From War Dramas to Biographical Romances, Travel Back in Time With These Historical Films on Netflix
For all the history buffs out there, Netflix has many period films that bring the drama and detailed storylines worthy of a binge session. So look no further as we point you toward some of the best history movies on the streaming platform.
From Roman rivalry and royal romance to wars and change-making events, the past is packed with stories so rich that filmmakers had to borrow them and turn them into blockbuster movies – and Netflix’s catalog has some of the best historical movies around. Whether it’s a reimagined look at Ted Bundy’s life in “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” the moving and ever-shocking stories of World War II that catch your imagination, or the inspirational true story of soccer great Pelé, some of these history movies that have an eye on the past can be found right on Netflix.
So scroll ahead to check out some of the biggest, most compelling, and most captivating historical movies currently streaming on Netflix.
– Additional reporting by Lauren Harano, Haley Lyndes, Corinne Sullivan, Kalyn Womack, Naomi Parris, and Njera Perkins
Mr. Darcy from 1995’s “Pride and Prejudice,” Colin Firth, meets 2005’s Mr. Darcy, Matthew McFayden, in this retelling of Operation Mincemeat, a real-life World War II operation in which intelligence officers used a dead body and a fake letter to fool German forces.
"The Forgotten Battle"
Starring Harry Potter‘s Tom Felton, this film tells the story of World War II’s Battle of the Scheldt through the eyes of a British glider pilot, a Dutch boy fighting for the Germans, and a Dutch resistance worker. When their lives intersect, their choices will have ripple effects on the battle’s outcome.
Based in the era of World War II, this drama digs into the roots of prejudices in the deep South and how two Mississippi families of different ethnic backgrounds make a living doing the same farm work.
Watch “Mudbound” on Netflix now.
"Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile"
Based on a true story, single mother Liz falls in love with a man named Ted Bundy who is later accused of numerous murders. Liz refuses to believe the truth and blames herself for Ted’s jail time.
Watch “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” on Netflix now.
After a deadly terrorist attack on a youth camp in Norway, one boy survives to tell the tale. He and the citizens of Norway rally together to understand the situation, as well as to heal.
Watch “22 July” on Netflix now.
"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind"
In an attempt to save his village from famine, a 13-year-old boy sneaks into his school’s library and learns to build a wind turbine to create energy.
Watch “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” on Netflix now.
"First They Killed My Father"
Directed by Angelina Jolie, this thriller tells the story of a 5-year-old girl who survived the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, where a political party tried to create a master race that led to genocide. As a survivor, we follow Loung Ung’s experiences of hope and pain throughout the Khmer Rouge’s reign, and how she and her family fought for their lives.
Watch “First They Killed My Father” on Netflix now.
"The Most Hated Woman in America"
Get a peek into the life of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an outspoken activist for American atheists. She was known for her role in the Supreme Court ruling to ban Bible readings in schools, as well as her abduction and murder in the mid ’90s.
Watch “The Most Hated Woman in America” on Netflix now.
Former Texas rangers Frank Hamer and Maney Gault take on capturing the infamous Bonnie and Clyde in a drama that’s based on a true story.
Watch “The Highwaymen” on Netflix now.
Follow the life of a teen boy who doesn’t play by the rules, and watch as he grows up to become one of the most well-known criminals of Milan.
Watch “The Ruthless” on Netflix now.
"Walk. Ride. Rodeo."
After a terrible car accident, Amberley Snyder is worried about whether she’ll ever walk again, let alone race. Determined to continue the sport she loves, Amberley works tirelessly to get back in the saddle.
Watch “Walk. Ride. Rodeo.” on Netflix now.
This 2008 historical romance movie is set in 16th-century India and tells the dreamy love story of Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar, the Mughal Emperor of Hindustan, and Rajput princess Jodhaa. It’s a three-and-a-half-hour film, so be sure you have enough popcorn to tide you over!
Watch “Jodhaa Akbar” on Netflix now.
“Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown plays Enola Holmes, a young girl who is left under the care of her two brothers after she wakes up on her 16th birthday to find her mother gone. While her brothers want to send Enola to finishing school, she escapes to London to find her mother and becomes a detective in her own right.
Watch “Enola Holmes” on Netflix now.
"Nothing to Lose"
“Nothing to Lose” tells the controversial story of Edir Macedo, who founded The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and owned RecordTV in Brazil.
Watch “Nothing to Lose” on Netflix now.
"Paan Singh Tomar"
“Paan Singh Tomar” was once known as a famous Indian athlete and a seven-time national steeplechase champion until he retired. After his retirement, Sign Tomar took on a new role as a feared rebel.
Watch “Paan Singh Tomar” on Netflix now.
