Best European Historical Movies

by amani-preston | created - 28 Dec 2013 | updated - 17 Dec 2015 | Public
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1. The Merchant of Venice (2004)

R | 131 min | Drama, Romance

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
63 Metascore

In 16th century Venice, when a merchant must default on a large loan from an abused Jewish moneylender for a friend with romantic ambitions, the bitterly vengeful creditor demands a gruesome payment instead.

Director: Michael Radford | Stars: Al Pacino, Joseph Fiennes, Lynn Collins, Jeremy Irons

Votes: 31,413 | Gross: $3.77M

2. Gladiator (2000)

R | 155 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
67 Metascore

When a Roman General is betrayed, and his family murdered by an emperor's corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed

Votes: 1,094,413 | Gross: $187.71M

3. Tristan + Isolde (2006)

PG-13 | 125 min | Drama, Romance

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
49 Metascore

An affair between the second in line to Britain's throne and the princess of the feuding Irish spells doom for the young lovers.

Director: Kevin Reynolds | Stars: James Franco, Sophia Myles, Rufus Sewell, David O'Hara

Votes: 47,152 | Gross: $14.73M

4. Becket (1964)

PG-13 | 148 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.0
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68 Metascore

King Henry II of England comes to terms with his affection for his close friend and confidant Thomas à Becket, who finds his true honor by observing God's divine will rather than the king's.

Director: Peter Glenville | Stars: Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud, Gino Cervi

Votes: 11,868

5. The Lion in Winter (1968)

PG | 134 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.1
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1183 A.D.: King Henry II's three sons all want to inherit the throne, but he won't commit to a choice. They and his wife variously plot to force him.

Director: Anthony Harvey | Stars: Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, John Castle

Votes: 24,855 | Gross: $0.02M

6. A Man for All Seasons (1966)

G | 120 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.9
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The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage.

Director: Fred Zinnemann | Stars: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Robert Shaw, Leo McKern

Votes: 25,687 | Gross: $28.35M

7. To Kill a King (2003)

102 min | Biography, Drama, History

6.2
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A recounting of the relationship between General Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell, as they try to cope with the consequences of deposing King Charles I.

Director: Mike Barker | Stars: Tim Roth, Dougray Scott, Olivia Williams, James Bolam

Votes: 2,693

8. Atonement (2007)

R | 123 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

7.8
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85 Metascore

Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's lover of a crime he did not commit.

Director: Joe Wright | Stars: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Brenda Blethyn, Saoirse Ronan

Votes: 209,830 | Gross: $50.93M

9. Impromptu (1991)

PG-13 | 107 min | Biography, Comedy, Music

7.0
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In 1830s France, pianist/composer Frédéric Chopin is pursued romantically by the determined, individualistic woman who uses the name George Sand.

Director: James Lapine | Stars: Judy Davis, Hugh Grant, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters

Votes: 4,100 | Gross: $4.08M

10. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

PG | 116 min | Drama, Romance

7.6
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A headstrong young teacher in a private school in 1930s Edinburgh ignores the curriculum and influences her impressionable 12 year old charges with her over-romanticized world view.

Director: Ronald Neame | Stars: Maggie Smith, Gordon Jackson, Robert Stephens, Pamela Franklin

Votes: 7,242

11. The Secret Garden (1993)

G | 101 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

7.3
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Living in India, Mary Lennox, a young, privileged girl, is left orphaned when her parents are killed in an earthquake. She is sent back to England where she goes to live on her uncle's ... See full summary »

Director: Agnieszka Holland | Stars: Kate Maberly, Maggie Smith, Heydon Prowse, Andrew Knott

Votes: 31,281 | Gross: $31.18M

12. The Wings of the Dove (1997)

R | 102 min | Drama, Romance

7.2
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73 Metascore

An impoverished woman who has been forced to choose between a privileged life with her wealthy aunt and her journalist lover, befriends an American heiress. When she discovers the heiress is attracted to her own lover and is dying, she sees a chance to have both the privileged life she cannot give up and the lover she cannot live without.

Director: Iain Softley | Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, Alex Jennings, Charlotte Rampling

Votes: 9,353 | Gross: $13.72M

13. Valmont (1989)

R | 137 min | Drama, Romance

7.0
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55 Metascore

Set in Baroque France, a scheming widow and her lover make a bet regarding the corruption of a recently married woman. The lover, Valmont, bets that he can seduce her, even though she is an... See full summary »

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: Colin Firth, Annette Bening, Meg Tilly, Fairuza Balk

Votes: 10,885 | Gross: $1.13M

14. Wuthering Heights (1992)

PG | 105 min | Drama, History, Romance

6.9
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A man becomes obsessed with vengeance when his soul mate marries another man.

