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Charlton Heston goes for poetry instead of bombast, romance instead of heroism
tonstant viewer22 September 2002
If you want a movie about long ago and far away, this one is highly recommendable, unless of course you need light sabers or all-powerful rings to hold your attention.

Costume pictures often reek of Classics Illustrated comic books. This is among the few whose script as filmed is not an insult.

Director Franklin Schaffner obviously loves the material. He later returned to the period with "Lionheart: the Children's Crusade," after "Planet of the Apes," "Patton," and his other famous epics.

The film's atmosphere is incredibly strong - I was absolutely sure that this was shot on location in Europe until I recognized the Universal hillside towards the end. Rarely does a Hollywood movie hide its back lot origins so thoroughly.

Minor drawbacks must be acknowledged. The girl suffers well silently but can't deliver her few lines. Maurice Evans is an awful ham, showing once again why he was Orson Welles' least favorite actor. There's a handful of clumsy process shots, and Paul Frees not only delivers the opening narration but voices both Sammy Ross and Michael Conrad, later familiar from "Hill Street Blues." Someone in the Universal sound department thought that Frees' voice was undetectable; and it isn't. (It gets worse: you can hear Frees as four separate characters in "Spartacus.")

None of these quibbles matter. The "War Lord" is romantic, poetic, mildly gritty (by today's standards), and the production design, cinematography and music are all gorgeous. The tumultuous siege of the tower is solid in the way things were before computers, and features what seems to be every stuntman in Hollywood, including Joe Canutt, Hal Needham, Richard Farnsworth and Buddy Van Horn.

I wish Universal could figure out a way to keep the DVD in print. Remastering might help. If you have a multi-system, multi-region player, at this writing a far superior widescreen Danish transfer is available from both UK and German Amazon.

IMDb lists at least 250,000 worse ways to spend two hours than "The War Lord." Make yourself comfortable and enjoy.
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A Castle and Some Swampland for Chuck
Bogmeister20 August 2005
The War Lord is Chrysagon, as essayed by Charlton Heston, a knight come to a moody medieval place with his retinue to take charge. This is one of Heston's best performances, as he actually loses himself in the role, at least in a few spots, rather than projecting his standard Chuck persona. He's somewhat superstitious, as everyone is during this period, longing for a little love which he never had a chance to have before, and in strange, if expected, competition with his younger brother (Stockwell). The fighting scenes are excellent, a bit ahead of their time, even if they don't seem so now. Back then, having guys clanking swords always carried the same limited appeal, but here there's some nicely energetic choreography, quite complex in places. As someone states near the beginning, the atmosphere has a queer, moody tinge and all the players seem caught in a suffocating tragedy waiting to happen. Director Schaffner, as he would continue in later films, conveys a reality to all the proceedings, despite a rather fantastic setting from our point of view in modern times.

Most of the actors are terrific. Boone is Boone, being his usual tough ornery personality; no one would mess with this guy. Stockwell is tremendous; it's a shame he only appeared in a few more films which no one went to see and faded. He's very intense here, his envy of his brother and coveting his station a palpable energy. Forsyth, the object of Heston's desire, does seem out of place, never really in sync with the rest of the cast. In a way, this works in her character's favor, what with the suggestion of witchery surrounding her. Farentino, in an early role, doesn't get to show much range but what he does show is very effective. You genuinely feel for his plight towards the end due to the strong emotion he projects. In all, this is a smaller-scale epic than what one is used to from Chuck ("El Cid" and "Ben Hur" for example) but the almost intimate focus on this patch of land and the small cast of characters works in its favor.
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This is the role Charlton Heston was born to play.
lloyd720200319 August 2004
If you're under 20 years of age this flick is going to look a little strange to you. There are no super-women wielding swords in battle, very little profanity, and the only sex is in PG form. Made in 1965, The Warlord is an accusing yet romantic look at medieval Europe. It's no Disney movie, but you could still take the whole family to see it.

