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115 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars overall, very entertaining
I am a great student of the English Civil War and found this movie to be, overall, very entertaining despite just a few historical inaccuracies such as Oliver Cromwell being one of the five Parliament memebers that Charles I personally came to arrest ( Cromwell wasnt one of the five ). The costumes, stage sets and battle scenes, especially the cavalry charges, were...
Published on June 10, 2000

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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Stylized Rendition Of The English Civil War
1970 film on the life of Oliver Cromwell, the leader of the revolt against the monarchy of Charles I in 17th Century England. Although the direction and musical score have some problems, the film has great cinematography and is complemented with the talents of Sir Alec Guiness and Sir Richard Harris in the leading roles.

Charles I was King of England in early...
Published on August 4, 2004 by Octavius


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115 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars overall, very entertaining, June 10, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Cromwell [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I am a great student of the English Civil War and found this movie to be, overall, very entertaining despite just a few historical inaccuracies such as Oliver Cromwell being one of the five Parliament memebers that Charles I personally came to arrest ( Cromwell wasnt one of the five ). The costumes, stage sets and battle scenes, especially the cavalry charges, were without equal. A lot of the musical score was fitting and added to the atmosphere of the film. I dont believe that Harris's portrayal of Cromwell was uninspiring as previous reviewers have suggested. Cromwell, according to some historical sources, was a deep believer in freedom, both religious and private property, hence the films early reference about Cromwell leaving England for America. Cromwell was simply not known, historically, to have worn his emotions on his sleeve. Timothy Dalton's Prince Rupert was magnificent. Alec Guiness certainly looked like Charles I. Truthfully, most of the actors fairly resembled their characters.
I know this film was made for mass audiences and thus needed star name appeal to sell it. But it is too bad that this most interesting period of history could not have been portrayed in a miniseries (in the way Glenda Jackson's ELIZABETH R was) with all the same actors. That way, other central characters such as Charles I, Thomas Wentworh the Earl of Strafford, Parliamentary leader John Pym and others could have been developed more fully because they are just as interesting as Cromwell. Not to mention the decade or so long struggle between Parliament and Crown that led up to the Civil War and Thomas Wentworths treachery by going from Parliaments greatest champion to being Charles I right hand man thus earning Parliaments unending enmity. Lots of great storyline potential there.
Yes, it is too bad it was not made as a miniseries because so much dramatic history was left out. This film gem was unfortunately to brief. But I liked it alot!
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80 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Chief of Men, December 25, 2004
This review is from: Cromwell (DVD)
A magnificent summary of the fundamental issues, and their resolution, which made the British nation what it once used to be, and was for 300 years, right up until 1945. There is obviously not the slightest hope of compressing the complicated historical events from 1640 to 1660 into 2 hours, and simplification is so inevitable as to be not worth even discussing. But the basics are presented with excellent clarity, and produced with a marvellous balance between entertaining drama and solid essentials. Guinness and Harris are both on tremendous form: the defining characteristics of Charles were vacillation and weakness, and those of Cromwell force and resolution. Both were pious in their own ways. Charles, however, thought he could do what he liked in his position because God had put him there. Cromwell didn't share this belief, and that is what makes him a great man, and a great architect of the British political values which lasted for so long. The ruthless crushing of the threat in Ireland has to be addressed, of course, and perhaps I'll add something on that at a later date. Such was the man's personality, however, that even an author from a British Roman Catholic background felt obliged to title her biography: "Cromwell, Our Chief of Men".
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97 of 110 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying Historical Film, December 23, 2002
This review is from: Cromwell [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This film has been shown in history classes in both Britain and the USA, and rightfully so. CROMWELL is a powerful, albeit uneven, movie depicting the struggle between Parliament and the crown that ultimately led to the English Civil War.
Alec Guinness as King Charles I is simply superb. This gifted actor brings the insecure monarch to life before our very eyes, from his indecision to his eventual desperation to save his thrown--even his slight stuttering problem. Indeed it was Charles himself, by attempting in secret to form alliances with Catholic Ireland and France in order to defeat Cromwell's army, who was the catalyst to his own demise.
Richard Harris is good, but somewhat over the top, as the brooding Oliver Cromwell, the musical score is nothing short of annoying, and the movie succumbs to the gushy melodrama characteristic of the time in which it was made. But despite its flaws, CROMWELL delivers a satisfying story about a turbulent time in English history.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'I do not fear death', November 4, 2004
By 
This review is from: Cromwell (DVD)
When I was required to see Cromwell for a European history class, I never imagined that it would become one of my favorite films, not about history, but about common human problems in any era, heroes and villains. I hear it's wildly innacurate. That's probably true, and our teacher pointed out plenty of innaccuracies in the segments we watched in class, but there are also many important things the film gets right: for instance, that the crowd at Charles' execution groaned instead of cheering. What makes Cromwell so great in spite of any inaccuracies, though, is its portrayal of its principal characters. Other reviews accuse Cromwell of overacting, but that's the sort of man he was really was (apparently his quote which begins with 'Why in the bowels of Christ...!' is an actual quote). Cromwell is sympathetic as a man who felt that he was compelled by neccesity, to do things which at first he found unthinkable. Charles I is equally or even more sympathetic as a human being crucified for abstract values, but who manages to meet his end with an astonishing amount of dignity. The scene of his execution almost brought tears to my eyes.