Based on the true story of Italian engineer Giorgio Rosa, this comedy from Italy follows the story of one man’s attempt to build a platform in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Italy and declare it a micronation.
Watch “Rose Island” on Netflix now.
This biopic follows the life of influential French author Allan Kardec, who’s known as the founder of spiritism (or spiritualism), as he evolves from an educator to one of the greatest contributors to the spiritist codification.
Watch “Kardec” on Netflix now.
This crime drama, set in 1920s Barcelona, follows a double agent who is assigned to work his way into the local mafia to find out the source of the weapons being sold to anarchist groups. It’s sure to give you major “The Departed” vibes, and with the threat of civil war looming, this one might be even more thrilling.
Watch “Gun City” on Netflix now.
"Elisa & Marcela"
“Elisa & Marcela” is a Spanish biographical romantic film based on the story of Elisa Sánchez Loriga and Marcela Gracia Ibeas, the first two women to have a same-sex marriage in Spain. They were able to do so only because Elisa had assumed a male identity.
Watch “Elisa & Marcela” on Netflix now.
"The Endless Trench"
Based on a true story, this Spanish historical drama takes place during the Spanish Civil War, telling the tale of newlyweds who spend 33 years hidden away in their home to avoid possible retaliation. That may not sound like a terribly compelling plot, but this film manages to justify its 147-minute runtime by developing near-constant tension and accurately depicting the fear felt during that time in the country’s history.
Watch “The Endless Trench” on Netflix now.
One of the first Bollywood movies ever to be nominated for an Oscar, this is a must-watch for any movie-lover. When a small village in India revolts against British rule over their town, they place a bet on a cricket match. With a heartwarming love story woven throughout, good luck finding anyone who didn’t like this movie.
Watch “Lagaan” on Netflix now.
This war drama follows the early days of World War II as the fate of Western Europe hangs on Winston Churchill, the newly appointed British prime minister who decides whether to negotiate with Hitler or rally a nation to fight for its survival.
Watch “Darkest Hour” on Netflix now.
"My Best Friend Anne Frank"
Based on the real-life friendship between Anne Frank and Hannah Goslar, the Dutch drama spotlights a heartbreaking tale of two Jewish best friends during the Holocaust, from Nazi-occupied Amsterdam to the pair’s harrowing reunion in a concentration camp.
Watch “My Best Friend Anne Frank” on Netflix now.
"Da 5 Bloods"
Directed by Spike Lee, this war drama revolves around four Black Vietnam vets (played by Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, and Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) who return to Vietnam in search of their former squad leader’s remains – as well as some rumored buried treasure.
Watch “Da 5 Bloods” on Netflix now.
"A Call to Spy"
Based on a true story, this eye-opening historical drama details how a British spy agency, ran under Churchill, reluctantly recruits three brave women to support the Allies during World War II.
Watch “A Call to Spy” on Netflix now.
This historical documentary recounts the life and legacy of the titular soccer great who changed the history of the sport, following his astronomical path from a breakthrough talent to a national treasure.
Watch “Pelé” on Netflix now.
Based on the real-life story of French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, the biographical film details how the author fought for creative ownership and overcame early 20th-century societal constraints after ghostwriting a successful autobiographical novel for her husband.
Watch “Colette” on Netflix now.
Gray marries young to art critic John Ruskin. However, the struggle to build an emotional connection with him causes her to fall in love with someone else, leading to one of the Victorian era’s biggest scandals.
Watch “Effie Gray” on Netflix now.
Screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz is trying to finish his screenplay “Citizen Kane,” but his alcohol abuse stalls his writing process and his work ethic begins to anger his colleagues as he challenges the societal norms of Hollywood in the 1930s.
Watch “Mank” on Netflix now.
"The Trial of the Chicago 7"
Antiwar protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention turn violent, and seven activists are tried for conspiracy in causing it. The trial catches national attention as the whole world speculates who is truly at fault.
Watch “The Trial of the Chicago 7” on Netflix now.
Richard and Mildred Loving challenge the US Supreme Court in an effort to legalize interracial marriage.
Watch “Loving” on Netflix now.
"The Zookeeper's Wife"
Based on Diane Ackerman’s nonfiction book of the same name, this historical war drama follows the journey of Polish zookeepers working to save the Jews from the Germans by hiding them in their zoo during World War II.
Watch “The Zookeeper’s Wife” on Netflix now.
This period animated drama follows the story of a couple fighting for survival as they search for their young son, who was separated from them during the Khmer Revolution.
Watch “Funan” on Netflix now.
"The Battleship Island"
During the Japanese colonial era, roughly 400 Korean laborers who were forced onto Battleship Island must struggle to escape their captivity.
Watch “The Battleship Island” on Netflix now.