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To Kill a King (2003)

John-Paul Macleod , Corin Redgrave , Mike Barker  |  NR |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)

Price: $18.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: John-Paul Macleod, Corin Redgrave, Jessica Hazel, Tim Roth, Melissa Knatchbull
  • Directors: Mike Barker
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: February 26, 2008
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0010SAGGE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,489 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "To Kill a King" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

1645: After years of civil war, King Charles I is overthrown and two heroes have emerged Lord General Thomas Fairfax and his best friend and deputy General Oliver Cromwell. Their friendship is
threatened when Fairfax and his wife conspire to return the King to power, and Cromwell instead orders his execution, seizing control. His armies spread violence and fear throughout the country, and
Fairfax realizes Cromwell must be stopped, and their
bond as two comrades-at-arms irreparably broken.

In Mike Barker's version of British history, Thomas Fairfax (Mission Impossible II's Dougray Scott) represents reason, while Oliver Cromwell (Tim Roth, taking on a role previously assumed by Richard Harris) embodies reform. As the lieutenant-general, who makes up in conviction what he lacks in charisma, declares, "Tom is our emblem. We are brutes without him." He could easily be referring to himself, since Cromwell would turn out to be one of England's more brutal reformers. Barker picks up their story in 1645 during the height of civil war. At the time, King Charles I (Rupert Everett, in fine fettle despite a few unfortunate ensembles) holds a tenuous grasp on the throne. Parliamentarians Fairfax and Cromwell enjoy cordial relations; though the latter's increasing fanaticism bodes poorly for the future. Further, the lord general's wife, Lady Fairfax (Rushmore's Olivia Williams), sympathizes with the king, putting her husband in an awkward position. In the end, Cromwell will decide the fate of the Crown, but many lives might have been spared if Parliament had heeded Fairfax's calls for leniency. Plagued by budgetary problems, Barker was forced to halt production on the film twice (the project was saved largely by actor/producer Scott, who paid crew members out of his own pocket). Consequently, the director opted to emphasize political intrigue over battlefield heroics. Though less satisfying than his underrated Oscar Wilde adaptation A Good Woman, To Kill a King (formerly Cromwell and Fairfax) features convincing performances and raises timely questions about the qualifications for leadership. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good historical drama January 15, 2008
To Kill a King (aka Cromwell and Fairfax) came as quite a surprise - the film's troubled production is a local legend in the UK, the reviews were lukewarm and the film was further scuppered by a dreadful ad campaign and trailer. Then there was the fact that director Mike Barker's feature debut, the insultingly stupid The James Gang, was one of the very worst films I've ever had the misfortune to see. And that's ignoring Rupert Everett's efforts at promoting the movie in the States by describing it as boring rubbish and his performance being the only worthwhile thing in it.

The omens weren't good, to put it mildly, but it actually turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining and ambitious retelling of the troubled relationship between Lord Fairfax and his deputy Oliver Cromwell in the aftermath of the English Civil War. I can't vouch for its historical accuracy (widely criticized in the UK), but as drama it works very well, despite the fact that Roth's Cromwell isn't at the top of his game while Scott lacks the voice for the rabble-rousing speeches (although he's much better here than his usual lacklustre screen performances).

It's well-directed and hides the budget problems that saw the picture shut down for a few weeks while they scrambled for money to finish the picture quite admirably. It has a sense of scale both in story and treatment and, though it loses momentum slightly after the king's death, it deserved to find the audience it was denied in cinemas. Certainly a notch above the usual staid British historical picture, it's well worth a look.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too short a film for too big a subject March 27, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"To Kill a King" - well, I've been waiting for a couple of years for a region 1 release. Initial reviews were all very mild, if not mean. The film itself is not cheap or badly shot. It is as good as any other history film about ("Elizabeth: The Golden Age" for example.)

The simple reason for the criticism is that the audience waiting for this film wanted something a bit more realistic and historically accurate. This is a subject that fascinates me (having read Antonia Frasier's "Cromwell" and "Charles II" plus "The Trial of Charles I: A Documentary History"). Sadly, there is too much going on to satisfy in almost all directions. We don't get to see much of the trial of Charles I, we don't get to see any of the Civil War, Pride's Purge is fairly swiftly done, and then we get a massive time lapse of Cromwell's rise and fall all in an hour and a half. Too much is happening and not enough time to allow the audience to care.

To say this is a bad movie, however, is just wrong. I suggest that the producers didn't quite understand the audience for this subject as most costume dramas are aimed at a female audience. However, there truly isn't anything feminine in this story (Fairfax's wife's time on screen is a little overdone.) All this could have been fixed with a longer runtime and a bit slower pace.

