In light of a request for “medieval film” recommendations, it dawned on me just how few there are. In fact, I can (and am) composing a post on said subject from my phone, precisely because this will be brief.
Alas, fellow medieval history geeks, pickins are slim. But here are some:
Excalibur. sigh. I grapple with this one… I truly do. But it has ‘Carmina Burana, O Fortuna’ as its signature track, Liam Neeson as Gawain, and the Bowie-esque vibe to the whole production makes it feel creepy, in a positive way. Regardless, ’tis the only decent film on the Arthurian legends or Arthur anyway (do not — I repeat, do not — watch “First Knight” with Sean Connery or, worse yet, “King Arthur” with Clive Owen. Both are abominations.)
Braveheart. I always forget this is technically medieval, perhaps because the setting seems dwarfed by all else. But it is so there ya go.
Black Death. Lil’ gem with one of my favorite actors (Sean Bean) regarding — you guessed it — the Black Death, witches, and superstition. There is a lingering “no such thing as the supernatural!” message with which I am not exactly comfortable but… Sean Bean. Very similar to this is the recent “Season of the Witch” with Nicholas Cage, which was also overlooked. In contrast, its theme underscores the existence of the supernatural — quite a surprise and a rarity for “Enlightenment-loving” Hollywood.
Timeline. If I recall correctly, it’s based on a Michael Chrichton book — oh, and stars the dude from “Fast and Furious.” Mindless, dumb, and fun.
Robinhood. Yes, Kevin Costner did not even bother with an English accent and, yes, it’s full of irritating swipes about Western Civilization, the Crusades, and even features a corrupt priest. But I love it anyway.
Beowulf. It’s a version with Gerard Butler (“Beowulf and Grendel”, if I recall correctly). Not bad.
the 13th Warrior. Vikings. ‘Nuff said. See also: “Outlander” with Jim Caviezel.
What do you think? Did I leave any out? Let me know!