"I took that sword. I've lived twenty years with that cold wife." A flop on its initial release and rarely revived since, The War Lord is one of the most interesting Sixties historical pictures. Dealing with the doomed love affair of a Norman knight and one of his vassals, Charlton Heston spent several years trying to get the picture into production (even approaching such unlikely potential directors as David Lean, Laurence Olivier, Carol Reed and Peter Ustinov) only to see it hacked down to two hours from final choice Franklin J. Schaffner's 171-minute rough cut to make it more of an action picture and highlight the siege finale.
There are obvious holes in the narrative, which may or may not be due to the cutting: it is never made clear why the dwarf turns against Chrysagon, while Rosemary Forsyth disappears for much of the last third of the picture while the battles rage. Budgetary limitations also make themselves felt in the unconvincing back projection. Similarly, while he maintains an imposing physical presence, Richard Boone gives the impression of having walked onto the wrong set by mistake every time he opens his mouth, but the rest of the cast fit their roles well, although the clash of accents makes itself felt on more than one occasion (Niall MacGinnis' Shire tones are wildly at odds with 'son' James Farentino's American, but thankfully no-one attempts a French accent). Yet these can forgiven in light of many of the film's achievements.
Although by no means at his best, Heston gradually impresses as the pauper knight who loses what he has fought his whole life to regain, ending his family line in the process over the only thing he has ever wanted for himself. Heston is well countered by Guy Stockwell, who mostly manages to prevent his role as his discontented brother spill over into cardboard villainy, while Joe Canutt's action scenes are well-staged.
Jerome Moross' superb, vividly romantic score is one of the best of the Sixties and the visual design of the film is particularly impressive and intriguing. Not only do his Scope compositions make the most of the Norman arches of the castle keep to contain the drama, but Schaffner imaginatively separates the lovers by foreground obstacles - a tree, a beam -in the early scenes, while in a later scene, as the war lord foregoes duty for love Heston is reduced to a silhouette, a shadow of his former authority and nobless oblige, while Forsyth remains perfectly lit.
The DVD transfer is not entirely satisfying but acceptable, though the only extra is the rather confused theatrical trailer that only highlights Universal's indecision over how to sell it, or indeed on what they were selling - even Heston's narration of it is uncertain of what kind of picture he's pitching.
While a full restoration is at best unlikely, with its for the most part successful attempt to recreate a past world largely ignored by Hollywood (though one of the film's central plot devices was reused in Braveheart) the film retains an uncommon flavour and texture of its own that separates it from its contemporaries. It may not be the masterpiece it wants to be, but The War Lord is an admirable and unique piece of work....more info
Worthwhile Dark Ages drama Charlton Heston stars as Chrysagon, a noble 11th century Norman knight in a very solid action, adventure flick "The War Lord". Heston, appropriately measured in his role has been commissioned by his superior, the Duke, to procure and defend a strategic piece of land bordering the sea and the site of frequent raids by barbaric Frisian hordes. Supported by his younger brother the scheming and envious Draco played by Guy Stockwell and by his loyal appointed guardian Bors, personal tough guy favorite Richard Boone, they fight off a Frisian attack capturing a young prince.
Heston's troops take over the castle in a land inhabited by a pagan Druid village. Following the Duke's orders Heston rules with a gentle hand but becomes smitten with a fetching peasant girl Bronwyn played by Rosemary Forsyth. Bronwyn is bethrothed to local villager Marc played by the horribly miscast James Farentino. The manipulative Stockwell coaxes Heston into declaring his right as lord of the land to have relations with the virgin bride under Druid law. They predictably fall in love and Heston refuses to release the girl raising the ire of the villagers.
Aided by some of Heston's minions who betray him, the Druids scheme to mobilize the Frisians in a rescue attempt of the young captured prince. They hope to garner revenge against Heston and his men and seize the peasant girl Bronwyn. Some first rate battle scenes soon ensue.
Director Schaffner accurately captures the dirty squalid conditions of the times and the costumes enhance the film's authencity. The action scenes, mixed well with romantic sections, are very tasty complete with catapaults, boiling oil, battering rams, and close combat with swords, spears and lances. This underrated movie features a nice array of acting performances particularly by Stockwell, Boone and Heston. A bonus was seeing fine character actor Henry Wilcoxon as the leader of the Frisians....more info
Bouncing arrows, but still good I think this is one of the best-ever medieval war films. Charlton Heston's role (Chrysagon Delacroix) is almost perfect: Rosemary Forsyth (Bronwyn) is mysterious and gorgeous. Bors (played by Richard Boone) is taciturn, rough and also unforgettable. Draco (Guy Stockwell, Heston's insanely jealous younger brother) is my favorite character.
