The historical biopic has provided many a resounding success over the years. We need only look as far as epics such as Gandhi and Braveheart, with no less than 13 Oscars between them, for proof of that. However, that’s merely the tip of the iceberg when you consider other greats like Schindler’s List, Malcolm X and Amadeus, yet there are still prominent personalities from the past that have yet to be given the full Hollywood treatment. Here are five glaring omissions.

Guy Fawkes

What we’re looking for here is all-singing, all-dancing movie-making, therefore the 1923 silent, black-and-white Guy Fawkes doesn’t really fit the bill. Similarly, 2006’s V for Vendetta, where he is merely a metaphor in a contemporary tale, also falls short. An attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament, plus all the build-up and aftermath, has heart-stopping thriller written all over it. It also fits quite nicely into Hollywood’s current penchant for ready-made scripts, and the anti-establishment nature of the Gunpowder Plot would surely strike a chord with modern audiences around the world.

JRR Tolkien

Given that the legendary author’s finest works have given us so much pleasure over the last 15 years through Peter Jackson‘s splendid adaptations, not to mention the billions reaped at the box office, it seems rather peculiar that we are nowhere near a film about the man himself. Oscar Wilde got his biopic back in 1997 with Wilde, 2o13’s The Invisible Woman centered around Charles Dickens‘ secret affair with Nelly Ternan, so when will John Ronald Reuel get his turn? There was talk of such a thing as recently as 2014, but nothing has been confirmed since, so come on Tinseltown, it’s high-time you returned the favour.

Isaac Newton

Despite the fact that he’s the most important scientific figure of all time, it may not be too surprising to some that Isaac Newton has yet to have a film made in his honour. After all, ground-breaking discoveries are all well and good, but would an apple falling on a bloke’s head go down as one of cinema’s most memorable scenes? Probably not, but behind every success there’s a struggle, which is precisely what made Eddie Redmayne‘s portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything such a hit. The Lincolnshire town of Grantham, where Newton was educated, now holds the annual ‘Gravity Fields Festival’, so cinema should definitely make a move. If all else fails, you can always put some kind of crazy spin on the story, in the same vein as Young Einstein perhaps, or even Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.


Our fourth entry is our only non-Brit and also the only one to hail from ancient times, having been born in 247 BC. Here was possibly the greatest general the world has ever seen and was most famous for leading his army over the Alps with the odd elephant in tow. Admittedly, film companies have probably been put off in the past by the logistical problems of bringing this aspect to life, but there’s nothing they can’t do these days, surely? Also, films that depict the Romans getting a taste of their own medicine have a history of going down rather well, and Hannibal delivered this in spades.

Captain Cook

He remains arguably Britain’s greatest-ever explorer, charting Australia and the South Pacific on an unprecedented scale, but who also met with a tragic and untimely end at the hands of the very people whom had come to revere him. All of which means that the life story of Captain James Cook is one of triumph and tragedy, leaving an unquestionably glorious legacy. If ever the cinematic world has overlooked a tale about a genuinely epic hero, then this is it.

Normally you’d be asked to leave your comments below, especially if you can think of any additions to this shortlist, but as this has been a kind of history lesson, you’re probably feeling rather drained (but if you can, that would be lovely!).

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