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Prince Ashitaka rides his elk horse thing in Princess Mononoke Image: Studio Ghibli

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The best movies like Zelda games to watch while playing Tears of the Kingdom

Leap into adventure with these Zelda-like films

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It’s finally here, Polygon readers: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the long-awaited sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is out and available to play.

We’ll be playing the game, writing guides, and generally having a blast in Hyrule. But what if you want the fun to extend beyond the game?

Below, we’ve gathered a list of movies that have some similarities to Tears of the Kingdom or the Zelda franchise as whole. Maybe they have a similar narrative or lead character. Maybe they have a similar visual aesthetic. Maybe the vibes are just right, or there’s one crucial detail they share.

Enjoy these movies like Zelda games, whether you’re watching them while taking a break from Tears of the Kingdom or putting them on in the background while you continue to explore the wide world of the game.


Castle in the Sky

The flying city of Laputa, a multi-decked stone complex with a vast tree growing out of it, floats within in the clouds in Castle in the Sky. Image: Studio Ghibli

What it is: Studio Ghibli’s first anime production follows a boy named Pazu who, after rescuing a young girl named Sheeta who falls from the sky with a magical amulet, sets out on a quest to protect the amulet from Sheeta’s would-be kidnappers and search for a mythical city floating in the clouds.

Why it’s like Zelda: Aside from serving as one of the most obvious inspirations for Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s art style (especially in the design of the Guardians, which resemble a mashup of a Laputian Robot Trooper and Jōmon sculptures), and the narrative similarities, it has a floating castle in the sky that resembles Hyrule Castle in one of the early trailers for Tears of the Kingdom. —Toussaint Egan

Where to watch it: Castle in the Sky is available to stream on HBO Max, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

Princess Mononoke

The warrior Ashitaka walks forward, his right arm writhing with the semi-translucent purple tentacles of his spirit-curse, in Princess Mononoke Image: Studio Ghibli

What it is: About a decade after Castle in the Sky, Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli made this masterpiece following a young prince looking to bring harmony between humans, gods, and a young woman raised by wolves.

Why it’s like Zelda: In addition to the aesthetic similarities between Ghibli’s style and the Zelda games, Mononoke features a hero way too young for this sort of responsibility who sets out to protect the land and its living creatures in a world falling into chaos. Also, the film’s protagonist, Prince Ashitaka, has a cursed right arm that strongly resembles Link’s arm in Tears of the Kingdom. —Pete Volk

Where to watch it: Princess Mononoke is available to stream on HBO Max, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

Labyrinth

Labyrinth: Jennifer Connelly stands in the Labyrinth Image: Sony Home Entertainment

What it is: Jim Henson’s dark fantasy wonder about a teenage girl who has to travel to the center of a large maze to rescue her baby brother from the Goblin King David Bowie. The movie was nominated for a Hugo Award, as well as a BAFTA for visual effects.

Why it’s like Zelda: Labyrinth is another movie about a young person going on a perilous adventure to protect someone they love and to hope for a better world. —PV

Where to watch it: Labyrinth is available to watch for free with ads on Tubi and Pluto TV, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

Legend

Tim Curry as Darkness, a demonic ruler dress in a black cape, red skin, and long black horns, seated in a large room in front of a large menacing fireplace mantle and gramophone beside them in Legend. Image: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

What it is: Forest-dweller Jack o’ the Green (Tom Cruise) and his lover Princess Lili (Mia Sara) embark on a quest to retrieve the horn of a mythical unicorn from the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) and restore the light of innocence back to their fantastical kingdom in this cult classic from Ridley Scott.

Why it’s like Zelda: The Lord of Darkness is essentially the same as Ganondorf, the Gerudo Prince turned demon lord Ganon — an avatar of elemental evil who can only be stopped through the combined force of two heroes fated to slay him. Darkness warns Jack that because evil can never be fully banished from the hearts of humankind, he can never truly be vanquished, and the same could be said of Ganondorf, who seems irrevocably destined to battle the reincarnations of Link throughout all eternity. —TE

Where to watch it: Legend is available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple, Google Play, and Vudu.

The NeverEnding Story

Atreyu and the dragon Falkor in The NeverEnding Story Image: Warner Bros.

