5 stars. Very enjoyable, very entertaining and very informative. I watched it in one sitting and was so impressed I watched all of the special dvd 'extras' too. I don't normally bother with those. It's an incredible true story and this film does it justice. The subject matter is so plentiful that it could have been stretched into a much longer box set format, which would have been great but I'm grateful for what we have. Watching this you realise how much of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was influenced by Anglo Saxon history. I hope it becomes compulsory viewing for school children and that it encourages more film-makers to take on the epic tales of our past.
Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, even given budget restraints but overall, it shows our Anglo Saxon English ancestors in a good light which is a welcome change.
Bad points - The Anglo Saxon English appear primitive at the wedding near the start (England was the most advanced nation is Europe, with a localised government and effective national authority based on a truly democratic system - that's why the Normans invaded in the first place). Small, unrealistic battles (a young lad running though the Viking ranks to take Hardrada's banner). Vikings, as ever are portrayed as superhuman fighters (they were mostly raiders and pirates who avoided pitched battles).
Good points - the LOTR tie-ins which show how heavily influenced Tolkien was by Anglo Saxon culture, and where many of the phrases used in the books come from such as 'Orc' (old English for a demon-foreigner) and elves (woodland beings, not to be trusted). It shows the human side to a genocide that happened in England and is rarely mentioned. King Harold is portrayed very well and his death scenes with Edith Swan-necked were touching. A timely reminder at the end of how much English land still belongs to the descendants of the Norman elite who imposed their wicked feudalism on a previously free people after 1066.
For all those that love historical battles and especially those who enjoy learning of Anglo Saxon England, this is a must.
a film/documentary as the middle earth goes south of England to fight the oncoming normans who in the end didnt turn up before the crop collecting time,then they learn they have to run 200 miles to Stanford bridge to fight the on coming vikingr (Vikings) after that they learn they have to go to sussex as the normans have arrived late for the battle of hastings,a great lesson in history for school children instead of reading it it gives them more interest in the subject,a good dvd
If you have serious interest in 11th century history or in campaign strategies, and if you're already familiar with the events of 1066, and if you don't mind dry presentation, this is the dvd for you.
But if the topic is new to you, or if you want an exciting, stimulating DVD, stay clear.
The cover picture promises a dramatic, exciting documentary... but the DVD doesn't deliver. Basically, there are two presenters. The DVD shows one of them standing around, talking. Then the other stands around, talking. Then both sit together on a couch, talking. Repeat.
Occasionally, there's a costumed reenactor standing around, talking. And for variety, one of the presenters stands next to the reenactor, talking.
What they talk about is interesting... but only if you're seriously interested in 11th century battle strategies. I am, so I was able to enjoy it. For someone else, this DVD might be boring.
The only "action" is some reenactors playing at battle... but it's so unrealistic, so half-hearted, so limp, it doesn't resemble any real fighting, let alone an 11th century battle. These are just kids playing, carefully not to hit or hurt each other - which is nice for a safe game or the annual school stage performance, but not for a documentary about a battle.
Now and then, there's modern music blaring for several seconds. While Saxons and Normans "battle" each other, there's the battle music with instruments which weren't even invented yet in 1066. That just feels so wrong.
I've mentioned that people with a serious interest in 11th century history or in battle strategies will find this interesting. The facts presented are historically accurate, with emphasis on the decisions made by the leaders (and no regard to the experience of the grunt in the front line). If you're already familiar with the battles of 1066 and want to deepen your knowledge, it's a good DVD.
But don't expect too deep scholarship here. The presenters emphasised that the locations of the battles in the Stamford Bridge vicinity is disputed. I approve of that; few documentaries make this point. So when it came to the Battle of Hastings (the location of which is highly disputed) I was looking forward to the presenters' comments on whether the battle occurred at the assumed place, or at Bulverhythe or one of the other candidates. But they did not even mention that this location is disputed. They just pretended there was only one possible location. In another documentary, this wouldn't have been a problem, but since they made such a big show of discussing the disputed Stamford Bridge locations, this felt wrong.
Summary: Recommended if you have previous knowledge of the topic and want factual presentation with emphasis on the leader's strategic decisions and semi-scholarly depth. Not recommended if you want human interest, if you're new to the topic, or if you like convincing reenactment.
Very good overview of what happened in a 'nutshell'. Reasonable acting, good costumes and fighting. Even the Saxon tongue in the beginning was perfect (it just seemd to be Dutch). A couple of months after buying this I saw a new version with Dutch titles which would have been better for the elders....