The cast is first rate. Forget El Cid. This is the role Charlton Heston was born to play. You can pretty much say that about all the great actors in this story, most of whom are gone now. Richard Boone, Guy Stockwell, Maurice Evans, Michael Conrad,...but thank heaven we have them all assembled here in this exciting yarn about the middle ages. There's plenty of action, romance, and even a little comic relief. Men will enjoy the kick-butt sword fights, (Heston kicks one guy in the groin actually,--crude but effective). Ladies should enjoy the romance if they can remember that this is happening in the year 1060, long before the women's movement. The hero Chrysagon fights two empires for the love of one woman, says the promo. Even in 1965 that was enough for most women. The peasant girl Bronwyn, played by Rosemary Forsyth, has scores of men killing each other over her, although quite unintentionally.

Other good ingredients: a rousing and romantic musical score, and some well-done outdoor photography of Chrysagon's tower fortress and the battle scenes.

All in all, this is a great movie to watch on some Saturday afternoon. It will take you away from your problems for a while to a time and place long ago. And since medieval Europe really stank, it will make today's world look pretty good to you again.
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Please release this movie on DVD in the UK
bob-coley31 October 2005
This represents one of the few movies which, in an acceptable & believable way, manages to convey what might be an accurate snapshot of life under the Normans, whether in northern France or in Britain.

The script might be a little clichéd, but the Heston & Boone characters are very convincing as 'men of their times' and the costumes and settings are superb. The movie creates an excellent period atmosphere and the soundtrack is brilliant.

I have to admit, l first saw this movie at a cinema many years ago and have seen it only once on TV in the past twelve years. But it stuck in my memory and l would dearly love to see it again, soon! Surely this excellent historical movie deserves a UK DVD release?

So, whoever owns the rights to this classic, PUT IT OUT ON DVD NOW!!!! I can't be the only one who wants to own a copy of The War Lord!
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You Want Medieval? Take This!
ewarn-121 July 2004
Probably the most realistic portrayal of knights and feudal times in cinema history. Really gives you the feel of cold gloomy stone castles, dreary swamps of northwest Europe, and the unbearable social caste system. Who else but Chuck Heston could REALLY portray an eleventh century Norman knight? Robert Taylor? No way.

Maybe a little talky in places, but the talk does go somewhere. I could have used a few more action scenes, like the viking raiders attempt to storm Chucks tower. That was some epic battle sequence.

The cast all act like theyre medieval guys. Richard Boone,with his tremendous face,has a great role as Boris. They even got a dwarf/mascot in there who fits right in. Rosemary Forsyth is about the only one out of place, she looks like shes been growing up on a Malibu beach, not a filthy hovel in a cold swamp village. Her hair just doesent look like 1060.

Theres no real hero to this story, Chuck plays a tough soldier defending a village who lets his weaknesses carry him away (women). As the story develops, you see him lose the trust and control of his command. I found myself shouting at the screen. This same story has played out countless times since the dawn of man...On top of the world, and just cant resist that mystic female power. Hey, maybe Monica Lewinsky could have replaced Forsyth.

