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By Noelle Buffam · March 25, 2011

Epic film is a genre that takes historical events and people and interprets them in a larger scale. Historical accuracy is not the main focus in Epics, but rather the telling of a grandiose story. The drama of an Epic film is often accentuated by a sweeping musical score, lavish costumes, and high production value.

Epic Film Examples:

Lawrence of Arabia – The tale of a complex and controversial British military man who finds himself conflicted during wartime in the Arabian Desert.

Gladiator – Betrayed by a corrupt prince, a former Roman General trains as a   Gladiator and goes to Rome to avenge the death of his wife and son.

Saving Private Ryan – A team of soldiers goes on a mission to save a soldier whose three brothers have already been killed in the war.

EPIC Film Sub-genres


A Biopic film dramatizes the life of a significant person in history. Biopics often span over various genres because they focus on all different types of people through all different times in history. The historical accuracy of Biopics range from each film, yet each tends to center around major events in the subject's life. These events often include war, battles, or events of political or social importance.

Examples: Lawrence of Arabia, Malcom X, Ghandi.


Historical Epics tell a story about a particular time in history. This sub-genre examines the time period’s influential people, cultural customs, and political or social issues. Historical Epics tend to be some of the most extravagant films with large casts and lavish, period costumes.

Examples: Braveheart, Gone With the Wind, Robin Hood.


War Epics are a sub-genre that looks at the reality of war on a grand scale. These epics often focus on landmark battles as well as political issues within war. This sub-genre usually focuses on a main character and his team of support, giving the audience an inside look into the gritty reality of war.

Examples: Schindler’s List, Apocolyspe Now, Full Metal Jacket.


Religious Epics focus on important religious leaders as well as stories of religious significance. In the United States, this sub-genre is dominated by the Judeo-Christian tradition; therefore, many films retell stories from the biblical texts. Religious Epics were especially popular in the 1950s and 1960s.

Examples: The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, The Passion of the Christ.