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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent film
I enjoyed this film very much. Watching Cromwell take the well-trodden path of those who find that " power corrupts..." was, I thought, well portrayed in the lines of the script. Yes, I'm sure that the hopes of those reviewers seeking perfect chronological accuracy may not have been fully realised but the film remains true to the overall thrust of the developments of the...
Published 18 months ago by Dr. Philip R. Horobin

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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Suprisingly good historical drama
To Kill a King (aka Cromwell and Fairfax) came as quite a surprise - the film's troubled production is a local legend in the UK, the reviews were lukewarm and the film was further scuppered by a dreadful ad campaign and trailer. Then there was the fact that director Mike Barker's feature debut, the insultingly stupid The James Gang, was one of the very worst films I've...
Published on 25 July 2008 by Trevor Willsmer


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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Suprisingly good historical drama, 25 July 2008
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: To Kill A King [DVD] (DVD)
To Kill a King (aka Cromwell and Fairfax) came as quite a surprise - the film's troubled production is a local legend in the UK, the reviews were lukewarm and the film was further scuppered by a dreadful ad campaign and trailer. Then there was the fact that director Mike Barker's feature debut, the insultingly stupid The James Gang, was one of the very worst films I've ever had the misfortune to see. And that's ignoring Rupert Everett's efforts at promoting the movie in the States by describing it as boring rubbish and his performance being the only worthwhile thing in it.
The omens weren't good, to put it mildly, but it actually turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining and ambitious retelling of the troubled relationship between Lord Fairfax and his deputy Oliver Cromwell in the aftermath of the English Civil War. I can't vouch for its historical accuracy, but as drama it works very well, despite the fact that Roth's Cromwell isn't at the top of his game while Scott lacks the voice for the rabble-rousing speeches (although he's much better here than his usual lacklustre screen performances).

It's well-directed and hides the budget problems that saw the picture shut down for a few weeks while they scrambled for money to finish the picture quite admirably. It has a sense of scale both in story and treatment and, though it loses momentum slightly after the king's death, it deserved to find the audience it was denied in cinemas. Certainly a notch above the usual staid British historical picture, it's well worth a look.

The 2.35:1 transfer is good and the disc has a reasonable package of extras - featurette, behind the scenes footage, interviews and the aforementioned terrible trailer, surely one of the worst of all time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute rubbish; a waste of money, 24 May 2004
By 
Mr. Mice Guy (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: To Kill A King [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
I agree with the critical reviews below/above.

This is a travesty of history; even Cromwell [DVD] (1970) [2003] was better than this. If this is the best the British film industry can do, I shall never make fun of Hollywood again.

There are so many factual errors it is not worth listing them.

This is not a criticism of the actors, however - only the script. If you know nothing about the Civil War, then you might enjoy the film.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent film, 8 Sept. 2013
By 
Dr. Philip R. Horobin "Homer" (Wimborne, Dorset) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: To Kill A King [DVD] (DVD)
I enjoyed this film very much. Watching Cromwell take the well-trodden path of those who find that " power corrupts..." was, I thought, well portrayed in the lines of the script. Yes, I'm sure that the hopes of those reviewers seeking perfect chronological accuracy may not have been fully realised but the film remains true to the overall thrust of the developments of the time and compares very favourably with the many films currently on the circuit dealing with other historical events. For instance, I would think it improbable that Francis Drake actually ignited the fire ships as in " Elizabeth: The Golden Age " but I still enjoyed the film. The acting in this film is universally excellent although I found Tim Roth rather disappointing in the early scenes; but perhaps I was expecting too much after his terrific performance in " Reservoir Dogs ". That said, his rather clipped, succinct delivery is much more appropriate to his change of character in the second half of the film. Fairfax is superb throughout as he watches in, at first, bafflement and then horror the downward descent in his friend and co-conspirator. The dilemma in which he finds himself immediately after their success is beautifully scripted and portrayed, as is that experienced by his wife and her family and does much to explain the events that occurred subsequent to Cromwell's demise. Rupert Everett is superb as Charles the first resisting the temptation to depict him as an effete, rather peripheral figure overtaken by events. His dignity and firm belief in his " Divine Right " to govern are beautifully portrayed as are his efforts to influence events from his isolation and his refusal to sign the document that would have ensured his survival. The script has some lovely, thoughtful lines that are generally well-delivered and the post-battle scenes are realistic without yielding to the modern generation's preoccupation with gore. I strongly recommend you see this film.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting study of Thomas Fairfax, 19 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: To Kill A King [DVD] (DVD)
This is a clever film that looks at the role of Thomas Fairfax and his relationship to Cromwell ( who doesn't age at all over the 15 years of the film). With excellent roles by Tim Roth as Cromwell, Rupert Graves as Charles - there is much to like about this movie in terms of character development, changing allegiances and the complexity of friends who became foes.

