I'm about to get Medieval all over the place.May 7, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in MoviesThe Bottom Line I know nothing says family fun like a good "Medieval Movie". But which are the ten best? Well click MORE already and find out!
Ah, the subgenre of action movies dedicated to all things Middle Aged. (And no, I'm not talking about your husband.) When I decided to tackle this topic, I first headed over to good old Dictionary.com and typed in medieval. I was told that the word covers anything pertaining to the Middle Ages. Well, I'm a movie freak, not a history expert, so forgive me if my timelines are a bit askew.
I'm sticking mainly in the 'fictional' realm here, so I won't include such cool movies as Rob Roy and Braveheart, although most sane people would consider them both "Medieval" movies. Unfortunately, this list is not being compiled by someone generally classified as "sane".
So with further blather and in no particular order, I offer you my favorite Medieval movies:
Excalibur - John Boorman's stark and brutal vision of the Arthurian legend is a beloved movie among movie freaks the world over. Notable for some stunning visuals and a handful of great performances, Excalibur also showcases actors like Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne and Liam Neeson years before they were famous. Certainly not for the faint of heart, but fans of this genre aren't really known for their cowardice.
Flesh + Blood - Even more violent and dirt-soaked than Excalibur, this one was an early directorial effort by the now famous Paul (Total Recall, Starship Troopers) Verhoeven. It stars Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh and while this is a truly excellent movie, Flesh + Blood is also quite an endurance test. The story depicts a groups of betrayed mercenaries and the shockingly brutal and ironic fate they meet. Sincerely for the strong of stomach, but as compelling as movies come.
Ladyhawke - Rutger Hauer (once again), Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick star in this fantastic adventure tale. Richard (The Goonies, Superman) Donner's fantastic movie tells the story of two cursed lovers, doomed to stay together for eternity - yet always remain apart! Confused? Well, then go rent this one! I have yet to find someone who doesn't love this movie...
Willow - OK, I'm not sure if this technically counts as a "medieval" movie, but it features swords, dwarves and a rousing score by James Horner, so to me it qualifies. Despite being listed among producer George Lucas's failures, there's still a whole lot to enjoy in this wild adventure, not the least of which is Val Kilmer doing something he hasn't done in his last five movies: having fun! Sure, it's a bit corny and more than a little derivative, but good adventure movies are tough to come by, so it's tough to bash a movie as fun as Willow. And yes, that's Kevin Pollak as one of the teeny little Brownie guys!
Legend - OK, as it stands now (at its current 91 minute running time) Legend might not truly be one of the best fantasy movies ever, but it sure as hell is one of the most beautiful. And hopefully when we get the uncut version on DVD (I'm talking to you, Universal Home Video!) the rest of the world will be able to see what Ridley Scott really had in mind for this film. The current incarnation of Legend is a muddled affair indeed, but it was one of the movies that led me to the life of a film addict. You can't just look past inspirations like that. Plus, has anyone out there ever seen a cooler villain than Tim Curry as Darkness? I didn't think so. (Note: Some of you may doubt that Legend counts as a "Medieval Movie", but I consulted the Associate Vice-President of Movie Sub-Genres in Spokane yesterday, and he told me I'm cool. So that means I can do whatever I want with my list.)
The Sword and the Sorcerer - You gotta be kiddin' me. What doesn't this movie have? The list of this movie's assets reads like a 14-year old boy's cinematic fantasy: non-stop sword battles, evil 7-foot tall sorcerers, giant killer snakes, a three-headed sword that can shoot its blades like giant steak knives, despicably slimy villains, buxom (and often bare-breasted) young ladies, a sweet little self-mocking screenplay and a whole gang of sidekicks ready to kick some butt. Plus, how can you bash any movie that features a cast including Richard Lynch, Simon MacCorkindale, Lee Horsley AND Richard Moll? The answer is...you can't. If you're an action fan and you've never seen The Sword and the Sorcerer, shame on you.
Conan the Barbarian - Yeah, this has a few truly ridiculous things in it (I know all about the "lamentations of de vimmen"), but there's style and nasty fun to be had in Conan the Barbarian. Directed by action movie guy extraordinaire John (Red Dawn) Milius, this is a colorful, violent and (yes) sometimes silly opus that details the brutal, exciting and often quite wacky adventures of Conan the Barbarian (I specify so you don't confuse him with Conan the Smarmy Late Night Talk Show Host.) James Earl Jones gives a howlingly bad performance, but in a good way. Oh, and avoid the sequels (Conan the Destroyer and Red Sonja) as if they were made out of pure cancer.
Dragonslayer & Dragonheart - I offer these two as a joint entry for a few reasons. 1. If they were morphed together, it would make a really long dragon movie. 2. I often have trouble telling these two apart. I keep wanting to refer to them as HeartSlayer and DragonDragon. 3. Neither of them are particularly excellent movies, but both are entertaining enough to belong on this list. How many freakin' Medieval Movies do you think there are anyway? Sheesh!
Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Not only is this one of the most highly regarded comedies of all time, but it probably holds the record for "Film most often quoted online by weenies". There's really not much I can say about this movie that isn't already considered gospel by movie fans worldwide, but here's something: Monty Python and the Holy Grail is probably the single most visually realistic depiction of the Middle Ages ever caught on film. We already know it's one of the funniest movies ever made. Ni! (OK, I'm a weenie too.)
The Princess Bride - Oh come on. Like I'd leave this one out. Where do I begin? The whole "...as you wish" sweetness? Or how about Billy Crystal's inspired cameo as Miracle Max? ("I like a nice M.L.T. sandwich") The luminous Robin Wright as Buttercup? The ridiculously inspiring fate of Ingio Montoya? Or the classic battle of wits between Vizzini the Sicilian and the Man in Black? I could mention the picture perfect framing story between Fred Savage and Peter Falk or I could talk for hours about the perfection of William Goldman's screenplay or the job Rob Reiner did behind the camera...but everyone in the known universe adores The Princess Bride so that would all just be redundant. Suffice to say: The Princess Bride is a true classic; a nearly perfect piece of entertainment. Now where's THAT Special Edition DVD we were promised?
Well, it's getting kinda late now and I'm way too lazy to go check if that's ten or not, plus the Looney Tunes are coming on now so let me wrap this up. I'd apologize to the movies I left off my list, but movies are inanimate things so any apology would be an act of an insane man. But in the interest of being even more verbose, here are a few others that get the honor of being "Medieval Honorable Mentions":
Krull (Doesn't count because it takes place in a fictional world. Duh.)
Time Bandits (Will make my Top Ten Fantasy list, but is only partly based in the world of Medivalness, so it doesn't count.)
Highlander (Would have made the cut if Christopher Lambert didn't have the acting skills of a dead fern.)
The Beastmaster (Doesn't make the cut because it has ferrets in it.)
Army of Darkness (Didn't make the cut because that would have made my list 11 instead of 10, silly.)
So there you go. Perhaps I've made you all a bit more informed on what a good Medieval Movie is. Or maybe I just wasted 7 minutes of your life. Either way, I still like movies. And you should too. Good night.
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