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The Reckoning [DVD]

4.0 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Paul Bettany, Marian Aguilera, Trevor Steedman, Simon McBurney, Tom Hardy
  • Directors: Paul McGuigan
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Eiv
  • DVD Release Date: 27 Sept. 2004
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002K10NO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,476 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Murder mystery set in medieval England, based on the novel 'Morality Play' by Barry Unsworth. Paul Bettany stars as Nicholas, a young priest who is forced to flee the wrath of his bishop and fellow monks after breaking his vow of chastity. On the road he witnesses the murder of one of the performers in a group of wandering actors led by the good-natured Martin (Willem Dafoe), and subsequently joins the troupe as a replacement for the murdered man. When the troupe arrive in an impoverished town to give a performance, they hear that a boy has been killed and a young deaf-mute girl, Martha (Elvira Mínguez) has been sentenced to death for his murder and witchcraft. Setting aside their usual fare of dramatised bible stories, Nicholas and Martin decide to look into the story as the basis for a new play. But they uncover more than they had expected, finding out that the townspeople know that the girl is innocent and have their own reasons for vilifying her. As in Shakespeare's Hamlet, the stage becomes the place where truths are told, and Nicholas, who has been racked with guilt since committing his crime against the priesthood, finally finds a dramatic way to atone for his sins.

Customer Reviews

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By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 20 July 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Reckoning is an engaging but not always entirely successful medieval murder/conspiracy thriller that probably aimed to tap into the 'Name of the Rose' market only to be shelved for so long you could have mistaken it for a Miramax movie. I first saw the film in 2001 more than two years before its blink-and-you'll-miss-it theatrical release, and in the interim it went through some tweaking and rescoring, although this is mainly for the better - the ending seems a little tighter (although the fate of the killer still fails to convince) and Vincent Cassell's Norman lord is introduced much earlier into the proceedings, which helps considerably (in the previous cut he was a remote, faceless presence for most of the movie), although Gina McKee's role seems less substantial than I remember.
There are still problems in the film, including a couple of weak performances (the usually reliable Ewan Bremner and a flat and disinterested Matthew McFadyen in particular), and the impressive set still looks more like the Spanish mountains than the Yorkshire Dales, but there's still much to admire in this tale of a priest on the run who falls in with a group of travelling actors only to find a chance for redemption when, while performing a play about a child murder in a village, he discovers that the deaf and dumb healer sentenced to hang for the crime is clearly innocent. Paul Bettany is fine in the lead, although Willem Dafoe inadvisedly succombs to the siren call of attempting a Yorkshire accent and ending up with something very odd indeed (previous victims include Donald Sutherland in 'Revolution'), and you can even spot 'Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg in a brief bit as a gaoler. Despite being a little too fond of overhead shots here, Paul McGuigan's an interesting director with talent to burn who has yet to make an entirely successful film, but this is still well worth a look.
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"The Reckoning" is based on the novel "Morality Play" by Barry Unsowrth. A morality play was a theatrical allegory that was popular in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. They involved a protagonist who is met by the personification of moral attributes, such as "Conscience," who try to persuade him to live a Godly life rather than follow the path of evil. The morality plays grew out of the religiously based mystery and miracle plays and are important in theater history because they represent a key shift to secular drama. "The Reckoning" is a fictional tale about the first such morality play, so it reminds me of "Stage Beauty," a recent film that depicts the beginning of method acting, as well as older films like "In the Name of the Rose," because of both its medieval setting and the fact that there is a murder mystery at the heart of the tale.
Nicolas (Paul Bettany), a priest who must flee after being caught in the act of adultery, joins a company of players headed by Martin (Willem Dafoe). Martin's father has just died and Nicolas is able to join the troupe because they need somebody to play the bit parts. But when Nicolas is able to give Martin's father a Christian burial (they cannot afford to pay for the rites), a bond is established between the two men. However, the miracle plays they perform are no longer drawing the crowds or the money they need to survive, so Martin proposes they give the people what they might want to see. A dramatization about the murder of a local boy by a witch who has been sentenced to death.
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Paul Bettany shines as the former monk who joins a troupe of actors whilst on the run as an adulterer and murderer.
The film is blased on a Morality Play and succeeds in that, but the English scenery is not convincing and is reminiscent of that in "The Name of the Rose" - so obviously Spanish.
The players find themselves in a village where a woman is awaiting execution for murder. PB does the Brother Cadfaels and in a precious short time performs an autopsy on the victim and proves the maid innocent. What our modern police could learn from these Medieval monks!
All in all, apart from Mr Bettany, the acting is muted and restrained, though Mr Dafoe looks extraordinarily handsome having more hair that usual, perhaps.
I am not familiar with the director's work, but it was a decent film and atmospheric (I had to put on the central heating half way through).
Worth as viewing if you like Ye Anciente Whodunnits.
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Given the quality of the actors I expected this to be pretty good.What I hadn't expected was quite how good.It was obviouslly made on a smallish budget:the locations were permissable in a european rather than post Anglo saxon England setting.However this did not detract from the story,which is set in post conquest England when much of the country was under the heel of the Norman tyrany.The plot is good and you will watch far worse and pay more for it.Give it a go,in particular if your into early period drama.
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The Reckoning is an excellent medieval murder mystery, based on the Barry Unsworth book - Morality Play (also worth a look). It creates an authentic feel of the age, e.g. having a French speaking Norman lord, with plenty of thought provoking drama, humour and spectacle. The story is not a cheerful one, however, and is not the standard 'blockbuster' formula and checklist of ingredients. But it is an engaging dramatization of good book, with a great cast of actors. The Reckoning is recommended for lovers of interesting stories and sincere film making.
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