There’s one thing about Hollywood that’s been true throughout various eras of film: historical epics are always worth trying. Sure, there are innumerable examples of such movies flopping horrifically, but that never seems to stop Hollywood from giving it another go. And often, it pays off. Even Alexander, by all accounts an absolute train wreck of a film, made over $160 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
When you consider that the historical epic doesn’t have to be a violent, so-called “sword-and-sandals” adventure, too, the category seems even more reliable. For instance, some would consider 2012’s smash hit Lincoln or 2000’s The Patriot to belong to the same category. Really, it’s anything combining real history with cinematic drama on a large, sweeping scale. And there will always be new films that fit that description.
2016 looks like a little bit of a dud on the historical epic front, however. A Ben-Hur remake appears to be the only significant example that’s on the way, and looks like a bit of a disaster. Nate Parker’s The Birth Of A Nation is starting to generate some very early Oscar buzz, though, provided it gets released this year. At any rate, there’s a dearth of major historical projects this year, which leads one to wonder what might be around the corner. So just for fun, here are three historical epics Hollywood might want to consider next.
As mentioned, many would consider Lincoln to belong to the historical epic category at least in part, even if it doesn’t involve many scenes of adventure or warfare. More importantly, Lincoln proved that a long film stuffed with political dialogue and consisting primarily of strategic meetings can thrill a modern audience. This could be the case with a movie about the Yalta Conference as well, and frankly it’s surprising Hollywood hasn’t given this a try yet.
Held in 1945 at a Crimean palace by the sea, the Yalta Conference was the official meeting of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin, convened primarily to discuss the official division of European countries in the aftermath of World War II. IMDB does have a listing for an old TV movie called When Lions Roared that covered the 1943 Tehran Conference, a precursor to Yalta. That film actually had some star power, with Michael Caine and John Lithgow playing Stalin and Roosevelt, respectively, and won six Emmy Awards. Nevertheless, it was only a TV release, and didn’t cover the more famous and impactful conference. A large-scale drama in the hands of a good director and with powerhouse actors in place of the “Big Three” leaders could be a very big deal. It would also be particularly interesting given current U.S-Russia tensions.
“Fountain Of Youth”
It’s amazing that there’s not a definitive Fountain of Youth film. There are countless examples of movies that deal with the concept, either directly or indirectly, and indeed the myths of unimaginable treasures in the New World remain among the more recognizable tales of ancient history in modern culture. As recently as 2011, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides touched on the idea of the fountain specifically, and even today there are multiple examples of a similar quest—that for the golden city of El Dorado—in video games. At Gala Bingo’s online selection, two games in fact point to the golden city. Slot reels titled “Cashtro’s Voyage” and “Gonzo’s Quest” depict cartoonish explorers hunting for El Dorado, which isn’t a bad concept for casino games amounting to searches for wealth.
While we’ve seen various depictions of the quest for New World treasures, including the fountain and the golden city, no one’s approached them from a particularly realistic vantage point. The fact of the matter is, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon led a very real expedition into wild new lands in search of an actual spring of eternal youth, and it’s never really been dramatized on the big screen. It would be an ambitious project, but a thrilling one.
This might be the most challenging project of all, but the bizarre truth is that Hollywood has never produced a compelling movie about the very earliest days of mankind. This means before Greek and Roman epics, before Biblical stories, and the like. The most high-profile attempt was probably 10,000 B.C., and for all its gaudy visuals, that film was a disaster. There are a lot of challenges with making a movie like this work. It would have to be almost entirely created from scratch, as we don’t have written accounts of real figures or tales from that far back in history. It would also likely have to rely largely on special effects for the rendering of a stone age world. But that’s not to say interest isn’t there.
Indeed, on one entertainment front nothing could be hotter than the stone age right now. Ubisoft’s recently released Far Cry Primal has to be in the early running for game of the year, despite its decision to eschew the established civilizations presented in previous games in favor of old world beasts and tribal warfare. This is to say, people are interested in this time of history, with all of its adventure and brutality, so long as it’s presented well.
These are just three ideas from all of history. But due to a combination of current relevance and general intrigue, they seem like good bets for Hollywood consideration sooner rather than later.