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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love, war, siege engines, broken taboos, pagan magic and one thousand barbarians!, 27 Jan. 2011
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This review is from: The War Lord [DVD] (DVD)
This is one of my most favorite movies ever! I can watch it endlessly and every time its magic works perfectly! It is so good that it would be a sin to give any spoilers so let's just say that this is a very good attempt at a historical drama happening in the Dark Ages of Europe.

The story takes place in early XI century in northern France. In this times Europe finally started to recover from the terrible times of Great Migrations (476-955) and the emergence of new states, like Kingdom of France and Germanic Empire, brought finally some stability to populations.

It is during this time that Chrysagon de la Crue (Charlton Heston), a redoubtable knight in service of "Duke William of Ghent" (a fictitious character) "who held a coastal area in Normandy" (and therefore would have to be a vassal of King of France), arrives in the domain that he received as a reward. He is supposed to rule the place and get income from it, but also defend it against barbarian plunderers from Frisia (a land divided today between Netherlands and Germany). He brings with him another knight, his younger brother Draco, as well as a handful of faithful soldiers, or, as they were called in this time in France "sergents d'armes" - commoners who served as foot soldiers under the command of a knight for a wage. That covers the first two minutes of the movie... and about the rest of the story I will say nothing.

There are many excellent things in this movie. First let's say that "The War Lord" tries really hard to stick to the reality of the XI century in Western Europe. Costumes, weapons, armor and fighting tactics are really well described (well, there are of course little imperfections, but this simply can not be avoided). The siege scenes are particularly excellent and I count "The War Lord" as the BEST MEDIEVAL SIEGE MOVIE Hollywood managed to produce ever, before "The Lord of the Rings"! The survival of some pagan customs in remote corners of Christian France is also very well shown.

Then there is the love story. It is incredibly good, poignant, full of fire, beautiful, plunged in the middle of broken taboos and pagan magic. Bronwyn (Rosemary Forsyth), the girl Chrysagon falls in love with, is (mostly unwillingly) the perfect example of "femme fatale". Passions rising around her will devour the whole place of action with burning flames (literally) and then wash it with a river of blood.

The scenario is very good (it is an adaptation of a Broadway theatrical piece) and all the actors give an excellent performance. Other than Heston and Forsyth, special mention goes to Richard Boone, who plays Bors, personal servant to Chrysagon and chief sergeant of his soldiers, as well as to James Farentino, who plays a wealthy local farmer.

And then finally there are Frisian barbarians, who ARE NOT in any way related to Vikings (contrary to what is sometimes suggested). In XI century Viking raids on Europe were mostly a thing of the past, with the notable exception of Ireland, which dealt with them finally in 1014, year of the famous battle of Clontarf. No horned helmets here, no red bearded giants and no dragon ships - just a thousand honest, hard working, highly efficient, blood thirsty, pagan, terminally blond barbarians on a murderous rampage...)))

This movie is a splendor, a treasure, a wonder. To buy, watch, keep and re-watch. Enjoy!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Feb 2014, 08:32:19 GMT
Ronald Boyd says:
The character played by Heston is a Norman knight in the service of the Duke of Normandy, not the King of France!

Perhaps in future you could leave your unintentionally amusing take on history out of your reviews.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2014, 23:53:57 GMT
Darth Maciek says:
By the powers, you be right! Thank you for your post and for helping me improve my review!

Best regards
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