Other than a few visual (technical) gaffs - like arrows bouncing off the siege tower draw bridge, and using modern-looking recurve bows - the armor and weapons and fighting is very satisfying. The mixture of Christianity in the presence of the old unforgotten Celtic religion is a tense ingredient that adds depth to what is essentially a simple story of "boy meets girl" and keeps her, even when his world turns against him over it....more info
SATISFYING FEUDAL MELODRAMA Though overshadowed by the more spectacular epics of Charlton Heston's legendary career, "The War Lord" is in fact better than almost anything contemporary Hollywood has to offer and deserves a far larger following. Mr. Heston shines in the role of Sir Chrysagon, a tough, valiant Norman knight who falls for the lovely Druid-girl Bronwyn--who, naturally, is promised to another. Despite the cultural gulf between them, Chrysagon and Bronwyn fall passionately in love, and must defend their newfound life together from rebellious peasants, axe-slinging Frisians, and Chrysagon's own brother, Drako. Heston captures Chrysagon's heroic but flawed character brilliantly, effortlessly fusing pride, frustration, strength, and longing into a believable whole. Likewise, Rosemary Forsythe conveys all of Bronwyn's intermingled love, fear, confusion, and uncertain loyalty. Like the mythic Ophelia, Bronwyn seems bound to a chaotic whirlwind, caught up in a dream she knows can only end in nightmare, but yet unwilling to have it any other way. Aided by stalwart performances by Richard Boone (the loyal Bors, Chrysagon's lifelong companion) and Guy Stockwell (masterful as Chrysagon's brother, tired of living in his sibling's giant shadow), and boasting enough drama, romance, and action (the tower siege is a thriller!) to please any fan of medieval tales, "The War Lord" lives on as a captivating film that remains untarnished by time and seems genuinely better with every viewing....more info
One of the Top Ten Historical Movies I think I first saw this film in the early 1970s on some "Saturday Night at the Movies" network showing. However, it was only in the 1980s after a period of deep historical study and a decade of involvement as a comptetitve fencer and also a participating instructor/actor at the original California Renaissance Faire that I saw this film again. It became one of my favorites in the genre. Since many other reviewers have done a fine job detailing the production values and plot, I would like to present an "insders" review, if I can.
I do this with the understanding of the reader that overall I rate the film and the areas of my criticisms as very darn good! Especially for 1965. Also, I think that many are missing one important consideration; This film presents its story in an almost non-sensational, understated way. This is one of the things that make it so realistic. Today's viewer might think it dull, but a knowledgeable viewer will recognize the realism of this approach as one of the outstanding values of it. Even the love story is realistic in my opinion. The female is a peasant virgin, raised illiterate and in a small world, secure in her ages old traditions of the Stone and the Tree of the Druids and taught to revere the powerful. When confronted by Chrysagon the first few times, she is realistically both attracted and afraid. He upset after their first meeting is because she sense her improper attraction and the trouble it can cause her. When they are at last together, she would have known nothing of the practices of love. So I find it refreshing that this beautiful peasant girl does not instantly become a wanton slut, seething with carnal lust. And Heston's character may have known women, but has not spent his life as one practiced in romancing a woman. So when they come together it is not a scene of face devouring, opened-mouth kissing so common today, (on film and otherwise) and vulgar gyrating on a bed. They would have both been as restrained and confused - and reverent - as they are protrayed in the scenes.