Even better than Chuck is Guy Stockwell. I think he died recently. This was one of his major roles, and he was always a seriously underated actor. He plays Draco, and hes cool. He had a great voice, but wasnt in too many good films. This was a great performance he will always be remembered for.
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Makes the middle ages so real you can smell them
krilljp22 April 2001
This movie portrays feudalism in Europe in a very unglamorous light. Nobody is happy, from the lord in the castle (Crisagon, played by Charlton Heston sporting a dark-ages soup-bowl haircut) to the peasants he governs. Even Crisagon's exercise of his feudal rights when a peasant girl marries doesn't cheer him up very much or very long, since it leads to lots of trouble. The movie has lots of little touches that seem realistic: Crisagon's dedication to the duke who enfoeffed him and his simple faith; the peasants' mix of Christianity and Druidism, the motley armor and gear Crisagon's men have, and many others. The end of the movie was out of sync with these other bits, because I don't see how catapults could have been moved cross-country so fast, or why anyone thought catapults would be useful against the beseigers instead of against the besieged tower.
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The realism of the movie.
scubamike29 April 2000
Everything in this movie is so real. The attitudes of each other the costumes the setting and on and on. Notice the actors never changed clothes. The tower was spartan just as it would have been. There has not been a movie that packs this level of realism.
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Painstakingly accurate epic
ginger_sonny3 August 2004
Painstakingly accurate historical epic that has Norman knight Heston, in charge of an 11th-century Druid community. He exercises his right to claim bride Forsyth on the night of her wedding, and she then falls for the knight, refusing to leave his side. Seeking vengeance, Farentino, the son of Druid leader MacGinniss, foments an all-out war between Heston and Heston's covetous brother (Stockwell). Despite the impressive scope of the battle scenes, The War Lord, based on a stage play by Stevens, is an intimate drama. Still, the sure-handed direction of Schaffner and the credible performances of Heston et al are well complemented by Morross's driving, Stravinsky-like score.
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Accurate depiction of Medieval life
nromanek13 July 2004
Captures a harsh flavor of medieval life in a way few other movies have -- the fervent Christianity at odds with superstition, the uncomfortable living conditions, the rigid barrier between ruler and ruled, the messy practicalities of medieval warfare, the absence of anything like personal "freedom". Also great to see portrayed a specific period of the 11th century that is not often depicted--around the time of William the Conqueror (one wonders if "The Duke" talked about in the story is meant to be William). Worth seeing too for the striking, brutally poetic dialog and Heston's performance.

The over-romantic score is distracting and often inappropriate. The female lead seems mis-directed--one feels she could do more, but is not being given the opportunity.
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Medieval drama with a sincere love story and bloody battles
ma-cortes27 April 2010
XI century, the powerful Duke William of Ganthe sends his main knight Chrysagon (Charlton Heston) and some warriors to defend coastal villages in Normandy against continuous Frisios attacks that sack, ravage, rampage and pillage. Meanwhile , war-hardened Chrysagonn falls in love with a peasant girl named Bronwyn (Rosemary Forsyth) , adopted daughter of the old Odin (Nial MacGuinnis), though she is unfortunately engaged to someone else (James Farentino). The nobleman uses an old law which allows knights his feudal right of first night called ¨Ius Primae Noctis¨ after the wedding celebration. Nevertheless Chrysagon and Bronwyn become enamored and vow to never apart .

