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Sword of War (2009)

Barbarossa (original title)
German Emperor Barbarossa will stop at nothing to conquer and build his empire. But a young man from Milan, along with his army of 900 men known as the Company of Death, is prepared to challenge the Emperor.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alberto da Giussano
Siniscalco Barozzi
Gherardo Negro
Alberto dell'Orto
Beatrice di Borgogna
Ildegarda di Binden (as Angela Molina)
Hristo Shopov ...
Rinaldo di Dassel
Federica Martinelli ...
Maurizio Tabani ...
Giovanni da Giussano
Riccardo Cicogna ...
Lorenzo della Pigna
Robert Alexander Baer ...
Alberto as a Child


German Emperor Barbarossa will stop at nothing to conquer and build his empire. But a young man from Milan, along with his army of 900 men known as the Company of Death, is prepared to challenge the Emperor.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for bloody violence and brief sexuality | See all certifications »





Release Date:

9 October 2009 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Sword of War  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


€9,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (2 parts) (TV) | (Blu-ray)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the film, the Milanese use the Cross of St. George, a banner used in real life by Genoa, not Milan. See more »

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User Reviews

What a pity to ruin a decent screenplay with wretched post-production values!
8 February 2011 | by (Eire) – See all my reviews

The producer should be shot for calling his film "Barbarossa" since it's definitely not a bio-pic of the Frederick I Hohenstaufen. It's rather like titling "Braveheart" "Longshanks", since Barbarossa's relationship to the action of this film is precisely that of Edward I' in Mel Gibson's classic. These two films share much in common, which should come as no surprise given the zeitgeist across Europe at the time--too many men who would be king, too little land left to conquer, and peoples unwilling to be conquered.

This film would probably have been quite good had the producer either scrapped dubbing (some of the worst in the history of that precarious art) altogether or at least coughed up another million for first-class dubbing. That mistake probably cost him dearly, as did releasing a film about medieval Italian patriots to an Italian audience in English. The box-office take in Italy tragically proves this point. And while international casting often enriches our enjoyment of a film, I think it might have hurt in this one, but, once again, dubbing makes such a judgment impossible; however, it's no surprise F. Murray Abraham gets such praise for his performance--yes, he's good, but he's also a native-born speaker of English, so we Anglophones don't miss a word he says.

Because "Barbarossa" is so difficult to comprehend, there's not much that can be said about it. Perhaps there's a great film beneath the layers of excruciating dubbing. I wanted to love it; I did not want to feel that I'd just wasted my "freedom" enslaved to "Barbarossa's" mind-numbing dubbing.

The non-verbal acting was fine, the camera work was excellent, the art direction, set design, and costuming 'felt' authentic, and there is much to be praised for the work with horses. Alberto da Giussano deserves a better film, however, and Hildegard von Bingen, who was far greater mind than either Barbarossa or da Giussano deserved better treatment. That great polymath and visionary was no swooning saint--it's hard to produce so much music, literature, and scientific writing whilst in a faint.

I've read the name of the film's been changed to "Swords of Fighting" or some such rot. But unless "Barbarossa'" been redubbed, it will stink just as much. If you want to learn more about Alberto da Giussano, see this film. Or better yet, visit a library!

Where is that Spanish Inquisition when you need it?

10 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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