21 Best Movies Based on Myth and Folklore

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Step into the enchanting world of myth and folklore with our list of the 21 Best Movies Based on Myth and Folklore! These cinematic gems are like portals to fantastical realms filled with gods, heroes, and creatures straight out of legends. Whether you’re a fan of ancient Greek mythology or curious about folklore from around the globe, these movies bring these timeless tales to life in captivating and relatable ways. Get ready for an adventure-packed journey that will ignite your imagination, stir your emotions, and leave you wanting more. 

1. Clash Of the Titans

Photo Credit: MGM.

In Clash of the Titans, we’re transported to the ancient world where gods reign supreme and mortals dare to defy destiny. Perseus, a demigod born of a forbidden union between Zeus and a mortal woman, embarks on a dangerous quest to save humanity from the wrath of the vengeful god Hades. With the help of a band of fierce warriors and mythical creatures, Perseus battles terrifying beasts, navigates treacherous landscapes, and confronts his destiny. Along the way, he discovers the true power of courage, friendship, and love as he challenges the gods in an epic clash that will determine the world’s fate. 

2. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is a fantasy adventure film that blends Greek mythology with a coming-of-age story. 12-year-old Percy Jackson discovers he is the son of Poseidon and is accused of stealing Zeus’s powerful lightning bolt. To clear his name, Percy embarks on a cross-country journey with his best friend Grover—a satyr—and Annabeth, daughter of Athena. They must battle forces of Greek lore like Medusa, the Hydra, and the Minotaur, retrieve three pearls to enter the Underworld and confront Hades, who they believe stole the bolt. Along the way, Percy comes to grips with his incredible powers and destiny caught between the worlds of gods and humans as he tries to find where he belongs.

3. 300

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Based on the legendary Battle of Thermopylae, 300 chronicles the heroic stand of Spartan King Leonidas and his elite force of 300 warriors against the overwhelming Persian army. Despite being vastly outnumbered, Leonidas leads his men into the narrow Thermopylae strait, determined to uphold Spartan honor and freedom at all costs. The bloody clash unfolds in a stylized portrayal of brutal combat, with the half-naked, chiseled Spartan warriors fighting to the death through waves of Persian archers and warriors. Driven by their unwavering warrior code, the 300 Spartans embrace glorious sacrifice over submission. Through innovative visuals and balletic violence, their defiant acts of savagery etch the fierce Spartan legacy into history’s annals and inspire future generations. An unapologetic celebration of militaristic machismo, 300 shines a harsh light on the intense warrior culture of ancient Sparta.

4. Wrath of the Titans

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

A decade after defeating the Kraken, Perseus has turned his back on the gods but is forced to rescue Zeus when the nefarious Hades and Underworld forces conspire to capture the ruler of the heavens. With Zeus’s life drained, the world becomes chaotic as mountain titans awaken and nature revolts against humanity. Heeding Andromeda’s plea, the reluctant Perseus embarks on a perilous quest into the Underworld, allying with the fallen god Ares to battle legions of monsters and menacing foes. As this epic journey across mythological realms unfolds, Perseus faces shocking betrayals and fathomless sacrifices. In a titanic battle of wills, he must overcome personal demons to prevent the apocalyptic downfall of Heaven and Earth at the hands of the primordial forces vying for dominance. Wrath of the Titans is a sweeping mythological saga where gods and mortals intertwine amidst a celestial struggle for power.

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5. Hercules 

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Robbed of his divine birthright by Hades’ criminal scheme, Hercules grows up a mortal unaware of his incredible strength inherited from Zeus. As an adult, the kindhearted but brawny Hercules embarks on a profound journey of self-discovery aided by satyr Philoctetes and the feisty Megara. Facing mythological beasts, Hercules must harness his latent abilities to become a true hero, while Hades plots to overthrow Zeus by unleashing the monstrous Titans. With each larger-than-life adversary confronted, Hercules inches towards fulfilling his destiny, reclaiming his immortality, and transcending into the gods’ ranks. This musically-driven fable explores themes of forging moral character, sacrifice, rebirth, and the nature of mortal-immortal soulmates through the prism of Greek lore. It is an empowering metaphor for becoming the hero in one’s life journey.

