Marlon Brando Filmography Timeline

Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando, Jr. (April 3, 1924 – July 1, 2004) was an American actor and film director. He is hailed for bringing a gripping realism to film acting, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential actors of all time. Wikipedia

To celebrate what would have been his 91st birthday we wanted to share a timeline of films featuring Brando, however there is no Wikipedia category for that. In fact there are no Wikipedia categories for films starring a particular actor, and because our timeline directory is currently populated with timelines imported from categories we didn’t have a timeline!

Obviously we didn’t want to waste time creating the timeline from scratch, so we turned to a Wikidata query. For those who don’t know, Wikidata is a Wikimedia project creating a free linked database that can be read and edited by both humans and machines. What this means is that the data stored in Wikidata can be queried, and Histropedia is able to use the results of those queries to build timelines.

So to create a timeline of all films featuring Marlon Brando all we had to do is write a query that asks Wikidata to show us all the films that have ‘Marlon Brando’ listed as one of the ‘Cast Members’. The results of the query (when used to generate a timeline) can be seen below.

Marlon Brando filmography

It is this incredible power that gets us so excited about the potential for Wikidata, we could even filter the timeline further by asking Wikidata to only show us films of a particular genre, or where the narrative is set in a specific location.

As more data is added to Wikidata the potential for different queries becomes mind boggling, and with new data being added all the time by the community and Google’s announcement that Freebase is shutting down and the data is being made available to import into Wikidata, there is little to stop Wikidata becoming the most comprehensive source of free structured data available.

The next step for Histropedia is to start incorporating more Wikidata queries into our timeline directory, as well as building the necessary features that will allow users to easily create their own queries without needing to learn the Wikidata query language.

To get an idea of the power that these queries have you can take a look at our simple query generating spreadsheets we have published as Google Doc templates. Browse Query Generator Templates

These are extremely simple tools that we use internally for creating queries, for example when we need a timeline of films featuring Marlon Brando, a timeline which only took a minute of 2 to create using the ‘Film Finder’ generator.


The generators let you choose pre-defined lists to build your queries, however if something you want to use isn’t in the list you can directly insert the Wikidata item number (and ignore the validation error)

These queries are extremely powerful, but it is important to remember that both Histropedia and Wikidata are still work in progress and not all the data is in there yet, so there may be some queries that do not produce great results. The good news is that Wikidata is growing at an amazing rate, and is of course open to editing just like Wikipedia, so if you see something is missing you can jump in and fix it!




Lean more about Wikidata

Learn more about Histropedia

Browse Query Generator Templates

Create timeline using any Wikidata query (not just the one available using the query generators)

We have a new twitter  account (@histrobot) sharing the best timeline we find in the new directory

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Sean McBirnie

Co-Founder at Histropedia

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