This mood piece is an interesting story set in the 11th century with impressive production values full of scenes like ancient prints, pulsating action in the keep attack and excellent performances. Splendid evocation of medieval time based on the play ¨The lovers¨ by Leslie Stevens (Outer limits) and well-adapted by John Collier (Silvia Scarlett) and Millard Kaufman (Bad day at Black Rock). Top-notch Charlton Heston as Norman noble who invokes his right and steals a bride, Guy Stockwell as embittered, deranged and ambitious brother. And gorgeous, sensitive Rosemary Forsyth who never bettered her role as frail and enamored peasant , in addition Richard Boone does a sincere portrayal as a veteran warrior . The aces in the hole of this stunning movie are the evocative musical score by Jerome Moross and colorful cinematography by Russell Metty with wonderful images of all kind of skies and turquoise interiors. Furhermore appropriate costumes fitting to Middle Age by Vitti Nino Novarese. The motion picture picture is finely directed by Franklin J. Schaffner in the first collaboration to Heston who later directed him in ¨Planet of apes¨ and as co-protagonist Maurice Evans who in ¨War lord¨ plays a likable priest. Schaffner filmed several hits as ¨Papillon¨, ¨Boys from Brazil¨ and of course ¨Patton¨ and some flops as ¨Nicholas and Alexandra¨, ¨Day of dolphin¨ and ¨Lionheart¨. Although had studio interference ¨War lord¨ is one of the most impressive pieces of Middle Age that Hollywood ever realized. Rating : Better than average, well worth watching.
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One of the best depictions of life under Norman rule.
Marya15 June 1999
Up until this film, most Hollywood representations of life under feudalism were cleaned and glamorized myths of the sort found in children's stories. War Lord gives us the 11th century as it actually was: dirty, violent and utterly ruled by brute force. The social stratification imposed by feudalism governs every human relationship, with power devolving down from the duke to the knight to the men at arms. Of the two spiritual authorities present, the priest and the Druids, the weakest is the priest. A moving love story with enchanting music.
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Definitely an under-rated flick !
loosid_dreamers12 July 2009
I was a little kid seeing this in the theatres for the first time and I remember that before the credits ran Heston and Forsyth did a little introductory summary about the middle ages speaking directly to the audience. I can't remember exactly, but I think they also addressed the issue of the violence in the movie - which by today's standards is pretty mellow. It seems to me they talked about it as adding credibility to the film in terms of historical content. When does that happen anymore? I don't know if it's included in the DVD but it would be cool. I also think Franklin Shaffner was a wonderful director. No slop. No unnecessary scenes. And as good as Heston is, the performance that blew me away was given by Guy Stockwell. Oh my god. How was his brother Dean more visible in the industry? I don't know. And of course Richard Boone was terrific - especially in his last tender scene comforting Heston - the son he never had. I usually hesitate watching movies that I saw as a child because I don't want to lose the special feeling they gave me as a child, but this one certainly retains the romanticism and excitement found in a few other movies such as Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Samson and Delilah, and Demetrius and the Gladiators. Definitely an "A".
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Heston unhappy with film
decius7146 January 2002
I saw the film when it first came out and enjoyed Heston and Boone, but thought the female lead was a bust. I also was disappointed as I thought the film was disjointed. Sometime later I read Heston's comments. It seems there was a change of people in the front office at the studio and they recut the movie and added some more battle scenes. According to Heston they had a great script and story.

I have thought for years that I would like to see the movie as it was directed. After all Frank Schaffner was a great director, who later on did "Planet of the Apes" and " Patton". I think there would be a market for the original cut, if the cuttings are still around. They could in effect re-release it. Now THAT would be something. There is no end to the way the studios can make money again and again on the same movies, is there. He He Althought I often question thier intelligence. Remember when they tried to stop the VCR's and throw away a whole new source of revenue.
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Unjustly neglected medieval film
syntinen17 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
It's rotten luck when someone takes the trouble to make a historical drama based intelligently on the best historical knowledge available to them, only for subsequent research to prove it completely wrong. This fate befell The War Lord, which hinges on the idea – a perfectly respectable academic theory in 1965 when it was made – that the "jus primae noctis" was a survival of pre-Christian fertility rites. A couple of years later a French historian thoroughly exploded the idea that the custom ever existed at all; this left the film looking like an obvious historical nonsense, and as it doesn't contain enough wall-to-wall action for the average "never-mind-the-sense-bring-on-the-swords-and-battle-axes" fan of historical epics, it's been all but forgotten. A pity, because there's really a lot in it to like.

The hero is an 11th-century Norman knight, Chrysagon (Charlton Heston in a brutally unflattering Norman haircut), who after many years' service as a household knight has finally been given a fief of his own somewhere on the North Sea coast to defend against Frisian incursions for his master the Duke. (It's not clear which duke – of Normandy?) The action opens as Chrysagon arrives with his younger brother and small following of fighting men to claim his fief. They're pretty underwhelmed by it – it consists of swampy coastal forest, the castle is a grim dank primitive tower, and the paganism practised by the local peasantry unnerves them considerably. Still, a fief's a fief, and Chrysagon has fought a long time for this hike in status.

