Ironclad (2011, UK)

Ironclad (2011, UK) posterThe first few times I thought my ears were playing a trick with me. But when I kept hearing Hungarain shouts from the supposedly Danish soldiers I had to suspend my disbelief. Just as I had to when it dawned on me that the implausible plot of a few dozen soldiers, with the help of half a dozen genuine knights, could hold up a castle from the attacking army of thousands. I had to stop the DVD and check on these.  According to IMDB the movie was all shot in Wales, so my only guess that the Hungarian stunts who could do convincing looking 13th century fight were cheaper to hire even there than Danish ones. I also saw in the credits at the end that all of th dozen or so stuntmen were Hungarians.There were Hungarian names in the camera, make-up and music departments of the production.  About the other unbelievable issue: Wikipedia tells me that there were probably between 95 and 140 defenders. Now that’s more likely.

Now that I am done with the minutia I can share what I think of the movie from a higher perspective: it was too gory for my taste, the main hero’s inner conflict –give up the vow of celibacy or cave to carnal desire–was not depicted convincingly enough but Paul Giamatti was an excellent and complex King. If movies are escapes to another reality than this was almost perfect as the visuals looked authentic enough of the era for me, a non-history buff. After seeing a heavily fictionalized version I wanted to read a proper historical account of what happened and found it in the BBC History Magazine: King John and the French invasion of England. That helped me separate fact from fiction. The movie was entertaining, but because of the above issues it fell short from being a great one.


IMDB’s summary:  It is the year 1215 and the rebel barons of England have forced their despised King John to put his royal seal to the Magna Carta, a noble, seminal document that upheld the rights of free-men. Yet within months of pledging himself to the great charter, the King reneged on his word and assembled a mercenary army on the south coast of England with the intention of bringing the barons and the country back under his tyrannical rule. Barring his way stood the mighty Rochester castle, a place that would become the symbol of the rebel’s momentous struggle for justice and freedom.


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