America's 100 Greatest Movies
100 YEARS...100 MOVIES


AFI's 10 Top 10 Film Genres

Part 10 - Epic



Epic Films:
See Filmsite's extensive section on Epic Films

AFI described epic films as "a genre of large-scale films set in a cinematic interpretation of the past. Their scope defies and demands—either in the mode in which they are presented or their range across time. A bloody sword fight in an ancient coliseum; carnage on an open battlefield; a country on the eve of revolution. With sweeping interpretations of turbulent times, epics depict characters that, whether nobly heroic or shamefully depraved, are living life on the grandest of scales."

(Winners marked with this icon and ranking number)

  1. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, Universal, 1930 (# 7)
  2. APOCALYPSE NOW, United Artists, 1979
  3. BEN-HUR, MGM, 1926
  4. BEN-HUR, MGM, 1959 (# 2)
  5. THE BIG PARADE, MGM, 1925
  6. THE BIRTH OF A NATION, Epoch, 1915
  7. BRAVEHEART, Paramount, 1995
  8. THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, Columbia, 1957
  9. EL CID, Allied Artists, 1961
  10. CLEOPATRA, Twentieth Century Fox, 1963
  11. DANCES WITH WOLVES, Orion, 1990
  12. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, MGM, 1965
  13. FORREST GUMP, Paramount, 1994
  14. THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE, Metro, 1921
  15. GANDHI, Columbia, 1982
  16. GIANT, Warner Bros., 1956
  17. GLADIATOR, DreamWorks, 2000
  18. GLORY, TriStar, 1989
  19. THE GODFATHER PART II, Paramount, 1974
  20. GONE WITH THE WIND, MGM, 1939 (# 4)
  21. THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, United Artists, 1965
  22. HOW THE WEST WAS WON, MGM, 1962
  23. INTOLERANCE, Triangle, 1916
  24. JULIUS CAESAR, MGM, 1953
  25. THE KING OF KINGS, Pathé, 1927
  26. THE LAST EMPEROR, Columbia, 1987
  27. THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1992
  28. THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, Universal, 1988
  29. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, Columbia, 1962 (# 1)
  30. LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, Warner Bros., 2006
  31. THE LONGEST DAY, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1962
  32. MALCOLM X, Warner Bros., 1992
  33. THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, Columbia, 1975
  34. MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2003
  35. ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, Warner Bros., 1984
  36. THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, Newmarket, 2004
  37. PATTON, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1970
  38. QUEEN CHRISTINA, MGM, 1933
  39. QUO VADIS?, MGM, 1951
  40. REDS, Paramount, 1981 (# 9)
  41. THE ROBE, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1953
  42. SAMSON AND DELILAH, Paramount, 1949
  43. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, DreamWorks, 1998 (# 8)
  44. SCHINDLER'S LIST, Universal, 1993 (# 3)
  45. THE SIGN OF THE CROSS, Paramount, 1932
  46. SPARTACUS, Universal, 1960 (# 5)
  47. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, Paramount, 1923
  48. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, Paramount, 1956 (# 10)
  49. TITANIC, Paramount, 1997 (# 6)
  50. WAR AND PEACE, Paramount, 1956

Nominees: 16 movies were war films; 11 movies were based on Biblical events.

Winners: Lawrence of Arabia (1962) (# 1), Ben-Hur (1959) (# 2), Schindler's List (1993) (# 3), Gone With The Wind (1939) (# 4), Spartacus (1960) (# 5), Titanic (1997) (# 6), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) (# 7), Saving Private Ryan (1998) (# 8), Reds (1981) (# 9), The Ten Commandments (1956) (# 10).

Comments: No place for The Birth of a Nation (1915), Giant (1956), or Doctor Zhivago (1965) in the top 10? And why were war films grouped into epic films? -- there should have been an entire genre category for war films (or for Biblical films) instead. The war-related historical drama Schindler's List (1993) fits in a number of categories and probably shouldn't have been so high in the rankings. Gone With the Wind (1939) should have been the # 1 Epic Film. Where was Braveheart (1995) or Gladiator (2000) - two nominees that were perfect epic films! And nominee Queen Christina (1933) is no epic, by any stretch of the imagination -- and All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) isn't an epic on the same scale as other nominated films, such as The Big Parade (1925), The Birth of a Nation (1915), Intolerance (1916), and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). Malcolm X (1992) isn't really an epic film either, by definition -- it is more a dramatic biopic and shouldn't have been a nominee.


AFI's 10 Top 10 Film Genres
Introduction | Part 1 - Animated | Part 2 - Fantasy | Part 3 - Gangster | Part 4 - Science Fiction | Part 5 - Western
Part 6 - Sports | Part 7 - Mystery | Part 8 - Romantic Comedy | Part 9 - Courtroom Drama | Part 10 - Epic



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