What constitutes a good movie depends on individual taste. However, the central characters play an important role in the overall success of a film. One type of film character that is popular is knights. These are often found in historical epic dramas and historical action movies. However, there are many other genres that feature these historic warriors. At different periods of history, knights had power and status in their communities. An important aspect of their roles was fighting in battles and this is one of the reasons they are such exciting characters when they appear in movies. In addition to their importance in historical events, knights are also often associated with myths, legends, and mythical creatures. This gives filmmakers the perfect canvas to work with when thinking of original and exciting storylines for knight movies for all genres of films. Although there are plenty of movies featuring knights to choose from, here are 20 of the best knight movies ever.
‘Dragonheart’ was released in 1996. This knight film is a fantasy action-adventure film that is based on a story by Patrick Read Johnson and Charles Edward Pogue, the latter of whom also wrote the screenplay. The movie was directed by Rob Cohen and starred Dennis Quaid, Pete Postlethwaite, Dina Meyer, Julie Christie, and Sean Connery. It was nominated for many awards between 1996 and 1997, including the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. It won a Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film, Hollywood Digital Award at the Hollywood Film Festival, and an Online Film & Television Association Award for Best Sci-Fi/ Fantasy/ Horror Picture. The story is about the last dragon-slaying knight and the last dragon and how they must cooperate in a battle against an evil king who was blessed with partial immortality. This movie was made on a large budget of $63 million. However, it was worth this spend as it was both critically and commercially successful. On its release, it grossed over $115 million at the box office.
19. Black Death
This 2010 German British movie differs from many other knight movies in the respect that this is an action horror film. The original screenplay was written by Dario Poloni and the movie was directed by Christopher Smith, who was an uncredited co-writer of the film. Although he was not credited as a writer, Smith made significant adaptations to the script, especially in the second half. These changes included a new ending. The storyline is set in England during the time of the bubonic plague and the plot revolves around a young monk who must learn the truth about how people are being miraculously brought back to life in a small village. The movie starred Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Carice van Houten, John Lynch, Tim McInnerny, Kimberley Nixon, and Andy Newman. This movie was released in both Latin and English in England and Germany. Despite the caliber of those acting in this film, it grossed just $272,445 at the worldwide box office.
This 1952 Technicolor film is one of the classics of knight films. It is based on the historical novel of the same name by Sir Walter Scott, although there are some differences in the storyline, and was directed by Richard Thorpe. The movie starred Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Taylor, Joan Fontaine, Finlay Currie, Felix Aylmer, Emlyn Sanders, and George Sanders. It is the first film in what later became an unofficial trilogy that all starred Robert Taylor and were all directed by Richard Thorpe. It was filmed in Elstree Studios and on location in Doune Castle in Scotland. Marguerite Roberts was one of the screenwriters for this movie but was blacklisted by the House of Un-American Activities Committee and had her credit removed from the film. Considering the period in which this movie was made, it was a financial success. It was made on a budget of just under $4 million and grossed $10.8 million at the box office.
This British-American adventure action fantasy movie was released in 1986. The original story was written by Gregory Weldon who then co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Bellwood and Larry Ferguson. It was directed by Russell Mulcahy and starred Christopher Lambert, Roxanne Hart, Clancy Brown, and Sean Connery. The plot is about the battle between immortal warriors and interweaves storylines form the past and present day. The movie received fantastic reviews from critics and showed early promise at the box office. However, it grossed only $12 million on a budget of $19 million. Despite this, it became a cult film and was the inspiration for many movies and television series that followed in later years. The lack of commercial success did not deter producers form making five sequels to this film; ‘Highlander II: The Quickening’, ‘Highlander III: The Sorcerer’, ‘Highlander: End Game’, ‘Highlander: The Search for Vengeance’, and ‘Highlander: The Source’.
‘Ladyhawke’ is a 1985 fantasy film that was directed and co-produced by Richard Donner. It is based on a story by Edward Khmara who co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Thomas, Tom Mankiewicz, and David Peoples. The movie starred Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leo McKern and John Wood. It is set in 13th-century Europe and is about a thief who escapes from prison, sparking a manhunt. Despite receiving decent reviews from critics, this movie was a commercial failure. As it only grossed $18.4 million from a budget of $20 million, it made a loss of $1.6 million. This was surprising considering the names who were attached to this movie.