Since we aren't likely to see another film on this subject again in the near future, this is worth a look.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground March 18, 2008
Format:DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
And tell sad stories of the death of kings.

Richard II, Act iii. Sc. 2.

Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax led the Puritan revolt against Charles I that resulted in what as known as the Civil Wars. In the mind of Cromwell and his supporters, Charles I led a series of bloody civil wars against the Parliamentary forces that challenged Charles I's right to absolute rule. These civil wars caused the death of approximately 10% of Britain's adult males. It was a bloody time. Eventually, Cromwell and his supporters determined that the only way to end the civil wars was to put Charles I to trial. The trial and subsequent execution of Charles I was a watershed event that left England a republic (albeit only temporarily) and created the legal theory that tyranny was not a right of rulers but a crime against the ruled. The trial destroyed forever the right of kings to act with impunity from justice and the principles established at this trial still exist today and were evident at trials from Nuremberg to Yugoslavia.

"To Kill a King" sets out to tell the story of the trial and execution of King Charles I at the hands of Oliver Cromwell and his republican/Puritan army. However, the film's centerpiece is not, sad to say, the trial of Charles I but, rather, the complex and emotional relationship between Oliver Cromwell and his closest ally, Lord General Thomas Fairfax. The result is a film that, while interesting in its own right, misses the opportunity to explore one of history's most important events.

Director Mike Barker (and his cinematographer) does a commendable job in evoking the horror of the Civil Wars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Darkly handsome and absorbing historical film August 10, 2010
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
A friend, whose taste I respect, recommended "To Kill a King". As I generally favor such historical film fare, I was quick to order a copy. Some internet research suggested that reaction to the film by viewers and critics was split, with a lot of comments about the fictionalized moments in the script. I wish I knew a bit more about the precise facts of the Reformation Period in England in order to correctly determine the truth of such events as the saving of Cromwell's life by his friend, Fairfax which is so much in dispute here. All the same, I was pleased to find this picture to be a mature, thoughtful and absorbing piece. The stark, atmospheric lighting and cinematography, literate dialogue, convincing performances by the cast, etc...... all contributed to a thoroughly engrossing and satisfying film. A viewing of the very interesting, if imperfect, earlier movie, "Cromwell", starring Richard Harris in the lead role, makes it very clear that this newer dramatization approaches the character of Oliver Cromwell with a radically altered bias. From what I have read and heard in the past, this leader of The Roundheads was controversial from the moment he emerged on history's stage, and remains the subject of many arguments about his heroism, or lack thereof, and his contribution to the way England was governed. Most seem to concur that he was a stern and rigid fellow, who believed unwaveringly in his own moral perspective, and could be ruthless and brutal with those he opposed. "To Kill a King" is the kind of intelligent adult drama that is too scarce these days and it stimulates a great deal of interest in its subject and the questions raised by that enormous upheaval in British history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great acting, beautiful costuming
Great acting, beautiful costuming, and great setting. Am not sure how true to history, but solid movie. The cast is incredible.
Published 17 days ago by deborah k. cosgrove
5.0 out of 5 stars Good movie. Another bit of insight into the times ...
Good movie. Another bit of insight into the times of Cromwell.
Published 2 months ago by Bernadette Hackett
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by BRL
5.0 out of 5 stars So Good
I loved this film! It was interesting and kept me watching! The characters are wonderfuland it was well scripted. The cinematography was amazing.
Published 4 months ago by megan chatelain
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly good film. My ancestors were Danish Vikings who settle in...
A long time friend of mine in Yorkshire is also originally Viking stock....hers came from Norway and mine from Denmark but we are both "proud of the Viking ancestors. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sharon F. Ogden
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed it!
I love historical movies like this! For me, it ranks up their with "The Duchess," "Restoration," and "The Affair of the Necklace."
Published 4 months ago by Lilith Roswyn
4.0 out of 5 stars A well presented slice of history
The complexity of the English Civil War between the Royalist forces of Charles I and the Puritanical forces of Oliver Cromwell is difficult to display on the screen. Read more
Published 6 months ago by C. B Collins Jr.
3.0 out of 5 stars good film - not so good history lesson
I tried very hard to overlook/ignore the number of historical inaccuracies in this film but, unfortunately, as a purist, I could not. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Patricia Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film about a time of great change in Britain's history.
Good for school classes and history buffs. Well done. Good character development. Not too graphic on scenes of fighting. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Grateful Grace
1.0 out of 5 stars Skip It
I suffered through this movie on Netflix. As a teacher of European History, I cannot recommend this movie. Bad casting all around not too mention writing. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Laurie M. Kania
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