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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 16 September 2010
I was almost put off watching this film by the very fact that it seems to have appeared from nowhere. I hadn't read anything about it and had not heard any rumours about it being made. Like a US stealth bomber it seems to have slipped under the radar. But I have to say, when it finally arrived, just like a stealth bomber, it delivered an unexpected bang.
This is a gem of a film. True, at heart, it's one of those soppy love stories. But like Tristan & Isolde before it (2005 20th Century Fox / Scott Free) it is a magical tale that transports you with ease into a world of rich textures, and just like the myriad facets of a gem, mesmerizes you with its tones and depth.
The cinematography is magical and owes I think not a little to Ridley Scott's Kingdom Of Heaven. In fact many of the scenes shot in the Holy Land could easily have been lifted wholesale from that blockbuster of a movie. I don't mean here to suggest that Arn is in anyway a copy of the former, but like Kingdom, this film is a visual feast all be it on a much smaller, cosier scale.
The film skips constantly back and forth between a snow-laden Northern Europe and a sun-scorched Holy Land, and whilst this gets a little disorientating at times, and one often wishes the film would slow down to ponder a little longer on a particular storyline, it does mean that there is very little padding throughout the length of the film. If I have a complaint at all, it is that this two hour ten minute film feels rushed - there is too much story and just not enough time, which is to be expected when a film tries to deal with three novels in one go. This is a big budget movie that works well on so many levels, but would have been so much better had it been two or even three films. But that is a minor quibble. If you like your historic dramas to be rich in detail, beautifully filmed and impeccably acted, then this film is worth a watch.
EXTENDED EDITION UPDATE:
I have since treated myself to the Special Extended Edition of this film that contains the original, two-part TV series in its entirety. With this edition you get a more detailed look at Arn's childhood and his adolescent friendship with the young Knut, which goes a long way to explain Arn's later devotion the the man who became king, and which was sorely missing in the original release. Also included are some nice and necessary scenes of Arn's married life, which extends the story quite considerably after his eventual return from the Holy Land. All in all it is definitely worth getting the extended version.
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on 9 August 2010
This is a good adaptation of the Jan Guillou trilogy. Though it has neither the full depth nor breadth of the novels (impossible in only a few hours of film), it is faithful to the story-line, to the trilogy's focus and the historical 'correctness' of the novels and to the main characters.
It is lovely to hear people actually SPEAKING different languages, and not have everyone speak English with different accents only.
The languages spoken are: Swedish, English (to represent Medieval French), Arabic. Moreover a few sentencs of French and Latin are spoken, and a few characters speak Norwegian and Danish (Danish only in the second film). And what is more impressive: The languages are well spoken - e.g. no 'broken English' or 'broken Arabic' either. Truly an international movie.
But if you don't like having to read subtitles you will not like this film.
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on 14 July 2010
This film is without doubt the best historical fiction film I have ever seen. The story, based on a trilogy by Jan Guillou, is enchanting and gripping and the film makers have obviously done their history research and actually utilised the information. The Swedish landscapes whether winter or summer are cinematically breathtaking and you can taste the sand and feel the heat in the desert scenes. The romance is believable and the cast is fantastic and international with at least four languages spoken in one film! The final film Arn: Riket vid vägens slut, Arn: The Kingdom at Road's End, is also definitely worth a watch as the stellar quality continues. All in all, this film is and will probably remain as one of my favourite movies.
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on 21 September 2010
Having read about this film on the internet, and that full story came in two 2 hour films - Knight Templar and at road's end, I was really looking forward to it. After what was an enjoyable film which was finely acted and director, I sought to find the 2nd part "at Road's end". I am now disappointed to find that this dvd is a combination of both films with a huge 2 hours cut from the story. Some of the missing scenes can be seen on the extras part of the dvd in the making of featurette. Although I enjoyed the film and the story did flow naturally, it did feel that there were chunks missing and that the main characters 20 year punishment went by very quickly. It is such a shame that the makers of this dvd cut so much of the film in what can only be an attempt to sell to the mass market and hope that this subtitle heavy story becomes popular. Hopefully one day the full story will be available on dvd.