What it is: A young boy named Bastian (Barret Oliver) discovers a book in his attic that follows the story of Atreyu (Noah Hathaway), a young warrior who travels the mystical land of Fantasia atop his trusty steed Artax. Encountering a colorful cast of characters, Atreyu searches for a cure to wake the Childlike Empress (Tami Stronach) from her slumber and save the realm from a malevolent force known only as “The Nothing.”

Why it’s like Zelda: Well, at the risk of spoilers, both Tears of the Kingdom and The NeverEnding Story have a long mythical dragon coursing through the skies and a roiling pitch of primordial darkness (“gloom,” “Nothing,”) that at one point or another threatens to swallow intrepid young adventurers whole. In a sense, The Legend of Zelda could easily be titled The NeverEnding Story, as the story of Link, Zelda, and the dark lord Ganon repeats ad infinitum across multiple, intersecting timelines that each boil down to the elemental struggle between good and evil. —TE

Where to watch it: The NeverEnding Story is available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple, Google Play, and Vudu.

Free Solo

free solo rock climbing at yosemite park Image: National Geographic

What it is: An Oscar-winning documentary about famous free solo (aka climbing without ropes or other protective equipment) climber Alex Honnold, documenting his attempt to free solo climb Yosemite’s 3,000-foot-tall El Capitan rock formation.

Why it’s like Zelda: Link loves climbing!!! And he does it without a rope. —PV

Where to watch it: Free Solo is available to stream on Disney Plus, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon and Google Play.

Berserk

(L-R) a white-haired anime character (Griffith) stands opposite of a black-haired anime character (Guts) on a snowy hill with their sword drawn in Berserk: The Golden Age Arc. Image: Studio 4°C/Crunchyroll

What it is: Kentaro Miura’s dark fantasy masterpiece (which has been adapted into three separate anime) follows the story of Guts, a lone mercenary swordsman who battles through a dark medieval world to avenge his fallen comrades who were sacrificed by his former commander and friend, Griffith. Be warned: It’s also very brutal and graphic.

Why it’s like Zelda: Remember that Blood Moon eclipse that happens periodically in Breath of the Wild, the one that revives every nearby enemy you’ve killed (aside from bosses)? Well, imagine if that eclipse also transported you to a hell dimension where you’re flayed alive by a brood of demons who feast on your flesh, all so your ex-best friend can achieve his dreams. Berserk plays out like the darkest possible reimagining of Link’s story you could ever think of. And it’s awesome. —TE

Where to watch it: Berserk: The Golden Age Arc - Memorial Edition (2022), a version of the Golden Age Arc movie trilogy edited into a TV series, is available to stream on Crunchyroll, or for digital purchase on Amazon. The anime series Berserk (2016) is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

Black Angel

A ghoulish zombie in black armor covered in cobwebs wields a large spear in Black Angel. Image: Roger Christian/20th Century Fox

What it is: A medieval knight returns from fighting in the Crusades to find his family gone and the land stricken by a mysterious disease. After crossing paths with a mysterious maiden, the knight makes it his mission to free her from the clutches of her captor: an otherworldly knight known as the “Black Angel.”

Why it’s like Zelda: Filmed in Scotland, the setting of Black Angel is as eerie as it is beautiful. The knight’s quest to save the maidens feels as epic and personal as Link’s own to rescue Zelda and save Hyrule from the machinations of Ganondorf. —TE

Where to watch it: Black Angel is available to stream on YouTube. It is also available for digital purchase on Amazon and Google Play.

The Sword in the Stone

A young animated boy in a red outfit stands with his hand on the hilt of a sword embedded in a stone in The Sword in the Stone. Image: Walt Disney Animation Studios

What it is: This animated adaptation of the legend of King Arthur follows a young orphan who pulls a magical sword from a stone and, with the help of a whimsical wizard named Merlin, trains to become the rightful king of England.

Why it’s like Zelda: C’mon — the movie is literally about a child fated by destiny to unsheath a magical sword from a stone and unite a fractured kingdom. It doesn’t get much more archetypal than that, much less more Zelda-like. —TE

Where to watch it: The Sword in the Stone is available to stream on Disney Plus, or for digital rental or purchase on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu.

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