Good strong character driven movie
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Was Cromwell's hanged skeleton necessary at the end?, 16 Sept. 2011
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This review is from: To Kill A King [DVD] (DVD)
1645 is a crucial year but what happened is not clear in this film that concentrates more on personal issues and intimate details than on historical facts.

The rivalry between Fairfax and Cromwell is purely circumstantial. It is not the very problem at the heart of the period. Cromwell is the one who reformed the army to lead them to victory. Cromwell is the one who had the eloquence and religious depth to inspire that newly reformed army to victory a first time against the king, and a second time against the king, and several more times against the Irish, the Scots and Spain. The second civil war is not clear in the film at all, apart from gritty details about hangings, killings and battlefield deaths.

The debate around parliament and the king is essential and reduced here to a clash between personalities, a clash between the authority of the military and that of the political branch of government. It also reduces Cromwell to pure violence, anger, fits of aggressiveness, etc. But that is not the debate. The debate is in the very nature of the king. In 1649 it is feudalism that dies on the scaffold, and not only the king. It is not the question of blue or red blood, but the question of who or what appoints the king, is it god or is it parliament, or even is it the people? That third alternative is absolutely absent, as if the film ignored the formula "the government of the people, by the people and for the people", at the end of another civil war.

This period then changed Europe, true enough, but also the world, and the end of the film with a jump from "Cromwell's revolution" to the "French Revolution" is absurd. It ignores the Glorious Revolution and the dismissal of the King by parliament, the establishment of rules for the choice or designation of successors on the throne by Parliament then, and the Declaration of Independence in America that explains how the people is fully justified to dismiss a king when the relations between this king and his people have distended and even gotten ruptured. For the first time ever in the feudal world that included the colonies in America a king, Charles I, was dismissed by his people and the representatives of this people.

The film is not clear at all on another detail: the fact that there must have been only a few tens of thousands of electors in England at the time to elect the members of parliament. Only the propertied free people who had real estate or a business (that could include as property serfs and other permanently or temporarily indentured human beings along with cattle and economic equipment) and paid taxes for these possessions or businesses could vote. The House of Lords had been disbanded and the House of Commons only represented the propertied and business-endowed tax paying at least well-off people, the bourgeoisie in another word. The film thus does not have to mention that seven members of Cromwell's family were at one time members of parliament.

It also can speak of the people as an abstract concept. The bourgeoisie was essentially a mercantile bourgeoisie and they possessed the fleet of the country and employed all the sailors. The crown had no fleet per se. Parliament, or rather the House of Commons, or what was left of it after various purges, was in the hands of the merchants and under the pressure of their fleet and sailors, and both were armed to defend themselves on the sea they were starting to conquer from the sails of Spain. This armament could easily be turned around.

That makes history easy then. There was no legal basis to dismiss the king, and what's more execute him in the whole world, I mean Christian world of course, and parliament "abused" their power in that case, and yet they wrote the world's history because after them there was a simple jurisprudence: a people has the right to dismiss their king if that king is no longer governing in the interest of that people. In a country of common law, that is an important argument. In 1215 at the time of Magna Carta, the barons and the church had imposed to the king a few measures but never did they question his authority that came from god almighty anyway. And we all know that since T.S. Eliot used the argument in his "Murder in the Cathedral".

The result is a very dubious Cromwell and a very haphazard approach of history, and a very long and high jump from 1649 to 1660 and the Restoration. But it is from 1649 to 1660 that the most important events occurred in Ireland, in Scotland and on the Seas against Spain, all for the sole profit of the merchants and the overseas maritime companies that were starting to emerge.

