[[quoteright:350:[[Film/BenHur http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Ben_Hur.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:The poster art alone is freakin' epic!]]

->'''Don Wilson:''' Orson, what's the title of this picture you're making?\\
'''Orson Welles:''' Well, I've called my story very simply ''The March of Destiny'', and it deals with everything that ever happened. From the beginning of creation to the present day.
-->-- ''Radio/TheJackBennyProgram'', March 21, 1943

[[DescribeTopicHere This Description of Epic Movie Here was shot on location in three continents over two years! Featuring a cast of thousands!]]

Epic Movies are ''movie'' movies. These movies are what make Hollywood ''Hollywood''. These movies are so big they need '''''italic emphasis'''''. These movies are what we think of when we think of the stars getting out of limousines to walk down red carpets while being shot by the paparazzi and entering rooms with grand staircases and lit by chandeliers. The grand, gigantic, sweeping, glossy, flamboyant spectacles that define and are the triumphs of the film industry. The scope of these Greatest Stories Ever Filmed and the amount of time and money invested in them means that only one comes along every few years. 5 years in the making! 3-and-a-half hours long! Two {{intermission}}s! $200,000,000 budget! 50,000 cast members! AllStarCast! A+ list actors! OscarBait to the core! Coming soon to an IMAX theater near you! [[OverlyLongGag Can't even be described by sentences that don't end in an exclamation mark!]] These are the ''[[Literature/WarAndPeace War and Peaces]]'' and ''[[Literature/MobyDick Moby Dicks]]'' of cinema. If they were books, they'd be {{Doorstopper}}s (especially if they're adapted from books that ''are'' Doorstoppers.)

In short, the direct inversion of the BMovie.

[[ClicheStorm Often, these movies are somewhat hammy and contrived]]. [[TropesAreTools But that's precisely why they're so successful and why one enjoys watching them]]. They evoke the feeling of reading one of the aforementioned great novels of our time. They are representations of quintessential human fantasies and fables. Such movies are usually darlings of critics and audiences alike. However, if things get [[WorldOfHam too hammy]], the movie crosses over the line from charming to silly, and critical reception of them can be lukewarm at best and scathing at worst (such was to be the fate of the ambitious but ineptly executed ''Film/{{Cleopatra}}'' - and even modern films like ''Film/GodsOfEgypt'').

An Epic Movie should have a) dramatic ambitions of some sort and b) epic scope. If a movie is artistically ambitious, but focuses on a [[MinimalistCast small number of characters]], it probably isn't an Epic Movie. Exceptions are rare: ''Film/DasBoot'' and ''Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey'' are possible examples of films with a claustrophobic setting that are epic in scope.

Genres especially prone to epic treatment include SwordAndSandal, HistoricalFiction, HighFantasy, SpaceOpera. Failed attempts are often a rich source of {{Narm}} and SoBadItsGood. See also DoingItForTheArt, LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters, CostumePorn, SceneryPorn.

Not to be confused with a SummerBlockbuster. While superficially similar, that is a separate and distinct offshoot often playing in the same genres. Though it might have a similarly huge budget and scale, it usually isn't as plot-heavy or artistically ambitious. A good way to think of ''this'' type of film would be "SummerBlockbuster [[JustForFun/XMeetsY meets]] OscarBait."

Not all OscarBait is this: A period drama may count, if it involves [[StuffBlowingUp a war]] at [[DuringTheWar some point]], but probably not a dark drama about the mind of a killer or three generations of people living in a house. Generally speaking, a DisasterMovie or [[{{Kaiju}} Giant Monster]] film is a type of SummerBlockbuster that is ''not'' described as [[TheEpic "An Epic"]]. It may be "epic" in the TotallyRadical sense, or an "event movie" due to visuals alone -- terms which generally describe any SummerBlockbuster, but that is different. These are event films by definition, due to subject matter that merely demands such treatment. [[TheEpic Epicosity]] must ensue, so the list is necessarily limited.