15. The Name of the Rose
‘The Name of the Rose’ is a film based on the novel of the same name by Umberto Eco. This Italian-French-German drama mystery film was released in 1986 with a screenplay co-written by Andrew Birkin, Gerard Brach, Howard Franklin, and Alain Godard. It was directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and starred Sean Connery, F. Murray Abraham, Feodor Challapin Jr., William Hickey, and Michael Lonsdale. The story is about Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and his apprentice Adso of Melk are asked to solve a deadly mystery in a medieval abbey. For this movie, Sean Connery won a Bafta for Best Actor and Hasso von Hugo won a BAFTA for Best Make-Up Artist. The film also won a Cesar for the Best Foreign Film. The movie was also successful commercially, grossing $77.2 million from a budget of $17.5 million.
14. The Eagle
This 2011 film is an epic historical drama set in Roman Britain. It was based on Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel ‘The Eagle of the Ninth’ and the screenplay was written by Jeremy Brock. The movie was directed by Kevin Macdonald and starred Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, and Mark Strong. It is about a young Roman officer who is trying to recover the lost Roman eagle standard which belongs to his father’s Scottish legion. The plot is loosely based on when the Ninth Spanish Legion allegedly disappeared in Britain. This historic event is a subject of dispute amongst historians. It was released in the United States and Canada a month before its release in the UK. Despite receiving good reviews from critics, this film only made a modest profit at the box office. It was made on a budget of $25 million and grossed just $35.5 million.
Released in 1988, this high fantasy film was written by Bob Dolman and based on a story by George Lucas, who had originally come up with the idea for the movie in 1972. George Lucas also co-produced the film along with Joe Johnston and Nigel Wolfe while Ron Howard took on the role of director. Warwick Davis played the lead role of a farmer who must protect a bay from a tyrannical queen. Others who starred in this movie included Joanne Whalley, Val Kilmer, Billy Barty, and Jean Marsh. Although some filming took place in Elstree Studios in England, much of it was shot on location in New Zealand and Wales. When it was released, it received mixed reviews from critics despite winning two Academy Awards. It was a modest success financially as it grossed $57.3 million from a budget of $35 million. However, since its release it has developed a cult following amongst fans of fantasy movies.
12. The 13th Warrior
This 1999 historical fiction action film was written by Warren Lewis and William Wisher Jr. It was directed and co-produced by John McTiernan. Thee story is based on Michael Crichton’s novel ‘Eaters of the Dead’, which is a retelling of the tale of Beowulf. Starring in this movie are Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora, and Omar Sharif. Although this movie was reviewed well by critics it was a commercial disaster. It cost almost $160 million to produce the movie and grossed a mere $61 million at the worldwide box office. This made it one of the biggest box office failures in movie history.
11. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ is one of a series of slapstick comedy films that was written and performed by the Monty Python comedy group. This British movie was released in 1975 and was directed by Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam. Starring in this movie were Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, and Michael Palin. They each played multiple roles in the film. The film is a parody of the quest of King Arthur to find the Holy Grail. This movie was selected as the second best comedy movie of all-time in the united States and in the UK it was ranked the fifth greatest comedy film of all-time. It was made on a tiny budget of $400,000 and grossed $5 million at the box office.
10. The Princess Bride
Released in 1987, this romantic comedy fantasy adventure film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by William Goldman. It was Goldman who adapted his novel into a screenplay. It tells the story of Wesley, a farm hand, who is trying to rescue a princess who is his true love. The movie was directed by Rob Reiner who also co-produced the film with Andrew Scheinman. It starred Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Robin Wright, and Andre the Giant. The movie is presented as a grandfather reading the story to his sick grandson. This movie did reasonably well at the box office. It was made on a budget of $16 million and grossed just under $31 million.
‘Ironclad’ is an action adventure war film that was released in 2011. Jonathon English co-wrote, co-produced, and directed the film.It is based on an original screenplay by Stephen McDool. The cast in this movie included James Purefoy, Paul Giamatti, Kate Mara, Brian Cox, Vladimir Kulich, and Mackenzie Crook. The plot of the movie chronicles the King John’s siege of Rochester Castle in 1215, although there are many fictional elements to the story.. The film was shot in Wales in 2009 but was not released until two years later. It was produced on a budget of $25 million.
8. First Knight
This is a 1995 medieval film that is based on the Arthurian legends. The screenplay was written by William Nicholson and it was directed by Jerry Zucker, who also produced the film along with Hunt Lowry. Unlike most films based on the Arthurian legends, this one does not have any magical elements and this makes it stand out from films of a similar genre. Sean Connery stars as King Arthur in the film and Richard Gere plays Lancelot. Guinevere is played by Julia Ormon while Malagant is portrayed by Ben Cross. The movie was well-received by critics and it was a commercial success. ‘First Knight’ was made on a budget of $55 million and it grossed $127.6 million at the worldwide box office.
