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The Reckoning (2004)

Willem Dafoe , Paul Bettany , Paul McGuigan  |  R |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Willem Dafoe, Paul Bettany, Marian Aguilera, Trevor Steedman, Simon McBurney
  • Directors: Paul McGuigan
  • Writers: Barry Unsworth, Mark Mills
  • Producers: Andrew Warren, Angus Finney, Caroline Wood, Denise O'Dell, Mark Albela
  • Format: Anamorphic, Widescreen, Dolby, Color, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: August 3, 2004
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000291Q52
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,446 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Reckoning" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Set in 14th century England, THE RECKONING focuses on Nicholas (Bettany), a young priest who has broken his vow of chastity and in turn becomes a fugitive, escaping from his fellow monks and their judgment. Posing as an actor in a traveling acting troupe, Nicholas, along with the actors, discovers that a young woman convicted of killing a boy is actually innocent and the troupe sets out to prove her innocence by incorporating the crime into their plays.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Traveling actors in medieval England solve a murder September 4, 2004
This 2004 film is set in medieval England in the year 1300. Paul Bettany plays the role of a priest who has been discovered in an act of adultery and has to run for his life. He meets up with a traveling troupe of actors whose leader is Willem Dafoe, and the group enters a town in the hope of making a few shillings and having their traveling cart repaired.

The townspeople are not interested in their play because there is a real life drama unfolding around them. A mute woman is accused of witchcraft and sentenced to hang for the murder of a young boy. The players decide to produce a play about that incident and Willem Dafoe visits her in her jail cell where she tells her story through sign language. Convinced of her innocence, they produce a new play. But naturally there are complications.

Filmed in Spain and England, the feeling of the times, and especially of the dirt, disease and poverty are captured well. The story is a good one although a little hard to follow. But, by the end, however, I understood it perfectly. Acting was uniformly good and I did feel the complexities of such an ambitious plot. However, the film editing could have been better. In one scene particularly, there were a few discordant spots that would have been better left on the cutting room floor.

Also, in spite of the attempts of the producers, this was no Shakespearean play. And although I did enjoy it, it was always from an outsider's perspective. I never really got caught up in the emotion.

I was also hoping for some extras on the DVD because I would have liked to go a little bit behind the scenes. But, alas, there was none.

Generally, I think this film was good. And it does get my recommendation. It just doesn't belong at the top of my list.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Medieval Murder Mystery November 23, 2004
The Reckoning is yet another wonderful piece of filmmaking that slipped under most people's radar. A 13th Century murder mystery it is visually stunning, mixing barbaric with modern sensibilities (sometimes a bit too much).

Paul Bettany is Father Nicholas a young, dishonored priest now fugitive fleeing his outraged parish for his life. Eventually meeting up with a troupe of traveling actors headed by Martin (Willem Dafoe) their roaming ends up in a village where a mute woman is to be put to death for the murder of a young boy.

Nicholas, Martin and company alter their morality plays to reflect the injustice surrounding them upsetting the authorities and much of the populace. Oh yeah, and then there's the plague!

A fascinating movie The Reckoning will probably not be to everyone's liking, but if you enjoy period pieces particularly medieval, this one features a terrific cast and is emotionally satisfying as well as theatrically compelling.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MORALITY PLAY October 12, 2004
THE RECKONING is a handsome, evocative drama set in 1300 England, a land bereft with poverty, plague and cruelty. A disgraced priest, wonderfully embodied by Paul Bettany, leaves the priesthood and joins up with a traveling band of actors, led by the ubiquitous and effective Willem Dafoe. They enter a village where a deaf mute woman has been convicted of the murder of a young lad. Evidence uncovered by the actors convinces them that the woman is innocent, and they set out to prove it by staging an original play, something out of the ordinary for the times. Most plays were religiously oriented, and this departure spoke of things to come. How the actors, particularly Bettany, come to prove the young woman's innocence forms the core of the movie, and although slow in pacing, it is nevertheless intriguing and very well done. Vincent Cassel as the Lord Dubose, Matthew McFadyen as the King's Justice and Brian Cox as one of the actors are outstanding in supporting roles.

A Very atmospheric film, quite original in its context (although NAME OF THE ROSE entered this territory earlier). A good and different film.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling drama November 12, 2006
While it is true, as others have pointed out, that there are historical inaccuracies throughout this film, from my point of view they can be overlooked because they are really not central to the theme and story here.

Set in England ca. 1380, The Reckoning depicts the unraveling of a mystery in which the exoneration of a mute woman accused by her townsfolk of murder is psychologically connected with the man who in essence proves her innocence. The man is a young disgraced priest and he has come to this town via a troupe of actors who look to increase their extremely modest finances by staging a morality play. Upon discovering, however, this accused woman, they quickly change their approach--from the staging of a traditional Bible-based work to one portraying the events leading up to the murder of the young boy, supposedly done by the mute woman.

What makes this film so powerful is a combination of strong acting (from Brian Cox, Willem Dafoe, Paul Bettany, Vincent Cassel, and several others) and especially a story that intertwines the juxtaposition of faith embraced externally based on organized religion and morality affirmed within oneself based on internal conviction. This juxtaposition is combined with the ever-present reality of politics--as typified here by a feudal lord--and its attendant corruption, as well as that of the Church which revels in its power over commoners.

One of the more compelling things about this film is that it wastes no time in getting right to the story. The viewer is quickly thrust into the meat of the story and events ensue with perfect pacing that keeps the viewer intrigued right up to the last frame.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a well told story! It is a ...
This is a well told story! It is a medieval murder mystery! Plenty of surprises. If you are a viewer that requires things to blow up, then this is not for you. Read more
Published 5 days ago by G. Lowery
4.0 out of 5 stars Good View of Medieval Life with a Few Issues
The Reckoning is a fairly unique movie. It's a medieval tale that explores the world of Passion Plays along with murder mysteries. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lisa Shea
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie!
This movie is mildly spiced with action, but the plot will thoroughly entertain those looking for good drama. I bought this movie again after giving away my first copy!
Published 7 months ago by King
4.0 out of 5 stars Love it
This item is exactly as described and is wonderful. Have watched it for many times already,would buy again KLM MN
Published 14 months ago by Kim Marks
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder Mystery in Middle Ages England
Paul Bettany discovers the truth about a murder at a medievel English castle. It's an interesting view of medieval English life and customs. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Thomas Tyndall
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Reckoning' Very good film !!!!
'Reckoning' is wonderful film ,because it makes you think and feel what you could to better for world. Paul Bettany and Willem Dafoe are in this film. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Elizabeth A.
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
It doesn't completely stay true to the book, but in itself it truly is a great movie. It has a cast of brilliant actors and a great plot.
Published 16 months ago by Yoda0690
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent medieval movie! A must see!
William Dafoe and his co-actors do a great job in improvising a play to solve a murder by the Lord of the town. Read more
Published 17 months ago by GVSDTM
3.0 out of 5 stars Too bad they didn't keep closer to the novel, which had a better plot...
The acting was very good, also the sense of history, costumes, etc. Willem Dafoe was wonderful, as usual. But the script was pedestrian and corny, a great disappointment.
Published 17 months ago by constance steckel
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately it strayed far from the book
I loved Barry Unsworth's Morality Tale so much. It totally captivated me, and I have reread it many times. Read more
Published 18 months ago by lily t.
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