Epic movies tend to be character oriented as opposed to simply plot oriented. This does not necessarily mean that these movies are TalkingHeads sleep inducers. Rather, it means that these epics follow a central main character, often amidst a backdrop of a larger event that you often get glimpses of. Indeed, epic films often have very impressive action scenes as that tends to be the reason that these films are big budget in the first place. Additionally, unlike smaller scope films, the central main character is not necessarily the only viewpoint character. Therefore, viewers often follow the development of multiple characters. These are stories with a beginning, middle, and end and the story ends when the character's role ends, not when the big background event ends, even if we know that there's more to that event than what was shown in the film (such as an ongoing Great War). Therefore, unlike the SummerBlockbuster, true epics, with few exceptions, tend to be stand-alone works that do not credibly lend themselves to sequels, prequels, or the beginning of franchises. Indeed, many attempts to further capitalize on the original story with follow up installments, frequently meet with critical panning.

The music composed for the soundtrack of epics were frequently as memorable as the films themselves. Prolific epic composers include Music/JerryGoldsmith, Music/JohnWilliams, Music/ElmerBernstein, Leonard Rosenmann, Alex North, and Music/JamesHorner. Sweeping orchestral pieces have always been ''de rigueur'' for epics.

Particularly long epic movies often had [[MedleyOverture overtures]], intermissions, and entr'actes. This was clearly borrowed from the tradition of theatre, especially opera. It gave the impression that these films indeed were special events. These are typically edited out for TV broadcast or pre-DVD home video. This practice was especially prolific during TheSixties, the golden age of international epic films, but it didn't last long after 1970. It is certainly not in current use today due to the fact that ads and trailers already delay the start of a film by almost a half hour. Also, this practice denotes a deliberate, slow paced film, something that is clearly out of fashion among current audiences.

These tend to come in waves, egged on by some new technology made for use in the home that makes the studios feel the go-see-a-movie-in-a-theater business model is threatened. Radio in the '30s, TV in the '50s and home video in the late '70s/early'80s all sparked waves of Epic Movies, and now it's digital streaming's turn.

For UsefulNotes/{{Bollywood}} movies, the Epic Movie is the rule, not the exception. Three hours is about average length for a Hindi-language movie, and they draw significant inspiration from American movies of this genre, the many religious traditions of India, and the great narrative epics such as the Ramayana.

Not the same thing as a BigDamnMovie, which is an [[TheMovie adaptation]] that [[CerebusSyndrome ups the stakes]] for the characters from an existing show. Also, not necessarily an Epic that happens to be a Movie, although a lot of the time an Epic Movie ''is'' an Epic. Also not to be confused with the Creator/SeltzerAndFriedberg movie of the same name.