One of the local customs entails brides being taken to the local lord for their wedding night – for luck, fertility etc. Chrysagon rejects this custom not out of virtue but because he recoils from this pagan carry-on, and anyway, a Norman lord should be able to ravish peasants for himself - he shouldn't have to wait till they're brought to him. However (and you all saw this coming, didn't you?) one day his hounds chase a beautiful local bride-to-be into a pond and ……

Okay, the plot is a bit cheesy – but the whole thing is surprisingly realistic and medieval; you get the feeling that everyone concerned was genuinely trying to think themselves into the 11th century. Someone went to a lot of trouble working backwards from 19th-century European folklore and forwards from The Golden Bough to imagine how an 11th-century fertility rite might have been enacted – it's not their fault said rite never existed. The village really looks as though nothing very much has moved on there since the Migration Period, and the lord's tower is genuinely Romanesque. (Okay, it's more 12th than 11th century, and any stone tower at all would have been the last word in luxury and modernity back then – but that's nitpicking.) The Normans have the usual Hollywood knitted-string mail, but you can tell that the designer was looking hard at the Bayeux Tapestry. (And possibly even at the Norman-Sicilian clothes in the Imperial Treasury, judging by the side neck fastening on the Unreliable Younger Brother's tunic!)

But it's not only the look of it that they tried to make medieval, but the way everybody thinks and behaves. Somebody thought through the questions "did 11th-century Norman fighting men believe pagan gods existed at all, and if so what did they think they were?" and "how might Norman knights and priests have squared with their consciences participating in pagan customs?". Chrysagon is not only good but (according to his younger brother) tediously righteous; but everybody, including him, assumes that he can and will shag on the spot any peasant who takes his fancy. (It's only a superstitious fright that stops him.) He has power of life and death over the peasants, and takes for granted that they are inferior, yet he also accepts that local law and custom have some weight which he can't simply brush aside. It's going to be a hundred years before anybody invents courtly love, so all the Normans – including Chrysagon himself – take for granted that any feeling for a peasant girl deeper than crude lust is as at best an unmanly weakness, at worst madness or bewitchment. His men are all loyal followers of many years' service, but as they see their lord starting to go mushy over some slut and endanger them all by provoking a peasant revolt on her account, their loyalty starts to crumble. His younger brother, who was more-or-less content to play second fiddle to him when they were both household knights, finds himself resenting the gap in status that has opened up between them now he is his brother's vassal. All this has credibility.

It's far from perfect. Perhaps it really was necessary to label the peasants' religion as "Druidism" in order to convey the notion of pre-Christian paganism to the average viewer - but did they really have to call the heroine "Bronwyn"? (A friend of mine was misled by this into assuming the action was set in Brittany – she couldn't otherwise account for "Druids" and Celtic names!) And she is the one real embarrassment of the film. Her character is written as hopelessly sweet, feeble and drippy – no detectable personality - and Rosemary Forsythe doesn't look or sound like any kind of peasant from any place or time in history. Even so, The War Lord is one of the most medieval films I've ever seen, and is definitely worth watching if you can find it.
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An Honourable Failure
JamesHitchcock5 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This film is set in mediaeval Normandy, and the war lord of the title is the knight Chrysagon de la Crue. Chrysagon does not rank very high among the Norman aristocracy. His lands are poor,consisting mostly of marshland, and he has the thankless task of defending them on behalf of the Duke against warlike Frisian raiders. He is impoverished, having been forced to pay an extortionate ransom after his father was captured by the Frisians. Nevertheless, he is still a feudal lord, having near-absolute power over the peasants within his domain.

At first, he tries to exercise this power in a just and humane manner; for example, he saves the lives of poachers accused of poaching deer (a capital offence at that time) when he dismisses the evidence against them. Things change, however, when he meets a young village girl, Bronwyn. She is engaged to be married to Marc, a young peasant, but Chrysagon, struck by her beauty, claims the right of "Droit de Seigneur" which permits a feudal lord to sleep with any woman within his domain on the night before her marriage. Having spent the night with her, he falls obsessively in love and refuses to give her up. Marc and the other villagers swear revenge, and inform the Frisian chieftain that Chrysagon is holding his young son as a prisoner. The Frisians launch a raid to rescue the boy, and lay siege to Chrysagon's castle.