7. The Seventh Seal
Released in 1957, ‘GThe Seventh Seal’ is a Swedish epic historical fantasy that was written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. The movie is set in Sweden during the period of the Black Death and is about a medieval knight who battles against the personification of Death who has come to take his life. The knight is played by Max von Sydow and Death is portrayed by Bengt Ekerot. Others who appear in this film include Gunnar Bjornstrand, Nils Poppe, Bibi Anderson, Inga Landgre, and Ake Fridell. The film was released in both Swedish and Latin. Although this movie was well-received by critics, it was only released in Sweden and made on a shoestring budget of $150,000.
6. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
This romantic action adventure film was released in 1991. It is based on the folk tale of Robin Hood. This story originates to the 15th century. Although Robin Hood is like a self-allocated knight of the poor, there are plenty of other knights in battles in this movie. The film was written by Pen Densham and directed by Kevin Reynolds. Robin Hood was played by Kevin Costner. Others who starred in this movie included Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Alan Rickman, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. The film was made using a reasonable budget of $48 million and was a huge commercial success as it grossed $390.5 million at the box office. Most of the movie was shot in the United Kingdom.
5. King Arthur
This 2004 historical adventure film marketed itself as a more accurate version of the Arthurian legends and said it was inspired by new findings by archaeologists. It was written by David Franzoni, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and directed by Antoine Fuqua. Starring in this movie were Clive Owen, Keira Knightley, Ioan Gruffudd, Stellan Skarsgard, Stephen Dillane, Hugh Dancy, Ray Winstone, Madas Mikkelson, and Til Schweiger. The movie was shot in various locations around England, Ireland, and Wales. Despite having a fairly high budget of $120 million, this film was a commercial success and grossed $203.6 million at the box office. A video game was later released based on this film.
This 1981 epic fantasy film is based on the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. John Booman directed and produced this movie and also co-wrote the screenplay with Rospo Pallenberg. The movie starred Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi, Liam Neeson, Paul Geoffrey, and Patrick Stewart. Film critics highly praised this film, which was made on a budget of $11 million. The public agreed, and the film grossed $35 million at the box office. The film was shot on location in Ireland and has been credited as being an important film in the history of Irish filmmaking. It launched the careers of many English and Irish actors.
3. Kingdom of Heaven
‘Kingdom of Heaven’ is an epic historical drama that was written by William Monahan and released in 2005. Ridley Scott directed and produced this movie. It is set in the 12th century during the Crusades and the story revolves a French blacksmith who fights for the Kingdom of Jerusalem to win the city from the Christians. This battle leads to the Battle of Hattin. Although the story is fictitious, it is based on the life of Balian of Ibelin. Most of the filming took place in Morocco. The film starred Orlando Bloom in the lead role. Others who had roles in this movie include Eva Green, Ghassan Massoud, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Ian Glen, Liam Neeson, and Marton Csokas. With such a hard-hitting list of stars, it is little wonder that this film did so well at the box office. It was made on a high budget of $130 million but grossed $211.7 million at the box office.
2. A Knight’s Tale
This medieval adventure-comedy was released in 2001. It is the story of a peasant called Williain who pretends he is a knight to compete in tournaments. Not only does he win many accolades, he also becomes friends with many historical figures, such as Edward, the Black Prince of Wales and Geoffrey Chaucer. Although the story is not similar, the film takes its title from a story of the same name in Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’. A peasant gets a taste for achieving glory when his master, a Squire, dies. To achieve this glory he pretends he is a knight and creates himself a new identity. The movie was written and directed by Brian Helgeland and starred Heath Ledger in the lead role. Others who starred in this movie include Mark Addy, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany, and Alan Tudyk. This movie was made on a budget of $65 million and grossed $117.5 million at the box office. It also won several awards, including a Golden Trailer Best Action Award, a London Critic Circle Film Award for British Supporting Actor of the Year for Paul Bettany, and two awards for the stunts in the movie.
Not only is Braveheart considered one of the greatest knight movies of all-time, it is widely considered on of the best epic war films. It was released in 1995 and is loosely based on the poem ‘The Actes and Deides of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace’ by Blind Harry. This is about the Scottish warrior, William Wallace. The screenplay was written by Randall Wallace and the movie was directed and co-produced by Mel Gibson, who also played the lead role of William Wallace in the film. Others who starred in ‘Braveheart’ include Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, and Catherine McCormack. At the 68th Academy Awards, this film was nominated for ten awards, of which it won five. The movie was made on a budget of around $70 million and grossed $210.4 million at the worldwide box office.