The 30 greatest mythical movies

The movie, the myth, the legend

No, not that kind of mythical movie. These are the very real, very enjoyable movies that deal with all manner of mythological beasts, eras, heroes and - as ever - some highly unhelpful deities. Dipping into the various works of Homer (no, the other one), Stoker and Tolkien, as well as many other unaccredited works, these cinematic marvels translate thousands of years of human imagination onto the silver screen, and do a damn fine job of it.

Of course, any old producer can throw a budget at a well-loved tale of daring-do and leave it squarely at that - here's looking at you Wrath of the Titans. This top 30 list is comprised of those movies that went just that little bit further than most, combining faithfulness and fun, and in so doing, succeeded in adding a whole new dimension to some of history's strangest and most enduring fables.

30. The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005)

The Movie: Andrew Adamson's adaptation of C.S. Lewis' children's classic has a ball visualising the writer's storyworld, full of creatures from Norse, Roman and Greek myth, including dwarves, fauns and centaurs.

Most Magical Moment: Aslan's army battles the forces of the White Witch.

29. Troy (2004)

The Movie: The legendary siege war between Greeks and Trojans gets the epic treatment from Wolfgang Petersen, with Brad Pitt leading an all-star cast.

Most Magical Moment: Beware Greeks bearing gifts, especially if they come in the form of a huge, hollow wooden horse full of armed soldiers.

28. The Mummy (1999)

The Movie: Stephen Sommers' blockbuster, like the classic 1930s monster movie it remade, was based on ancient ideas that the pharaohs left a curse on their tomb that allowed undead mummies to rise again.

Most Magical Moment: Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) finds American archaeologist Burns (Tuc Watkins), only to discover cursed priest Imhotep has got to him first and removed his eyes and tongue.

27. Oedipus Rex (1967)

The Movie: Pier Paolo Pasolini retells the legend of father-killin', mother-lovin' Oedipus. This being the 1960s, the film artily segues from the present day to classical times and back again without warning.

Most Magical Moment: The penny drops, as Oedipus realises that a) he was adopted and b) his wife happens to be his biological mother, and blinds himself in despair.

26. Jack The Giant Slayer (2013)

The Movie: Giants have loomed large over the mythology of many cultures, but Bryan Singer's blockbuster relocates the ancient Cornish folk tale of Jack the Giant Killer to the fantasy kingdom of Cloister.

Most Magical Moment: A handful of magic beans is thrown to the ground. What'dya know? They grow into a beanstalk, headed straight for the giants' realm.

25. The Abominable Snowman (1957)

The Movie: Yeti have reportedly roamed the Himalayas for centuries, making it inevitable that filmmakers would join the hunt. Perhaps the finest is Hammer's Nigel Kneale-scripted horror, which suggests that maybe the creatures aren't mindless monsters but intelligent creatures.

Most Magical Moment: Peter Cushing's scientist discovers the truth when a group of compassionate Yeti arrive to take home a fallen comrade.

24. Splash (1984)

The Movie: Man meets mermaid, as a classic myth gets the 1980s high-concept romcom treatment.

Most Magical Moment: Nudity has always been part of the mermaid's seductive allure, so Tom Hanks waking up next to a naked Daryl Hannah isn't just titillation, but an integral piece of myth-making. Hey, that's our argument and we're sticking to it.

23. Stargate (1994)

The Movie: Mixing Egyptology with sci-fi wasn't new (Doctor Who did it in the 1970s, for example) but Roland Emmerich's breakthrough founded a franchise on the idea that the Egyptian gods were extra-terrestrials.

Most Magical Moment: Turns out there's a very cool reason why Egyptian tombs are pyramid-shaped; it's because that what the aliens' spaceships look like.

22. The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad (1958)

The Movie: After mostly tackling sci-fi, stop-motion maestro Ray Harryhausen turned to myth (not to mention Technicolor) by supplying the creatures for the first (of three) adventures based on the Arabian folk hero.

Most Magical Moment: Cyclops vs dragon; Harryhausen at his best.

21. Pom Poko (1994)

The Movie: Studio Ghibli's most overtly mythical movie draws on Japanese folklore that its tanuki (raccoon dogs) are mischievous shape-shifters.

Most Magical Moment: Warrior tanuki attack from the sky, using their giant testicles as parachutes. Yes, really.