The film was based on a play called The Lovers; Charlton Heston altered the title after his production company bought the film rights. This would suggest that he was more interested in military action than in the love story, but in fact both elements are equally important. Chrysagon can be seen as a tragic hero, facing a classic dilemma, the choice between love and honour. A choice of this type was a common theme in the plays of Pierre Corneille (himself from Normandy), and the appeal of The Lovers to Heston may have been due to the fact that a few years earlier he had had a big success starring in another mediaeval drama with a similar theme, El Cid, partly based upon one of Corneille's most famous plays. Chrysagon is a battle-hardened, middle-aged bachelor, whose life has been dominated by what he calls his "cold mistress"- his sword. Suddenly, he realises that he has a chance of happiness with a beautiful young woman, but he can only achieve that happiness if he fails in his duty to his vassals, who expect that he will rule them justly, and to the Duke, who expects that he will keep the peace.

The film's main strength is the vivid picture it gives of the Middle Ages and the sense of a world very different from ours. The battle scenes are very realistic and convincing, especially the siege of the castle. Its main weakness is that the love story of Chrysagon and Bronwyn is never really credible. Heston is a fine actor, but even good actors have their limitations as well as their strengths. Heston's main strength has been playing men of action- not just military heroes (although he has played plenty of those) but also statesmen such as Richelieu and Thomas More, creative artists such as Michelangelo and religious leaders such as Moses. Sensitive individuals given to strong emotions have been less in his line of country; several of his characters have had wives or sweethearts, but affairs of the heart have generally taken a lesser role in his films. Will Penny may be an exception, but even here Will's rather gruff tenderness for Catherine is very different to Chrysagon's guilty, obsessive passion.

It is therefore not surprising that Chrysagon the warrior comes across as more credible than Chrysagon the lover. In Heston's scenes with Bronwyn he comes across as too stiff and stolid. The casting of Rosemary Forsyth as Bronwyn was not ideal, either. Although her innocent beauty made her physically right for the part, she is far too passive. For the story to work, the audience need to believe that she returns Chrysagon's passion for her, or at least that she is torn between her two lovers. Unfortunately, there is no sense of this in the film. The impression is given that she is meekly submitting to Chrysagon's will because she is too frightened to defy him, which means that he ceases to be a tragic hero and becomes a villain, little better than a rapist.

If the filmmakers had merely wanted to make a mediaeval adventure story, they would probably have made a very good one. The appear, however, to have had something more ambitious in mind, namely to make that rare thing in the cinema, a genuine tragic drama. I think that they failed in this ambition, but it was an honourable one, and The War Lord can be seen as an honourable failure. 6/10
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A Beautiful Historic Romance Starring Charlton Heston
FloatingOpera715 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The War Lord (1965): Starring Charlton Heston, Richard Boone, Rosemary Forsyth, Guy Stockwell, Maurice Evans, Niall MacGinnis, James Farentino, Jon Alderson, Allen Jaffe, Sammy Ross, Woodrow Parfrey Director Franklin J. Schaffer, Screnplay Jon Collier The War Lord satisfied the early to mid-60's penchant for sprawling epic films set in an ancient past and was yet another larger-than-life role for actor Charleton Heston, whose pre-70's career consisted mostly of historic costume dramas (Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, Agony And The Ecstasy, etc). In this film, Heston plays Chrysagon, a Britannic war lord who inherits his father's lands, battles his enemies with his army, and falls in love with a local pagan girl, Bronwyn(Rosemary Forsyth), who was being married to her village love. The War Lord steals her away to his castle where they make love and fall in love (which I think happens much too soon). Her husband is crazed with jealousy and swears vengeance and the war lord he feels is oppressing the people. Despite a melodramatic plot about vengeance, honor and romance, it's a sumptuous film which has a particularly magical effect on the viewer. It transports you to a time long-forgotten, the time when the Arthurian legends were first written, when Britain was still inhabited by the Druids who worshipped nature spirits and gods and goddesses. The Anglo-Saxons, Welsh and other more "advanced" people were conquering the British Isles and fighting among each other for supremacy. This film was rather graphic for its time, although the fighting and the "violence" is pretty tame compared to today's films. Charlton Heston stands out in another great role, but one that most people forget about as he was overshadowed by other greater performances of his. The cinematography is enchanting, the music is lovely. It's a terrific film for fans of historic epics and fans of Heston.
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Historic drama set in the early Middle Ages and recreating the conflict between what passed for chivalry pitted against a barbaric world
Mickey-24 December 1998
Charlton Heston portrays a Norman knight who has been given charge of a Druid peasant village located on the seacoast of England. As "The War Lord", or warden, he can pretty much rule the area as he sees fit, just as long as his lord, the Duke, is satisfied.

