The War Lord 1965 CC

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(72) IMDb 6.9/10
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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).

Starring:
Henry Wilcoxon, Guy Stockwell
Rental Formats:
Blu-ray

Product Details

Discs
  • 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

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Feb. 2011
Format: DVD
The War Lord stars Charlton Heston, Richard Boone, Rosemary Forsyth, Guy Stockwell, Maurice Evans, Niall MacGinnis, Henry Wilcoxon and James Farentino, amongst others. It's directed by future Oscar winning Director Franklin J. Schaffner (Best Director for Patton), and the screenplay is by PJohn Collier with the adaptation coming from the play, The Lovers, written by Leslie Stevens.

The War Lord harks back to days of yore as we enter the 11th century and ancient Normandy. The film successfully brings the period down to the nitty gritty and doesn't glamorise either the characters or the way of life of the various social dwellers. Time has been afforded the pagan mythologies that existed back then, whilst the upper class' rights such as "droit de seigneur" (ius primae noctis) forms the back bone for our story as Heston's Duke falls for the Druid peasantry virgin (Rosemary Forsyth) he has claimed his right too, tho his inner conflict with the ways irks him so. Thanks to Schaffner the film manages to blend its dialogue heavy plot with some well crafted battle scenes, with the use of weaponry and tactics particularly impressive. You can see that this hasn't just been thrown together as a cash in historical epic featuring Chuck Heston. The cast are strong, particularly Boone and Stockwell, while Jerome Moross (score) and Russell Metty (cinematography) capture the time frame with skill.

Rarely talked about in terms of historical epics, or even Heston epics come to that, The War Lord is however one of the more tightly written and thematically interesting movies from the genre. 7/10
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77 of 82 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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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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