33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

The dawn of the Roman Empire captivates filmmakers and audiences with its grandeur of history, epic battles of brave warriors and richness of culture. If you have never been to the capital of Italy, or if you have, but missed the Eternal City, we recommend you to watch the best movies about Rome in our selection. Adventure comedies, historical dramas and thrilling action movies will help you plunge into former memories and immerse yourself in fantasies.

Spartacus: Blood and Sand (TV show 2010-2013)

Spartacus: Blood and Sand
  • IMDB Rating – 8.5
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Melodrama, Adventure, Biography, History
  • Production: USA / 2010-2013
  • Director: Jesse Warn, Michael Hurst, Rick Jacobson
  • Starring: Andy Whitfield, Liam McIntyre, Manu Bennett, Dustin Claire, Daniel Furrigal, Nick E. Tarabay, John Hannah, Lucy Lawless, Viva Bianca, Peter Mensah

“Spartacus: Blood and Sand” is one of the best series to watch. The leader of the Thracian tribes Spartacus is captured by the Romans, and his wife is in the hands of Syrian slave traders. For him, as well as the rest of the slave laborers, an unenviable fate is destined.

But thanks to his fortitude and courage, Spartacus gets a place in the camp of the gladiators Quinta, where the man hones his weapon skills, and during the fights amazes the audience with his skill. Despite the hardships of fate, the hero does not forget about free life. He thinks about escape, for which he needs to enlist the support of other fighters.

After the end of filming the first season, actor Andy Whitfield left the project due to a serious illness. He was replaced by Liam McIntyre.

The wooden gladiator training swords were much heavier than the iron ones. This was done intentionally to better handle the weapons during a real battle.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Rome (TV show)

  • IMDB Rating – 8.7
  • Genre: Drama, History, Action, Melodrama, Military
  • Production: UK, USA / 2005
  • Director: Michael Apted, Mikael Salomon, Allen Coulter
  • Starring: Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, Polly Walker, Kerry Condon, James Purefoy, Ian McNeese, Coral Amiga, Lindsay Duncan, Lydia Biondi, Tobias Menzies.

Julius Caesar returns to Rome after years of war in Gaul. The courtiers are terrified to see the ruler, because over the years they have built the state system to their liking. Politicians and aristocrats do not want to part with a comfortable life built on the oppression of the lower strata of the population, and therefore a civil war begins in the Republic.

The filming took place at the Cinecittà studio in the suburbs of Rome. The set designers recreated recognizable buildings of the ancient capital, based on the surviving records of those times.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome


  • IMDB Rating – 8.5
  • Genre: History, Action, Drama, Adventure
  • Production: USA, UK, Malta, Morocco / 2000
  • Budget: $103,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $460,583,960
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, David Scofield, John Shrapnel, Tomas Arana.

Maximus, the great and brave general of the Roman Empire, is gaining one victory after another. Although he is unrivaled on the battlefield, he is weak and defenseless against political intrigue. A treacherous betrayal leads to sad consequences – his whole family is hanged, and he is sentenced to death.

Having miraculously escaped death, the hero becomes a gladiator. Quickly killing his opponents, he reaches the famous Colosseum, where he will be able to meet his arch-enemy face to face.

The wound on Russell Crowe’s cheek, received in the first battle, is actually real. The actor could not cope with the horse, and it carried him into the trees, where one of the branches scratched his face.

The prototype of Maximus was a Roman senator, consul and close friend of Emperor Marcus Aurelius – Marcus Nonius Macrinus. His tomb was discovered in 2008 in the suburbs of Rome.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Domina (TV show)

  • IMDB Rating – 7.1
  • Genre: Biography, History, Drama
  • Production: UK, Italy / 2021
  • Director: David Evans, Claire McCarthy, Debs Gardner-Patterson
  • Starring: Kasia Smutnyak, Liam Cunningham, Alex Loney, Peter Campion, Colette Dalal Ciancio, Matthew McNulty, Christine Bottomley, Lia O’Prey, Earl Cave

The story centers on the life of Livia Drusilla, wife of Emperor Octavian Augustus – her journey from a naive and meek girl to a powerful personality of her time. The epic story of ancient Rome is shown in the movie through the eyes of a woman who does not want war and bloodshed, but only wants prosperity and well-being of her country.

