Movies Set in
The Anglo-Saxon Age

This movie list is intended to be comprehensive, rather than selective.  If there is a movie set in the Anglo-Saxon Age and we are aware of it, it is listed here.  All movies are not appropriate for all viewers.  As always, viewers will want to check ratings for appropriateness of content.

  see also The Twentieth  and Twenty-first Centuries for Thirteenth Warrior

 Black Knight
 (1954)Alan Ladd lends some bounce to this small budget movie about a mysterious  horseman championing King Arthur's cause in merry old England.

 (1967)  If you like musicals, this is a classic.  This film version of the Lerner-Lowe  classic features Richard Harris and a very young Vanessa Redgrave in a recreation of  the King Arthur legend.  The story begins with a flashback to Arthur's meeting of  Guinevere, proceeds through the round table formation, Lancelot's presentation at  court, and the inevitable love triangle which brings down the idealized kingdom with  Modred's battle.

 (1981)  Based upon Sir Thomas Malory's LeMorte d'Arthur, this adaptation of the King  Arthur tales is both explicit and violent at times, but the full cast of characters is  there:  King Arthur, Morgana, Lancelot, Guienevere, Perceval, Merlin, Mordred,  Uther, Igraine, Ector, Lot, and Gawain (Liam Neeson makes his screen debut playing  Gawain).  The movie strives for a dark tone.

 First Knight
 The struggle between King Arthur and Sir Launcelot for the love of Guinevere tests the  bonds of friendship, civalry, and all that is most sacred.  Sean Connery as Arthur is  pitted against a much younger Richard Gere as Launcelot who vies for the love of Julia  Ormond as Guinevere.  The audience is drawn into the tension as each character  struggles between to find what is right when loyalty and trust are pushed by the heat of  passion.

 King Lear  (note:  Although Shakespeare writes this play in The Elizabethan Age, it is set in the Anglo-Saxon Period)
 (1971)  This version of Shakespearean tragedy could be heavy going for the uninitiated,  but it offers a strong and rewarding experience.  Starkly photographed in Denmark if  offers a strong performance with Paul Scofield.
 (1982)  Directed by Jonathan Miller for the BBC
 (1984)   Sir Lawrence Olivier takes on the role of Lear with the help of Diana Rigg.
 (1987)  Critics called this flick bizarre, garish and a pretentious mess with a punk- apocalyptic update, most notable for the odd assortment of writers and actors who  collaborated to pull this movie together including Peter Sellars, Molly Ringwald, Woody  Allen and Norman Mailer.  It's eclectic to say the least--and perhaps that's best:  say  no more.
 (1997)  Directed by Richard Eyre, critics called it a "good reading."
  see also Ran.

 Macbeth  (note:  Although Shakespeare writes this play in The Elizabethan Age, it is set in the Anglo-Saxon Period)
 (1948)  Orson Welles brings the bard to the big screen with this moody well-done  adaptation, a version which to serious film students sets a standard to which all other  versions must necessarily compare.
 (1971)  Roman Polanski's version of the Shakespearean tragedy of a young Scots  nobleman lusting for power violently shows how he is driven to power by his own  ambition at the prodding of his crazed wife and mystical predictions of witches.  This  version brought a new realism to Shakespearean interpretation, paving the way for  later Shakespeare enthusiasts like Kenneth Branagh.

 (1998)  Sam Neill takes on Merlin to Helena Bonham Carter's Morgan LeFey in this made  for television movie.  They are backed by a plethora of stars including Sir John Gielgud  as King Constant, James Earl Jones as the Mountain King, and Martin Short as Frik in  this tale told from the perspective of Merlin (Can we say Mary Stewart's The Hollow  Hills?  No?  How about The Crystal Cave?  The story recounts the Arthur's adventures  against errant knights, the nefarious Morgan LeFey, his inevitable fall in the battle with  Modred, and must of course include the love of Guinivere as well as treachery of his  trusted Launcelot.

 Monty Python and the Holy Grail
 (1974)  The irreverent slapstick of the Monty Python troupe take on The King Arthur  legend with a dark humor that is strangely appealing, humanizing this time in history  when life was indeed dark and difficult.  The search for the holy grail allows the story  its episodic plot, introduced by a pages  from an illuminated manuscript.  Everyone will  laugh at some point and then be a little appalled at what seems funny.  In one scene a  trash collector goes door to door, collecting victims of Black Death, shouting, "Bring  out your dead!"  John Cleese brings out an old man who is just unwanted rather than  dead, but no matter, the "problem" is quickly solved.  Actors take on multiple roles  with gleefull silliness beyond measure.

 (2000)  This is a great movie to understand the power and influence of the Roman  Empire, stretching from Europe into Britain.  The movie is absolutely fictional but it is  historically accurate in terms of gladiator sport.  DVD versions have an hour long  documentary on gladiators and the Roman Empire which makes this movie more than a  period piece.  The high-action plot quickly engages the audience.

 (1985)  This movie was never intended for a large audience but critics love it, often  giving it four stars.  Renowned Japanese director Akira Kurosawa adapts  Shakespeare's King Lear and sets it in Japan with an aging warlord Hidetora who  chooses to divide his kingdom between his feuding sons and subsequently suffers  resentment and rejection.  This movie is much longer than standard fare--nearly three  hours--but it is true to Shakespeare's motifs:  the blinding effects of pride, the  ferocity of hate, the loyalty of those who mindlessly follow a leader, the pain of making  difficult choices.  This is said to be Kurosawa's culminating achievement and a work  richly appreciated by the few who choose to see it.

 The Sword and the Stone