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A particular kind of Period Piece set in ancient biblical or mythological times, running the gamut from Heroic Fantasy to Historical Fiction. Movies set in The Roman Republic or The Roman Empire, or even in Ancient Grome, are usually included. Alternatively, it may be used to describe Fantasy Counterpart Culture equivalents in a secondary world.

The subgenre of low-budget Sword And Sandal Italian films of the '50s and '60s is known as Peplum. These films in particular tend to have the World's Strongest Man as the hero (often Hercules, but not necessarily). Much like the spaghetti westerns, peplum tend to star non-Italian, Anglophonic leading actors (if they're actors at all) alongside an Italian supporting cast. They also tend to get wildly different titles when released outside their home country, to the point where entire franchises can be fashioned out of what were originally stand-alone movies.

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A classic Cyclic Trope, as Hollywood has regular periods of fascination with the era, and the trope was named by an early period of such films being popular, being a staple of The Golden Age of Hollywood.

Contrast Sword & Sorcery, on which the name is based (or vice versa). Strictly speaking, the two genres are distinguished by Sword & Sorcery having explicitly fantastic settings, typically a pseudo-Medieval European style Constructed World. Conversely, Sword And Sandal at least pretends to depict real-world historical settings, usually being set during classical antiquity in the Mediterranean regions. There is often some overlap though, especially when mythology gets involved, but it is usually existing mythology based directly on Hellenic tradition.

Some of these films may also be set in the Middle East or North Africa, but are differentiated from "Arabian Nights" Days by time period: that trope refers to works set in the Islamic Golden Age (during what was known as the Middle Ages in Europe), while this trope refers to works set much earlier.

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Expect the landscape to resemble sand dunes and/or rural Spain throughout, making those sandals look more attractive.

The equivalent would be Wuxia for China, and Jidaigeki for Japan, in somes cases, though these Period Pieces may also include elements of The Middle Ages, or even later ages, that are absent in Sword And Sandal ones.

Compare Epic Movie.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Classical Mythology 

Comic Books

Films

Literature

Live-Action TV

  • Atlantis
  • Helen of Troy (2003)
  • Hercules
  • The Storyteller: Greek Myths
  • Herc-Xenaverse:
  • Jason and the Argonauts
  • L'Odissea ("The Odyssey") - The Italian-German-Yugoslav co-production starring Bekim Fehmiu, Irene Papas and a young Barbara Bach.
  • Troy: Fall of a City
  • The Sons of Hercules was a TV series that aired re-packaged, unrelated movies in this genre as if they were part of a single franchise, their respective muscular heroes all, as the title suggests, sons of Hercules, even though two of these movies, as listed below, had heroes who already were Hercules. They included such exciting titles as:
    • Mole Men Vs. The Son of Hercules (actually Maciste, The Strongest Man in the World
    • Triumph of the Son of Hercules (Triumph of Maciste)
    • Fire Monsters Against the Son of Hercules (Maciste vs. The Monsters, actually more of a 1 Million B.C. type movie)
    • Venus Against The Son of Hercules (Mars, God of War)
    • Ulysses Against the Son of Hercules (Ulysses Against Hercules)
    • Medusa Against the Son of Hercules (Perseus the Invincible)
    • Son of Hercules in the Land of Fire (Ursus in the Land of Fire)
    • Tyrant of Lydia Against the Son of Hercules (Goliath and the Rebel Slave)
    • Messalina Against the Son of Hercules (The Last Gladiator)
    • The Beast of Babylon Against The Son of Hercules(Hero of Babylon)
    • Terror of Rome Against the Son of Hercules (Maciste, Gladiator of Sparta)
    • Son of Hercules in the Land of Darkness (Hercules the Invincible)
    • Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules (Soraya, Queen of the Desert, actually more of an "Arabian Nights" Days movie)

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons' Fifth Edition book Mythic Odysseys of Theros provides rules and setting notes for playing in a Classical Myth-inspired world.

Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

    Biblical Epics 

Films

Live-Action TV

Theater

Western Animation

  • VeggieTales, but only in the episodes that reenact Biblical events, and huge liberties are taken, such as, you know, making David a talking asparagus and things like that

Other

    Ancient West Asia / Egypt / Middle East (non-Biblical) 

Films

Video Games

    Ancient Greece 

Comic Books

Films

Literature

  • Gates of Fire
  • Over the Wine-Dark Sea
  • Hashire! Melos (Run, Melos!) - A short story by author Osamu Dazaki, based on an ancient Greek legend recorded by Hyginus. It's become a staple of Japanese media and adapted to anime, dorama, etc.

Video Games

    Ancient Rome 

Comic Books

Films

Live-Action TV

Literature

Theater

Video Games


Alternative Title(s): Sword And Sandals

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