Director Simon Aeby's epic film chronicles the time-tested loyalty of two friends during Europe's 16th-century Inquisition. Orphans Martin (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Georg (Peter McDonald)...
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Director Simon Aeby's epic film chronicles the time-tested loyalty of two friends during Europe's 16th-century Inquisition. Orphans Martin (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Georg (Peter McDonald) bond as children, but walk very different paths as adults. Georg follows his calling to join the church, while Martin becomes an army captain. When fate places Martin in the role of executioner, he must choose between friendship and fundamentalist doctrine. Written by
The Headsman is a much better film than most of the IMDb ratings and reviews here. One problem is that people want to be entertained in a medieval film and having swordplay, gore, special effects, a princess and a hero all help. This film doesn't have that. One reviewer compared it with The Name of the Rose and it definitely falls into that category.
There really isn't much intrigue, however, and that would have made it a better film. It is more about the honor of Martin (Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau) who has a childhood friendship with Georg (Peter McDonald), marries an outcast (Anna played by Anastasia Griffith) and chooses an untouchable professional as an executioner. It is about human nature: betrayal, love, ambition, greed, honor, and the dilemmas that come when forces beyond one's control affects one's life and one is faced with undesirable choices.
Forces of good and evil are at battle as mistrust, superstition, crudeness and naivety dominate the Inquisition period. Not everything is within control but Martin lives honorable and his friend Georg does too but at times is torn by his conscience and what the town leaders and Inquisition ask him to do.
Unfortunately, Martin is unaware that Georg is willing to help but his hands are tied. Sadly no one questions the despicable, filthy Fabio (Eddie Marsan) about the truth although it certainly would made sense. But perhaps that makes heroes in the film, an outcome not preferred. And in those times, witches and heretics were hanged, executed or burned. Reason wasn't the norm but fear and superstition ruled. No heroes, things beyond our control, love and suffering. Even being the daughter of the emperor or son of the archbishop doesn't save anyone. For comparison, the Black Death nor Inquisition spared no one of title.
In the historical context, it's a graphically accurate film, not a Hollywood-type film (e.g, Braveheart). The set and acting were excellent. Cinematography and atmosphere were good, although I would have preferred sharper camera work and use of the landscape. But perhaps being low-budgeted, the filming was limited. Script was reasonable but could be stronger. Since reality isn't as dramatic as fantasy, this movie won't excite many unless you like a thoughtful period drama.
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