35 films and drama series about polytheism you should see

are-you-not-entertained-w-text-720x396The following are select examples, some of the best I could find, of films and drama series relating to polytheism directly or indirectly. They are put in chronological order, from ancient to modern. All of them I have seen, except those marked at the beginning with asterisks, but I can vouch for them all, according to my research. Although these works are not always favorable towards polytheism and polytheists, they present us with interesting topics, themes and ideas to analyze and reflect upon. It’s my intention to discuss, more or less briefly, most (if not each) of them in order (with exception to the series), at the rate of once a week. This site has thus far been so stuffed with theory that it’s high time to offer something of a lighter kind. Why not share some of my thoughts about films I have already seen or will see, and hope that my dear readers will keep up? The films are easy to find and view online without any cost. So, next week I will discuss The Egyptian, a truly excellent film that rivals its contemporary The Ten Commandments, and which you’ll find on YouTube!

 

The Egyptian, 1956, set in the reign of Akhenaten

The Legend and the Hero 1-2, aka. Investiture of the Gods (series), 2007 & 2009, set during the Shang and Zhou dynasties of China

*Pharaoh, 1966, set just before the Third Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt

Gautama Buddha, 2007, biographical

Confucius, 2010, biographical

Sins of Jezebel, 1953, biographical

The 300 Spartans, 1962, set in the Second Persian Invasion of Greece

Alexander, 2004, biographical

*Ashoka, 2001, biographical

Druids 2001, set in the time of Julius Caesar and Vercingetorix

Boudica, 2003, biographical

The Passion of the Christ, 2004, biographical

*Quo Vadis, 1951, set in the reign of Nero and early Christianity

Spartacus, 1960, biographical

Rome (series), 2005-2007, set during the late Roman Republic and early Empire

Agora, 2009, set in Alexandria in Late Antiquity

Arthur of the Britons (series), 1972-1973, set in Post-Roman Britain during the Saxon invasion

The Pagan Queen, 2009, set in the 7th century CE in Prague

The Message, 1976, set in Arabia during the exploits of Mohammed–Sunni version

Mohammed the Messenger of God, 2016, the same setting, but during the early life of Mohammed–Iranian Shiite version

Robin of Sherwood, (series) 1984-1986, biographical

The Warlord, 1965, set in early medieval France

When the Raven Flies, 1984, set in the Viking period

Vikings (series), 2013-present, set in the time of Ragnar Lothbrok

The Virgin Spring, 1960, set in medieval Sweden

*Northern Crusades, 1972, set in the time of the Teutonic Crusade against the Baltic polytheists

*The Pagan King, 2018, set in the time of the Teutonic Crusade against the Baltic polytheists

The Great Warrior Skanderbeg, 1953, biographical

*Apocalypto, 2006, set after the Spanish conquest of Mexico

*The Other Conquest, 2000, set after the Spanish conquest of Mexico

Dances with Wolves, 1990, set after the American Civil War

The Last Samurai, 2003, set during the modernization of Japan

*Zulu Dawn, 1979, set during English imperialism in South Africa

The Wicker Man, 1973, set in modern Scotland

 

 

 

20 thoughts on “35 films and drama series about polytheism you should see

    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      I believe you mean the 1997 series, which came in two episodes. I know of it but didn’t see it—However, I chose deliberately not to include Homeric or Greek mythological titles because the subjects are sacred to me and were not made by Greeks. This was not the case with the Chinese mythological series and that’s why I included it on the list.

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  1. Paul

    What a great list! I’ve seen a number of these. The Boudica one I remember that I wasn’t terribly impressed by it, but I only saw it when it first premiered I think on PBS (or some other channel) when it was new. I’ll have to rewatch it and see if I feel differently about it now. However! I very much liked the History Channel’s documentary film “Warrior Queen Boudica” and pop it in and rewatch it every now and then. It’s a fantastic program and it stirs pride and touches the heart. Back when the History Channel was worth watching… I waited to watch their Vikings series as I figured they would eventually take liberties with the material and PC it, which I have heard from others has since happened. I’d be interested to hear more thoughts on it.

