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To Kill a King

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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

Special Features


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 (82 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0010SAGGE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,651 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "To Kill a King" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Still, as a movie, (and not demanding strict historical accuracy),the film carries well on its own.
Billy J. Hobbs
In the end we just get a muddled film that tries to tackle too much without really grounding us in character or plot.
R. Rosener
England did return to a monarchy, but the Civil Wars did indeed move England several significant steps forward.
M.A. Hallisey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 15, 2008
Format: DVD
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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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By landru141 on 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 By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David A. Greene on 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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