Dramatized versions of historical events offer the chance to see for yourself what those events may have been like. While reading is enjoyable in its own way, there's something to be said about seeing the past come alive on your TV screen—especially with a docudrama, which reenacts real events.
Different docudramas exist to please every interest, from medieval times to the 21st century, and we’ve rounded up the best of the best. Check out these 10 historical docudramas, whether TV series or standalone films, to sit back, relax, and be transported back in time.
"Beheaded, beheaded, died; beheaded, beheaded, survived." Many know this handy prompt for remembering the unfortunate fates of Henry VIII's wives. In The Tudors, King Henry VIII's 40-year reign of England is brought to life, as well as his notorious, tumultuous romantic relationships that ended in death more often than not.
A Night to Remember
Nicknamed the "unsinkable" ship, the Titanic struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic. In less than three hours, the Titanic sank to the bottom of the ocean and took over 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers with it. Based on Walter Lord's book of the same name, A Night to Remember depicts with sensitivity the tragic events that took place on that long, cold night.
The Qin Empire
This series portrays the rise of the Qin dynasty during the Warring States period. Depicting Qin state ruler Duke Xiao as he recruits statesman Shan Yang to assist with implementing reforms that are set to transform Western China, The Qin Empire is a fast-paced, engaging watch about the rise of this massive empire.
West by Orphan Train
West by Orphan Train replays the tragically true story of the quarter of a million orphaned American children who were sent by train from the East coast to the West coast. Between 1854 and 1929, these children were taken to unfamiliar rural settings where they were presented "for the picking."
Hitler's Last Stand
Witness fanatical Nazis fight against the Allied forces' goal to free Europe in this depiction of what the war was like from the unfortunate viewpoint of one of Hitler's fervent supporters. As the tide of the war slowly begins to turn, they do whatever they can to keep the naval bases, citadels, and fortresses of occupied Europe in their hands and out of the hands of the Allied forces.
Ekaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great
This historical drama series portrays the life of the Russian Empress Ekaterina II (Catherine the Great). The German princess was chosen by the great-aunt of Peter III to come to Russia as his bride. Once she came into power, she transformed the Russian empire.
As the bankers of the Pope, the Medici family accrued a level of wealth and influence that attracted fierce opposition from their rivals. Set in Florence in the early 15th century, Medici portrays the powerful political family as they flexed their power in politics and the arts, risking their rivals' antagonism.
Harriet is an extraordinary dramatization of abolitionist Harriet Tubman's daring escape from enslavement and subsequent heroic missions to free other enslaved people using the Underground Railroad. Actress Cynthia Erivo accurately, sensitively, and passionately portrays Harriet Tubman, and the story commits to historical accuracy in this series described by The New York Times as "accessible, emotionally direct and artfully simplified."
The Big Short
Based on actual events, this film retells the story of four outsiders who saw what big corporations didn't want to see: the impending collapse of the global economy in 2008. This discovery leads them to a bold investment that exposes the dark underbelly of banking.
Ivan the Terrible
Ivan IV is remembered as one of the most violent, bloodthirsty, and unpredictable Russian rulers in history. Check out this historical drama to witness for yourself why Ivan is remembered as the Terrible.