It’s nice to hear about our family stories, our ancestors, our roots. But those stories are limited in time (well, it’s unlikely that you are able to hear from the first-person point of view about your ancestor’s life with ten generations gap) and visualization.
So, we’ve curated these historical drama films from ancient times when it is impossible for your ancestors at the time to tell you the stories themselves. Some of these films are based on fictional literature or local legends, but the visual and time background is near historical accuracy.
1. Puteri Gunung Ledang (2004)
The film was based on a famous Malaysian legend of the Gunung Ledang princess, a Javanese Hindu named Gusti Putri Retno Dumillah, and a Malay Muslim warrior named Hang Tuah. Gusti Putri Retno Dumillah was once a princess of the Majapahit Kingdom. As she fell in love with Hang Tuah, she decided to travel to Mount Ledang without the king’s consent in a hope to be reunited with her lover. But, it was not without obstacles. The story then follows a war drama and mysticism of the 15th-century Javanese golden empire.
2. The Legend of King Naresuan (2007-2015)
This Thai biographical drama film tells the story about Kind Naresuan the Great who ruled Siam (Thailand) around the late 16th century. The first part of the film was released in 2007 which deals with Naresuan’s boyhood as he was taken hostage by a Burmese King. The saga stretches to six parts in which the final part was released in 2015. Part two of the film (As King of Fire) was selected as Thailand’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 80th Academy Awards.
3. Sultan Agung (2018)
Based on the history of a famed and last ruler of Mataram Kingdom in Java. Although historically speaking, the Mataram Kingdom didn’t vanish after Sultan Agung but divided into what we know today as Yogyakarta and Surakarta Sultanates. The film itself didn’t go that far.
It depicts the story about how Sultan Agung ascended to the throne and faced with Dutch invaders. He was known for his bravery in confronting the invaders in Batavia (today known as Jakarta), even though the war also caused great misery for his own people.
4. Sword of the Assassin (2012)
The movie is an adaptation from a popular novel Bức Huyết Thư by Bùi Anh Tấn, which was also based on the life of a Vietnamese Royal Court officer named Nguyễn Anh Vũ. Beginning from his arrival at a remote monastery as a boy, the movie follows until he grew up and learnt of his true identity. Nguyễn Anh Vũ is the sole descendant of a nobleman named Nguyễn Trãi who was beheaded, along with the rest of his family, when the previous King died.
Two eunuchs from the Royal Court learned the truth and as they were hunted down to death. One of them wrote his testimony in blood before he died, so Nguyễn Anh Vũ embarks on a journey to find the Blood Letter and clears his grandfather’s name. The story happens under the reign of Emperor Lê Thánh Tông who is known as one of the greatest emperors in Vietnamese feudal history. His era was known as the Prospered reign of Hồng Đức.
5. The Legend of Suriyothai (2001)
Another film based on a historical Thai ruler figure directed by Chartichalerm Yukol, who also directed The Legend of King Naresuan. This film portrays the story of Queen Suriyothai who was known by her people as “the great feminist”.
It records the famous battle with the Burmese army in which she brought her war elephant war upfront and sacrificed herself to save the life of her king Maha Chakkraphat and his kingdom. The production also managed to call upon the real Royal Thai Army and Royal Thai Navy personnel as extras, as it was supported by Queen Sirikit of Thailand.