For the period, it is outstanding in its realistic battle scenes. There are only a few flaws with the fights and tower battle sequences. First, is my pet peeve, the crotch kick. It seems that this unrealistic ploy has been used in many films since the 1970s, but this one is unique in using it perhaps ten years before it became an almost standard move in the usual Western sword fight in any period. There are several reasons for it being badly out of place. First, anyone who has done any real fighting in his life knows that a crotch shot when the blood is up is pretty ineffective - a crotch shot works when the male is relaxed and not expecting it. This has actually been used in more than one movie as an amped up feminist era replacement of the slap in the face to a cad or rejected suitor. (Very tasteless and offensive to me even used that way). The fighting men of the period and long before and after wore a protection device called a "codpiece." It could be leather, or it may be found in all complete armor samples of this period. Even the Friesians would have had a leather codpiece. The codpiece renders the sword or polearm questionable let alone a foot or knee. To add to this, the testicles are a very small target and do retract a great deal when adrenlin is rushing through the system - and it always does, in a real fight. A real fighter doesn't intentionally risk his life for a lucky shot at his adversaries jewels. Finally, in this particular fight maneuver, Heston's character is realistically threatened with an axe, ready to fall. His reponse, a kick to the crotch is not only timed badly, no real warrior would let a crotch kick arrest his purpose, and combined with all the aforementions problems, is nothing less than a suicidal choice. But this is how the crotch kick is always used, as a suposed arrest of a threat on its way. I made my wife laught last night as we viewed the film again when I quiped, if crotch-kicking was so effective, all battles would revolve around crotch kicking matches. (Oh, that felt good - so glad to express this finally)!
Another problem with the action is the lack of realism in wounding. I don't mean that it should be more bloody, although that is a minor problem itself. No, I mean that the action suffers a bit from the old Hollywood action directing that hails from the theater - a sword need only touch a foe and he is dead. Realism would be better served if a some wounded were created and one blow did not fully dispatch every warrior. When the battle scenes are done there seem to be living and dead, with only a few wounded. The truth of all combat is that there are nearly always more wounded survivors than dead - except in a massacre.
With those criticisms I must again proclaim the overall the battle scenes to be well executed from a fighting and strategic point of view. The metal ring of the broadsword may be a little unrealistic, but its effect here was chilling, such a weapon welded by a professional is certainly something to fear! But what I love to watch over and over is the axe to sword fight in the opening fight between Chrysagon and the Freisian Chief. The Freisian cheiftain uses his axe to parry the sword in the most realistically skilled manner I have ever seen in any film! The tower siege is wonderfully done and presents a very realistic display of tactics of attack and defense, plus the likely individual heroisms that made medeival battle so fearsome. So many ready to die for their lords and leaders! It impresses the 21st century mind with the ideas of kith and kin - and tribe that seem to be all but gone from the Western World, and the idea so well put forward by LOTR that these values are the ones MOST worth fighting for and preserving. But in the tower battle, all the details are there. The casual viewer might miss for example the order given to barracade the stairs as the battle becomes more desperate for the Normans. Just then, the cavalry arives. Contrived perhaps, but without the rescue, there would be no story to report!
Now, Richard Boone - I agree with the reviewer who says that this man, like (Guy Stockwell)never got his due in Hollywood. Nearly everyone will know Paladin of "Have Gun Will Travel." (Richard Boone was a real life descendant of Daniel Boone. So is Pat Boone). I think Boone did a remarkable job here, protraying the sullen and dutiful bodygaurd Bors to Heston's Chrysagon. Only toward the end does the reality of the fix Chrysagon is in bring out the great acting and direction that reveals a remarkable father to child-like love between the two men. It is worth the movie just for that aspect. In 1965 this was a risky scene for any actor and I think it still is today. So well done, but again understatement is what impresses. No "Brokeback Mountain" subplot that would no doubt be included in a remake today.
Some reviews off the Amazon site has said that Rosemary Forsyth's character Bronwyn did not fit in and that she was miscaste and/or wooden. I disagree with that view and would present this replacement criticsim; Bronlynn looks exactly as a Celtic dweller on the North Sea in the eleventh century would have been expected to look like. It is the rest of her village that is miscaste. It seems as if the directors idea of a peasant village in the eleventh century would be filled with goons and circus freaks, infected with various unknown genetic and diseased abnormalities. The dwarf mascot was realistic enough however. (To the reviewer that doesn't see how he was moved against Chrysagon - I think it is plain enough in a typical (for this film) understated way. You have to see it happen - "between the lines." But it seems to me that the turning point after continued mistreatments by Draco, Chrysagon cuts that line that holds the boy prince of the Friesans as his slave and so severes the last bond to the Normans. His later appearance under the arm of a buxom peasant girl and some evidence that he had been cultivating acceptance among the villagers as his postion with the Normans seemed to be declining. The dwarf was a dwarf, but not dumb and not without pride.