Unlike many historical pictures, the presence of dark-skinned actors does not contradict the spirit of the era of the time.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome


  • IMDB Rating – 7.2
  • Genre: Drama, Adventure, History
  • Production: Spain, Malta, Bulgaria / 2009
  • Budget: $73,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $39,041,505
  • Director: Alejandro Amenabar
  • Starring: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom, Mikael Lonsdal, Rupert Evans, Homayoun Ershadi, Sami Samir, Richard Durden, Omar Mustafa.

Alexandria, 391. The Roman Empire is gradually losing its former power and greatness. Christianity is gaining strength from the lower classes, and religious fanatics are freely smashing pagan temples and attacking members of other faiths.

In this difficult time lives Hypatia, one of the first known women scientists, who is famous for her intelligence, her knowledge of the sciences and her influence on politicians.

Part of the scenes were filmed in Malta at Fort Ricasoli. It is a popular location for directors of large-scale historical projects such as Gladiator and Troy.

Hypatia is believed to have invented the areometer, an instrument for measuring the density of water.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Attila (TV show)

  • IMDB Rating – 6.7
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Melodrama, Adventure, Military, Biography, History
  • Production: USA, Lithuania / 2000
  • Director: Dick Lowry
  • Starring: Gerard Butler, Powers Booth, Simon McKinnon, Reg Rogers, Alice Krige, Pauline Lynch, Steven Berkoff, Andrew Plevin, Tommy Flanagan, Kirsty Mitchell.

A long-standing prophecy said that one day there would be a fearless warrior who could change the course of history. And so one of the most powerful leaders of his time was born.

As a child, Atilla saw the death of his family, which hardened his spirit and body. As he grew up, he united the nomadic captives of the Huns, creating one of the most fearless and crushing armies. Defeating his enemies, he challenged the famed Roman general Flavius.

The creators of the series made a number of historical inaccuracies, for example:

Atilla’s horse has iron horseshoes, which could not have existed at that time;

the shown clothes of ancient Romans belong to the period of the early empire, although the plot unfolds much later, when the townspeople wore clothes mostly made of coarse fabrics;

the Huns could not have blue eyes and light brown hair, because these tribes consisted of nomadic Asians with brown eyes and black hair.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome


  • IMDB Rating – 6.3
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Detective, History
  • Production: USA / 2016
  • Budget: $20,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $46,432,579
  • Director: Kevin Reynolds
  • Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth, Cliff Curtis, Maria Botto, Luis Callejo, Antonio Gil-Martinez, Richard Atwill, Stuart Scudamore, Andy Gathergood

Jerusalem, 33 AD. Pontius Pilate sends the Roman tribune Clavius to investigate the disappearance of the body of Jesus Christ. At the same time, imperial troops are preparing to quell an uprising of believers who are convinced that their Messiah has risen from the crucifixion.

When Clavius’ own search for the body fails, he decides to seek out the disciples of Christ in order to find a clue to the disappearance of the body through them.

Interestingly, in one of the opening scenes after the earthquake, Lucius mentions Poseidon, the god of the seas, which is from Greek mythology. The Roman character should have been talking about Neptune.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Barbarians Rising (TV show)

Barbarians Rising
  • IMDB Rating – 7.8
  • Genre: Documentary, Action, Drama, History
  • Production: USA / 2016
  • Director: Declan O’Dwyer, Maurice Sweeney, Simon George
  • Starring: Michael Ealy, Barry Strauss, Richard Riddell, Julian Kostow, Kirsty Mitchell, Tom Hopper, Ian Beattie, Josh Bolt, Fintan McKeown, Steven Berkoff

During the years of wars of conquest, the Roman Empire expanded its borders at the expense of other countries and scattered tribes. The Romans treated the indigenous population of distant lands badly, considering them ill-mannered, stupid and immoral barbarians.

