To Kill a King

Dir: Mike Barker
Star: Dougray ScottTim Roth, Rupert Everett, Olivia Williams

No questioning the lavish production here, though the story of its creation may be more remarkable than its own plot. While aware of the basics of the English Civil War [cavaliers vs. roundheads, Charles II getting executed, Oliver Cromwell, etc.], this film goes into the events after the Battle of Naseby, which effectively ended it in favour of the parliamentary forces. Their leader, Lord General Fairfax (Scott) and his loyal deputy Cromwell (Roth) are an unlikely pairing: the former is an aristocrat, the latter a commoner espousing views that, while more religiously-inspired, bordered on the Marxist two centuries before Marx got around to it. While united by their belief that the reigning monarch is a tyrant, they differ on what should happen now he has been removed from power, with Cromwell intent on sweeping and radical change, while Fairfax still feels the king can be redeemed.

The DVD sleeve is pretty misleading, since Charles II (Everett) spends the entire film in captivity, no charging about on horseback. This is no Braveheart, and anyone expecting an action extravaganza will be sorely disappointed. It is much more talky than fight-y, with Fairfax and his wife (Williams) torn between loyalty to king, country and comrade. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, and Roth is particularly good as the dedicated zealot, who demonstrates that revolutionaries are fine when you need a revolution, yet are not necessarily the best choice to run things afterwards. Especially early on, it plays like something you'd watch in history class, plodding through exposition with earnest intent. Thanks to the decent performances, it finally breaks through, even if it has to divert from reality [there never was a public assassination attempt on Cromwell] to do it, but still remains a little too worthy for its own good.

[The DVD was released through Union Station Media on February 26th. More information can be found at the film's website]

[March 2008]

King Crimson
See also... [Index] [Next] [Previous] [TC Home Page]