3 January 2002 | Dr.Tuba
Good portrayal of medieval brutality
This movie was definitely not for the kids. Let me get that out of the way. Very violent, very dark, very adult. I expected as much, but rarely do movies go so uninhibited when attempting subject matter such as this one.
The movie itself is deep on a couple levels, shallow on others. This movie concentrates almost entirely on personal interplay between the 3 main characters, Martin, Agnes, and Steven. The interaction is quite good and one can almost visualize the plots within plots stirring in their brains.
However, the plot suffers for it. It's really a basic movie, more of a period piece than a complete story. There are large gaps and leaps in logic, as well as believability. But this movie was never about plot. The plot was a backdrop for the interactions of the characters.
As a backdrop, it does very well indeed. Costumes are all pretty close to the mark for period landsknechts (German mercenaries), though not as gaudy as one sees in the history books. Probably because they were hardly ever clean or whole in real life (mercenaries would replace torn or worn out clothing with pieces taken from fallen opponents). The score is well done and unobtrusive, and the locations suitably bleak. Overall, the feel of the movie is authentic, plague-ridden medieval complete with life-is-cheap attitudes. I would caution, however, that this movie is not a whole picture of medieval times, but rather a look into the lives of a violent subculture (though some general attitudes are pointed out, as one reviewer posted, a conversation takes place near a hanged man with barely a thought).
Overall, how you rate this movie depends on what you get out of it. Is it a good "ride"? I'd say yes. The plot was thin, but hey, it was in the Mummy as well... and we don't go see those kind of movies for plot. The movie is immersive and very different than typical Hollywood faire. One of the better medieval movies I've seen.
But if rape, brutality, superstition and disease are not your cup of tea, there may be too much here for you to glimpse the interactions underneath, and you'll probably dislike it.