The War Lord 1965 CC


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(66) IMDb 7/10

Medieval drama starring Charlton Heston. While rebuilding a castle tower on the coast of Normandy in order to strengthen the authority of his master the duke, the knight Chrysagon (Heston) falls for a local woman, Bronwyn (Rosemary Forsyth). Although she is about to be married, Chrysagon exercises the ancient rite of 'le droit du seigneur' in order to claim the bride on her wedding night, thus sparking a local war and the hatred of his jealous brother Draco (Guy Stockwell).

Henry Wilcoxon, Guy Stockwell
Rental Formats:

Product Details

  • Feature parental_guidance
Runtime 2 hours 1 minute
Starring Henry Wilcoxon, Guy Stockwell, Rosemary Forsyth, Charlton Heston, Niall MacGinnis, Richard Boone, Woodrow Parfrey, Maurice Evans, Sammy Ross, James Farentino
Director Franklin J. Schaffner
Studio Eureka
Rental release 14 April 2014
Main languages English
Subtitles English

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 81 people found the following review helpful By D. C. Hamilton-williams on 16 July 2005
Format: DVD
The film was based on a play - The lovers and in parts of the film it shows, but the story paints a pageant of the 11th century and shows that the Christian relgion was still fighting the old Gods of the North in Europe (up to the 14th Century). After a first encounter between the Norman retinue of Chrysagon De Lacrue and Frisian (Norse) raiders, the film concentrates on the love story, which develops and shows the "Right (Droit)of the Seigneur" - a legalised rape that remained in Europe into the 14th century. Unfortunately, Rosemary Forsyth lacks either the acting experience, or personality to make Chrysagons betrayal of everything he has striven for with his sword for over 20 years, seem plausible. As his brother comments, "Why don't you just sleep with her?" Captured in the battle is a young boy who turns out to be the son of the chieftan who impoverished Chrysagon's father and by doing so made paupers of him and his brother Draco - by charging an extortionate ransom for their captured father. All fairs well at first, until Chrysagon claims the 'right of Droit Seigneur' and beds the village girl he is taken with on her wedding night. In the morning he cannot give her back and the villagers go to the Frisian chief with the news that the boy lives. It is sad that the film does not show that the Friesans and the villages share the same religion and relatives as the play did.
At this point the film suddenly changes pace, with the love making of Chrysagon and his serf "Lady" being literally interrupted by the first Frisian attack on the stone tower housing the Normans. The screen is ablaze with action as arrows fly, swords and axes swing and the Normans exert super-human effort to avoid being over run by hordes of barbarians.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 1 Feb 2008
Format: DVD
A flop on its initial release and rarely revived since, The War Lord is one of the most interesting Sixties historical pictures. Dealing with the doomed love affair of a Norman knight and one of his vassals, Charlton Heston spent several years trying to get the picture into production (even approaching such unlikely potential directors as David Lean, Laurence Olivier, Carol Reed and Peter Ustinov) only to see it hacked down to two hours from final choice Franklin J. Schaffner's 171-minute rough cut to make it more of an action picture and highlight the siege finale.

There are obvious holes in the narrative, which may or may not be due to the cutting: it is never made clear why the dwarf turns against Chrysagon, while Rosemary Forsyth disappears for much of the last third of the picture while the battles rage. Budgetary limitations also make themselves felt in the unconvincing back projection. Similarly, while he maintains an imposing physical presence, Richard Boone gives the impression of having walked onto the wrong set by mistake every time he opens his mouth, but the rest of the cast fit their roles well, although the clash of accents makes itself felt on more than one occasion (Niall MacGinnis' Shire tones are wildly at odds with 'son' James Farentino's American, but thankfully no-one attempts a French accent). Yet these can forgiven in light of many of the film's achievements.

Although by no means at his best, Heston gradually impresses as the pauper knight who loses what he has fought his whole life to regain, ending his family line in the process over the only thing he has ever wanted for himself.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bob Salter TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 Nov 2009
Format: DVD
It was nice to see this rather neglected film so positively reviewed recently in the Daily telegraph, just prior to an airing on Sky movies classics. It has long been a history favourite of mine. It is very unlike so many other Charlton Heston costume dramas. I think particularly of those admirable Hollywood epics "Ben Hur" and "El Cid". This is a more intimate and well crafted epic in my opinion, and made a big impression on me when I first viewed it many years ago. Up until this film Hollywood had glamorized the feudal period out of all recognition. "The Vikings" was immense fun but Tony Curtis with his distinct Bronx accent struck a rather discordant note. The anachronistic castle used in the film did not help its street cred with nuts and bolts historians. Errol Flynn's earlier paen to the extravagent glories of Hollywood "The Adventures of Robin Hood", was impossibly romantic hokum. Glorious hokum it must be added! But "The War Lord" was the first such film to really satisfy the historian and those cinema goers wishing to see a well crafted film.

In the film Heston plays a knight who defends a village on the marshy coast of 11th century Normandy. He comes up against the bloodthirsty Frisian indvaders who set siege to his castle in a bloody encounter. There are also problems with the villagers when Heston decides to excercise his ancient right of droit de seigneur (or right to bed) on a very pretty local girl. To the victor go the spoils, or do they? The pretty girl in question does not look like your average medieval peasant girl it must be said.

The film accurately depicts the period as a dirty, brutal, poverty stricken time. It is a good study of the social stratification imposed by feudalism, that some might argue lingers to this day.
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