6. Troy

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

When Trojan prince Paris steals the ravishing Helen away from her Spartan king husband Menelaus, it ignites the fuse that sends a thousand ships of Greek fury sailing for the legendary city of Troy. Led by Menelaus’s ego-driven brother Agamemnon, the relentless Greek forces lay siege to Troy’s towering walls, defended by the stalwart warrior Prince Hector and the indestructible Achilles. As the fearsome Trojans humble Greece’s mightiest heroes, the conflict becomes a brutal quagmire of post-traumatic savagery, shifting alliances, twisted jealousies, and shattered moral codes. An epic spectacle where human passions, mortal honor, and the whims of gods collide against war’s harsh reality, Troy bears gripping witness to the incendiary events that etched the Trojan War into history.

7. Immortals 

Photo Credit: Relativity Media.

In ancient Greece, the vengeful King Hyperion led his merciless army to obtain the powerful Epirus Bow that could unleash the cruelly imprisoned Titans upon the world, bringing apocalyptic chaos under Hyperion’s rule. The only hope rests on Theseus, a skilled warrior anointed by the gods. Aided by the Oracle Phaedra and a band of rebels, Theseus rallies the Greeks in a unifying vision against Hyperion’s destructive campaign. As their mythological war of freedom and oppression rages under the watchful capricious gods, Theseus’s grassroots rebellion collides with Hyperion’s forces in a glorious spectacle. Weaving visionary fantasy, hyperreal action, vengeance, and sacrifice, Immortals examines the struggle of mortals overthrowing oppression and the transcendental power of heroic endurance that etched Greek civilization.

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8. Beowulf 

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Summoned to the Danish kingdom terrorized by the monstrous Grendel, the boastful Geat warrior Beowulf travels across the sea seeking glory and riches. After a visceral clash dispatching Grendel, Beowulf basks in adulation but incites the wrath of the fiend’s more terrifying mother. Decades later, as the prosperous King of the Danes, Beowulf must summon his fading courage one final time when an ancient fire-breathing dragon, driven by cursed lust for gold, awakens and threatens his kingdom. An innovative blend of ancient lore and modern CGI, Beowulf vividly brings the seminal medieval poem to life, exploring timeless themes of heroism, sacrifice, greed, and mortality through spectacular monster battles and searing human drama.

9. Alexander

Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment.

Alexander is an epic biographical film directed by Oliver Stone, depicting the life of Alexander the Great, one of history’s most legendary conquerors. The movie follows Alexander’s rise to power as he ascends the throne of Macedonia and embarks on a relentless campaign to conquer the known world. The film explores Alexander’s complex relationships with his mother, Olympias, his father, King Philip II, and his close friend and general, Hephaestion. The film highlights time from his early days as a young prince tutored by Aristotle to his conquests across Asia. Alexander’s ambition knows no bounds, so he faces internal strife, betrayals, and battles against formidable foes like King Darius of Persia. However, amidst his triumphs and struggles, Alexander grapples with his mortality and the fleeting nature of power. With stunning cinematography, intense battle sequences, and a stellar cast led by Colin Farrell as Alexander, the film captures the grandeur and the human drama of one of history’s most captivating figures.

10. Lord of the Rings 

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

Lord of the Rings is a timeless fantasy epic directed by Peter Jackson, based on the beloved novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. The story unfolds in the enchanting realm of Middle-earth, where a humble hobbit named Frodo Baggins is entrusted with a perilous quest. Armed with the One Ring, Frodo must journey across Middle-earth to Mount Doom, where he must destroy the ring before the dark lord Sauron can reclaim it and unleash his malevolent power upon the world. Alongside his loyal companions, including the wise wizard Gandalf, the courageous Aragorn, the brave warriors of Gondor, and the steadfast fellowship of the ring, Frodo faces treacherous foes, including the fearsome Nazgûl, the cunning Gollum, and the sinister forces of Mordor. As they traverse breathtaking landscapes, the fellows must overcome great challenges, forge alliances, and confront their inner demons. With its rich mythology, unforgettable characters, and groundbreaking visual effects, Lord of the Rings is an epic adventure that explores themes of friendship, sacrifice, and the enduring struggle between good and evil.