But it is always interesting to see something about this period which is still taboo in England. No surprise that the BBC is mostly absent from this field of historical study.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BLOODY BIRTH OF THE ENGLISH COMMONWEALTH, 12 Mar. 2014
By 
RBSProds "rbsprods" (Deep in the heart of Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: To Kill A King [DVD] (DVD)
Five RIVETING Stars!! Directed by Mike Barker and starring DougRay Scott, Tim Roth, Rupert Everett, and Olivia Williams, this is a brilliant historical retelling of the bloody transition of the English government from a royal monarchy to a republican Commonwealth. It's also centers on the love and tensions between Sir Thomas Fairfax (Scott) and his wife (WIlliams), and the friendship between Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell (a blazing Tim Roth) who became the Lord Protector of England, and the defiance of King Charles I (Everett) to certain political changes which were on the horizon for this king who ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland. The beautiful Olivia Williams steals every scene she's in, her beauty is seen in relief to the huge amount of testosterone evident throughout the movie in both war scenes and in the halls of parliament. But this film is mainly the vehicle for Scott (who also co-produced the movie)l, Roth, and Everett. and they are riveting individually and in the ensemble with Ms Williams. This is a must-see historical drama that is both gripping and mesmerizing with no wasted scenes. Highly Recommended. Five HISTORICAL Stars!!! (DVD: Region 2, 102 minutes; color; widescreen; Dolby Surround Sound: 2.0 and 5.1; closed captioned; extra features.)
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Deaths of Princes, 19 July 2008
By 
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
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A lot of first-rate talent is wasted in this static historical drama. As far as costumes and settings go, the production values are properly first-rate (One cannot get more elegant than Hampton Court or the Tower of London.), but very little happens, and what does, I suspect (based upon dim memory of reading about the era), is of tendentious historicity. This would not matter, if the film had compelling characters that one cared about, or anything resembling pace, but it plods along, except when Cromwell is ranting at the top of his voice. The camera, which is sometimes hand-held, is annoying, as is the music, which seems designed to tug at the heartstrings. The only character who is the least bit sympathetic is Rupert Everett, who, as King Charles I, goes to the scaffold with dignity.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Civil War, or the Cavaliers and the Roundheads, the film is less than enlightening. For those who know their British history, I can imagine, the movie must be infuriating.

Reviewed for Vine; Amazon.com
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A travesty of a film, 11 Feb. 2004
By 
John west (Wickham Market, Suffolk United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: To Kill A King [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This film supposedly examines the relationship between Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax. If you want historical accuracy forget it! The real Oliver Cromwell was nothing like Tim Roth's manic version. Cromwell did not kick people in the stomach, watch people being tortured, have people hanging from gallows in his garden or dip his hands in the King's blood. He wasn't even at the execution! This could have been a great film if the people in it had bothered to do any real research on the subject. Whoever wrote the screenplay should hang their head in shame for presenting this fiction as fact. This is the worst film that I have ever seen on the English Civil War. Don't waste 90 minutes of your life on this one.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars history, 6 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: To Kill A King [DVD] (DVD)
Bought this for school-- doing civil war with my students. I thought it would be too difficult for the lower group but in the end all the students in that year watched it and enjoyed it. There did need to be a bit of pause for clarification but overall I feel this is a little known gem which explains everything very well. Especially how ultimate power, ultimately corrupts.
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28 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A wasted opportunity, 11 July 2005
By A Customer
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This review is from: To Kill A King [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
As a passionate student of this period of history and a great admirer of Thomas Fairfax, whose talents and considerable contribution to the parliamentary cause is often overlooked in the history books in favour of Cromwell who was his deputy until 1651, I so wanted to like this film.
Sadly it makes a dog breakfast of the actual historical events, compressing six years of history into what seems like a matter of months and twisting history to make the story fit (eg Cromwell never actually met the King and Lady Fairfax was certainly not the King's cloesest confidante...I could go on!). Tim Roth's depiction of Cromwell as a demented gnome, is completely at odds with the historical character of the man.
However on the plus side, the costumes and settings and cinematography is wonderful and Dougray Scott makes a solid depiction of Tom Fairfax. I also liked Rupert Everett as (a rather tall) but dignified and credible Charles I.
This is a fascinating and an important period of English history but if you are looking to this film to provide you with historical accuracy, forget it. The old 1970 film Cromwell is a better bet!
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To Kill a King [Blu-ray] [2003] [US Import]
To Kill a King [Blu-ray] [2003] [US Import] by Mike Barker (Blu-ray - 2008)
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