The following is far from an exhaustive list, but it is a beginning and features some of my favorites in the category of Great Historical Fiction Movies & TV Shows:
1 Pride & Prejudice – Pick your version! They are all pretty great, but my favorite for accuracy has to be the A&E version. However, I cut my teeth on the 1940s version and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the way Laurence Olivier portrayed Darcy. Sorry ladies. I know most of you will opt for one the more modern men, but for me, Laurence plays the best Darcy. It’s all in the eyes!!! And I know that bow and arrow scene isn’t in the book, but ooh la la!
2 Far and Away – I know it’s been around for many, many years now, but it’s still one of my favorites because of its historical accuracy and its smoking-hot, self-sacrificing, tragically-raw, romantically-hopeful romance! Really, if you haven’t seen this one, do yourself a favor and find a way to watch it!
3 True Women – I’m not sure this movie is as widely known despite its all-star (& well-chosen) cast, but it is definitely a personal favorite of mine! It’s actually based on the novel by Janice Woods Windle who based it on the true lives of her ancestors. Following the lives of two women of the south at a time of great turmoil and cultural change, this film will grip your heart.
4 Hell on Wheels – What can I say? I’m a sucker for the history of the American West (yes, both its good and its tragic). This television series is a decidedly darker show, with an incredibly complicated main character, that unflinchingly places into question the definition of right vs wrong. Inspired by true events, this is a great conversation starter.
5 Bleak House miniseries – Based on the novel of the same name by Charles Dickens, this miniseries does a good job of conveying the complications and injustices of the 19th Century English legal system, the drudgery of daily life at that time, and the emotional responses of those forced to endure it all. I know this all sounds very depressing, but it really was not. I will not say everything ends with sunshine and roses. It certainly does not and there are tears shed along the way, but some things did turn out well in the end and the viewer is left with a feeling of hope.
If you have watched any of these I’d love to read what you think of them. Also, if you have suggestions to add to this list, PLEASE SHARE! I am always eager to discover new movies and shows inspired by history!