Italy. 12th Century. The Northern Lands are ruled by the German Emperor Frederick Hohenstaufen called Barbarossa (Redbeard). His dream is to conquer the lands of Central and Southern Italy to revive the Empire that once belonged to Charles the Great. But in the North there is a young man from Milan named Alberto Da Giussano. His dream is to defeat the Emperor and give freedom back to people from the Northern lands.
Awful acting, dreadful script. Second-rate CGI (when will film-makers learn that unless CGI is near-perfect it can take all semblance of believability away from a film?), and possibly some of the least convincing fight scenes ever (watch the background fighters looking bored and just going through the motions).
Rutger and F.Murray.....what were you thinking ????????????????? :0(
The only reason I gave this 2 stars is for the quality of the blu-ray.
A fairly good movie in it's own right, but I feel they could have done a lot more, one annoying factor was the music that played most of the way through the film, the storyline jumped all over the place and this made it hard to follow.
While not the outright stinker its reputation implies, Barbarossa: Siege Lord aka Sword of War is the kind of would-be epic where a potentially vaguely interesting period of history untapped by movies is undone by a poor script and stereotyped non-characters played either by disinterested stars like Rutger Hauer (a good 31 years too old for the part and sadly looking it) and a half-decently dubbed F. Murray Abraham or by Italian and Romanian actors who let their bad hair do their acting for them while they brood angrily. Dealing with Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa's siege and destruction of the city of Milan in the 12th Century and the eventual raising of the Company of Death to drive him out of Lombardy, it has its okay moments - mostly during the siege in the middle of the picture - but gets bogged down in clumsy plotting, uninspiring speeches about freedom, nonsense about prophecies, more uninspiring speeches about freedom, post-Gladiator default mode wailing woman scoring, even more uninspiring speeches about freedom and a half-baked love story between Raz Degan's sotto-voiced poser-cum-rebel who looks like he hasn't washed his hair since the 11th Century and Kasia Smutniak's witch while Abraham's treacherous noble hammily betrays the city, molests nuns ("We're going to have some fun!") and lusts after her sister. Naturally history only makes the odd fleeting appearance before turning tail and running to hide like Barbarossa at the Battle of Legnano.
It's all very reminiscent of those 50s and 60s peplums which would have decent production values but lifeless scripts and performances, simply replacing Romans and oppressed Christians with Romanian extras playing medieval Holy Roman Empire types and oppressed Italians. Half-dimensional characters talk either in clichés like "I am as cruel as God is merciful!" "Freedom! Freedom! Let's say freedom a few more times while we're at it!" - okay, I made part of that last one up - or pure historical exposition like "So here she is, the future empress. I just hope that she can make my cousin happier than his previous wife, who was incapable of being loved, and even more incapable of bearing him any children." "We all hope so. And as you must certainly know, his majesty has now wished for an heir for too long." "I'm afraid he's going to have to wait a bit longer for that. But he can console himself. Beatrice brings the whole of Borgogna in dowry." Sadly I didn't make that one up. Both are rendered even more clunking by the necessities of dubbing an international co-production, though that's no excuse for lines like "Prepare to join your bitch whore sweetheart in Hell!"
When they're not talking, half-decently staged shots jostle with awkward ones where you can tell no-one's heart is in it despite the director frequently having most of the resources he needs to pull the scene off. At times they don't seem to have had time or money to put the CGI crowds they need into the background of shots, leading to some bizarre continuity lapses in the final battle where a supposedly awe-inspiring army of thousands in the extreme long shots turns into 30 or 40 men in the long shots, but generally the spectacle is carried off fairly efficiently. It just depends on whether you think efficiency is enough. It's main interest probably lies as a particularly dangerous drinking game from those foolhardy souls who think they can survive taking a shot every time Degan says "Freedom!" without running the risk of life-threatening alcohol poisoning.
The film exists in various versions - a 139-minute Italian theatrical version, a 128-minute international DVD version and a 200-minute TV version. It's hard to imagine any of the longer cuts suddenly turning into a better film. Metrodome's UK DVD is the two-hour version with English soundtrack only, an excellent 2.35:1 widescreen transfer but no extras - and, as is de rigeur with the label's releases, has a cover that bears little relation to the film.