These tribes more than once tried to rebel against the mighty empire, but the attempts ended miserably. The historical movie tells about Rome from the opposite side, when the oppressed population gathered courage and desperation to challenge a well-trained army of mercenaries.

The documentary drama was one of the History Channel’s first projects on this topic. The director of the American Institute of Roman Culture, archaeologist D. Arya, Cornell University history professor B. Strauss, as well as army generals, researchers, scholars and writers participated in the preparation of materials for the script.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Julius Caesar (TV show, 2002)

Julius Caesar
  • IMDB Rating – 6.7
  • Genre: Drama, Military, Biography, History
  • Production: Netherlands, Italy, Germany, USA / 2002
  • Budget: $20,000,000
  • Director: Uli Edel
  • Starring: Jeremy Sisto, Richard Harris, Christopher Walken, Kate Stevenson-Payne, Chris Noth, Valeria Golino, Heino Ferch, Tobias Moretti, Nicole Grimaudo, Samuela Sardo.

The story tells about the life path of the greatest conqueror Julius Caesar. The action begins when the protagonist is still young and Lucius Cornelius Sulla usurps power in Rome. Young Caesar is captured by Pompey’s soldiers and sentenced to execution. He miraculously escapes death and leaves his native country to return many years later and reclaim his right to the throne.

The movie was shot mainly in Bulgaria and Malta.

It took more than 3 million dollars to create the sets of the Roman forum.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Romulus (TV show)

  • IMDB Rating – 6.7
  • Genre: Drama, History
  • Production: Italy, UK / 2020
  • Director: Michele Alaicue, Enrico Maria Artale, Matteo Rovere
  • Starring Andrea Arcangeli, Marianna Fontana, Francesco Di Napoli, Emilio De Marchi, Giuseppe Scillaci, Alessandro Cremona, Gabriele Montesi

Events unfold long before the dawn of the new era on the Apennine Peninsula. Several dozen communities come together to resist the invaders. At this point begins the story of two brothers Romulus and Remus, left to their own devices and raised by a she-wolf. They are to lay the foundation of one of the greatest empires in human history by founding and leading Rome.

The original filming took place in Latin and lasted 28 weeks.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Asterix and Obelix versus Cesar 

Asterix and Obelix versus Cesar 
  • IMDB Rating – 6.0
  • Genre: Fantasy, Comedy, Adventure, Family
  • Production: France, Italy, Germany / 1999
  • Budget: FRF 274,620,000
  • US box office: $1,644,060
  • Director: Claude Zidi
  • Starring: Christian Clavier, Gerard Depardieu, Roberto Benigni, Michel Galabru, Claude Pieplou, Daniel Prévost, Pierre Palmade, Laetitia Casta, Ariel Dombal, Sim, Monsieur Dombal.

The Roman Emperor Julius Caesar conquered many lands. Only one small village in Gaul refused to obey and pay taxes. The inhabitants have a magic drink that increases a person’s strength several times. Therefore, two friends Asterix and Obelix are not afraid to challenge the trained legions of military men and the emperor himself.

The movie featured a real alligator and over a hundred live spiders.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Quo vadis

Quo vadis
  • IMDB Rating – 5.7
  • Genre: Drama
  • Production: Poland, USA / 2001
  • Budget: $18,000,000
  • Director: Jerzy Kawalerowicz
  • Starring: Pawel DeLong, Magdalena Melczarz, Boguslaw Linda, Michal Bajor, Jerzy Trelia, Franciszek Piecka, Krzysztof Majchrzak, Rafal Kubacki, Andrzej Tomecki, Jerzy Nowak.

The events of the movie tell about the Roman Empire during the reign of Nero. It was at this time that the first references to the spread of Christianity and the new doctrine among the Romans appear. The cruel ruler is dissatisfied with the way the inhabitants one by one accept the alien faith, so he punishes all the orthodox in the most horrible ways.

The plot is based on the novel of the same name by Polish writer G. Sienkiewicz.