There's something about the old-fashioned cinematography in Cromwell, also, which it makes it more convincing than more recent, slicker historical epics like Elizabeth. It conveys a sense of real life and real history. Cromwell and Charles are given emphasis on the screen more by their behavior than by any trick of the camera.

The one major flaw in the film is its inexplicable ending - in which, against the background of a gothic chorus, a narrator explains what a great human being Cromwell was. The film has shown a different, more complex reality. Still, the intelligent viewer will realize that, and such a small detail isn't enough to keep this very good movie from a five-star rating.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catches the spirit, if not the perfect picture, of the ECW, February 21, 2002
This review is from: Cromwell [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The Rev. Mortimer would be glad to know, that as a high school history teacher in Virginia, USA, I have been showing "Cromwell" to all of my US and world history classes for many years. It explains why our University of Virgina sports teams are called the Cavaliers. It shows the beliefs of the Puritans/Pilgrims and why they wanted to leave England to come to America. It puts the Hobbes vs. Locke argument into the sharp relief of actual human conflict. It explains why a people would rise up in bloody conflict against a fairly reasonable monarch like Charles I. It shows the sloppiness of democracy, as portrayed by the great scenes in the Parliment. I have read widely on the Civil War and am familiar with the innacuracies. The reason that I HAVE read widely in this area is because I saw this film in a theatre as a child. This superb drama continues to inspire me, and my students today.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Film, March 2, 2005
By 
Robert T. Meacham (Lee County, Alabama) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cromwell (DVD)
Richard Harris looks more like Cromwell than Cromwell. Much of the dialogue is from the historical record and the pen of the historical characters portrayed. There are errors such as attributing Fairfax's prayer to Cromwell, and the numbers and situations at the battles of Naseby and Edgehill but overall it is very accurate for the medium of film. The battle reinactments are smaller scale than the actual battles (as always) but they are quite well done with some great camera work including a moving camera at horse hoof level.

