Top positive review
Nice to look at, but historically inaccurate
27 November 2016
First off, the DVD is fine. Picture and sound quality are good, subtitles are available for those who need them, and the extras include a featurette and interviews with cast and crew.
Now to the film. If you want accurate historical facts, you will be well advised to stay away from this. What we get is a nice costume drama, loosely based on historical events. The film tells the story of the relationship between General Fairfax and his deputy and friend Oliver Cromwell from the perspective of Fairfax, in retrospect, as he remembers his friend and their times together when passing his skeleton displayed on a public gallows.
The director chooses to show Fairfax as the "good" force, and makes this rather too obvious, even for the casual viewer, by the magnificent white horse he rides. Cromwell, on the other hand, is shown as the dark force, a near psychopath, clad mostly in symbolic black and mounted on a black steed. The king in the title is only a minor character, which is a real pity because Rupert Everett's performance as Charles I is rather wonderful and the only memorable feature of the film. The famous trial of the king is included in the film (apparently only on Everett's insistence that it be, or otherwise he would not play the part), but the scene is unforgivably short - blink and you miss it. What a missed opportunity! The one thing I wanted to see more of was the king.
What I'm trying to say is that though the DVD is good, the film is very much a matter of taste and what expectations you have when you watch it. Having read quite a few negative reviews, my expectations weren't high and I found myself pleasantly surprised by a very watchable period piece. If you like period drama with nice costumes and sets and you're not too bothered with historical accuracy, you will probably enjoy this. Dougray Scott is quite adequate as Fairfax, making him a character the viewer can relate to. Tim Roth's Cromwell, cast as the villain of the piece, is more difficult to like. How much you enjoy his performance will probably depend on how much you like Roth as an actor. Rupert Everett as the king is a treat.