The movie received three national Golden Eagle awards and several nominations.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Barbaren (TV show)

  • IMDB Rating – 7.2
  • Genre: Action, History, Drama
  • Production: Germany / 2020
  • Director: Barbara Eder, Stefan Ruzowitzky, Steven St. Ledger
  • Starring: Laurence Rupp, Jeanne Goursot, David Schütter, Bernhard Schütz, Sofia Roiz, Gaetano Aronica, Jeremy Miliker, Sergei Onopko, Florian Schmidtke, Daniel Donskoy

The action of the historical drama takes place at the beginning of the new era in the lands of the ancient Germans. Young Arminius was sent to Rome as a hostage, where he learned the military craft from his adoptive father, the military commander Quintilius Varus.

Returning to his native land as a Roman officer, Arminius must choose for whom to fight in the famous battle of Teutoburg Forest. On one side are his brothers and childhood friends, and on the other is loyalty and duty to his country.

The events described have historical confirmation. Gaius Julius Arminius (Hermann) is an iconic figure in Germany. There is even a sculpture in his honor in Detmold.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome


  • IMDB Rating – 7.1
  • Genre: Thriller, Drama, History
  • Production: UK, Italy, USA / 1999
  • US box office receipts: $2,007,290
  • Director: Julie Taymor
  • Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Angus Macfadyen, James Frain, Geraldine McEwan, Alan Cumming, Jonathan Rees Myers, Oshin Jones, Dario D’Ambrosi, Raz Degan.

The great general Titus returns to Rome after a triumphant victory over the tribes of the Goths. As a gift to the sovereign, he brings with him prisoners – Queen Tamora and her sons. He sacrifices the eldest of them in front of the cheering crowd and praying mother. For this Tamora promises to take revenge on her offender. Becoming the wife of the new emperor, she begins her cruel political game against Titus.

The movie was the debut for director Julia Taylor. The script was based on the tragedy “Titus Andronicus” by W. Shakespeare.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Il primo re

Il primo re
  • IMDB Rating – 6.5
  • Genre: Drama, History
  • Production: Italy, Belgium / 2019
  • Worldwide box office receipts: $2,440,478
  • Director: Matteo Rovere
  • Starring: Alessandro Borghi, Alessio Lapice, Fabrizio Rongione, Massimiliano Rossi, Tania Garribba, Michael Skermi, Max Malatesta, Vincenzo Pirrotta, Vincenzo Crea, Lorenzo Gleizes

Ancient Italy, 753 B.C. Two shepherd brothers, Romulus and Remus, lost all their possessions after a terrible flood and were captured by other tribes immediately afterward. When they were about to be sacrificed, they were able to fight off the invaders and take a priestess of Vesta as a hostage.

Using her knowledge and predictions, the brothers move to safety and gain the trust of the other tribes. In the end, one of them has to kill his own brother in order to go down in history as the founder of the Eternal City.

To shoot the scenes in the forest, a special breed of deer was brought in, which lived in Latium at that time.

The actors speak Doromanic Latin in the film.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Held der Gladiatoren

Held der Gladiatoren
  • IMDB Rating – 4.8
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Melodrama, Adventure
  • Production: Germany, Austria / 2003
  • Director: Yorgo Papavasiliou
  • Starring: Stefan Hornung, Andrea Kleven, Tanja Wenzel, Zsolt Bacz, Marion Mitterhammer, Dirk Pravdzik, Gregor Bloeb, László I. Kisch, Ralph Möller, James Butler.

After the death of his parents, Germanius, along with his brother and sister, are taken prisoner by the Romans. Soon the hero’s brother dies at the hands of the free gladiator Lagos. Then Germanius decides to take revenge on the offender.

He improves in the art of war every day, hoping one day to defeat the offender with his sword. However, on the way to his goal, he accidentally learns that his sister is secretly in love with their brother’s murderer.