    One film I absolutely must recommend is “Cave Of Forgotten Dreams” – it isn’t about polytheism per se, but deals with incredibly ancient Ancestors and their art in Chauvet Cave, what life would have been like for them and includes thoughts and reflections on their times and beliefs. Watch it if you haven’t, friends! Sometimes I am almost moved to tears by it. The BBC series “The Celts” is a few decades old, but still worth a watch and it covers old beliefs quite well, so long as one looks into more recent scholarship to go along with it. Back when BBC was worth watching, as well.

    Also, listen to the Russian band Arkona if you haven’t, or watch some of their music videos or performances. They are actual Rodnovers and their music is about their religion and olden times. Their style is metal which I normally don’t like, but I enjoy it very much in their case and love when traditional melodies and instruments are blended in. Look on YouTube for the videos for “Slavsia Rus” and “Goi, Rode, Goi” – they are particularily wonderful. The cover and booklet artwork for their albums is also something to behold and nearly carries you away with its beauty.

    A blessed Samhain to all who keep it holy. Three friends and I will be celebrating this evening with ritual and episodes of solemnity and merriment!

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      I agree that the Boudica documentary is better produced and more informative than the film (I’ve seen it), but the advantage of films is always characterization and thematization, you know. If only the British had made an epic production about her like others in the 1960s! The main reason for its absence must have been the rather weak Celtic identity among the English, because (unfortunately) they mistakenly believe they are Saxon and superior, but that view has been changing. The old “Celts” documentary is proof the rediscovery has been going on for a few decades now. Hopefully it continues because the Germanic influence on England is still less than or at least equal to the Celtic, genetically.

      Vikings is a very interesting series, taken altogether. I know there is some concern with the presentation and accuracy (a concern I share) but there is still so much to analyze and admire–it’s certainly the first mainstream piece of media that depicts a whole worldview from a pagan perspective. The diffusion of that idea to me is far more important than accuracy, as much as I could wish for it. I will make an exception and discuss the series among the rest of the films because I have much to say on the topic, and probably much more to hear from others like yourself!
      Thank you for the reference to “The Cave of Forgotten Dreams”. I will surely be watching it. In return, you might like a French pre-historic film called “Ao: the Last Hunter”. It was very moving indeed.
      I am glad to hear of more polytheistic bands such as Arkona. I liked “Goi, Rode, Goi” although not seeing the anachronistic scenes would have been better!…I prefer folk music to metal generally. I listen to a Greek folk band called “Daemonia Nymphe” which has some excellent pieces. A Celtic friend of mine (Courtney) told me of a Swiss Celtic folk metal band called “Eluveitie” which you must look into if you haven’t yet. I recommend “the Arcane Dominion” to begin with and then see the God-named series of short pieces (without scenes also). Oh, and a traditional Celtic musician by the name of Keith O’Sullivan has some lovely folk music that you’ll surely enjoy. I love his brilliant idea of composing music along with edited scenes from films about ancient Celts.
      A happy Samhain to you, my friend!

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      1. Paul

        Thank you as well for the recommendations! I have heard of Eluveitie several times- but haven’t actually listened to them. I believe the first time I heard about them was a mention about one of their songs having a recitation of a Gaulish inscription, or an attempt to reconstruct it for one of their songs or something like that. If not them, then it was some other artist or group. I shall have to finally listen to their music, as well as check out Keith O’Sullivan.

        Two more films came to mind as I was looking over my shelves. I would also add to your list “The Secret of Kells” and its sequel, “Song of the Sea” as worthy additions. I thoroughly enjoyed them both. They don’t have an expressly Pagan or polytheist theme (not many films do, to be honest) but include Irish lore and beings as integral parts of the tales. I can also think of a few other lore-based films that I have sitting unwatched in their cases, but have to actually view them before I knowing whether I would recommend them or not. Those two definitely!

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      2. Melas the Hellene Post author

        You’re welcome. Yes, Eluveitie did (at least in one song) insert Gaulish inscriptions within the lyrics. I’d think you would enjoy O’Sullivan more though. And by the way, if you haven’t yet, look into music by a Celtic instrument called the “carnyx”.