* ''Film/The47Ronin'' -- a 4-hour JidaiGeki epic made in UsefulNotes/ImperialJapan
* ''Film/ThreeHundred''
* ''[[Film/{{Novecento}} 1900]]''
* ''[[Film/NineteenFortyOne 1941]]'' -- a rare comedy example.
* ''Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey''
* ''Film/TheAlamo'' (both the 1960 Creator/JohnWayne directed version and the 2004 version with Billy Bob Thorton as UsefulNotes/DavyCrockett.
* ''Film/AlexanderNevsky''
* ''Literature/AllQuietOnTheWesternFront''
* ''Theatre/{{Amadeus}}''
* ''Film/AndQuietFlowsTheDon'' -- ''5 1/2 hours long'' (originally shown in three parts)
* ''Film/ApocalypseNow''
* ''[[Anime/CaptainHarlock Arcadia of My Youth]]''
* ''Film/{{Armageddon}}''
* ''Film/AroundTheWorldInEightyDays1956''
* ''VideoGame/AsurasWrath'' -- a rare attempted VideoGame example of this.
* ''Film/{{Australia}}''
* ''Film/{{Avatar}}''
* ''Film/TheBattleshipPotemkin''
* ''Literature/BenHur''
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Beowulf|2007}}''
* ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'' -- a rare animated example.
* ''Film/TheBigCountry''
* ''Film/TheBigTrail'': This 1930 epic western that was supposed to turn Creator/JohnWayne into a star, but it flopped and instead stalled his career until ''Film/{{Stagecoach}}'' nine years later.
* ''Film/BladeRunner''
** ''Film/BladeRunner2049''
* ''Film/TheBirthOfANation1915'', TropeMaker[=/=]UrExample
* ''Film/{{Braveheart}}''
* ''Film/ABridgeTooFar''
* ''Film/TheBridgeOnTheRiverKwai''.
* ''Film/{{Cabiria}}'' -- almost certainly the first, a three-hour AncientRome SwordAndSandal epic made in 1914.
* ''Film/TheChargeOfTheLightBrigade'' (1968)
* ''Film/TheChroniclesOfNarnia''
** ''The Chronicles of Narnia: Film/TheLionTheWitchAndTheWardrobe''
** ''The Chronicles of Narnia: Film/PrinceCaspian''
** ''The Chronicles of Narnia: Film/TheVoyageOfTheDawnTreader''
* ''Film/TheCuriousCaseOfBenjaminButton''
* ''Film/{{Cleopatra}}''
* ''Film/CloudAtlas''
* ''Film/DancesWithWolves''
* ''Film/DasBoot''
* ''Film/{{Dunkirk}}''
* ''Film/ElCid''
* ''Film/CitizenKane''
* ''Literature/ColdMountain''
* ''Film/CrouchingTigerHiddenDragon''
* ''Film/DuelInTheSun''
* ''Film/{{Dune}}''
* ''Film/DoctorZhivago''
* ''Film/EmpireOfTheSun''
* ''Film/EnemyAtTheGates''
* ''Literature/TheEnglishPatient''
* ''Film/EnterTheDragon''
* ''Film/{{Excalibur}}''
* ''Film/{{Exodus}}''
* ''Film/TheFallOfTheRomanEmpire''
* ''Film/ForrestGump''
* ''Film/{{Gandhi}}''
* ''Film/GangsOfNewYork''
* ''Film/{{Gettysburg}}''
* ''Film/{{Giant}}''
* ''Film/{{Gladiator}}''
* ''Film/{{Glory}}''
* ''Film/TheGodfather I & II''
* ''Film/GoneWithTheWind''
* ''Film/TheGoodTheBadAndTheUgly''
* ''Film/TheGreatEscape''
* ''Film/TheGreatRace''
* ''Film/TheGreatestStoryEverTold''
* ''Film/{{Greed}}'', a 1925 silent film directed by Erich von Stroheim, is an early example, with an [[MissingEpisode early cut]] that ran ''nine and a half hours'', but was eventually re-edited to 140 minutes and later "restored" to a four-hour running time. In any case, it's the cinematic equivalent of a {{Doorstopper}}.
* ''Film/GreystokeTheLegendOfTarzanLordOfTheApes''
* ''Film/TheGunsOfNavarone''
* ''Film/TheHallelujahTrail''
* ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'', the Creator/KennethBranagh version. (Most other filmed versions take their cue from Creator/LaurenceOlivier and are far too claustrophobic to qualify.)
* The ''Film/HarryPotter'' films; especially the last two.
* ''Film/HeavensGate'': an [[GenreKiller infamous]] example of an Epic Movie that did poorly at the box office.
* ''Film/HelenOfTroy''
* ''HellsAngels''
* ''Film/{{Hero}}''
* ''Film/HowIUnleashedWorldWarII''
* ''Film/HowTheWestWasWon''
* ''Film/TheHumanCondition:'' nearly ''[[OverNineThousand 10 hours]]'' long.
* ''Film/InHarmsWay''
* ''Film/{{Inception}}''
* ''Film/{{Interstellar}}''
* ''Film/{{Intolerance}}''
* ''Film/ItsAMadMadMadMadWorld''
* ''Film/IvanTheTerrible''
* ''Film/JerryMaguire'' is surprisingly long for a romantic comedy.
* ''Film/{{Kagemusha}}''
* ''Film/KillBill''
* ''Film/KingdomOfHeaven''
* ''Film/KingKong2005''
* ''Film/KingOfKings''
* ''Film/TheLastEmperor''
* ''Film/TheLastOfTheMohicans''
* ''Film/TheLastSamurai''
* ''Film/TheLastTemptationOfChrist''
* ''Film/LawrenceOfArabia''
* ''TheLegendOfSuriyothai'', Queen of Thailand produced, intended 8-hour length, [[Creator/FrancisFordCoppola Coppola]] [[{{Macekre}} re-edit]], and battle elephants.