The movie was shot in natural light, with virtually no special effects.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Ben-Hur (2016)

  • IMDB Rating – 5.7
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Adventure, History
  • Production: USA / 2016
  • Budget: $100,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $94,061,311
  • Director: Timur Bekmambetov
  • Starring: Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer, Pilu Asbek, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Morgan Freeman, Marwan Kenzari, Moises Arias

Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish aristocrat, is unjustly accused of treason by his half-brother and best friend Messalus. After spending many years away from home on the Roman galleys, the hero finally returns to his homeland to get even with his offender and restore justice.

At the insistence of director T. Bekmambetov the arena for chariot races was built from scratch, and filming was conducted without the use of computer graphics to achieve maximum realism.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome


  • IMDB Rating – 5.5
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Melodrama, Adventure
  • Production: USA, Canada, Germany, UK / 2014
  • Budget: $100,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $117,831,631
  • Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
  • Starring: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnoye-Agbaje, Kiefer Sutherland, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jared Harris, Jessica Lucas, Carrie Graham, Joe Ping, Sasha Roiz

In 62 AD, the Romans, led by Senator Corbus, brutally suppressed a Celtic revolt in Britain. Having killed the tribal leader and his wife, they left alive only their son Milo.

Years passed, the boy grew up in captivity, where he learned to handle weapons. He excelled in battles, for which he was sent to Pompeii to participate in gladiatorial duels. On the way Milo meets a beautiful girl Cassia. They develop mutual feelings, which are overshadowed by the awakening of a volcano.

The largest city of Pompeii was recreated thanks to large-scale sets. Only a third of the movie about the Ancient Roman Empire was subjected to computer processing.

To recreate the scene with Vesuvius, the creators studied many videos of natural disasters – volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

The Eagle

The Eagle
  • IMDB Rating – 6.2
  • Genre: Drama, History
  • Production: USA / 2010
  • Budget: $25,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $27,122,040
  • Director: Kevin Macdonald
  • Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong, Dakin Matthews, Istvan Göz, Benzé Görö, Denis O’Hare, Paul Ritter, Zsolt Laszlo

Young centurion Marcus Aquila arrives on the British peninsula from Rome to find the lost standard of the Ninth Legion, garrisoned by his father.

More than 20 years have passed since the legion went missing in the Scottish mountains. Now the young man will have to go through a difficult path and find the lost symbol to return honor and glory to his family. Many dangers await him, but Marcus cannot give up.

The movie is based on the historical novel of the same name by R. Sutcliffe.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Imperium: Augustus

Imperium: Augustus
  • IMDB Rating – 6.3
  • Genre: Drama, Melodrama, Military, History
  • Production: Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Austria / 2003
  • Director: Roger Young
  • Starring: Peter O’Toole, Charlotte Rampling, Vittoria Belvedere, Benjamin Zadler, Ken Duken, Russell Barr, Juan Diego Botto, Martina Stella, Valeria D’Obici, Michel Bevilacqua.

After the tragic death of Julius Caesar, the Roman Empire is consumed by an internal struggle for the throne. In the absence of a direct heir, Mark Antony attempts to seize power, but he fails.

The situation is complicated by the fact that Caesar’s will lists Gaius Octavius as his successor. This event leads to a fierce struggle between the two contenders, which quickly turns into a bloody civil war.

A movie studio was built in Tunis, not far from the ruins of Carthage.

The movie opened the five-part project “Empires”, which tells the story of ancient Rome.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome


  • IMDB Rating – 6.4
  • Genre: Action, Thriller, Drama, Adventure, Military, History
  • Production: UK, France, USA / 2009
  • Budget: $12,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $6,814,789
  • Director: Neil Marshall
  • Starring: Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, Olga Kurylenko, Noel Clarke, David Morrissey, J.J. Field, Dimitri Leonidas, Riz Ahmed, Paul Freeman, Axel Carolyn.

Northern Britain, 177. Roman garrisons are trying to suppress a rebellion of Celtic Picts who, led by Gorlacon, are destroying the fortifications of the outsiders.

After one of the tribal raids, the centurion Quintus Dius is the only survivor. He is captured, from which he later escapes. The Ninth Legion is sent to help the Romans and suffers a crushing defeat at the hands of the Celts. Dius finds himself alone again, but decides to continue fighting to avenge Gorlacon.

