Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Arn: The Knight Templar (DVD Review)

Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: Peter Flinth (The Fakir, Arn: The Kingdom at Road's End, )
Cast: Joakim Nätterqvist, Sofia Helin, Bibi Andersson, Milind Soman, Stellan Skarsgård, Michael Nyqvist, Vincent Perez, Fanny Risberg, Nicholas Boulton, Simon Callow
Sweden/UK/Denmark/Norway/Finland/Germany, 2007

Reason to see: Epic action-adventure film? I'm in.

I'm always up for an epic, especially if it's one that I'm not familiar with the source material and that's exactly what I was in for with Arn: The Knight Templar. Based on the books by Jan Guillou, the film follows Arn Magnusson (Joakim Nätterqvist) who becomes a trained in swordsman and fights in the Crusades.

The combination of being skilled and also having the feel of being an underdog is one of the things I loved about the film. Arn is a formidable character, but not a mean or brutal man. He has a strong nobility to him and although may not agree with being sent off to the Crusades, he still goes. He's a thinker and a lover, which brings in the strong through line to the film with the romance between Arn and Cecilia (Sofia Helin), which although isn't always the main focus of the film it's the continual driving force and essence of the film. Their love is strong and it keeps them strong. A powerful message.

The film is filled with emotion and a sweeping epic style, but one of the things I enjoyed most about it was the actors. Both Joakim Nätterqvist and Sofia Helin are great as Arn & Cecilia, and we also get to see some more familiar faces including the fantastic Stellan Skarsgård as Birger Brosa and Michael Nyqvist (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo / Män som hatar kvinnor, The Girl Who Played with Fire / Flickan som lekte med elden) as Magnus Folkesson. I was also very impressed with Bibi Andersson who plays the creepy Mother Rikissa and Milind Soman as the powerful Saladin. There also is a great sense of honour and national pride in the film, that being an outsider of the culture I was a little late to the game on picking up but even I could pick up on the powerful message that resonated there. It's quite beautiful in that respect.

The film does a great job of getting an epic story into the time frame of just over 2 hours (134 minutes) and holds up with it's own, complete story. I only mention that as I'm very curious that there is a second film Arn: The Kingdom At Road's End and third Arn that follow this instalment. In the special features actress Sofia Helin (Cecilia) mentions that they compliment each other. Fascinating. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the Arn journeys.

DVD Extras:
  • Behind the Scenes #1 (21 minutes) Extensive interview footage with actor Joakim Nätterqvist including audition footage, behind the scenes footage, film clips and interviews with Jan Guillou (writer of novels on which the film is was based), director Peter Flinth, production designer Anna Asp and actors Sofia Helin, Bibi Andersson, Milind Soman, Vincent Perez, and Simon Callow (In Swedish with English subtitles).
  • Behind the Scenes #2 (21 minutes) This featurette has a focus on "The Kingdom At Road's End" which is the sequel to "Arn: The Knight Templar". It includes film clips, behind the scenes footage and interviews with actors Sofia Helin, Stellan Skarsgård, Joakim Nätterqvist, Milind Soman, Nicholas Boulton, Anders Baasmo Christiansen, cinematographer Eric Kress, director Peter Flinth and author Jan Guillou (writer of novels on which the film is was based), on the characters, the story, the message, the visual style and filming process. I particularly enjoyed the interview selections with Stellan Skarsgård, which were fascinating. (In Swedish with English subtitles).
  • Trailer

Arn: The Knight Templar is available on DVD as of Oct 12, 2010. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll watch it again
I recommend it to fans of epics, especially if you like ones that are driven by love

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© Shannon Ridler, 2010

Courtesy of eOne Films - Sofia Helin as Cecilia & Joakim Nätterqvist as Arn

Courtesy of eOne Films - Joakim Nätterqvist as Arn Magnusson

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