a key role in black orpheus thanks to a killer soundtrack that introduced bossa nova to the world.
Inspired and bewitching, it’s an adaptation that captures the passion and tragedy of the original tale while also making the story feel completely new.
Excalibur (1981) King Arthur
The legend of king arthur has been adapted many times even in musical form but none quite evokes the epic nature of the tale like john borman’s underrated 1981 medieval fantasy film. It features an incredible cast of british thespians including nigel terry, nicole williamson and helen mirren it’s perhaps the most ambitious adaptation of the story surrounding this legendary leader and his knights of the round table.
It also served as a significant stepping stone for now famous actors such as Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne and Patrick Stewart.
It’s sometimes a messy film groaning under the weight of its own grandeur and gravitas but it’s also an engaging and satisfying adaptation that crams in much of the original myth.
We hope you like our well researched list of movies for you. There are few more additions to this but could not make their place in the list. For now you can watch these movies on putlocker.