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Roland des Roncesvalles is a legendary knight from the age of chivalry in France. In the 11th-century epic La Chanson de Roland, he is depicted as a key figure in halting the advance of the Arabs into France. In this story, the 10th-century legend is staged by a group of 12th-century pilgrims using the 11th-century poem. Their acting is interrupted by a violent peasant uprising, which kills many of the pilgrims. However, one of the survivors, is converted to the peasant cause and later speaks out in favor of more just treatment for the downtrodden.Written by
Ulf Kjell Gür
First of all, "La chanson de Roland" is a great film. But, unfortunately, it's quite an unknown one. Unlike other "medieval" films (e.g. Anthony Mann's "El Cid") there's no "sword-battle-american-pulp-shit" stuff, but a hard intellectual effort in order to offer us a realistic version of the European Middle Ages. And also an extraordinary respect for the text it is based on, which proves that there's an exact point between plain translation into images and "commercial" or "updating" stupidness (but you must be clever enough to find it!). The director seems to know this ancient French literary masterpiece as deeply as sir Lawrence Olivier knew Shakespeare's greatest plays. Last but not least, Kinski is superb, either as the poor "jongleur" who's traveling to Santiago de Compostela with his mates, or Roland, the hero from the story he tells during their pilgrimage. I'd recommend this film to any viewer, and specially to teachers who'd like to find an easy, powerful way to show their students how "different" and fascinating the Middle Ages can be.
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