I have given this dvd only 3 stars to reflect the fact that it has been cut so severely, otherwise I would have given 5 stars.
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on 8 September 2010
I have watched this film through several times having bought a european copy last year. I could watch it again this evening. Lovely characterisation, real balance in the Crusaders vs Muslims debate. An honest appreciation of the Knights Templars who usually seem to be 'baddies' in most movies - Ii'm sure the vast majority where not unlike Arn in fact. Acting wise - Joakim Nätterqvist [Arn] and Sofia Helin [Cecelia] are lovely to watch and their interaction is very genuine. Smaller roles which I also enjoyed were Simon Callow as the Abott and the Brother Guilbert played by Vincent Perez.

It is always nice to see people speak in their own languages [about 6 I counted] and it makes the fim that more believable.

Ok the only thing I would criticise it on is the money spent on the battle scenes - because it didn't have US backing it couldn't do full justice to these and therefore - well they fall short somewhat - but by that stage you won't care.

Warning the version is the 'cut for US market one' there are two films here cut into one - hence some of the reviewers thinking it is rushed. The full length of both movies is about 5 hours. The only way to get this [and it is worth it] is to buy both films [rip them on a computer] find subtitles for them and re-burn them. You're not breaking copyright as you already own both movies. IS IS WORTH IT:)

Buy it buy it buy it

Brubaker
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on 4 September 2010
Had no expectations when I saw this film and it was frankly, brilliant. You know you are watching a good film when you care about the characters which is all due to the excellent acting, direction and film quality. I only wish that we in Britain could produce films of this quality, but just goes to show how poor our film industry is compared to other countries. If you want a good Medieval drama with sweeping panoramas and a strong story line then this is for you.
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on 17 December 2011
For many people, their first encounter with Arn: Knight Templar will have been with the original UK DVD-release, a 130-minute edited merging of the two original Swedish films that, though enjoyable, cut whole swathes from the story and left a superficial and at times confusing narrative. Happily, with this extended 'director's cut' we can now enjoy the whole story in two 100-minute features that ably fill all the gaps.

Set in the 12th-century in both Gothia (southern Sweden) and the Holy Land, Arn: Knight Templar tells the sprawling tale of young Swedish nobleman Arn Magnusson's journey from a childhood spent in a Cistercian monastery, where he learns martial qualities from a kindly French monk and former Knight Templar, all the way to the bloody battlefields of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, where he is sent to join the Templars in their fight against the Saracens as penance for a forbidden love affair with the beautiful Cecilia Algotsdotter, who in turn is sent to a nunnery. While Arn forges a reputation as a Templar knight of renown on the searing sands, back home Cecilia battles with sadistic nuns and her doubts that she will ever see her beloved Arn again. Meanwhile dynastic feuding rages all around her as the unified Kingdom of Sweden slowly and brutally takes shape.

Now to be enjoyed here in its full glory, Arn: Knight Templar is quite simply the best medieval film drama around. Though largely in Swedish with English subtitles (the sequences in the Holy Land and in the monastery are in English), this production, the most expensive ever to come out of Sweden, is exciting, engaging and moving, and not a little instructive for those unfamiliar with Swedish history. The narrative itself is taut and mature, with the three distinct strands - Arn as crusader, the struggles of Cecilia, and the clan warfare in Gothia - cleverly and neatly intertwined. Though bound to be compared with Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, Arn: Knight Templar, while perhaps not as epic a spectacle, is a deeper and more involving story than Scott's revisionist Hollywood hokum and one that portrays the Templars as something more than just a rabble of psychotic pantomime villains.

Performances are excellent throughout, with Joakim Nätterqvist and Sofia Helin perfect as the lovers who will not be denied. Nätterqvist lends a grizzled vulnerability to the character of Arn and Sofia Helin, though achingly beautiful as the stoical Cecilia, is also flawed and scarred, which adds to her medieval authenticity. Simon Callow and Vincent Perez pop up as kindly and wise Cistercian monks, the latter playing Arn's childhood mentor Brother Guilbert, and Stellan Skarsgård gives a typically robust performance as Arn's uncle and clan hard-man Birger Brosa. Perhaps the only unconvincing performance comes from Nicholas Boulton playing real-life Templar Grand-Master Gerard de Ridefort, who is just a little too sneering and just a little too incompetent (senior Templars would not have elected a military buffoon as Grand Master). The larger battle scenes in the Holy Land too, though well realized, are a little too sparsely populated to be wholly convincing, with the seminal Battle of Hattin consisting of little more than a skirmish outside some tents.