11. Krampus 

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

Krampus is a darkly comedic horror film directed by Michael Dougherty that puts a twisted spin on the holiday season. When young Max Engel becomes disillusioned with his dysfunctional family’s lack of Christmas spirit, he accidentally summons the ancient demonic force known as Krampus, the shadow of Saint Nicholas who punishes those who have lost their festive cheer. As a blizzard traps the family in their home, they must band together to survive the nightmarish onslaught of Krampus and his minions, including sinister holiday-themed creatures like evil gingerbread men and demonic toys. Amidst the chaos, the Engel family must confront their selfishness and discord if they hope to escape Krampus’s wrath and rediscover the true meaning of Christmas. With a blend of horror, humor, and holiday spirit, Krampus delivers a thrilling and twisted tale that serves as a cautionary reminder of the consequences of losing sight of the holiday’s joy and goodwill.

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12. Oedipus Rex

Photo Credit: Arco Film.

Oedipus Rex is a classic tragedy directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, based on the timeless Greek myth by Sophocles. The film tells the tragic story of Oedipus, the noble king of Thebes, who unwittingly fulfills a prophecy foretelling that he will kill his father and marry his mother. As Oedipus embarks on a quest to uncover the truth behind the mysterious plague ravaging his city, he discovers horrifying secrets about his identity and past. Despite his best efforts to escape fate, Oedipus finds himself inexorably drawn into a tragic spiral of destiny, betrayal, and self-destruction. With its powerful themes of fate, free will, and the consequences of hubris, Oedipus Rex is a gripping exploration of the human condition that continues to resonate with audiences centuries after its original telling.

13. Dracula

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Dracula is a timeless horror classic directed by Tod Browning, based on the iconic novel by Bram Stoker. The film follows the sinister Count Dracula as he leaves his castle in Transylvania and travels to England, where he preys upon innocent victims to satisfy his insatiable thirst for blood. As Dracula ensnares the minds and bodies of his victims, including the virtuous Mina Harker, her fiancé Jonathan Harker, and the renowned vampire hunter Professor Van Helsing, he unleashes a reign of terror that threatens to engulf all of London. With its eerie atmosphere, haunting performances, and iconic imagery, Dracula remains a cornerstone of the horror genre, captivating audiences with its depiction of one of literature’s most enduring and enigmatic villains.

14. Excalibur

Photo Credit: Cinema ’84.

Excalibur is a legendary fantasy film directed by John Boorman, retelling the timeless tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Set in the mythical land of Camelot, the film follows the rise of Arthur, a humble squire who pulls the magical sword Excalibur from a stone, proving himself to be the rightful king of Britain. With the guidance of the wise wizard Merlin, Arthur forms the noble order of knights and embarks on a quest to unite the fractured kingdom, facing internal and external challenges. Along the way, Arthur grapples with betrayal, love, and the allure of power while his kingdom is threatened by the treacherous sorceress Morgana and her son Mordred. As Arthur strives to uphold the ideals of chivalry and honor, he must confront his flaws and the dark forces that seek to destroy him. With its epic scope, stunning visuals, and themes of loyalty, destiny, and the eternal struggle between good and evil, Excalibur remains a beloved interpretation of one of literature’s most enduring legends.

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15. Thor

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Thor is a captivating superhero film that weaves Norse mythology with modern-day science fiction. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the story follows the powerful but arrogant Norse god Thor, who is banished from the mystical realm of Asgard to Earth by his father Odin after recklessly reigniting an ancient war with the Frost Giants of Jotunheim. Stripped of his godly powers and Mjolnir, his legendary hammer, Thor must learn humility and responsibility as he navigates the unfamiliar world of humans. Thor encounters astrophysicist Jane Foster and her team on Earth, who become entangled in his otherworldly quest. Meanwhile, in Asgard, Thor’s deceitful brother Loki schemes to seize the throne in his absence. As Thor grapples with his newfound mortality and the consequences of his actions, he must prove himself worthy to wield Mjolnir once more and thwart Loki’s nefarious plans. With its blend of mythology, action, and heart, Thor is a thrilling journey of self-discovery and redemption that transcends worlds and generations.

16. The Witch

Photo Credit: A24.

The Witch is a chilling supernatural horror film directed by Robert Eggers in 17th-century New England. The story follows a devout Puritan family banished from their colonial plantation due to a disagreement over religious beliefs. They build a homestead near a dense forest, where eerie occurrences begin to unfold. When their newborn baby mysteriously vanishes while under the care of their teenage daughter Thomasin, the family’s already fragile existence descends into paranoia and hysteria. As suspicion and fear grip the family, they turn on each other, questioning their faith and sanity. Isolated from the outside world, they become increasingly convinced that a malevolent witch lurks in the woods, orchestrating their torment. As tensions reach a fever pitch, the family spirals into a nightmarish descent into madness and despair. The Witch is a haunting exploration of religious fervor, isolation, and the primal fears that lurk in the darkness of the human psyche.