During the filming of scenes in the forests of Scotland, Roman soldiers and Picts were played by historians and enthusiasts who are part of a historical re-enactment group.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

The Last Legion

The Last Legion
  • IMDB Rating – 5.4
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Military, History
  • Production: Great Britain, France, Slovakia, Tunisia, Italy, Bulgaria / 2006
  • Budget: $67,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $25,303,038
  • Director: Doug Lefler
  • Starring: Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Peter Mullan, Kevin McKidd, John Hannah, Iain Glen, Thomas Sangster, Rupert Friend, Nonso Anozie.

The Western Roman Empire is on the verge of collapse. Young Romulus Augustus is the country’s last Caesar. At night, rebels kill the boy’s parents and imprison him on the island of Capri. To help Romulus come soldiers of the Ninth Legion, who have remained loyal to the country and their emperor.

The plot of the film is partly based on the novel by contemporary Italian writer, historian and archaeologist Valerio Massimo Manfredi.

Parents and younger sister of Thomas Sangster (August) played cameo roles at the end of the movie.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Empire (TV show)

  • IMDB Rating – 6.3
  • Genre: Action, Drama, History
  • Production: USA / 2005
  • Budget: $50,000,000
  • Director: Kim Manners, John Gray, Greg Yaitans
  • Starring: Santiago Cabrera, Vincent Regan, Emily Blunt, James Frain, Jonathan Cake, Graham McTavish, Clive Ritchie, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Alan David, Christopher Egan.

The action unfolds in 44 BC. The great emperor Julius Caesar fell victim to a conspiracy, after which the country is overwhelmed by a series of attempts to usurp power. The situation among the patricians is inflamed by Caesar’s will, according to which the title and all honors should go to his nephew Octavius.

However, the attempts of aristocrats to kill the legitimate heir, forcing the young man to flee the country. Octavius is aided by his only loyal friend and protector Tyranius, who supports the future emperor in all his endeavors.

In the series Octavian is presented as a weak, careless and foolish teenager. In reality, the emperor was renowned for his intelligence and wisdom. He was more cruel than Caesar and often executed anyone who could pose a threat to him.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Imperium: Nerone

Imperium: Nerone
  • IMDB Rating – 5.6
  • Genre: Drama, Military, Biography
  • Production: Italy, Germany, Great Britain, France, Tunisia / 2004
  • Director: Paul Marcus
  • Starring: Hans Matheson, Laura Morante, Rick Schmid, Matthias Habich, Angela Molina, Ian Richardson, Philippe Carois, Mario Opinato, Elisa Tovati, Simon Andreu.

The films tell about the historical epoch of the reign of two powerful emperors of their time. The first picture presents the life of Octavian Augustus, and in the second series – the life and reign of Nero.

Their actions forever changed the familiar world, and the years in power were filled with incredible events, including political and court intrigues, exciting battles, assassination attempts, betrayals and love.

Both films were shot primarily in Tunisia and are part of a series of historical dramas called Imperium.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome


  • IMDB Rating – 2.7
  • Genre: Drama, Adventure, Military, Biography, History
  • Production: France, Belgium, Canada / 2000
  • Director: Jacques Dorfmann
  • Starring: Christopher Lambert, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max von Sydow, Ines Sastre, Denis Charvet, Bernard-Pierre Donnadier, Maria Kavardjikova, Yannis Baraban, Vincent Moscato, Jean-Pierre Rivet.

By 54 BC, Roman legionaries led by Julius Caesar had conquered virtually all of Gaul. Only a few tribes had united under the rule of the powerful Arvernian warrior Vercingetorigus.

Being an excellent strategist, diplomat and sage, who received knowledge from the ancient Druids, the unbroken leader led his troops to the most powerful army of that time.

Translation of the original title “Vercingetorix: The Legend of the Druid King”.

