10 Best Medieval Romance Movies
Despite the comforts of modern life, it’s hard not to dream of being carried away by a horribly sullen knight. Between rugged good looks, amorous promises and a chivalrous man who would cross the lands for you, this is the perfect fantasy.
Medieval romance movies bring all that and more to the big screen, with pangs of passion and searing adventure. The Middle Ages were long before the days of coffee dates and dating apps. Instead, you were greeted with slow devotion and, often, forbidden love. There’s nothing more romantic than someone proving their love for you by giving up their birthright, fighting kings, or going to war for you (as a last resort, please).
Tristan & Iseult (2006)
The big screen adaptation of Tristan & Iseult is based on the 12th century Celtic legend of a beautiful Cornish princess and knight, Tristan. In the legend, Tristan and Isolde swallow a love potion which arouses a forbidden love between them. The film strays from this idea, however, and instead wraps itself in the yearnings of real forbidden love.
Tristan is poisoned in battle early in the film and is presumed dead. His death leads to a Viking-style funeral, during which he is shipped out to sea. He miraculously lands on the beaches of Isolde’s home, where she tends to him. In a series of unfortunate events, Tristan unknowingly wins her over as a bride for his king, even though he loves her. James Franco and Sophie Myles do an incredible job of bringing the romantic tension to life in this rivalry tragedy Romeo and Juliet.
king arthur (2004)
No medieval romance shines brighter than the love triangle between King Arthur, Sir Lancelot and Lady Guinevere. Antoine Fouqua brought the legendary knights to life in a thrilling blockbuster with a cast to die for. In it, Arthur and his knights are tasked with repelling an invading Saxon army.
While the film focuses more on the action than the romantic desires of the Knights of the Round Table, many scenes slip into lewd conversations, stares and sexual tension. The love triangle is put on the back burner in favor of the importance of Arthur’s relationships that influence his leadership. Don’t worry though, Arthur and Guinevere finally end up together.
According to the novel by Lisa Klein, Ophelia follows the story of by Shakespeare Hamlet from Ophelia’s point of view. daisy ridley plays Ophelia, a rebellious lady-in-waiting at Elsinore Castle. She catches the eye of the young prince, Hamlet, and a passionate and forbidden love ensues.
Seeing the film from Ophelia’s point of view is a breath of fresh air in the many adaptations of Hamlet. She’s vivacious, defiant, and intelligent, and navigates the rules of Denmark perfectly, as her love begins to unravel after her father’s murder.
The story of a knight (2001)
There’s never been a more perfectly blended soundtrack of classic rock hits and medieval romance than in The story of a knight. It features the charismatic health book as William Thatcher and follows him and his mischievous crew of friends as they fight their way to a knight jousting tournament.
The real heart of the film comes from William’s romance with Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossaman) yet. The peasant-born William wins the heart of the beautiful maiden, Jocelyn, and their love is tested as his many secrets unfold throughout the film. by David Bowie, “Golden Years” brings the dance scene to life and is a memorable piece of medieval cinematic history, ensuring the film still holds up well today.
Robin Hood (2010)
The tale of Robin Hood, his reflections on capitalism and his good deeds still ring true. The mischievous thief steals from the rich and gives to the poor, those crippled by taxes and a host of other evil deeds. by Ridley Scott The movie was a more grizzled take on the tale many know from Disney’s animated version.
A skilled archer named Robin travels to Nottingham, where he sees his villagers suffering at the hands of a dictatorial sheriff. There, he falls in love with a lively widow named Marion. Robin decides to save the village in hopes of winning her heart, and thus begins the great romance of Robin Hood and Maid Marion.
kingdom of paradise (2005)
Don’t let its insanely high kill count fool you, kingdom of paradise has as much romance as any other medieval film. Although her passion often comes from other places outside of romantic love, there is still a lot of forbidden desire.
A village blacksmith, Balian (Orlando Bloom), mourns the sudden death of his wife and decides to join his father as a crusader on the road to Jerusalem. The journey proves perilous, and after many losses, Balian arrives in the holy city, involving himself in its political arena. There he meets Princess Sibylla, wife of the future King of Jerusalem. Balian and Sibylla begin a forbidden romance that turns into a catalyst for many political conflicts.
first knight (1995)
While many remember first knight while the soap opera picks up Arthurian legends, the 1995 film is charming and silly in all the right ways. There have been many versions of King Arthur in the cinema, but first knight is rarely mentioned among them or seen as anything other than a corny romance flick.
Each legend, however, deserves different interpretations, and the melodrama of first knight unfolds delightfully. In the film, the handsome Lancelot (Richard Gere) meets Guinevere (Julia Ormond) when he can’t seem to get past his defenses while he’s fighting. Despite their attraction to each other, she is engaged to King Arthur. Lancelot struggles with his love for her and his loyalty to Arthur in this very 90s version of the legend.
Whereas Merlin is technically a miniseries, it only has three parts, and it’s the length of a feature film at 2 hours. Merlin tells the story of King Arthur but includes the legendary wizard, Merlin, in a much larger role than most adaptations. In fact, it’s told entirely from Merlin’s point of view.
Merlin is played by Sam Neil and the series follows his life and the struggles he endures to find a fit king to help guard against an ever-present spiritual threat. There are many famous Arthurian characters included in the series like Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s mother, Igraine and Uther Pendragon, and Merlin is home to many obsessive romances and loves.
Excalibur (nineteen eighty one)
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is the most popular subject in medieval romance. And for good reason – the love lives of those in the Middle Ages were messy, torrid, and filled with drama, making for great screen adaptations.
In the film, the magic sword of Excalibur begins in the hands of Uther Pendragon and later ends up in the hands of his bastard son, Arthur. Arthur is destined to become king, and with Merlin’s help he fulfills his destiny by creating the Knights of the Round Table. Helen Mirren Morgana le Fay’s portrayal of lewd ways and seductions is still one of the best in cinema.
Ladybug delves into the medieval fantasy of star-crossed lovers, dark magic and evil enchantments. In medieval Italy, a young thief escapes from prison and befriends Navarre, a man with a strange secret. Navarre is in love with a woman, but they are cursed – black magic prevents the two from being in each other’s presence except at dusk.
Featuring Michelle Pfeiffer, Rutger Hauerand Matthew Broderick at their peak, the film perfectly captures the tension of a romance gone wrong and the longing fantasy of a lover you can’t have. The three plot to overthrow the bishop who cursed Navarre and Isabeau and break the evil spell forever in this charming 80s fantasy flick.
NEXT: Best Movies Set in the Middle Ages