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To Kill a King (2003)

John-Paul Macleod , Corin Redgrave , Mike Barker  |  NR |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)

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To Kill a King + Cromwell + The Wars of the Roses: A Bloody Crown
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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: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0010SAGGE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,955 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "To Kill a King" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

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

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 48 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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25 of 26 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 22 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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great as a movie (5 stars), horrible as history (1.5 stars).

Indisputably, "The Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell" remains a controversial figure in UK history. For those only mildly interested in Cromwell's place in British history, one only needs to know that it is hard to find a neutral (or unimpassioned) opinion. He either presided over a tumultuous period which did in fact move England much further forward than was able to be earlier seen, or he was a dictator in the line of Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Stalin, the Taliban, or even the (seems impossible to find except in the left-leaning pubs) Right-Wing Fundamentalist Christian zealot fanatics.

"To Kill a King" is an unabashed anti-Cromwell tirade and by extension, Christianity. Tim Roth is superb, but plays Cromwell as a fanatic, knavish gnome. As portrayed, Cromwell is an intolerant and brutal zealot who desires nothing more than to make his form of Christianity (Puritanism) the religion of the nation. But this view is in direct contradiction to ALL history. Cromwell's Puritanism has been given an extremely bad rap and the situation in England was far more complicated than depicted. The English common folk may not all have wanted King Charles deposed, but an extraordinarily high percentage stood back in aghast at the hypocrisy of their so-called pious and Christian king (and his court). In the end, Cromwell did represent the overall expectations of the English common folk. In keeping with his desire to remain with the people, we must also remember that Cromwell was offered the crown and refused, hoping that a republic of freely elected legislators would develop. In the end, if Cromwell was horrible, than so too were our founding Mayflower Pilgrims (and early New England).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 days 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 1 month 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 2 months ago by Guruji Love
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 4 months ago by Laurie M. Kania
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good flick, but hugely butchered.
This fragment of a great film offers fine coverage of the decisions to depose, and then to execute, Charles I of England. Read more
Published 8 months ago by R. C. Walker
4.0 out of 5 stars Telling a story in English history often overlooked
"To Kill a King" tells the story of the fall of the British monarchy to Parliamentarian rule at the conclusion of the English Civil War. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Todd Post
5.0 out of 5 stars Item received quickly
Wow, I waited so long to see this movie, even looked around the UK for it while on vacation there and now it's finally available here in the US and man, what a bad movie. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Siren
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Drama
In 1645, after a bloody civil war, King Charles the 1st is overthrown and two heroes emerge as the leaders of Great Britain. Read more
Published 17 months ago by KevinB
1.0 out of 5 stars Gadzooks!
This film lacks an essential ingredient: a statement that "any resemblance between characters and events shown and actual historical events is purely accidental. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Brian Libby
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting take on history
Only once has the great nation of Britain been a republic, for a short time without a monarch overseeing the people. Read more
Published on March 28, 2012 by Charity Bishop
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