King Alfred’s English:  SUGGESTED FILMS

Here are a few suggested films related to topics in the book. I have listed each of them under the chapter most closely associated with the film’s subject matter .


ONE CAUTION about the recommended movies: I have noted a few that are particularly bloody or may have sexual content, so please beware that you need to read reviews and decide for yourself which ones are appropriate for your student. Here are 2 recommended sites for checking out content on films-

At a minimum, it would be best if students watch at least one Shakespeare movie, and the other must-see film is Luther.

Chapter 1

  • Gladiator. Check the rating (it’s violent), but this in one outstanding film. About a man of great integrity (though not a Christian) up against the politics of Rome. The history in this film is a good mix of facts with imagination, a well-done compression of truth and historical fiction. If you want to see what wild Germanic hordes might have really looked like, this film gives a good depiction. Gladiator games, the coliseum, Rome in all its glory (and gore) are brought to life. It is one of my all-time favorite movies but not for the squeamish. If you watch Gladiator, be sure and have a look at this article which compares the story to the actual history: Gladiator, the History Behind the Movie. Classic films worth the viewing:
  • Spartacus
  • Ben Hur–Christian content. With Charlton Heston, based on the book by Lew Wallace
  • The Robe— incredible Christian story, also. Richard Burton; based on Lloyd C. Douglas’s book.
  • The Silver Chalice — Paul Newman’s first movie (he’s more than just a salad dressing). Also Christian in content. Story entails the search for the Chalice from which Christ drank at the last supper, i.e. the Holy Grail.

Article on the accuracy of the history in Gladiator

Chapter 2

  • King Arthur — 2004 film with Clive Owen and Keira Knightley. She plays a Celtic woman-warrior which you should now know is historically plausible, and same for their depiction of Arthur as a Roman. Rated pg13. Here it is on Amazon.
  • Camelot–The classic musical with Richard Harris as King Arthur. 1982
  • The Sword in the Stone, a Disney classic. This animated movie is based on the acclaimed novel The Once and Future King by T.H. White.

Chapter 3

Ever After, with Drew Barrymore — not precisely educational, but it goes with the whole study of the Grimm brothers. The movie treats the story as if Cinderella were actually based on facts. The Grimm brothers appear at the beginning and end of the movie. Also, Sir Thomas More’s Utopia plays a part as does Renaissance artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci.

Chapter 4

  • Beowulf— Any of several versions. One option is the 2006 digitally rendered film (like 300, in case you saw that one) PG13. Several others (most rated R) are available and there are several documentaries on Beowulf out there, too.
  • The Thirteenth Warrior— This movie got much better reviews than the digitally rendered Beowulf  mentioned above (but I haven’t seen either, so I can’t vouch for them). This one is a loose retelling of Beowulf retaining much of the story and also the flavor and mood of ancient Germanic legend.


Chapters 6

Chapters 7

  • Braveheart, with Mel Gibson. This is a great film, but rated R for violence. It tells the story of Scottish hero William Wallace who lived in the 1300’s just before the time of Chaucer. The movie contains one glaring historical error. Now that you have read about this period in England, you should be able to spot it. Watch for a conversation that simply would not have occurred at this time. Here’s the page explaining the answer If you don’t want to wait: Historical blunder in Braveheart
  • Becket – the 1962 film with Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole. This movie tells the story of Thomas a’Becket (1118-1170), his friendship with King Henry II, and the eventual falling out and murder that occurred as a result of Becket’s resistance to some of the King’s policies. The link below tells you all about this classic film:


Chapter 9

On YouTube– but this is a full length documentary so I have considered it a “movie.” It’s about the man considered to be the ideal “Renaissance man”– Leonardo da Vinci. Part I of this 18-part documentary is a great introduction and just 8 min. and then you can watch more if you’re interested.