Eventually, Heston invokes a certain law of "first night", meaning that he had the right to possess a bride on her wedding night prior to her being with her lawful husband. He begins to attempt to steal a bride, played by Rosemary Forsyth, and breaks his word of letting her return to the village after the night ends. This sets up a conflict between the villagers and a group of sea warriors to rid the village of Heston and the Duke's small group of defenders. Finally, Heston has to fight to preserve his love for Bronwyn,(Forsyth) and also keep his vow to the Duke.

A good drama, but can be of high interest to those who enjoy films depicting life in the Middle Ages.
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A striking depiction of a violent age
luxor18031 January 1999
The film was based on a play - The lovers and in parts of the film it shows, but the story is interesting if unbalanced. After a first encounter between the Norman retinue of Chrysagon De Lacrue and Frisian raiders the film bogs down in the love story. Unfortunately, Rosemary Forsyth lacks either the acting experience, or personality to make Chrysagons betrayal of everything he has striven for with his sword "That cold mistress!" for over 20 years, seem plausible. As his brother comments, "Why don't you just sleep with her?" Captured in the battle is a young boy who turns out to be the son of the chieftan who impoverished Chrysagon and his brother Draco by charging an extortionate ransom for their captured father. All is well at first, until Chrysagon claims the right of Droit Signeur and beds a village girl he is taken with on her wedding night. In the morning he cannot give her back and the villagers go to the Frisian chief with the news that the boy lives.

At this point the film suddenly changes pace, with the love making of Chrysagon and his peasant girl being literally interrupted by the first Frisian attack on the stone tower housing the Normans. The screen is ablaze with action as arrows fly, swords and axes swing and the Normans exert super human effort to avoid being over run by hordes of barbarians. In short order we have a night attack to disable the draw bridge, a battering ram, the burning of the gate and a massive siege tower. The film carries on to a totally unexpected tragedy, followed by an unsatisfactory ending cribbed from Hemmingways For Whom The Bell Tolls.. Well worth watching if you like action films. Surprisingly, the whole thing was filmed in Hollywood, but it looks like Belgium and the Normans look like just that. Take it in, but fast forward in the middle if you get bored.
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This place has the dimensions of heresy.
Spikeopath16 June 2010
The War Lord stars Charlton Heston, Richard Boone, Rosemary Forsyth, Guy Stockwell, Maurice Evans, Niall MacGinnis, Henry Wilcoxon and James Farentino, amongst others. It's directed by future Oscar winning Director Franklin J. Schaffner (Best Director for Patton), and the screenplay is by PJohn Collier with the adaptation coming from the play, The Lovers, written by Leslie Stevens.

