ARN THE KNIGHT TEMPLAR-BD Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by john a hunter, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. john a hunter

    john a hunter Supporting Actor

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    This BD was a surprise discovery here in Sydney and it is also being is released simultaneously in Europe. It was the most expensive film ever made in Scandinavia based upon a very popular trilogy of novels by Jan Guillou.It appears to have been released in two parts which I think have been cut together to provide this 2 1/2 hour film. For story, think “Romeo and Juliet” meets “Kingdom of Heaven.” Set in 12th century Europe, we meet our hero, Arn, set to a monastery by his parents to fulfill their promise to God to do so if Arn survived a bad illness. He later falls in love with Cecilia who is promised to another in a different clan. When she falls pregnant to him, he is sent off to the Holy Land to join the Templers. She is dispatched to the local nunnery ruled over by a vicious Mother Superior. No happy choruses of “How do we handle problem like Maria” here. While in the Holy Land, Arn becomes involved in the defence of Jerusalem and crosses paths with Saladin. While this part of the story covers that of Kingdom and while this films budget was a fraction of that film, ARN, THE KNIGHT TEMPLAR does have one great advantage. The performance of Joakim Natterqvist is effective and believable as the hero Arn. That is for more than can be said for poor Orlando Bloom totally at sea in Kingdom and who manages to reduce that film to a beautifully crafted but empty extravaganza. Once back in Sweden, our hero becomes involved in various clan wars which eventually end in the creation of Sweden. This story unfolds in flashback which greatly benefits the production cutting as it does from the hot reds, oranges and golden browns of the Holy Land to the cool greens and blues of Scandinavia. Subject to the caveat mentioned below, Eric Kress’cinematograpy is excellent. Sharp and clean-every link in the chain mail is clearly visible. Lots of HD “pop” revealing the great set designs and costumes. The Swedish scenes are in Swedish but most of the scenes in the Holy Land and the monastery are in English-mirroring then then use of Latin as the universal language. The DTS Master Audio is also impressive-the LSO contributing to the music score although, as with seemingly every Hollywood blockbuster, we duly get an appalling song over the end credit crawl. The only caveat is that it is clear from the “Making of “documentaries(of which there are two), that ARN, THE KNIGHT TEMPLAR was shot in Super 35 with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 for theatrical release. This BD, in true James Cameron form, is lopped to 1.78:1. While everything fits into this format quite well, we are deprived seeing the film as theatrically presented and the sense of space and environment that 2.35:1 provides and 1.78 just can’t. All in all and very enjoyable romp and is highly recommended.
     
  2. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    Cameron didn't "lop" anything off the sides in the 1.78:1 version of Avatar. It's basically open matte.
     
  3. Fritz Nilsen

    Fritz Nilsen Second Unit

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    The Nordic Blu-Ray releases are in 2.35 (AVC).
    The movie was originally released as 2 separate theatrical features, over 2 hours each, and come as separate Blu-Rays over here.

    Reminds me of how John Woo's Red Cliff opus was handled in the US :)
     
  4. Fritz Nilsen

    Fritz Nilsen Second Unit

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    ....and I must admit, at 4+ hours the story drags a bit. 2.5 hours sounds about right.
    I'll have to get me that Aussie-release to complete my Arn collection.
     
  5. john a hunter

    john a hunter Supporting Actor

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    Actually the running time is 138 mins. Obviously there is a lot of scences where you can feel the editor at work especially in the last half of the film.
    Are English subtitles available on the local releases? I trust the films were sucessful at the local box office.
     
  6. Fritz Nilsen

    Fritz Nilsen Second Unit

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    The nordic discs are region B locked and have no english subs. Probably part of a licensing deal to keep people overseas from importing. I am not sure how these fared at the box-office, but I can tell you these were event-movies over here. The novels are bestsellers, and movies of this scale are seldom attempted.

    Comparisons to Kingdom of Heaven are fair, but for me, this is just proof that americans make movies like this so much better. Sure the movies are pretty good, but when it comes to pacing and scale, we just can't compete with Hollywood pros. (Orlando Bloom not withstanding :))
     
  7. john a hunter

    john a hunter Supporting Actor

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    I think you are being a little hard on it. I really liked it, perhaps for us the Swedish backdrop made it all the more interesting. Would like to see the last part in full as it was pretty well skipped over in the single version.
     
  8. Astrakan

    Astrakan Auditioning

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    Having seen the two original Swedish versions I've gotta say I too enjoyed them quite a bit, and unlike Fritz I think even at 4+ hours of total running time they could stand to be a bit longer. It felt like there was a lot more story there, and considering they were based on novels I'm guessing there probably is. Having made it into a trilogy would've been about right, I think.

    Part one could've focused on Arn's life from birth to when he's sent off to Jerusalem. Part two could've focused on his time there, as well as what was going on back in Sweden at the same time. And part three could've started with his arrival back in Sweden.
     

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