8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The War Lord: the first serious attempt to meet the High Middle Ages on its own Terms.,
This review is from: The War Lord [DVD] (DVD)
Charlton likened the initial reviews of his co-production with Universal Studios to "a kick in the balls". The plain fact is that the viewing public and the critics who served them were not ready for this type of film. People had been raised on the sort of visual diet that had been provided by films such as "Ivanhoe" which was released in 1952.
The Middle Ages, in common with any other period in recorded history, had its own cultural values which were expressed through a peculiar cultural language. In this case what was dealt with was the ethic of Feudalism which was essentially an elaborate system of service which incorporated a code of reciprocal obligations between the lord and his vassals. This service cpuld take on a military form and it was this one that was exercised by the Duke of Ghent's most trusted knight, one Chrysagon de la Crux. Ostensibly he was being rewarded for twenty years of loyal service by being granted his own fiefdom which he held in the name of the Duke of Ghent.
However, there are underlying and unresolved tensions that exist between Chrysagon and his younger brother Draco. The latter resented living in his elder brother's shadow and wanted the rewards of merit in his own name. The falconer, Fulc, also seeks status and does not like being the butt of demeaning jokes that emphasise his dwarfism. Eventually, after the initial repulse of the Frisian raiders, it is Chrysagon's falling in love with Bronwen, a young village woman betrothed to Marc, the ward of Odins, the village Elder, that serves to bring all the latent stress to the boil.
The whole code of honour and trust which is so vital to the functioning of Feudalism is threatened by the refusal of Chrysagon to return Bronwen to the village following her spending the night in his Donjon where he had exercised his right of Droit de Seigneur.
All the protagonists express their resentment in various ways: the villagers switch their allegiance from the Duke to the Frisians, Draco fiercely reminds his elder brother of the obligations of Feudalism, Fulc joins the villagers (after being deprived of the opportunity to make a personal servant of the captured son of the chief of the Frisians). The Frisians come to free their leader's son, but are again repulsed. After relief brought by Draco through the good offices of the Duke, both the former and Chrysagon are involved in fight which results in Draco's death.
Sickened by the violence and the killing, Chrysagon makes a truce with the chief of the Frisians and entrusts Bronwen to the latter's safe keeping.
Marc tries to kill Chrysagon because of his feelings for Bronwen, but is summarily killed by Bors, the retainer of Chrysagon.
The film ends with Chrysagon setting out with Bors in order to make his peace with the Duke of Ghent (who had transferred the feifdom to Draco because of the behaviour of Chrysagon towards Bronwen).
Throughout the whole drama the one real hero in all this is Bors. He alone is loyal and supportive to all whom he works with and reminds Chrysagon of the obligation that the Duke had placed on him to guard and guide Chrysagon and he alone has remained a man of honour in the true Feudal sense. This is just as well because Chrysagon's feudal training does not stand him in good stead when faced with dealing with strong emotions, in this case sexual love.
The film is dark in atmosphere and dignified in expression. It deserves to be seen many times over as it will always provoke thought about a period in history which is far removed from the values of our own day.
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Initial post: 2 Jan 2011 12:25:48 GMT
This is an excellent review of the film but it would be helpful to have some comment about the DVD release on offer here- which apparently is a Region 2 issue in June 2010.
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