All in all though, this extended version of Arn: Knight Templar is great entertainment and well worth your time. I was originally going to watch each of the two features here separately, but I became so engrossed in the first that I ultimately watched the whole story through to the end in one sitting. It's that good.

The two features are presented in anamorphic widescreen and are mostly in Swedish with English subtitles. There is also the normal 'scene selection' option as well as a 20-minute 'behind the scenes' documentary that is worth a watch.
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on 21 September 2010
I am always wary of films or a TV drama which involve the Knights Templar, as more often than not they contain a complete load of nonsense and concentrate more on the 'myth' than actual facts, but reading some of the reviews on here and elsewhere for this film I thought I'd give it a try, seeing as it was fairly cheap.

I was certainly pleasantly surprised and this is a very good film.

Parts of the plot of the film are quite similar to 'Kingdom of Heaven', although I must say with probably only a fraction of the budget of 'Kingdom', this is a far better film and the lead character, Arn, is certainly far more believable than the rather limp and weak Orlando Bloom, who I thought was very badly cast in the lead role in 'Kingdom'.

In this film though Arn leaves his loved one, Cecilia, at home, banished to a monastery where she has his child (with a particularly good performance from the rather sadistic and cruel Abbess). Meanwhile Arn is sent to the Holy Land as a warrior monk with the Knights Templar as his punishment - It is his story which resembles that of Kingdom of Heaven, but far better handled by the both writer and director.

I've never been one to be put off by sub-titles and there are quite a few in this film, although to the director's credit I did like the way in which we get a multitude of different languages spoken throughout, and it certainly made the whole film seem much more authentic.

I won't go into any detail of the story anymore as other reviewers have already done that, but the comparison with 'Kingdom of Heaven' is always there, although I believe this film stands head and shoulders above it, both in the quality of the acting and the script. Obviously they couldn't afford the lavish sets like 'Kingdom', but nevertheless the director has done a very fine job with an excellent cast.

The very best is certainly made of the wonderful locations it has been shot at, from the snow sprinkled landscapes of Sweden, to the Monastic scenes in Scotland, then over to the sun drenched edges of the Sahara dunes in Morocco for the Holy Land scenes - all beautifully handled with some accomplished camerawork.

The only criticism I have is that it did rather jump from the Holy Land back to Scandinavia a little too often, and this on occasions did rather spoil the atmosphere which was being created, although this is really only a minor point and should not detract from what a well made film it is. I now know that the reason for this jumping about is that they have basically chopped two films into one - I'd love to see it in it's entirety and original form.

I don't give out five stars lightly in any of the reviews I have done, but this film gets a worthy four and a half stars, as it's a very enjoyable action drama and love story which I could certainly watch again.
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on 20 May 2012
Don't get me wrong this is a wonderful film but unfortunately to produce this version they have had to chop bits out of the original 2 films Arn- The Knight Templar and Arn- The Kingdom at Roads End.

Most of his childhood including the scenes leading up to and includings his Mothers death from Tetanus, the attack during the Folkung coronation ceremony at a small church (early in the first film) are among some of the many main parts of the storyline that have been edited out which is such a shame as the original 2 films were outstanding.
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on 6 October 2010
I agree with those reviewers who are disappointed to find this DVD presentation is an edit of two separate films. I did not know this before watching the film, but now I understand why the editing does not really work; it is two films cut and pieced together. Why did this happen? Was it a failure of nerve on the part of the director etc? Even so, in this less than satisfactory editing, it is better than "Braveheart" and much better that "Kingdom of Heaven" (which in some parts it resembles). Like others I would love to see the whole thing. It is too good a production to leave in this state. I gave it four stars because it is better than anything I have seen on the Crusades and the character of Saladin is better here than in "Kingdom.." (and for me, that was the best thing in Scott's film)
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