The War Lord harks back to days of yore as we enter the 11th century and ancient Normandy. The film successfully brings the period down to the nitty gritty and doesn't glamorise either the characters or the way of life of the various social dwellers. Time has been afforded the pagan mythologies that existed back then, whilst the upper class' rights such as "droit de seigneur" (ius primae noctis) forms the back bone for our story as Heston's Duke falls for the Druid peasantry virgin (Rosemary Forsyth) he has claimed his right too, tho his inner conflict with the ways irks him so. Thanks to Schaffner the film manages to blend its dialogue heavy plot with some well crafted battle scenes, with the use of weaponry and tactics particularly impressive. You can see that this hasn't just been thrown together as a cash in historical epic featuring Chuck Heston. The cast are strong, particularly Boone and Stockwell, while Jerome Moross (score) and Russell Metty (cinematography) capture the time frame with skill.

Rarely talked about in terms of historical epics, or even Heston epics come to that, The War Lord is however one of the more tightly written and thematically interesting movies from the genre. 7/10
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Good film. The war lord tower does not longer exist
singerhof127 October 2007
About the film, in my opinion is the better medieval film ever done. Original film track was long about three hours, but Universal has deleted a lot of scenes, part of them replacing with battle's scenes filmed by another Film Director. If film was long three hours, suck as "Ben Hur", can be better famous. The war lord tower was build with very accuracy, matching true Norman's epocal towers. I'm want tell about the warlord tower. Many people ignore than the War Lord tower do not longer exists. Was shut down in 2001 and replaced by HUGLE, TERRIFIC AND STUPID water-rocket for kids. It's a very horrible end story of a great medieval tower, replaced by plastic insignificant object.
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An atmospheric account of the principal pursuit of the medieval world: grabbing and holding land!
pastmaster27 March 2002
The story emerges out of one man's desperate desire to prove his achievements and wipe out family dishonour by holding a few acres of dark and and damp fenlands in early medieval Europe. All the action is set in the confines of the War Lord's new manor but includes all the elements of the medieval scene. Charlton Heston carries the title role perfectly; evoking all the codes of honour of those days. Supporting actors are well chosen and together produce a convincing portrait of that turbulent age. A very thoughtful film , although Heston complained that cuts made it less than his work had hoped for.
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Kirpianuscus27 July 2017
its poetry is the basic virtue. and the fact who gives to it a special individuality among the films of period from the same genre. first, for the love story, ambiguous , strange, not real fair. for the relation between brothers. for the shadow of the past. and, sure, for a hero far to be perfect. not the last, for Charlton Heston. many motifs for bitter critics in this case. not the convincing acting and a confuse story. but it remains a classic. maybe for the poetry of a story defined by clash between cultures, the sin of a brave hero, a love story who is different by the classic recipes. short, a classic.
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The Warlord: what great gals they had in the sixties.
niutta-enrico29 June 2014
A very detailed battle scene, a devastating passion, both depicted in a believable way. Amongst these, however, a repetitive confrontation among brothers, stereotyped characters and moral tenets (more pertaining to 1965 than to Middle Ages, I fear) which fatally influence the ending.

Actors are outstanding: real stars. Charlton Heston fills the screen and makes all his scenes memorable. Rosemary Forsyth is such a beauty that it is not hard to believe that men could have fought for her. I wonder if you noticed: in movies from those years, girls are often incredibly attractive.
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Best film about medieval Europe?
hou-312 May 2014
I am a medieval historian and for my money this is one of the best films about the period, maybe the best. The background research was far superior to that done for the much better known El Cid, and the script is intelligent and carries you along with it. This film really captures the flavour of life in the north-west coastal regions of Flanders in the mid- eleventh century. The tower in particular is thoroughly authentic as is the emphasis on hunting. Terrific stuff. As for the battle scenes, if there are better medieval ones I'd like to hear about them. The Frisians are nothing if not persistent ... Unfortunately the impressive input by design, costumes and cinematography is let down by the wooden acting of Rosemary Forsythe, which rivals that of Sophia Loren in El Cid for sheer blandness. But that's the 60s for you. If only we could take the feisty and charismatic acting of today's actresses and combine it with the realism of the best of post- war Hollywood, before post-modern tongue-in-cheek humour and cgi effects took over. This movie is far from perfect but it is eminently watchable.
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