Director: Peter Kosminsky | Stars: Juliette Binoche, Ralph Fiennes, Janet McTeer, Sophie Ward

Votes: 10,426

15. Twelfth Night or What You Will (1996)

PG | 134 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.3
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Shakespeare's comedy of gender confusion, in which a girl disguises herself as a man to be near the count she adores, only to be pursued by the woman he loves.

Director: Trevor Nunn | Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Richard E. Grant, Imogen Stubbs, Steven Mackintosh

Votes: 5,031 | Gross: $0.55M

16. Stage Beauty (2004)

R | 106 min | Drama

7.2
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64 Metascore

A female theatre dresser creates a stir and sparks a revolution in seventeenth century London theatre by playing Desdemona in Othello. But what will become of the male actor she once worked for and eventually replaced?

Director: Richard Eyre | Stars: Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Rupert Everett, Derek Hutchinson

Votes: 9,190 | Gross: $0.78M

17. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

R | 123 min | Comedy, Drama, History

7.2
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87 Metascore

A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

Director: John Madden | Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Tom Wilkinson

Votes: 188,663 | Gross: $100.32M

18. The Portrait of a Lady (1996)

PG-13 | 144 min | Drama, Romance

6.3
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61 Metascore

An American girl inherits a fortune and falls into a misguided relationship with a gentleman confidence artist whose true nature, including a barbed and covetous disposition, turns her life into a nightmare.

Director: Jane Campion | Stars: Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey, Martin Donovan

Votes: 9,392 | Gross: $3.69M

19. Restoration (1995)

R | 117 min | Biography, Drama, History

6.7
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The exiled royal physician to King Charles II devotes himself to helping Londoners suffering from the plague, and in the process falls in love with an equally poor woman.

Director: Michael Hoffman | Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Sam Neill, David Thewlis, Polly Walker

Votes: 7,938 | Gross: $4.10M

20. Onegin (1999)

R | 106 min | Drama, Romance

6.9
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59 Metascore

In the opulent St. Petersburg of the Empire period, Eugene Onegin is a jaded but dashing aristocrat - a man often lacking in empathy, who suffers from restlessness, melancholy and, finally,... See full summary »

Director: Martha Fiennes | Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Liv Tyler, Toby Stephens, Lena Headey

Votes: 6,669 | Gross: $0.21M

21. The Remains of the Day (1993)

PG | 134 min | Drama, Romance

7.9
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84 Metascore

A butler who sacrificed body and soul to service in the years leading up to World War II realizes too late how misguided his loyalty was to his lordly employer.

Director: James Ivory | Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, John Haycraft, Christopher Reeve

Votes: 50,538 | Gross: $22.95M

22. Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

PG | 132 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

7.2
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71 Metascore

A young, compassionate man struggles to save his family and friends from the abusive exploitation of his cold-heartedly grasping uncle.

Director: Douglas McGrath | Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Jamie Bell, Christopher Plummer, Jim Broadbent

Votes: 10,054 | Gross: $1.59M

23. Brideshead Revisited (2008)

PG-13 | 133 min | Drama, Romance

6.7
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64 Metascore

A poignant story of forbidden love and the loss of innocence set in England prior to the Second World War.

Director: Julian Jarrold | Stars: Matthew Goode, Patrick Malahide, Hayley Atwell, Thomas Morrison

Votes: 10,681 | Gross: $6.41M

24. The Affair of the Necklace (2001)

R | 118 min | Drama, History, Romance

6.1
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42 Metascore

In pre-Revolutionary France, a young aristocratic woman left penniless by the political unrest in the country, must avenge her family's fall from grace by scheming to steal a priceless necklace.

Director: Charles Shyer | Stars: Hilary Swank, Simon Baker, Jonathan Pryce, Adrien Brody

Votes: 4,659 | Gross: $0.43M

25. A Room with a View (1985)

Not Rated | 117 min | Drama, Romance

7.4
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80 Metascore

When Lucy Honeychurch and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett find themselves in Florence with rooms without views, fellow guests Mr Emerson and son George step in to remedy the situation. Meeting... See full summary »

Director: James Ivory | Stars: Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Denholm Elliott, Julian Sands

Votes: 32,514 | Gross: $20.97M

26. Bright Star (2009)

PG | 119 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

7.0
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81 Metascore

The three-year romance between 19th-century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne near the end of his life.

