3 Ancient Heroes Who Need Modern Films


The Revenant is all the rage this month at the cinema. Alejandro González Iñárritu  and Leonardo DiCaprio have done a pretty extraordinary thing in capturing the sheer brutality of life on the American frontier in the early-1800s, and DiCaprio seems to be set up for his first Oscar for Best Actor. In the film, he brings to life a legendary fur trapper of the frontier who turned into a fearless warrior on a quest for vengeance when he was abandoned and left for dead by his colleagues.

There's little doubt that the true story of Hugh Glass has been at least marginally embellished over the years, but if you've read up on the fellow (start with the novel by Michael Punke) you can't help but feel he's the rare historical gem who's just begging to be immortalised in cinema. So in celebration of The Revenant, here are three more such characters we need to see in modern film.


When we think of great warriors who lived in B.C. times there are a lot of famous names that come to mind: Alexander the Great, Leonidas, Hannibal Barca, and even King David. Left off that list is Vercingetorix, an ancient Gallic chieftain who mounted one of the strongest tribal resistances to the spread of Rome from the seat of modern-day France. In doing so, he united several Gallic tribes and won the Battle of Gergovia to push back Roman forces before ultimately being overwhelmed at a subsequent battle. In the end, he was executed in Rome.

As with many of the tribes and seedling nations that surrounded the Roman Empire, the Gauls' own history records can be somewhat spotty. Much of what we know about Vercingetorix actually comes from Julius Ceasar's own "Commentaries On The Gallic War & The Civil War" (which you can actually read). In a more modern context, Vercingetorix has actually appeared in a film, played by Christophe Lambert in the 2001 project Druids. But the film didn't get the full Hollywood treatment and was rather poorly received. But this remarkable warrior deserves another shot at the cinema, and there's no reason he couldn't be as successful as the likes of William Wallace and Leonidas in film before him.


Spartacus is the most well-known hero on this list, as well as the most commonly explored in modern entertainment. The first thing that comes to mind is the famous 1960 film starring Kirk Douglas in the role. However, not so long ago this series was thriving on STARZ, showcasing a violent and over-the-top version of the famous gladiator revolt led by Spartacus. In recent years, Spartacus has had a steady presence in the video game world, with multiple mobile apps embracing the spirit of the STARZ show and the "Spartacus: Gladiator of Rome" title seen here even makes use of gladiator themes in a more casual, casino-themed environment.

The Douglas film is a classic, the STARZ series was entertaining, and even the slot machine game makes for a certain type of fun, but history's most famous gladiator deserves a fresh feature film. It's really one of the most remarkable tales of revolt in human history that a gladiator taught to believe he was no more than a slave groomed to entertain through mortal combat rose up to threaten the greatest empire ever established. One thing seems certain: popular actors would be lining up to get the chance at the role.

Simo Hayha

If you've heard of this man at all, it may have been by the moniker "The White Death." Hayha was born in rural Finland in 1925 and went on to become a soldier during the Winter War between his home country and the Red Army of the Soviet Union. During that conflict, Hayha took up a position as a sniper, clad entirely in white to camouflage with the snow. And in a period of roughly 100 days, he's said to have killed over 500 enemy soldiers using a single rifle without a scope.

Whether this makes him a hero or menace is a matter of perspective, but given the vastly superior force of the Soviet Union, his story is objectively remarkable. Equally remarkable is that after having half his face shot off as a result of the Soviets' extensive efforts to take him out, Hayha recovered to live until he reached the age of 96 in 2002. Like Hugh Glass, he's an obscure name from history that seems to have been made to feature in a film. There's said to be such a project coming out in 2018, though details are few and far between.

The list could go on, as history has provided us with a limitless supply of fascinating characters to make use of in film. But these are three who would certainly be welcome on the silver screen.
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