I would contend that this village freak show would not be so. The first Roman reports of the Celts were that they were of exceeding beauty and the women were considered more beautiful than the most beautiful of Rome. When the first Germanic (relatives of these pre-Dutch peasants) were taken to Rome as slaves, they were named Anglos by the early Christians because their blonde hair, blue eyes and perfect features were literally named "Angels" by the clergy and converted as it was unthinkable that such anglelike beings could not be Christians. Bronwyn was typical, not an exception as the film seems to suppose. It must be admitted however, that Chrysagon's brother Draco does make her seem unremarkable by his remarks that seem to dismiss her. But then, the film makes a good case for Chrysagon's bewitchment by the mystical nature of his first encounters with her. How sad that today's vulgar "hook-up" has replaced that mystical romance that can occur when a man and woman meet. Today, we carry around far too much political/social baggage for the natural to unfold like this. (But not me, I was lucky!)
That brings me to the final set of comments from this windbag! Anyone who has studied or even partaken in Pagan or Wiccan ceremony will appreciate the very fair and honorable way that the "Old Ways" are represented in this film. Remarkable for 1965, but even more remarkable today! Contrary to current portrayals that seem to seek to level the European pre-Christians with the Aztec pre-Christians for some PC motivation, the Celts were not murderous savages with their rites full of human sacrifices. By the time depicted in this film, human sacrifice, a rare rite anyway, had completely disappeared from the surviving pagan regions of Europe. The other aspect of this presentation I really appreciated was the remarkable skill that the director ultilized the text - which he had to have read thoroughly, in depicting the many and huge compromises the Roman Church made institutionally and even locally as the Christianizing of this village demanded - all of this is overwhlelmingly supported by factual historical records, but hardly ever portrayed. In fact, I cannot think of any other movie except for "Gladiator" that does this even a little, if in a different manner. Even today, one may travel rural Europe and find local saints, left overs from local Pagan gods, especially in France and Spain. (But the "new" Baltic States has a Druid like region that seems to have survived the ages). The writer of "The Lovers" on which this film is based, had to have read "The Golden Bough" and even some of Ceasar's writings on the Gauls. Real understanding is shown and delivered with competence and skill as the priest constantly seeks to reconcile the demands of his "calling" with the reality he finds in his "diocese."
While I agree that it is no academy award winner, it deserves a lot more attention than it receives. Although I find all but one reviewer here seems to like this film as much as I do. I have owned a VHS copy for many years now, but I was surprised to see how expensive the dvd is here on Amazon. Has the dvd gone out of production?
But best of all, this film protrays an honorable man from an honorable family, downcaste from its standing by misfortune in battle and the loss of their father and the family fortune due to the very Friesians they again battle here. Chrysagon arrives with every intention to act as a loyal knight to his Duke and a chivalric knight to the peasants he is set to protect. But life has a way of complicating the best intentions and the man, berift of the tenderness of love for all his life risks all his honor and chance of regaining his and his families standing for love. Realizing the horror of his brother's death at his own hand and the political problems presented him all around, he chooses wisdom and charity rather than revenge in seeking to make amends and cancelling all threats. Here our Chrysagon shows what made his family great to begin with and why he will no doubt regain the Duke's favor in the end. The great ethical/moral lesson is made in a way even Tolkien or Lewis would applaud; the fallen man seeks redemption through intelligence and honorable acts in a crisis. We are left to feel that although his full penance may not be done, he will find redemption with his Lord Duke and finally be reunited with Bronwyn. And the Freisians, no longer the enemy will become allies. And so the historical tale of how Europe was brought to order out of The Dark Ages - is told.
The War Lord - To Me This Is A Classic Charlton Heston is in his prime and at his best in this film. It's very obvious why he was such a fantastic leading man. In this role he's rugged; tough but fair; harsh but tender. It all works with him. This movie is basically about this Warlord(Heston) and his younger brother Draco (Guy Stockwell)who became pauper knights when their father was taken hostage and all they owned had to be sold off to pay the ransom demand some 20 years earlier. Heston has spent these 20 years fighting for his Lord, the Duke, and turning over all the prizes to his younger brother who loves him but resents him of course because he can never be first, or the best, or the knight in favor with the Duke. Richard Boone is wonderful as what is really a surrogate father, but is the knight who was put forth to protect Heston's back by his biological father before he died. You really like all of these characters and become engrossed in their lives and what is happening to them.