Chapter 10

WATCH LUTHER! If you can only watch one film or do one suggested activity, let it be this one. Stars Joseph Fiennes as Martin Luther in a wonderful and well-made film about his life as a monk, his break with the Roman Church, and the havoc wrought in Germany at the time. You may also recognize Dr. Octopus from Spiderman playing the part of Tetzel, the infamous seller of indulgences.

Chapter 11

Jesus and the Shroud of Turin This may seem somewhat off topic, but it does have to do with the Catholic Church and its relics. In the film Luther, Martin Luther makes fun of the medieval practice of collecting so-called relics, especially since the church charged money to see relics and then gave your great aunt Matilda time off from purgatory just because you looked at the supposed bones of some saint. However, that being said, this particular relic has caused quite a stir among evangelicals as well as Catholics. The scientific investigation to see if this relic is real is so interesting I show it to my world history classes every year. The jury is still out, but watch it more than once and I promise that you will not write this relic off. Netflix has it, but the link above is to Amazon so you can read the reviews there.

Chapter 12

  • God’s Outlaw, the Story of William Tyndale. You can watch from Amazon for just $1.99. I found it on Netflix too, but not on Blockbuster.  I haven’t seen it myself, but the trailers above look very well done. I hestated to add this because I am unable to find it anywhere. But perhaps by the time you’re checking out this link, it will be available somewhere, and it is wonderful and well worth the search–
  • Henry VIII — the 2003  Masterpiece Theater production — 200 min., lengthy but thoroughly engrossing. It does have some sex and violence, so use caution. This is such an outstanding film that it is worth the parental effort to fast-forward through whatever is not appropriate for your student. The whole family will enjoy it. Great acting. Incredible history. There are so many more movies and documentaries about Henry VIII that I’m simply going to send you to a link where most are listed. I can’t vouch for which ones are appropriate for teen viewing. The Other Boleyn Girl was wonderfully well done and is one of my favorites, but some editing would be required on this one too– so please beware! Henry VIII’s life was pretty scandalous, so it’s hard to deal with him and his consorts (one of whom was the “other Boleyn girl”) without some parental editing.
  • A Man For All Seasons— 1966 version, winner of 4 academy awards, with Paul Scoffield (far superior to the later remake with Charlton Heston). This movie is about Sir Thomas More. It is especially enlightening to see a movie honoring this man because he was the personal enemy of both Martin Luther and William Tyndale. It’s a great illustration of the complexity of the events and times, seeing God working on both sides of a truly great divide and very real heroics on both sides. More, like Tyndale, lost his life while standing up for his principles. This is a great movie!

Chapter 13

Not only was a Bible named for King James, but so also was the first permanent English settlement in America, Jamestown, Virginia. Watch The New World, a lavish adaptation of the Jamestown story– about Pochahantas, and Captain John Smith. And if you want more, just google “movies about Jamestown.” There are more good ones out there.

Chapter 14

  • These are mine and my children’s favorites. Much Ado is tops for us, but they are all very well produced and entertaining. Much Ado About Nothing — 1993 Director, Kenneth Branaugh. Two caveats: crazy bare-bottoms scene thrown in randomly at the very beginning (you can easily fast forward and not miss any story or dialog), and one scene with a man and woman in a window insinuating sexual activity that you will probably want to fast forward through. Other than that, this is one of the best movies ever! (also stars, Kate Beckinsale, Emma Thompson, Michael Keaton, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves)
  • The Taming of the Shrew — Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Classic and very funny. Hamlet — either version: the 1996 version with Kenneth Branaugh (longer), or the 1990 with Mel Gibson. Others are good, too, but I prefer these.
  • Midsummer Night’s Dream– with  Michelle Pfeiffer.
  • Romeo and Juliet. There’s a bit of bare bottom in this one, too, but at least they are married! Easy to fast forward. This production by Franco Zeffrelli simply can’t be beat. It is lavish and beautiful. And in case you don’t already know about this, here’s the free sparknotes for Shakespeare.