Anglo-Saxons vs the Danes in 9th century England. Much derided at the time, Donner's shot at an intelligent epic is a little more sympathetic three decades on. The model was evidently Lawrence of Arabia, with Alfred (Hemmings) the flawed hero, wanting to be a good Christian but dismayed by his propensity for violence, while in mirror image, Guthrum the 'savage pagan' (York) finds love undermining his rape 'n' pillage ethos. Alex Thomson's photography has texture and Leppard's score is important sounding without becoming strident. But Donner should have taken a broadsword to the reams of duff dialogue ('Now look, Ethelred...'), an insurmountable obstacle to taking the thing seriously. A curiosity, all the same.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Ken Taylor, James R Webb|