The director, producer and screenwriter of the TV movie was Jacques Dorfman.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Life of Brian

Life of Brian
  • IMDB Rating – 8.1
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Production: Great Britain / 1979
  • Budget: $4,000,000
  • US box office: $20,045,115
  • Director: Terry Jones
  • Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terence Bayler, Carol Cleveland, Kenneth Colley, Neil Innes.

The satirical movie tells the life story of Brian Cohen, an ordinary Jew who was born on the same day as Jesus on the same street. It turns out that 2000 years ago the Magi made a mistake in astronomical calculations, and first brought gifts to the wrong baby.

Brian was born in the neighboring house from the One and Only house, after which his life went according to the “divine” scenario. As the boy grew older, he began to be confused with the Messiah and was even made the leader of the Jewish Front, fighting for freedom from the Roman oppressors.

The movie was filmed using the sets of F. Zeffirelli’s mini-series Jesus of Nazareth.

Due to its mockery of political and religious themes, the film was banned in several countries, including Italy, Norway, Sweden, and Ireland.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Fellini – Satyricon

Fellini - Satyricon
  • IMDB Rating – 6.9
  • Genre: Fantasy, Drama, History
  • Production: Italy, France / 1969
  • Budget: $3,000,000
  • Worldwide box office: $1,137,458
  • Director: Federico Fellini
  • Starring: Martin Potter, Hiram Keller, Max Born, Salvo Randone, Mario Romagnoli, Magali Noel, Capucine, Alain Cuny, Fanfulla, Danica La Loggia.

The action takes place in Ancient Rome during the reign of Nero, when society was given complete freedom of expression, which led to the cultural and moral decline of the nation. At the center of the plot is a handsome young man, Encolpius. He wanders the world in search of his close friend Giton, who is mired in the worst human vices.

The movie is based on the novel of the same name by the ancient Roman writer Gaius Petronius.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Spartacus (1960)

  • IMDB Rating – 7.9
  • Genre: Drama, Adventure, Military, Biography, History
  • Production: USA / 1960
  • Budget: $12,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $90,000,000
  • Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • Starring: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Gene Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Nina Fosch, John Ireland, Herbert Lom, John Doll

The story unfolds in 72 B.C. The slave-owner Batiatus recruits new recruits for his gladiatorial school, among whom is a Thracian boy named Spartacus. The boy shows good results in martial arts and, after a while, becomes one of the best warriors.

There Spartacus also meets Varinia, with whom he immediately falls in love. A little later, the Roman consul Crassus bribes Batiatus to watch the best gladiators fight to the death. Spartacus is among the chosen ones. Unwilling to accept the death of their comrades, the gladiators revolt to gain their freedom.

The movie was filmed for almost six months, of which six weeks were spent on staging battle scenes of the battle between the troops of Spartacus and the Roman army, which involved more than 8.5 thousand extras.

The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Dramatic Film.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Ben-Hur (1959)

  • IMDB Rating – 8.1
  • Genre: Drama, History, Adventure
  • Production: USA / 1959
  • Budget: $15,000,000
  • Worldwide Box Office: $164,000,000
  • Director: William Wyler
  • Starring: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Hararit, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Cathy O’Donnell, Sam Jaffe, Finlay Curry, Frank Tring.

The action begins in Palestine in the 26th year of Christ’s birth. Two childhood friends, the rich Jew Ben-Gur and the Roman tribune Messala, meet after years of separation. The once kindred spirits quarrel on ideological grounds, and Messala accuses his former friend of betraying the empire.

Ben-Hur is exiled to the galleys, and his mother and sister are sent to prison. On the wharf before sailing, the hero meets Christ, who blesses him and serves him water. Ben-Hur returns to Rome to defeat his rival in the annual chariot races and take revenge on his enemy.

The film has repeatedly topped the list of the best films about ancient Rome. The film was the first in history to win 11 Oscar statuettes, 4 Golden Globe Awards and a BAFTA Award.

The script was based on the novel of the same name by L. Wallace.

