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Epic Films

Epic Films – Shane provides us with a list of great epics! 

Things aren’t back to normal yet and it may be a while before they are. We’re still looking for ways to keep ourselves entertained. Movies have always provided us with a great way to escape reality for a while and are perfect for killing time. And if it is time you need to kill then you can’t beat an epic film. Epics can come in many forms, historical, fantasy, sci-fi. But they all have a few things in common, huge productions, massive budgets, big stars and of course a sizeable runtime. So, grab an extra-large popcorn and check out a few of these epics.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)

It’s hard to believe it’s nearly twenty years since Frodo set off from The Shire on his journey to Mordor to destroy the ring of power. All three movies from the trilogy deserve their place on this list. It was director Peter Jackson who took on the mammoth task of making the trilogy based on the books of J.R.R. Tolkien. All three films were shot back to back, something which had never been done before and took almost five years to complete. The sheer size and scale of these movies is mind-blowing. Along with the ensemble cast, around 26,000 extras were used and a production team of over 2,400 people was needed to complete the trilogy. The complete runtime for the three films is 558 minutes, or 686 minutes if you watch the extended cuts (which I highly recommend you do).


The Ten Commandments (1956)

A colossal biblical epic courtesy of legendary director and producer Cecil B. DeMille. The Ten Commandments tells the story of Moses, from being set adrift in a reed basket in the Nile as a baby, to being cast out of Egypt and his heroic return to free his fellow Hebrews from slavery. Charlton Heston takes on the role of Moses while Yul Brynner plays Rameses, with star names like that and Cecil B DeMille directing, this was always going to be a classic. If you are planning on watching this film make sure you clear your schedule for the whole afternoon, its runtime is a whopping 220 minutes.


Titanic (1997)

23 years after its release and people still can’t help shouting “I’m the king of the world” whenever they stand on the bow of a ship, that’s the kind of impact this film has had. Titanic was an absolute phenomenon when it was released, becoming the first film ever to gross $1 billion and went on to win 11 Oscars including best picture and best director. Titanic could have been a simple disaster movie (spoiler alert: the ship does sink) but director James Cameron does more than that by centring the story around the ill-fated romance between Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet), an aristocrat, and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), a poor artist  (although we all know they would have both fit on that floating door).  The entire film lasts for 194 minutes but interestingly the scenes set in 1912 last for 160 minutes, the exact time it took the Titanic to sink.


Apocalypse Now (1979)

Francis Ford Coppola takes us on a trip into Cambodia as Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is sent on a dangerous mission to assassinate a renegade Colonel (Marlon Brando) who has taken innocent lives and is seen as a demigod by one of the local tribes. This is truly one of the great epic war movies and hearing the stories of problems on set make it even greater. Star Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack while filming and his brother Joe Estevez was used as a stand in. Originally the shoot was planned to last just six weeks, it took sixteen months. Apocalypse Now was so overbudget that Francis Ford Coppola invested nearly $7 million of his own money and even had to mortgage his house just to finish the film. Nearly 200 hours of footage was shot which was painstakingly edited down to 153 minutes for cinematic release, but if that’s not long enough for you Apocalypse Now Redux was released in 2001 with an additional 49 minutes of material.


Braveheart (1995)

“They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom.” The cry of many people attempting a Scottish accent. Mel Gibson directs and stars in this tale of Scottish rebellion against the English. While based on historical events, Gibson admits that the story isn’t entirely accurate and was changed to improve the cinematic experience. When questioned by a Scotsman about why the Battle of Stirling Bridge was shot in an open field Gibson replied “the bridge got in the way.” “Aye” said the Scotsman, “That’s what the English found.” Despite being set in Scotland most of the film was shot in Ireland with Wicklow, Meath, Kildare and Dublin all used as filming locations. With a runtime of 178 minutes this will certainly keep you entertained for the evening.


Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Possibly the biggest film in cinema history. The Russo brothers take the directors chairs for this superhero epic, bringing together all of Marvel’s mightiest heroes to battle against the galactic villain Thanos. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) had been building up to this film for over 10 years with hints, clues and occasionally huge revelations layered throughout each Marvel film. It was the 22nd film in the MCU and there were huge expectations for this epic showdown of heroes vs villains. But somehow the Russo brothers, along with one of the largest ever ensemble casts, not only met expectations, they exceeded them. This superhero blockbuster made an incredible $2,797,800,564 at the box office making it the highest grossing movie of all time. If the 181 minute runtime isn’t enough to keep you busy you could check out all of the films in the MCU, which currently stands at 23 films and there is still plenty more to come in the future.


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