Even an Irishman (like Richard Harris) and a Royalist can find this film interesting even if one brings a prejudice against Cromwell to the viewing.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A colourful and concise, if not entirely accurate film, August 11, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Cromwell [VHS] (VHS Tape)
It is hard to begin to imagine what an awesome task presents itself when one undertakes to portray such a complicated and turbulent era in british constitutional and political history but I believe that Ken Hughes has succeded with this film although certain important historical facts have been ignored (eg; Oliver Cromwell was not one of the five members of parliament whom Charles tried to arrest personally). I presume this was done for dramatic effect. Alec Guinness's interpretation of the vacillating, glacial Charles is in my opinion the most detailed and perfect of his entire career. And I also liked Harris as Cromwell although many have criticised his performance of this complex and elusive character.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, August 12, 2000
This review is from: Cromwell [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A magificent cinematic portrayal of the English civil war , 17th century England & the complex character of Oliver Cromwell___ with brilliant costumes , enchanting scenery & an evocative musical score.Cromwell comes across as a truly remarkable historical figure .Some folks may take exception to his supposed "ruthlessness" & cruelty in chopping off Charles 1's head but as Napolean Bonaparte is said to have aptly remarked ___"you cannot make an omelette without smashing a few eggs!" After all , what's a king's head worth when compared to the freedom of an entire people?Sir Alec Guiness (who died last week) gives an impeccable performance playing the role of the wishy-washy but supercilious Charles the 1st .Harris , I think , does a pretty good job playing Cromwell___ rough-hewn , full of courage , iron-willed ,raspy-voiced and obstinately determined to make the crown subservient to the will of the parliament .Finally , an important point which is glossed over in this age of instant soundbites and pollyanish drooling___ DEMOCRACY IS NOT THE NATURAL STATE OF MAN .For instance after finishing off with the King , Cromwell retires to his farm in Oxford hoping that the members of the parliament will govern themselves justly .No such luck as thy make a hash of things thanks to their narrow bickerings & corruption .Cromwell had to make a comeback & send the parliament packing , after which he assumed full powers and became the "Lord protector of England" in which office he served till his death in 1658 __having successfully laid the foundations of modern democracy in England .The obvious lesson is that countries toying with democracy (atleast in its embryonic stages) do need a (for want of a better term) "strong man" to "guide" the upstart "democrats" who are not above the petty considerations of pay & pelf. However only the luckiest of countries get a Cromell to do this tough job for them. Overall a great cinematic achievement .
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cromwell- England's Transformer, May 30, 2003
By 
Karen A. Tackitt (Carlsbad, New Mexico) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cromwell [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The historical epic,"Cromwell",magnificiantly depicts the turbulent era in British history in which Great Britiain was involved in its own bloody civil war. A religious as well as political war, "Cromwell" brilliantly depicts the two central figures, the doomed monarch Charles I and the passionately reverent Cromwell with pathos and accuracy. A "must" for every Anglophile and history lover.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Stylized Rendition Of The English Civil War, August 4, 2004
By 
Octavius (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cromwell (DVD)
1970 film on the life of Oliver Cromwell, the leader of the revolt against the monarchy of Charles I in 17th Century England. Although the direction and musical score have some problems, the film has great cinematography and is complemented with the talents of Sir Alec Guiness and Sir Richard Harris in the leading roles.

Charles I was King of England in early to mid-17th century England. A king married to a devoutly Catholic and foreign queen, Charles I soon found himself in the political aftermath of the reformation and Henry VIII's creation of the Church of England. In addition to the religious-political paradox he found himself in, Charles I sought to retain his power by abolishing Parliament leading him to civil war. Oliver Cromwell was a devout Puritan who soon became the leader of the Roundheads against the Royalists. After taking command of the army and disposing of Charles I, Cromwell appointed himself as a dictator and ruled over parliament for several years during the period called the 'Interregnum' .

The best performance in the film is that of Alec Guiness as Charles I. He takes all of the royal airs of the monarch down to his light speech impediment. Although some have complained about Richard Harris' performance, I thought his theatrics and shouting accentuated the fact that Cromwell was a religious fanatic and politically inflexible: this disposition is adequately demonstrated by historical fact. Not only was Cromwell unwilling to compromise with the disposition of Charles I, he was intolerant and unmoving with the rest of England and was considered too rigid even by the Puritans themselves.

The worst part of the film is the soundtrack. The liturgical choir in the background presents Cromwell as some divine liberator which he wasn't. As history shows, Cromwell became just as arbitrary and inflexible in his politics as Charles I. Yes, Cromwell had very deep convictions about religion and governance but then, don't all religious zealots?

Again, this film has a great cast with beautiful costumes and reenactments. It's uneven in how it seeks to present the characters and theme: although it seems to show Charles I in a good light, it improperly places Cromwell on some biblical podium with the overdone choir music shouting "Rejoice in the Lord." England was hardly rejoicing in Cromwell after his self-appointment as dictator.
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Cromwell
Cromwell by Ken Hughes (DVD - 2003)
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