Director: Jane Campion | Stars: Abbie Cornish, Ben Whishaw, Paul Schneider, Kerry Fox

Votes: 22,766 | Gross: $4.44M

27. Amazing Grace (2006)

PG | 118 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.5
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65 Metascore

The idealist William Wilberforce maneuvers his way through Parliament, endeavoring to end the British transatlantic slave trade.

Director: Michael Apted | Stars: Ioan Gruffudd, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Romola Garai

Votes: 22,021 | Gross: $21.21M

28. Agora (2009)

R | 127 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

7.2
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55 Metascore

A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hope of pursuing freedom while falling in love with his mistress, the famous philosophy and mathematics professor Hypatia of Alexandria.

Director: Alejandro Amenábar | Stars: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom

Votes: 57,438 | Gross: $0.62M

29. Dangerous Beauty (1998)

R | 111 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

7.3
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A Venetian courtesan becomes a hero to her city, but later becomes the target of an inquisition by the Church for witchcraft.

Director: Marshall Herskovitz | Stars: Catherine McCormack, Rufus Sewell, Oliver Platt, Fred Ward

Votes: 13,625 | Gross: $4.53M

30. A Knight's Tale (2001)

PG-13 | 132 min | Action, Adventure, Romance

6.9
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56 Metascore

After his master dies, a peasant squire, fueled by his desire for food and glory, creates a new identity for himself as a knight.

Director: Brian Helgeland | Stars: Heath Ledger, Mark Addy, Rufus Sewell, Shannyn Sossamon

Votes: 147,395 | Gross: $56.57M

31. Firelight (1997)

R | 103 min | Romance, Drama

7.3
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In 1838, lovely governess Elisabeth agrees to bear a child of anonymous English landowner, and he will in return pay her father's debt. At birth she, as agreed, gives up the child. Seven ... See full summary »

Director: William Nicholson | Stars: Sophie Marceau, Stephen Dillane, Dominique Belcourt, Kevin Anderson

Votes: 3,664 | Gross: $0.78M

32. Hamlet (1996)

PG-13 | 242 min | Drama

7.8
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Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his father murdered and his mother remarrying the murderer, his uncle. Meanwhile, war is brewing.

Director: Kenneth Branagh | Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Julie Christie, Derek Jacobi, Kate Winslet

Votes: 32,371 | Gross: $4.41M

33. Illuminata (1998)

R | 119 min | Drama, Romance

6.2
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60 Metascore

It's the start of the 20th century, and Tuccio, resident playwright of a theatre repertory company offers the owners of the company his new play, "Illuminata". They reject it, saying it's ... See full summary »

Director: John Turturro | Stars: Leo Bassi, Henri Behar, Maurizio Benazzo, Fernando Bolles

Votes: 1,425 | Gross: $0.84M

34. The Woodlanders (1997)

PG | 98 min | Drama, Romance

6.4
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The story is set in late 19th century rural corner of South England. The daughter of timber merchant Melbury, Grace, returns to the town after finishing school. Her father now believes she ... See full summary »

Director: Phil Agland | Stars: Emily Woof, Rufus Sewell, Cal MacAninch, Tony Haygarth

Votes: 558

35. Luther (2003)

PG-13 | 123 min | Biography, Drama, History

6.6
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47 Metascore

During the early 16th Century idealistic German monk Martin Luther, disgusted by the materialism in the church, begins the dialogue that will lead to the Protestant Reformation.

Director: Eric Till | Stars: Joseph Fiennes, Bruno Ganz, Peter Ustinov, Alfred Molina

Votes: 13,537 | Gross: $5.79M

36. The Winslow Boy (1999)

G | 104 min | Drama, Romance

7.4
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79 Metascore

Early 20th century England: while toasting his daughter Catherine's engagement, Arthur Winslow learns the royal naval academy expelled his 14-year-old son, Ronnie, for stealing five ... See full summary »

Director: David Mamet | Stars: Rebecca Pidgeon, Jeremy Northam, Nigel Hawthorne, Matthew Pidgeon

Votes: 6,693 | Gross: $3.96M

37. The Golden Bowl (2000)

R | 130 min | Drama, Romance

6.0
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62 Metascore

A man marries an heiress for her money even though he is actually in love with her friend.

Director: James Ivory | Stars: Uma Thurman, Jeremy Northam, Kate Beckinsale, James Fox

Votes: 3,901 | Gross: $3.04M

38. Dean Spanley (2008)

PG | 100 min | Comedy, Drama

7.2
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Set in Edwardian England where upper lips are always stiff and men from the Colonies are not entirely to be trusted, Fisk Senior has little time or affection for his son, but when the pair visit an eccentric Indian, they start a strange journey that eventually allows the old man to find his heart.