* ''Franchise/LesMiserables''
* ''Disney/TheLionKing'' (Arguably the most popular animated version.)
* ''Film/TheLoneRanger''
* ''Film/TheLongestDay''
* ''Film/TheLostCityOfZ''
* ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings'', taken as one film, is nine and a half hours long. The extended editions are [[UpToEleven more than eleven]].
* ''Film/LoveExposure''. Four hours cut down from ''six'' hours.
* ''Film/MadMaxFuryRoad''
* ''Film/MaryPoppins''
* ''Film/MarketaLazarova''
* ''Franchise/TheMatrix'' trilogy taken as a whole.
** ''Film/TheMatrixRevolutions'' more so than the original movie, which was an origin / setpiece story.
* ''Film/{{Metropolis}}''
* ''Bollywood/MotherIndia''
* ''Film/MyFairLady''
* ''Manga/NausicaaOfTheValleyOfTheWind''
* ''Film/{{Napoleon}}'', directed by Abel Gance. Originally intended to be part of a series, but it was so big budget that the studio actually ran out of money after producing the first film.
* ''Film/NorthwestPassage''
* ''Anime/OdinPhotonSailerStarlight'': Preferrably the uncut full-length version. Although many fan reviewers consider this a failed attempt due to its plodding pace, interchangeable characters, the fact that the story ends abruptly with no resolution (this was actually meant to be a TV series and it shows), and its blatant [[SerialNumbersFiledOff ripoff]] of [[Anime/SpaceBattleshipYamato this epic]].
* ''Film/OnceUponATimeInAmerica''
* ''Film/OnceUponATimeInTheWest''
* ''Film/ThePassionOfTheChrist''
* ''Film/ThePatriot''
* ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_Time Playtime]]'', Another comedy example. Just look at the sets!
* ''Film/{{Platoon}}''
* ''Anime/PrincessMononoke'' is one of {{Anime}}'s biggest examples.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePrinceOfEgypt'' is probably WesternAnimation's biggest attempt to emulate this genre.
* ''Film/PortArthur''
* ''Film/ThePrinceAndThePagodaBoy''
* ''Anime/QueenMillennia''
* ''Film/QuoVadis''
* ''Film/{{Ran}}''
* ''Anime/RebuildOfEvangelion''
* ''Film/RedCliff'' - [[AdaptationDistillation One of the most famous parts]] of [[Literature.RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms one of the most famous Chinese epics]], originally [[DividedForPublication in two parts]] and released in an edited version in English-speaking countries.
* ''Film/{{Reds}}''
* ''Film/TheRevenant''
* ''Film/TheRightStuff''
* ''Film/TheRobe''
* ''Anime/RoyalSpaceForceTheWingsOfHonneamise''
* ''Film/SavingPrivateRyan''
* ''Film/{{Scarface 1983}}''
* ''Film/SchindlersList''
* ''Film/SevenSamurai''
* ''Film/SevenSwords''
* ''Film/{{Shiri}}''
* ''Film/TheSoundOfMusic''
* ''Anime/SpaceBattleshipYamato'' (All five animated movies and the live-action version. ''Final Yamato'' is the longest animated film ever at 163 minutes.)
* ''Film/{{Spartacus}}''
* ''Manga/{{Spriggan}}''
* ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'': moreso than the any other StarTrek films which all assumed that the audience already knew these chararacters and their world well and were aware that these were continuing adventures. This film did have a pre-credits overture, which is common in many old-school epic movies. It was also directed by Robert Wise who knows a thing or two about epic films.
* Almost every ''Franchise/StarWars'' movie, but the most proper examples are:
** ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith''
** ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack''
** ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars'' [[Recap/StarWarsTheCloneWarsMovie Pilot Movie]]
* ''Anime/{{Steamboy}}''
* ''Film/SupermanTheMovie''
* ''Film/TheTenCommandments''
* ''Film/ThereWillBeBlood''
* ''Film/TheThreeTreasures''
* ''Film/TheThinRedLine''
* ''Film/ThoseMagnificentMenInTheirFlyingMachines''
* ''Film/{{Titanic 1997}}''
* ''Film/ToraToraTora''
* ''Film/TheToweringInferno''
* ''Film/TheTreeOfLife''
* ''Film/{{Tron}}'', which was basically ''Film/BenHur'' [[RecycledInSpace In]] [[InsideAComputerSystem A]] [[{{Cyberspace}} Computer]]. ''Film/TronLegacy'' debatably fits the trope as well.
* ''Film/{{Unforgiven}}''
* ''Literature/TheUnknownSoldier''
* ''Film/TheVikings''
* ''Film/TheWarlords''
* ''Literature/WarHorse''
* ''Film/{{Waterloo}}''
* ''Film/{{Waterworld}}''
* ''Theatre/WestSideStory''
* ''War and Peace'' (both the American and [[Film/WarAndPeace1966 the Soviet]] version)
* ''Film/TheWizardOfOz''
* ''Film/{{Zulu}}''


