War Lord, The (Blu-ray) (1965)

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Released 17-Jun-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Isolated Musical Score-and effects
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1965
Running Time 121:15
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Franklin J. Schaffner
Bounty Films Starring Charlton Heston
Richard Boone
Rosemary Forsyth
Guy Stockwell
Maurice Evans
Niall MacGinnis
Sammy Ross
James Farentino

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Jerome Moross

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 mono (2304Kb/s)
Isolated Score & Effects Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 mono (2304Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† Europe, 11th century; honoured knight Chrysagon (Charlton Heston) is sent by his Duke with a small party of men, including Chrysagonís younger brother Draco (Guy Stockwell), warrior Bors (Richard Boone) and jester Volc (Sammy Ross), to occupy a tower in the Normandy marshlands. He is there to strengthen the Dukeís authority over the region, combating Frisian raiders and the remnants of the local Pagan religion. Chrysagon arrives just in time to defeat a raiding party and capture the Frisian Chiefís son after which he meets village elder Odins (Niall MacGinnis), his son Marc (James Farentino) and the village priest (Maurice Evans) before starting work to repair the tower.

†††† On a hunt some days later Chrysagon stumbles upon village girl Bronwyn (Rosemary Forsyth) and finds that he cannot get her out of his mind. She is due to marry Marc, but on the night of their wedding Chrysagon invokes the pagan right of the War Lord to take a woman into his bed on the first night. Odins acquiesces, as this custom is an ancient local fertility rite, but in the morning when Odins arrives to take Bronwyn back to her husband Chrysagon has become enamoured with her and will not let her go; nor does Bronwyn wish to return to the village. This decision goes against Chrysagonís word he gave to Odins, his honour and his loyalty to his Duke, a repudiation of the values he has held and fought for for over 20 years. Draco is horrified, Bors unsure; Chrysagonís action turns the village against the Normans and Marc leaves to find the Frisians and tell them that the chiefís son is still alive and held in the tower. The Frisians return and together with the villagers lay siege to the tower and all those inside.

†††† The War Lord is a gripping tale of morality, duty and war that is based on the stage play The Lovers by Leslie Stevens. The film is directed by Franklin Schaffner, who reteamed with Heston a few years later for Planet of the Apes (1968); he was also to win an Oscar for Patton (1970), a more than decent filmography. The War Lord feels authentic; the tower is dark, and feels cold and drafty, while the Norman chain mail, weapons, helmets and shields could have been lifted straight from the Bayeux Tapestry. The widescreen images of the grey stone tower jutting out amid the marshlands are glorious, courtesy of cinematographer Russell Metty, Oscar winner for Spartacus (1960) a few years previously, while the action sequences, although relatively bloodless as was the habit at the time, are nevertheless well-staged, robust and exciting as the Frisians attack the tower with fire, a battering ram and a siege tower.

†††† Charlton Heston, in chain mail and swinging a big sword, is in his element; in historical films of that time there was no one who could do it as well as Heston and this is one of his most nuanced performances as a man of war who is called upon to question his core values and his honour for the sake of a woman who may well have bewitched him. Richard Boone, as a warrior who does not like to question or think too much, and Maurice Evans (who was Dr Zaius in Planet of the Apes and thus reteamed with Heston and Schaffner), as the priest prepared to co-exist with pagan rites, are both very good and even Guy Stockwell, not one of the most expressive of actors, is fine as Draco. Perhaps the only unauthentic note is Rosemary Forsyth who does not remotely look, sound or act like a peasant farm girl from an isolated 11th century village in Normandy!

††††The War Lord remains one of the best films ever made about medieval society, where the word of the War Lord was law. The film feels authentic in its costumes, weapons and chain mail, the action is exciting and at its heart is the moral dilemma of an honourable knight who has to question everything he has hitherto stood for, and possibly lose his very soul.

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Transfer Quality


†††† The War Lord is presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p, using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

†††† This print looks pretty good for a film that is now 50 years old, although it is not perfect. Some of early exterior sequences look soft and quite grainy but the print soon settles down and provides strong detail of faces, Hestonís cropped hair and the interior of the tower. Shot in Technicolor, some of the colour choices look garish, such as sections of luminous green inside the tower or the treated colours of the sunset. In some places there are yellow / brown tints, and one red looking scene; otherwise colours are natural but muted. Blacks and shadow detail are very good, skin tones rather reddish / brown. There were no marks or artefacts other than the grain and an occasional very tiny mark.

†††† English subtitles for the hearing impaired are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† Audio is an English LPCM 2.0 mono at 2304 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound and the lossless audio on the Blu-ray is very good.

†††† Dialogue is always easy to understand. While this is a mono audio, effects have some depth; the action scenes feature battle cries, the clash of weapons, the thud of rocks and arrows while even in non-action scenes there are constant crisp effects such as the dripping of water, footsteps and the tinkle of spurs. The score is by Jerome Moross and an uncredited Hans J. Salter. It is epic and dramatic, although by modern standards it feels somewhat intrusive.

†††† There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

†††† I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

†††† Lip synchronisation was occasionally out but was generally fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Isolated Music and Effects

†††† As it says: LPCM 2.0 audio of music and effects without the dialogue.

Trailer (3:02)

†††† An unrestored trailer, in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, giving an idea of what the film could have looked like!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† This release of The War Lord is identical to the Eureka Region B UK release, but without the booklet that came with that release. There is currently no US version listed.


†††† The War Lord remains one of the best films ever made about medieval society with themes of responsibility, duty and honour. It feels authentic, features stunning widescreen imagery, exciting battles and has, at its core, an excellent performance by Charlton Heston as an honourable knight who has to question everything he has hitherto stood for. Fans of quality cinema or Heston will be delighted that, thanks to Bounty, this important film arrives here for the first time in HD.

†††† The film looks fine on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. An isolated music and effects track and the theatrical trailer are the only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, July 21, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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