50 best epic movies ever – part one
This week it's the summer solstice – aka the longest day of the year. So what better time to bring you the first part of our rundown of the 50 best epic movies ever made – aka some of the longest films in existence? Without further ado, here (in no particular order) is part one of our list – check out part two here.
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
Not the biography of a bridge building addict but an account of Operation Market Garden, the failed attempt to secure German-held bridges in the occupied Netherlands during WW2. The film, however, was anything but a failure, packing in a plethora of stars including Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Gene Hackman, Laurence Olivier, and Anthony Hopkins – all directed by Richard Attenborough himself. A great way to swot up on your history!
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
The finale in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy trilogy redefined the word epic – and strained the bladders of cinema-goers with its succession of endings. This version realigns the timing of the novels based on appendix notes to include elements from The Two Towers; Sam and Frodo’s rift over Gollum never happens in the book and the more tragic story of the Steward of Gondor is dulled down. But the epic Battle of the Black Gate more than makes up for that. Bonus points for anyone who can tweet us how many kills Legolas manages.
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Dances with Wolves is the Native American name given to Kevin Costner’s character, who befriends them while he’s manning a Civil war outpost. Long sentence? It’s a long film, so get used to it. But long in a good old western sort of way that makes you feel it’s meaningful. The United States National Film Registry agrees by calling it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Guess they can’t decide which, but we say all.
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
Taking the pulp sensibilities of the 1930s adventure serials and marrying them to the epic locations that they couldn’t muster back in the day, Star Wars was a truly out-of-this world adventure. A pity, then, that George Lucas didn’t appreciate what he’d created, and slapped a load of jarring modern CGI over the vistas he’d captured on location in Tunisia and Guatemala.
Charlton Heston dons his best sandals to play the eponymous merchant who ends up – via three and a half hours of big screen action – chariot racing against his childhood best friend in this biblical epic. Jesus makes a few appearances throughout but – spoiler alert – He dies at the end. You can pick up the essential three-disc 50th anniversary Blu-ray box set for £10 here.