* ''Series/BandOfBrothers''
* ''Series/GameOfThrones''
* ''Anime/{{Gunbuster}}''
* ''Literature/LonesomeDove''
* ''Anime/MacrossPlus''
* ''Series/{{Masada}}''
* ''Series/ThePacific''
* ''Series/{{Roots 1977}}''
* ''Series/{{Roots 2016}}''
* ''Literature/{{Shogun}}''
* ''[[Series/TheStand Stephen King's The Stand]]''
* ''[[Series/{{Taken}} Steven Spielberg's Taken]]''
* ''Series/{{V 1983}}''

!!Parodies and fictional examples:

* ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}} and Cleopatra'' is heralded on its cover as "The Greatest Story Ever Drawn -- 14 litres of Indian ink, 30 brushes, 62 pencils, 1 hard pencil, 27 erasers, 1984 sheets of paper, 16 typewriter ribbons, 2 typewriters, 366 pints of beer went into its creation."
** [[TheFilmOfTheBook The book's live-action adaptation]] ended up being a textbook Epic Movie, with a budget that showed in every corner of the screen and famous actors all over the place...
* Creator/SeltzerAndFriedberg's ''Epic Movie'' spoofs the genre.
* ''Film/HistoryOfTheWorldPartI'' by Creator/MelBrooks.
* ''Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian'''s overblown title sequence is a parody of this.
** ''Life of Brian'' and ''[[Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail Holy Grail]]'' are both parodies of this themselves.
** ''Makes ''Ben Hur'' look like an Epic!'' - Holy Grail movie tagline
** The "Scott of the Antarctic" sketch from the [[Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus show]] is about the making of one of these.
* ''Blown Away'' in Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Discworld/MovingPictures''.
* The ''Radioactive Man'' movie adaptation in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "[[Recap/TheSimpsonsS7E2RadioactiveMan Radioactive Man]]" is intended as this.
* ''Film/TheLostSkeletonOfCadavra'' parodied this in their [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe9Fs10IIk0 trailer for the film.]]
* The [[ShowWithinAShow Film within the film]] in ''Film/TropicThunder'' parodies this, as well as being an example itself (an $80 million budget for a comedy is quite high)
* Parodied in the tagline of ''Film/ScottPilgrimVsTheWorld'': "An epic of epic epicness".
* In the [[Franchise/MassEffect Cerberus Daily News]], mention is made of one of these. What, exactly, happens in it is not said, but production required ''hiring out a Mass Relay''.
* For those still wondering, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yudcSDxBM-c This video helps explain the phenomenon]] of epic historical war epics.
-->'''Comment:''' From what movie is the scene with the battle elephants?\\
'''Uploader:''' Which ones?
* ''WebVideo/TheHorriblySlowMurdererWithTheExtremelyInefficientWeapon'' is a RealTrailerFakeMovie for a horror one of these.
-->'''Narrator:''' A major motion picture event, twelve years in the making, filmed on five continents, with a running time of over nine hours.
* ''[[VideoGame/NancyDrew Lights, Camera, Curses!]]'' is set at a film studio where a classic Epic Movie (''Pharaoh'') from the 1930s is being remade. Whether the remake is also Epic, or whether it tanks, depends on how easily Nancy solves the case.
* The characters of Soviet animated short ''Animation/FilmFilmFilm'' are trying to make a grandiose Russian history drama in the vein of ''Film/IvanTheTerrible''.
* Several ''Film/{{Carry On|series}}'' movies that were parody of big Hollywood/mainstream movies at the time, such as ''Film/CarryOnCleo'' and ''Film/CarryOnHenry''.