Heston sees a peasant girl he wants, (Rosemary Forsyth)and after several encounters realizes she is already spoken for but can't give up on the idea of having her. When her husband-to-be and father-in-law to be come before him to seek his permission to wed, he gives permission but ultimately becomes crazed with the knowledge she is going to be lost to him forever. The plan for the right to the first night with the virgin bride is put forth and he once again has hopes of having her. The problem increases dramatically when after the first night, instead of returning her, he keeps her for his own. She of course is in love with him as well and their world is now this stark tower standing alone in what seems to be a wilderness. A major attack begins against the Warlord when the villagers join in with other enemies to fight what is now a common foe. We find however we are happy this great knight has managed to win the girl and have something of his own, something that he really wants and needs. We want him to be happy and to win. I think the era of romance and intrigue portrayed in this film is intermingled in our minds with the stories we've been told and read about: ladies fair who are saved by the knights and then kept for their own because they always end up falling in love with each other. Regardless, this is a love story that is very well told and you really do like every one of the characters (except for the falconer who is a turncoat). I watch this movie several times a year and I never tire of it. It's worth the price believe me. Do yourself a favor, buy it and enjoy it....more info
It Is Widescreen The listing says this disc is full-screen, but it is actually widescreen. It looks like 2.55:1 to me but might be 2.35:1....more info
Action, Adventure and Romance Charlton Heston as the title charcter, given charge of land and a village to serve his lord in an accurate portrayal of the feudal system. The land is under attack by marauders, the Frisians, against one of which Heston has a personal grudge. In the story Heston falls in love with a village girl to be married to the village chieftans son. These all come together in the end of the movie in an exciting battle for the Warlord's tower. The action sequences are exciting and well done. The acting is solid. A classic action movie....more info
the warlord This is one movie that cant be missed. Charlton Heston gives one of his best performances as a noble who was wronged and fights for forbidden love. With a backdrop of a tower in the middle of nowhere, this shows movies are not made that anymore....more info
A Realistic Look at the Knights-in-Armor Genre I saw this movie in its original theatrical release. I was impressed at the time with its attempt to portray the period accurately. It was the first movie I had seen that did not romanticize the period as was done in Robin Hood, Ivanhoe and other similar movies.
The story is about a minor knight defending a dreary castle on the fringes of Normandy. The costumes are realistic and the dirt, grime and poverty of the period are shown without any of the usual Hollywood gloss. The main story is a love story between the knight (Charleton Heston) and a local peasant woman (Rosemary Forsyth), but there is plenty of action, including a seige of the castle by barbaric Frisians. I wouldn't call it a classic, but it is well done and entertaining.
The DVD is the first I've seen from Goodtimes. The video transfer is surprizingly good for a film this old and on a disc this inexpensive. The color is rich and bright. The sharpness varies. The close and medium shots are good to very good but the long shots were both soft and showed some grain. The audio is digital mono so it won't exercise your sound system, but it was clear and the dialogue was never drowned out. The only supplemental material is a trailer.
