What a fantastic movie. A lavish historical epic with likable characters and a great story. So much better than Kingdom of Heaven although that is not a bad movie at all. Only, I did not care much about the characters and the story. Big difference here. Arn: Knight Templar makes you care. You want to know what happens, you feel outrage when the main characters suffer wrong and you admire them and enjoy watching them.
Based on the novels by Jan Guillou this multinational co-production (we hear at least 5 different languages: Swedish, English, French, Arabic and Latin) centers on Arn, the son of a Swedish noble man. He falls in love with Cecilia, who is promised to another man. When their love is found out they are sentenced. Cecilia is to spend her days in a convent, Arn must join the Knight Templars and travel to the Holy Land. He will experience the brutality of the Crusades but still remain true to himself and stay just, courageous and open-minded. Cecilia on her side endures many hardships. The worst is certainly that they take away her newborn son, as he has been conceived in sin.
We see many a battle scene, breathtaking landscapes (the movie was filmed in Sweden, Scotland and Morocco) and we wonder once more how people can fight bloody battles in the name of religion.
Even though a major part of it, the battles, the fights and the beauty of the scenery are not the the only good aspects of the movie. The depiction of the Middle Ages, centering on a bloodthirsty Catholicism, is what makes this movie memorable. How horrible the Catholicism of those times has been, with its belief in sin and eternal damnation, its attempt to spread the faith all over this world, and even in bringing warfare to every corner of the earth. And the way they treated women and people of other faiths… Abominable.
Last but not least this is also a beautiful love story.
The cast is quite interesting. We see, once more, Stellan Skarsgard, but also Vincent Perez, Milind Soman, Bibi Andersson (she gives a chilling performance as a frankly sadistic nun), Sofia Helin and, starring as Arn, Joakim Nätterqvist.
I have a seen the shorter version. There are apparently two. I believe the longer one is better. A word of caution: there is some weird jumping in the time going on. This needs some getting used to. Maybe it is due to the cuts.
Be it as it may, watch it as soon as you can. You won´t regret it.
[…] Jan Guillou. Stars Joakim Natterqvist, Sofia Helin, and Stellan Skarsgard. Sweden, 2007. Thanks to Caroline for her recommendation to watch this movie! It was an excellent crusade movie, medieval drama, and […]
[…] and Arn The Knight Templar. While I almost fell asleep during the first one, I really liked Arn as you can read in my review. I have a feeling that my list is far from complete, so feel free to add/comment should you know […]
Thanks for the recommendation! I opted for one of the longer versions (the two separate movies). It is quite a ride indeed, and I enjoyed it a lot. The interaction between the psychology and the politics is quite clever. And the distant love story in particular, up to the return, is great – the sense of time is really medieval, at least that’s how I imagine it. The Templar scenes are good also: no CGI towers, a sense of strategy…
However, the whole final part in Sweden was a bit too ‘Braveheart’ for me. That may be because before that, the intrigue at home was a bit abandoned (also the politics of the Templars are allegedly more developed in the book). Now, I understand that developing four stories in parallel (Cecilia / Arn / Swedish politics / Crusaders’ politics) is quite a challenge on screen, especially if you do not resort to cheap effects or super-hero tricks.
PS: at times it reminded me of a medieval ballad quite dear to me – which is also a movie about war – John Huston’s A Walk With Love And Death.
I’m glad you liked it. I’ll have to watch it again. I thought it was better than most, most certainly better than Kingdom of Heaven.
I can’t remember the end anymore. I’ve not seen the Houston movie you mention. I’ll keep it in mind though. Thanks.
For you, my friend:
> 7 Great Books on the Crusades https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2KiF5TmSps
Don’t believe most bullcrap about “evil Catholicism of the medieval world”, it’s not THAT simple. There are always political motivations behind those accusations. I say this as a non-believer of the whole Christian myth.
“Open-mindedness” is a bullshit liberal term. Ancient man, medieval man was not necessarily less open-minded than modern man, they just had a different world experience and hence a different world view.
Also, Saracen invaders of Europe had proved far more brutal early on, the Crusades were initially a reaction to aggression. Of course, it later went on to become a much more complex series of events spreading through generations. But this view that Templars were bloodthirsty greedy men attacking innocents is a misconception that has been debunked time and again.
But truth does not make as much money as shocking events. And the most popular interpretations of bloodthirsty Europe versus “open-minded and multicultural” Middle East are the product of the famous work of a non-scholar and constant propaganda by certain political groups who are interested in propagating certain views. You will see most movies being pushed by agendas of the sort, to the degree of distorting reality even more than the liars they are inspired on.
Who is the non scholar you are referring too?
Thanks for the link. I listened to most if if and foun up very interesting. I’m sure I don’t know nearly enough.