Historical or period drama is a film genre in which stories are based on historical events and famous persons. Some historical dramas attempt to accurately portray a historical event or biography, to the degree that the available historical research will allow. Other historical dramas are fictionalised tales that are based on an actual person and their deeds.
Due to the sheer volume of films included in this genre and in the interest of continuity, this list is primarily focused on films pertaining to the history of East Asia, Central Asia, and India. For films pertaining to the history of Near Eastern and Western civilisation, please refer to list of historical period drama films and series set in Near Eastern and Western civilization.
The films on this page are divided into regions, and within each region the films are listed chronologically.
Jidai-geki 時代劇 is a genre of film, television, and theatre in Japan. Literally "period dramas", they are most often set during the Edo period of Japanese history, from 1603 to 1868. Some, however, are set much earlier—Portrait of Hell, for example, is set during the late Heian period—and the early Meiji era is also a popular setting. Jidaigeki show the lives of the samurai, farmers, craftsmen, and merchants of their time. Jidaigeki films are sometimes referred to as chambara movies, a word meaning "sword fight", though chambara is more accurately a subgenre of jidaigeki, which equates to historical period drama. In Japan, the term chanbara (チャンバラ), also commonly spelled "chambara", meaning "sword fighting" movies, denotes the genre called samurai cinema in English, and is roughly equivalent to western cowboy and swashbuckler films. Jidaigeki may refer to a story set in a historical period, though not necessarily dealing with a samurai character or depicting swordplay. Jidaigeki rely on an established set of dramatic conventions including the use of makeup, language, catchphrases, and plotlines.
Gendai-geki (現劇) is a genre of film and television or theater play in Japan. Unlike the jidai-geki genre of period dramas, whose stories are set in the Edo period, gendaigeki stories are contemporary dramas set in the modern world.
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