If you like sword and armor movies, you won't go wrong with The War Lord....more info
Please Remaster this Film! Although The Warlord is no masterpiece, it is a very good and entertaining movie. As part of Charlton Heston's filmography, it certainly deserves respect in the form of an overdue remastering and anamorphic transfer (Beware: this presentation is NOT ANAMORPHIC, and the picture quality, especially at the beginning, is terrible!). Hope the powers that be are listening. 4 stars for the film; 0 stars for the transfer....more info
Hey, it's Charlton Heston Usually old movies are really cheesy and fake, but not this one. Hey, it's Charlton Heston! Along with Excalibur (directed by John Boorman) this is one of my favorite "Middle Ages" movie. The War Lord has one of the best, if not the most realistic battle scenes ever filmed-- the castle scene, it's uttlery fantastic. I'll take the realistic and non-glorified battle scenes of this movie over those of the Gladiator anyday. Also, Heston's love interest in this movie has that classic hollywood look, I can't describe it, but it's there. This movie is kind of the opposite of Braveheart, they're both dealing with Lords stealing other men's women, but in this movie they actually end up falling in love. Not too shabby....more info
One of the greats! I've loved this film from my youth. Richard Boone plays a wonderful character. Like _Paladin on a beer budget....more info
war lord One of the most interesting historical movies that I have ever seen. An excellent story, very good written characters, impressive music, careful scenery and, in general, a very credible atmosphere of the Middle Ages....more info
The War Lord Now here is a lttle known (or appreciated) gem. A film very much for (and from) the 60's but with some twists. The action is excellent as befits the title of the film but it is also a love story that does not slow down or hinder the film.....as most do. The cast is supurb. Richard Boone as the mighty Bors is in top form here. I always thought he was one of this countries under rated actors. Maurice Evans and Naill MacGuinness give a European flavour to this mix. Heston is stalwart and heroic and gives a very "un Heston like" moment at the very end of the film, almost childlike and in need of sympathy. It is a fine job of acting. Rosemary Forsyth is lovely and the musical score (by Jerome Moross) haunting and imaginative. The transfer is excellent as is the scope. This is a film both for the 60's and the ages. One of my very favourites.........enjoy!...more info
love and war in medieval times Based on Leslie Stevens' play, "The Lovers", this Hollywood production added many action scenes to make the story into an epic full of 11th century battles, giving Charlton Heston, after having starred in "Ben Hur" and "El Cid", another athletic part to show his horsemanship, and ability to wield sword and axe like the Norman knight he plays in this film; it also shows his tender side, with Bronwyn (Rosemary Forsyth), a peasant girl he lusts after, and then falls in love with after bedding her on her wedding night, using the pagan rite of "Prima Notte", a law (supposedly fictional) that allowed the war lords of the time the privilege of deflowering the virgin bride (used also as a plot device in "Braveheart").
Heston is excellent as Chrysagon, the Norman knight, and he is backed by a marvelous supporting cast, with gruff and wily Richard Boone as a man who is Chrysagon's friend and protector, and best of all, a brilliant performance by Guy Stockwell as Chrysagon's devious and evil brother Draco; he steals every scene he is in, with a flamboyance that is just short of "over the top", and is vastly entertaining.
Other cast members of note are Maurice Evans as the Priest, Niall MacGinnis as Odins, and James Farentino as Marc, Bronwyn's husband.
The costuming and set design are meticulous in detail and period, and the circular castle is marvelous, with an eerie cold atmosphere.
Director Franklin Schaffner (who would work with Heston 3 years later in the box office hit "Planet of the Apes"), keeps the pace rolling with a lot of action, from hot oil poured from the castle tower, to fireball catapults and other medieval methods of warfare. Lovely cinematography by Russell Metty, much of it filmed in Northern California, and a score by Jerome Moross add to the enjoyment of this fine film. Total running time is 123 minutes.
A Thinking Person's Epic The Warlord is a medieval epic about a Norman knight's love for a peasant girl he may not have but whom he keeps anyway, and the consequences that ensue. It realistically depicts peasant life in 11th century Normandy before Christianity has become firmly established and the attention to detail is impressive. The costumes are accurate, right down to the bowl haircuts and horses' trappings, and were clearly designed with the Bayeux tapestry in mind.
Charlton Heston does very well as Chrysagon de la Croix, the Norman knight in question. He manages to be both stern and tormented at the same time, and Guy Stockwell is marvelous as Chrysagon's spiteful, witty, and very jealous younger brother. Notable performances are also made by Richard Boone, Chrysagon's retainer and friend, Maurice Evans, the village priest, and Henry Wilcoxon, the Frisian prince. (Wilcoxon had his own day as a heroic heart throb; he was Richard the Lion Heart in Cecil D. DeMille's 1935 epic, The Crusades). Rosemary Forsythe, the peasant girl, is initally very good. She is both attracted to and afraid of Chrysagon and conflicted about her betrothed, Marc (James Farentino). She plays all this out very well, but seems to lose interest half way through the movie, and her acting becomes wooden and unconvincing.
The fight sequences are a bit long and do not advance the story much but there is a good lesson here about medieval seige warfare - the battering ram, a wonderfully constructed siege tower, catapults and flaming arrows. And in a time when there were no computer enhancements, the battles are well staged and effective.