17. The Mummy

Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

The Mummy is a thrilling adventure film directed by Stephen Sommers that breathes new life into the classic tale of ancient curses and undead pharaohs. Set in the 1920s, the story follows the intrepid adventurer Rick O’Connell and a team of archaeologists as they unwittingly awaken an ancient evil while exploring the tombs of Egypt. Imhotep, a high priest cursed for his forbidden love, is resurrected with a thirst for vengeance and power. As Imhotep unleashes his wrath upon the world, O’Connell must race against time to stop him, aided by the resourceful librarian Evelyn and her bumbling brother Jonathan. Alongside epic battles and heart-stopping chase scenes, the film delves into themes of love, betrayal, and the consequences of tampering with forces beyond human comprehension. With its blend of action, humor, and supernatural thrills, The Mummy is a pulse-pounding rollercoaster ride through ancient Egypt that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats.

18. The Hobbit

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

The Hobbit follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins, a peaceful hobbit thrust into an epic adventure when the wizard Gandalf and a band of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield enlist his help to reclaim their homeland, Erebor, from the dragon Smaug. Along their perilous quest through Middle-earth, they encounter trolls, goblins, elves, and other dangers, with Bilbo discovering his courage and resourcefulness aided by a magical ring granting invisibility. After overcoming numerous trials, including the slaying of Smaug, they face the Battle of the Five Armies to secure their victory, though at great sacrifice. Returning home forever changed, Bilbo finds a newfound appreciation for the world beyond the Shire, concluding a timeless tale of bravery, friendship, and the unexpected hero’s journey.

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19. Spartacus

Photo Credit: MGM.

Spartacus is a classic epic film directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel by Howard Fast. The story follows Spartacus, a Thracian slave who rises up against the oppressive Roman Empire. Sold into slavery as a gladiator, Spartacus leads a revolt against his masters, sparking a rebellion that spreads across Italy. Alongside his fellow slaves, including the fierce warrior Draba and the passionate Varinia, Spartacus challenges the might of Rome, confronting powerful figures such as the ambitious Senator Gracchus and the ruthless General Crassus. As the rebellion grows, Spartacus becomes a symbol of hope and freedom for oppressed people everywhere. However, faced with the overwhelming forces of Rome, Spartacus must make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the legacy of his revolution. With its stirring tale of courage, sacrifice, and defiance against tyranny, Spartacus remains a timeless classic in cinema history.

20. Minotaur

Photo Credit: Millennium Films.

Minotaur is a gripping horror-fantasy film that reimagines the ancient Greek myth of the monstrous creature dwelling in the labyrinth of King Minos. Set in the ancient city of Theo, plagued by a curse inflicted by the vengeful gods, the story centers on the courageous young hero, Theseus. Determined to save his people from the Minotaur’s terror, Theseus embarks on a dangerous quest into the heart of the labyrinth. Alongside a band of brave companions, including the skilled warrior Tyro and the resourceful priestess Cassandra, Theseus confronts dark magic, treacherous traps, and his inner demons. As they delve deeper into the labyrinth’s depths, they uncover shocking truths about the city’s dark past and the true nature of the Minotaur. Faced with impossible odds, Theseus must summon all his strength and cunning to defeat the beast and break the curse that binds his people. Minotaur is a thrilling tale of heroism, sacrifice, and redemption, offering a fresh and compelling take on a timeless myth.

21. Wonder Woman 

Photo Credit: Bruce Lansbury Productions.

Wonder Woman revitalized Greek mythology enthusiasts and injected new life into the DC Universe. Diana’s origin story, set in the mesmerizing realm of Themyscira, captivates with its authenticity and stunning visuals. At the same time, her entry into World War I serves as a poignant exploration of race, gender, and human imperfections. The film navigates these complex themes with remarkable nuance, fostering important conversations in an accessible manner. While Diana may not face colossal beasts, her battles against the darkest aspects of humanity resonate deeply. This compelling narrative is complemented by a stellar cast, breathtaking visual effects, and a powerful musical score, culminating in one of the highest-rated DC movies to date. Wonder Woman seamlessly weaves together action, emotion, and humor, placing storytelling at the forefront and delivering an unforgettable cinematic experience.

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