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Top 10 Realistic Medieval Films

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Rowan
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Top 10 Realistic Medieval Films

Post by Rowan » Thu December 18th, 2008, 2:08 pm

I found this on About.com and wondered who might agree or disagree...

1. The Seventh Seal
1957; directed by Ingmar Bergman; stars Max von Sydow. Returning to Sweden during the plague, a Crusader plays chess with Death in order to buy time to find answers to his questions about life, the soul, and the nature of faith. An extraordinary film that offers both a realistic representation of plague-ridden Scandinavia and a fantastic exploration of the medieval psyche.

2. The Passion of Joan of Arc
1928; Directed by Carl-Theodor Dreyer; stars Maria Falconetti. Disturbing and powerful, this silent masterpiece focuses on the trial of Joan in what is unmistakably the most compelling film about the Maid ever produced. A must-see for anyone interested in Joan, the path of conscience, or classic cinema. The Criterion Collection version includes a breathtaking score by Richard Einhorn and the Voices of Light.

3. The Name of the Rose
1986; directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud; stars Sean Connery and Christian Slater. Based on Umberto Eco's surprisingly successful book, the film focuses on a Franciscan friar (loosely based on William of Occam) and his investigation into a series of murders at a monastery in 14th century Italy. Connery is excellent as Brother William.

4. The Return of Martin Guerre
1984; directed by Daniel Vigne; stars Nathalie Baye and Gerard Depardieu. The true story of a callow peasant who abandons his family and returns years later a changed man. But is he really Martin Guerre? This French classic realistically portrays late medieval Europe in atmosphere and detail.

5. Henry V
1989; directed by Kenneth Branagh; stars Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm and Paul Scofield. While the Olivier version is preferred by many fans, I find Branagh's interpretation cinematically superior, particularly with regards to the overwhelming battle sequence. A superb cast and moving score increase its impact.

6. Alexander Nevsky
1938; directed by Sergei Eisenstein; stars Andrei Abrikosov, Nikolai Cherkasov and Nikolai Okhlopkov. This significant film is just as interesting for its anti-Nazi propaganda as it is for its stunning battle sequence on the frozen lake. A marvelous piece of cinema from a great Russian film-maker.

7. The Lion in Winter
1968; directed by Anthony Harvey; stars Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins. In spite of a few notable errors, this intense dynastic drama is generally accurate in detail and, more importantly, perfectly captures the tension and turmoil of Britain's greatest dysfunctional family. Hepburn's Oscar for her portrayal of Eleanor of Aquitaine was well-deserved.

8. A Man for All Seasons
1966; directed by Fred Zinneman; stars Paul Scofield, Leo McKern and Wendy Hiller. Scofield won an Academy Award for his profound study of Thomas More in this fascinating and forceful examination of integrity and politics.

9. The Decameron
1970; directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini; stars Franco Citti. Some have found Pasolini's earthy interpretation of Boccaccio's masterpiece a little too realistic, but its presentation of medieval Italy and its tribute to a great medieval author make it hard to ignore. There is more in the message than mere eroticism and shock value for anyone willing to look for it.

10. Hamlet
1990; directed by Franco Zeffirelli; stars Mel Gibson, Alan Bates, Glenn Close and Helena Bonham-Carter. Although both Branagh's and Olivier's versions may be superior films, neither offers as medieval an interpretation as Zeffirelli's. Gibson is solidly believable, and Bonham-Carter turns in a shattering performance as Ophelia.

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Post by princess garnet » Thu December 18th, 2008, 5:55 pm

I've seen #5 and 7.
With Henry V, since it's an adaptation of the play, there are some slow spots.