More than 50 thousand people, mostly residents of Italian villages, took part in the cast.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
  • IMDB Rating – 6.9
  • Genre: Musical, comedy
  • Production: USA / 1966
  • Budget: $2,000,000
  • Director: Richard Lester
  • Starring: Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Buster Keaton, Michael Crawford, Jack Gilford, Annette Andre, Michael Hordern, Leon Green, Roy Keener, Elfie Basse.

The slave Pseudolus, belonging to a fairly well-to-do Roman family, dreams of freedom. Fortunately, his master Geron falls in love with a young courtesan from the house of a large slave trader. A meeting between the young man and the girl is impossible because she has already been sold to a powerful centurion. Pseudolus makes a wager with his master. He will be free if he can find a way to reunite the couple.

The picture is based on the musical of the same name by S. Sondheim. Sondheim. The director was inspired by the books of B. Shivlav and L. Gelbart, as well as the comedies of the ancient Roman playwright Titus Plautus.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Quo Vadis (1951)

Quo Vadis
  • IMDB Rating – 7.2
  • Genre: Drama, Melodrama, Biography, History
  • Production: USA / 1951
  • Budget: $7,623,000
  • US box office receipts: $24,291,740
  • Director: Mervyn LeRoy, Anthony Mann
  • Starring: Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Leo Genn, Peter Ustinov, Patricia Laffan, Finlay Curry, Abraham Soufer, Marina Berti, Buddy Baer, Felix Aylmer.

The love story of the Roman patrician Marcus Vinicius and the Lygian hostage Cellina. The plot centers on the uneasy relationship between the lovers, who are hindered by palace intrigues, established Roman customs, secret conspiracies of aristocrats and different faith. All this against the background of the confrontation between Christians and the monstrous atrocities of Emperor Nero.

Sophia Loren starred in a cameo as a slave. This role was her debut in a big movie. Also a cameo role played by Elizabeth Taylor. Both actresses are not in the credits.

In the picture was used more than 32 thousand costumes.

The film received 8 Oscar nominations and became one of the best films about Rome of its time.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

Julius Caesar (1953)

Julius Caesar
  • IMDB Rating – 7.3
  • Genre: Drama, Biography, History
  • Production: USA / 1953
  • Budget: $2,070,000
  • US box office: $2,021,000
  • Director: Joseph Leo Mankiewicz
  • Starring: Marlon Brando, James Mason, John Gielgud, Louis Calhern, Edmond O’Brien, Greer Garson, Deborah Kerr, George Macready, Michael Pate, Richard Hale.

After defeating Pompey’s army, the Roman general Julius Caesar becomes head of state. His life and years of rule were majestic but fleeting. Two patricians Cassius and Brutus cannot accept the undivided power of the dictator, so they organize a conspiracy against the ruler.

Caesar’s wife Calpurnia. warns her husband of the bad signs, but he still goes to the Capitol for another session of the Senate, where he is treacherously murdered. After Caesar’s death, Mark Antony and Octavius Augustus prepare for war against the conspirators.

Interestingly, there is a bust of the Emperor Hadrian in Brutus’ chambers, even though he had not yet been born.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome

The Fall of the Roman Empire

The Fall of the Roman Empire
  • IMDB Rating – 6.7
  • Genre: Drama, Military, History
  • Production: USA / 1964
  • Budget: $19,000,000
  • US box office receipts: $4,750,000
  • Director: Anthony Mann
  • Starring: Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness, James Mason, Christopher Plummer, Anthony Quayle, John Ireland, Omar Sharif, Mel Ferrer, Eric Porter.

Marcus Aurelius’ reign is coming to an end. Before his death, he appoints as his successor not his own son Commodus, but the general Gaius Livius, who is in love with his daughter. Commodus is angered by his father’s betrayal, so he forcibly regains power in the Roman Empire, which leads to the outbreak of civil war and the decline of the once great power.

In the story, Marcus Aurelius was poisoned by conspirators, but historians agree that the emperor may have died of the plague during one of his military campaigns.

The movie is the last of the classic Hollywood peplums.

33 Best Movies and TV Shows Set In Ancient Rome
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Анна Румянцева
Anna Rumyantseva

Author, editor and filmmaker.

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