        Two animated films there! We can find polytheism in those surely, and raise children with them too (I’ll study them accordingly). I saw and enjoyed an older one called “The Sword in the Stone” several years ago. But even universally famous titles like Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King contain important elements of polytheism. Who guessed Disney was so “pagan”! That must be why Evangelicals hate it so much 😉

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      I haven’t, but I looked it up and found it to be quite similar to an animated film I had seen about conquistadors called “The Road to El Dorado”. Both address the important idea of the “god-man”, which is already covered in Alexander, Buddha and several Roman films. Do you have a favorite film or series about polytheism on or out of my list? I saw Northern Crusades the other day (a Lithuanian production made in Soviet times) and it is my favorite film by far. And Arthur of the Britons is my favorite series thus far.

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      1. Melas the Hellene Post author

        Thanks. I’ll take a look at Excalibur as soon as I finish re-watching Arthur of the Britons. The 70s and 80s for some reason have excellent historical films. I, Claudius was likewise a fine piece of work that I should probably re-watch also. Narayama must be quite good from the awards it got, as is also The Seven Samurai. I haven’t seen those yet, but they are on my list.

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  2. Paul

    Also, I meant to say thank you very much for your good wishes, friend. It was a beautiful evening, minus acquiring a fairly epic mosquito bite on my arm 😏

    Something else – why is the Passion of the Christ included on your list? I’m genuinely curious as I’ve never seen it.

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      You are very welcome. I added the Passion because it contains an interesting narrative of Christianity set just between the Romans and the Jews. Its bias will be analyzed. Besides, it was hugely popular and therefore deserves attention. I heard that Gibson will be releasing a sequel soon about the Resurrection. That should ensure the rascal escapes purgatory after death and goes straight to Jesus’ arms, eh?

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      1. Paul

        Ha! 😄
        and yes, I am happy to say that I have heard the carnyx!

        I should probably watch it then, if only so I know what you are talking about when you go more in-depth on it. I passed it by when it was first released as my skepticism was already well underway at the time and the apparent gore level didn’t appeal to me, although I do confess to a fondness for werewolf films so gore really isn’t a valid objection on my part.

        The Sword in the Stone is a good film! Archimedes the owl is one of my favorite animated characters. And Madam Mim shrieking about the sunlight! Hah. Of course, anything dealing with the Arthurian mythos will have good underlying themes. The Arthurian world rivals or equals the Greek myths with all of the retellings and adaptations that have been done over the ages but the core remains.

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      2. Melas the Hellene Post author

        For my part, gore doesn’t annoy me at all! I remember attempting to see the thriller “Seven” with my dad, but (although he is otherwise a lion) it turned his stomach quickly and he wouldn’t stay for the rest.

        Yes, Archimedes was quite a pleasant character and I liked the wizard even more. If you’re interested in the Arthurian story, I recommend very highly the series I have put in the list, i.e. “Arthur of the Britons”, which is a historicized but very well made version. I am re-watching after three or four years, and now that I am a polytheist, I can truly enjoy and see through its depth.

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      3. K

        I was going to ask about the Passion, I guess I don’t need to now. A sequel would probably be boring. He’s dead for a few days, then he isn’t. The end.

        Not only relief from purgatory, but an escort of angels with a sedan chair straight a VIP seat near Jesus. Right there with all the Popes.

        Now that I am thinking of Mel Gibson, he did make that movie Apocalypto about jungle tribes and Mayans. That fits the theme here. Whole thing is in a Mayan dialect too.

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      4. Melas the Hellene Post author

        Ha! Gibson has can sometimes have a rotten character, but his films are certainly excellent. But many thanks for introducing me to Apocalypto, which seems to be a very excellent film and greatly worthy of addition to the list.

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  3. Paul

    For myself if it’s a werewolf movie or something similar, or a video game, then gore at any level doesn’t bother me. “Oh, look, fangs in his neck and blood everywhere…” On the other hand, I remember watching “Driver” and lunging for the remote when some fellow out of nowhere got a fork in his eye and a knife in his neck. So it depends, I suppose 😉

    I will have to watch “Arthur of the Britons” – I have the documentary series “King Arthur and Medieval Britain” but haven’t seen the other. I’m a documentary fan but have no problem with films or series, so long as they are done well.

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      Haha! Yes, sudden violence can be quite disturbing. I remember a similar situation with a thriller.
      I might as well add your documentary to my own list of documentaries, which is large. There is plenty to learn in this world! You’ll surely enjoy that series though. I’m about to finish it.

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