8 historical films with real-life origins

A list of historical drama films you can binge watch this weekend on CBC Gem.

Historical drama films you can binge watch this weekend on CBC Gem.

A scene from the film Hochelaga, Terre des âmes.

We've released a list of historical drama shows with real-life origins, last week, but for those that don't like or have the time for long-form viewing, here's a list of historical drama films that you can watch on CBC Gem, this weekend.

Hochelaga, Terre des âmes (Land of Soul)

Set in: 1837

About: Hochelaga, Terre des âmes is a 2017 Canadian historical drama about the Mohawk archaeologist, Baptiste Asigny, who engages in a search for his ancestors following a tragic terrain slump in the Percival Molson Stadium.

The story depicts Quebec's archaeology revealing the past of indigenous peoples, explorers and 1837 rebels.

Historic episodes that inspired the story included the 1953 explorations of Jacques Cartier, the 1837 Lower Canada Rebellion and the 1944 operations in the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital. Other incidents and events, including the 1267 battle and the Iroquois prophet played by Trujillo, were invented and/or dramatized.

Cast: Raoul Max Trujillo, Tanaya Beatty, David La Haye, André Simoneau, Gilles Renaud, Roman Blomme, Samuel Tremblay.


Set in: 1955

About: Life is a biographical drama based on the unique friendship forged between Magnum photographer Dennis Stock and actor James Dean when Stock is commissioned to photograph the actor for Life magazine in 1955, ahead of the release of East of Eden.

Cast: Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Ben Kingsley, Joel Edgerton, Alessandra Mastronard, Stella Schnabel.

A Dangerous Method

Set in: WWI 

About: A Dangerous Method explores the turbulent relationships between fledgling psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, his mentor and founder of the discipline of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, initially Jung's patient and later a physician and one of the first female psychoanalysts.

The film is an adaptation of Christopher Hampton's 2002 stage play The Talking Cure, which was based on the 1993 non-fiction book by John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: The story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein.

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley and Vincent Cassel.

A Million Colours

Set in: 1976 - 1994

About: A Million Colours was inspired by a true life story, that of Muntu Ndebele and Norman Knox — the black and white movie stars of the 1976 film classic Forever Young, Forever Free, also known as e'Lollipop. Muntu's life spirals downward after participating in the June 16, 1976 student uprising in Soweto forcing him into hiding. 

The film tells a story of danger, adventure and romance set against the turbulent background of South Africa's crisis and its citizens' struggle for freedom, friendship and love — from the Soweto uprising through to the election of Nelson Mandela.

Cast: Wandile Molebatsi, Jason Hartman, Masello Motana.

Across the Line (Cole Harbour)

Set in: 1989

About: Inspired by the 1989 Cole Harbour District High School race riots, the film tells a story of a young, black NHL hopeful living in a racially divided Nova Scotian community who finds his career prospects in jeopardy when tensions in his community come to a head. 

Cast: Stephan James, Sarah Jeffery, Shamier Anderson, Lanette Ware, Steven Love, and Jim Codrington.


Set in: WWI

About: The lives of a troubled Canadian veteran Michael Dunne, his nurse girlfriend and a naive boy intersect first in Alberta and then in Belgium during the bloody World War I battle of Passchendaele.

The film tells the story of an important event in Canadian history — The Third Battle of Ypres also known as the Battle of Passchendaele — through the eyes of Sergeant Dunne. The story is based on actor-writer-director Paul Gross' Grandfather, Michael Joseph Dunne and his experiences in the war. Gross was prompted to do this film after the passing of his grandfather.

Cast: Paul Gross, Caroline Dhavernas, Michael Greyeyes, Joe Dinicol, James Kot, Meredith Bailey, Jim Mezon.


Set in: 1930s

About: Jesse Owens' quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler's vision of Aryan supremacy.

The film is an enthralling biographical sports drama about courage, determination, tolerance, and friendship, and an inspiring drama about one man's fight to become an Olympic legend.

Cast: Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, Carice van Houten, William Hurt.


Set in: 1930s - 1990s

About: A drama that chronicles the life of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nelson Mandela's wife, from her strict rural upbringing through to her marriage and her husband's incarceration.

Winnie is an adaptation of Anne Marie du Preez Bezrob's biography Winnie Mandela: A Life.

Cast: Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard, Wendy Crewson, Elias Koteas, Justin Strydom.

Watch these films on CBC Gem.