In summary, the Warlord is an intriguing movie that has a bit of everything. Although it is almost 40 years old, it doesn't seem dated. There is action, adventure and romance, with a little education thrown in. The ending is ambiguous enough to have allowed a sequel - Son of the Warlord? The Warlord Returns? Duke William's Revenge? It is too bad that Charlton Heston has retired for health reasons. He would have been terrific....more info
Heston is great in this Medieval Romance/Adventure This is a great looking film from 1965 that, as another reviewer mentioned, will draw some comparisons with "Braveheart," though it lacks the epic scale of that film. It's a much smaller and, in some ways, a more personal film. Charlton Heston gives yet another strong performance in the kind of role he was born to play, and is ably supported by the likes of Richard Boone, Guy Stockwell and Maurice Evans, among others. Look for a young James Farentino as the groom whose bride is taken from him during their wedding ceremony.
The film was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner who would re-team with Heston and Evans three years after this film to make "Planet of the Apes." Schaffner later went on to make "Patton." The film was adapted from a play entitled "The Lovers" and is, at heart, a bittersweet love story and not quite the action/adventure film that some viewers might expect, though the attack on the castle during the second half of the film is exciting and well staged.
Thanks to Goodtimes, an independent video/DVD company for releasing this film and other, older titles that they have licensed from Universal Studios. Thsy've done a fine job with this release; it's presented in widescreen format, but in mono sound (not surprising for a 1965 film). The picture quality is mostly great except for a few smoky, grainy scenes early in the film's opening battle, which suggests that this DVD release may have been constructed from composite sources. The DVD also offers a 3 minute preview trailer, complete with Heston extolling the virtues of the film, as well as English, French and Spanish subtitles and 18 chapter breaks....more info
Hestson's best and a must for fans of Medieval History!! Heston did a lot of films in his career, but some were overlooked because they were not the bigger than life Epics like Ben Hur and 10 Commandments.
But I have found Heston's works, The Naked Jungle, Diamond Head, Secret of the Incas (where Indiana Jones came from right down to the hat and leather jacket!!), The Big Country and The Warlord to be much more statisfying.
The War Lord especially is a rarely noticed and unappreciated film.
Set in Norman-Saxon England, he has been 'awarded' a small fief to hold against Frisans invaders (the same invaders that captured his father and bankrupted his family to ransom him). Tired of war, tired of the struggle, he is more than content with his lot - though not his younger brother, well played by Guy Stockwell. Heston only wants one thing more....the woman, a peasant promised to another. He can take her by right of being the lord, but he wants her heart and a woman's love.
Realisit portrayal of the fuedal person of post Saxon era of the Norman invasion of England, the performances are solid making this one special film, most notable the late Richard Boone (Have Gun Will Travel), one of the most natural actors ever to fill the screen. Solid action and battle scenes.
A must for Heston fans that want more than just the flash, a must for fans of medieval history, and an absolute must if you are a romantic at heart and love knights of auld and damsels in distress....more info
A Period Piece With Heart
The Warlord is one of those films that is rare. It's a period piece that was made at a time when they were primarily cinematic spectacles. But in the capable hands of Franklin Schaffner, this was really a film about tormented lovers who came from two different worlds- practiced and believed in seperate religious teachings, and who were misunderstood by all who surrounded them.
It opens in a time in history where warring parties fought over a fragmented Europe, while the conquered peasants tried to exist as best they could, trying to survive and carry on with their own traditions and beliefs, regardless of who held the momentary reigns of power.
It's a moody, well wriiten piece of work with a very adult theme (especially for the time in which it was made- the early 1960's).
Charlton Heston gives one of his finest performances, playing the battle weary warlord who is sent to govern and watch over them. Richard Boone and Guy Stockwell are excellent as the friend and brother in tow. They play a marvelous ying and yang to how Heston must govern- and how he must deal with the warrior threat that looms close by. Maurice Evans is a delight as the bumbling, bewildered priest and Rosemary Forsyth is properly mystical with what little she was given.
The only flaw is the ongoing battle scenes towards the film's end. They were forced on Schaffner by the studio to beef up the spectacle/commercial aspect of what was really a love story, and a study of pagan beliefs. It doesn't destroy the film but I came away wondering how good this film might have been, if they'd let Schaffner make the film he was trying to make.
Still, the mixing of Christianity and witchcraft- the love that springs between the lord and the pagan girl, from what initially is a cold act of conquest and a manipulation of pagan tradition....
It has some very interesting exchanges, excellent performances (especially Heston and Stockwell) and is definitely worth the watch....more info