There is a lot of history and connections to other historical drama in this TV version of the Walter Scott novel that combines real life historical figures with a few fictional ones. Fans of the Robin Hood legend and the epic tale "The Lion in Winter" will enjoy what they learn about realize history and this version which deals with issues in old England plow King Richard the Lionhearted is out on the Crusades and Prince John is his regent. It's obvious to anybody who saw the Hepburn/O'Toole movie that Prince John even as a young man was no good and should have no element of power, so it's no surprise that has reasoned, he is trying to upsurb the throne. Wilfred of Ivanhoe, obviously a fictional character, has returned to England after serving with Richard in the Crusades and instantly becomes an enemy of everybody associated with Prince John.
But Prince John and his supporters have much more to worry about than just Ivanhoe. Richard has his supporters who do not bow to Prince John, and this creates near civil war as John's obsession with becoming king leads to his enemies doing all they can to make sure that their beloved country doesn't fall into the wrong hands. While Prince John is a major character, his enemies are more important and have more footage, although when John does appear, it is very clear that he is a scheming, evil man.
The handsome Anthony Andrews is hidden for much of the first half hour in disguise as Ivanhoe, revealing himself to Isaac of York (James Mason),a powerful Jewish man with a beautiful daughter (Olivia Hussey),loyal to the missing king, as is nobleman Michael Horden and his equally beautiful daughter (Lysette Anthony). Both of these beautiful women end up romantically interested in Ivanhoe and are coveted by the more slimy of John's supporters. Robin Hood and his band of merry men do make an appearance later in the film, right after Richard has returned to reclaim his throne, tying together several legends into one film.
This is a beautifully filmed TV version, more famous for the MGM film from 1952. But there is a lot more detail of historical interest in this film, and thus, the film is more epic in scope and a bit longer. The costumes and ancient castles are among the stunning said pieces, and the various battles are well filmed and very intense. A great Emmy nominated score helps the film move along briskly. Sam Neill stuns in a rare villain role with Julian Glover a commanding King Richard and Ronald Pickup a nefarious Prince John. After watching this and other films in which John appears, I still wonder how he was ever allowed to actually become king, and makes me wonder why a film about the creation of the Magna Carta was never made. Well worth seeking out and certainly much more substantial historically than the MGM version.
Action / Adventure / Drama / Romance
Action / Adventure / Drama / Romance
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Wilfred of Ivanhoe, the son of a Saxon nobleman, returns to England from the Crusades. Prince John is Regent in the absence of his brother, King Richard the Lionheart, who is imprisoned in Austria. Saxons have not accepted their Norman conquerors and there is much animosity between them. Wilfred of Ivanhoe arrives at court just as a jousting tournament begins and bests the three Norman noblemen who have agreed to take on all comers. Wilfred is seriously injured however and is cared for by Isaac of York and his beautiful daughter Rebecca. They are taken prisoner however, along with Wilfred's father Cedric and his ward Lady Rowena, by the three knights Wilfred bested in the tournament. With the assistance of Robin Hood, the mysterious Black Knight attacks the castle of Front-de-Boeuf, where the captives are being held. It's left to Wilfred to rescue Rebecca, however, when she is accused of being a witch.
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