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Thu December 18th, 2008, 7:45 pm

Yes to:

The Name of the Rose
The Return of Martin Guerre
The Lion in Winter

The Name of the Rose is particularly good at immersing us in the medieval world view. The Return of Martin Guerre is one of the very few films or books that accurately presents the nature of medieval weddings; most literature dumbs this down, modernizing the wedding customs to at least some degree, lest modern readers refuse to believe people could be this different from modern Westerners in their attitudes towards sex and wedding customs. Some of the details in The Lion in Winter are wonderful: especially memorable to me is when King Henry wakes up in the morning and puts his fist through the crust of ice in the basin near his bed, so he can get at the water to wash his face. We often forget that even royalty in medieval castles did not live in what we, today, would consider the lap of luxury.

Branagh's Henry V and Hamlet are wonderful films; in terms of accurately representing the past, viewers need to allow for the fact that these dramas were written by Shakespeare and therefore tend to reflect Renaissance customs and attitudes more than those of the periods in which the dramas were actually set. In addition, Branagh relocates Hamlet to a different era. But they're both fabulously good films that convey a lot of the depth of these plays that remains unplumbed by most stage or film productions of Shakespeare's plays.

As for the others, I either haven't seen them, or saw them too long ago to remember them well enough to comment.
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Post by Volgadon » Thu December 18th, 2008, 8:34 pm

I think most of those films aren't terribly acurate, Aleksander Nevsky certainly isn't.

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Post by Leyland » Thu December 18th, 2008, 11:14 pm

I'm only familiar with Lion in Winter and Name of the Rose, having seen each once. They both looked accurate, but I wouldn't be able to tell if they were precisely correct. I am reminded that they are movies, not documentaries.

I do remember the fist in the ice scene from Lion. The monks' robes and tonsures in Rose impressed me a bit. OK - Connery always impresses me!
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Post by donroc » Thu December 18th, 2008, 11:44 pm

I vaguely remember Heston and Boone in The War Lord. A so-so film
I did enjoy El Cid.
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Bodo the Apostate, a novel set during the reign of Louis the Pious and end of the Carolingian Empire.

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Post by Ash » Fri December 19th, 2008, 1:41 am

The Passion of Joan of Arc
1928;


I have found many incredibly good silent adaptations of books, including The Scarlet Letter, Oliver Twist, and Tale of Two Cities.

Id include Lion in Winter, because it was based on information they had at the time it was written. But now apparently there is historic detail they got wrong. But its still one of my favorite movies of all time!

I was very pleasantly surprised by Gibson's Hamlet, and by Henry V. I'd never been interested in Shakespeare's histories because of his tendency to write the Tudor side. But this movie was just tremendous, and got me reading the play.

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Post by Margaret » Fri December 19th, 2008, 1:57 am

Remember, this is just the top ten for historical realism in movies. That's the top ten in a category that is, on the whole, pretty abysmal (Braveheart, anyone?). If anyone's looking for an unimpeachable degree of historical accuracy, I think it might be impossible to scrape up ten movies.
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Post by Leo62 » Fri December 19th, 2008, 2:33 am

I kinda liked Luc Besson's The Messenger about Joan of Arc, though a lot of people hated it :D The battle scenes felt very authentic.

Everything on that list is a great movie, whether it's totally authentic in historical terms or not! I remember reading somewhere about "Lion in Winter" that they made castle life look more primitive than it actually was...

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Historical realism in films

Post by chuck » Mon December 22nd, 2008, 5:38 am

[quote=""Margaret""]Remember, this is just the top ten for historical realism in movies. That's the top ten in a category that is, on the whole, pretty abysmal (Braveheart, anyone?). If anyone's looking for an unimpeachable degree of historical accuracy, I think it might be impossible to scrape up ten movies.[/quote]

I agree with your remarks Margaret.....I try my best to remember George MacDonald Fraser's attitude when watching Historical films....' sit back and enjoy the ride' and I find I enjoy the film much more when I lighten up a bit....True lot of the films are quite inaccurate icluding the ones mentioned.... I find there are snippets of realism in lot of films...except Braveheart....that film could support a thread on it's own.....Cheers

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