Director: Toa Fraser | Stars: Jeremy Northam, Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Peter O'Toole

Votes: 3,012

39. Orlando (1992)

PG-13 | 94 min | Biography, Drama, Fantasy

7.2
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74 Metascore

Young nobleman Orlando is commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to stay forever young. Miraculously, he does just that. The film follows him as he moves through several centuries of British ... See full summary »

Director: Sally Potter | Stars: Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane, Quentin Crisp, Jimmy Somerville

Votes: 11,056 | Gross: $5.29M

40. Lady Jane (1986)

PG-13 | 136 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.2
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The death of King Henry VIII throws his kingdom into chaos because of succession disputes. His weak son Edward, is on his deathbed. Anxious to keep England true to the Reformation, a ... See full summary »

Director: Trevor Nunn | Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Cary Elwes, John Wood, Michael Hordern

Votes: 5,405 | Gross: $0.28M

41. Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

PG-13 | 111 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.4
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Young lovers Hero and Claudio, soon to wed, conspire to get verbal sparring partners and confirmed singles Benedick and Beatrice to wed as well.

Director: Kenneth Branagh | Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Keanu Reeves, Kate Beckinsale

Votes: 39,673 | Gross: $22.55M

42. Young Bess (1953)

Approved | 112 min | Biography, Drama, History

6.7
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The early life of Elizabeth I, from her childhood until her accession to the throne of England in 1558.

Director: George Sidney | Stars: Jean Simmons, Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr, Charles Laughton

Votes: 1,170

43. The Twisted Tale of Bloody Mary (2008)

104 min | Drama, History

6.4
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She was loved, she was a princess, heir to the throne - but the childhood fairytale turned to lifelong nightmare for Mary Tudor, Henry VIII's first child. When Henry divorced her mother and... See full summary »

Director: Chris Barnard | Stars: Miranda French, Simon Kirk, Jorge Balça, Jason Sharp

Votes: 37

44. Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

PG | 145 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.6
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Henry VIII of England discards one wife, Katharine of Aragon, who has failed to produce a male heir, in favor of the young and beautiful Anne Boleyn.

Director: Charles Jarrott | Stars: Richard Burton, Geneviève Bujold, Irene Papas, Anthony Quayle

Votes: 5,688

45. The Conclave (2006)

100 min | Biography, Drama, History

6.5
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In 1458, five years after the fall of Constantinople to the Turk, eighteen cardinals met in Rome to elect a new pope. A 27-year-old Spanish cardinal, Rodrigo Borgia, learns to play a very dangerous game; how to survive his first conclave.

Director: Christoph Schrewe | Stars: Manu Fullola, Brian Blessed, James Faulkner, Rolf Kanies

Votes: 406

46. The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

Approved | 138 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.2
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The biographical story of Michelangelo's troubles while painting the Sistine Chapel at the urging of Pope Julius II.

Director: Carol Reed | Stars: Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison, Diane Cilento, Harry Andrews

Votes: 5,300

47. The Advocate (1993)

R | 102 min | Crime, Drama, History

6.8
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In medieval France, young lawyer Richard Courtois leaves Paris for the simpler life in the country. However, he is soon drawn into amorous and political intrigues. At the same time, he is ... See full summary »

Director: Leslie Megahey | Stars: Colin Firth, Amina Annabi, Jim Carter, Donald Pleasence

Votes: 1,675 | Gross: $0.67M

48. God's Outlaw (1986)

Not Rated | 93 min | Biography, Drama, History

6.8
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A dramatized biography of William Tyndale, the 16th Century reformer determined to translate the Bible into English, which illegal act set him at odds with the Catholic Church, Sir Thomas More and King Henry VIII.

Director: Tony Tew | Stars: Roger Rees, Bernard Archard, Keith Barron, Kenneth Gilbert

Votes: 159

49. As You Like It (2006)

PG | 127 min | Drama, Comedy, Romance

6.3
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Rosalind, the daughter of Duke Senior (the banished duke), is raised at the court of Duke Frederick (who is younger brother to Duke Senior and took over his dukedom), with her cousin Celia ... See full summary »

Director: Kenneth Branagh | Stars: Takuya Shimada, Brian Blessed, Richard Clifford, Bryce Dallas Howard

Votes: 2,648

50. Anonymous (I) (2011)

PG-13 | 130 min | Drama, Thriller

6.9
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50 Metascore

The theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, who penned Shakespeare's plays. Set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I and the Essex rebellion against her.

Director: Roland Emmerich | Stars: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Sebastian Armesto

Votes: 36,338 | Gross: $4.46M