Sunday, March 09, 2014

"Ivanhoe" (1982)

I was so excited when I won a copy of this on Musings of an Introvert!  I'd only seen the 1952 version before, and it rather... lacks.  But this version is great fun, I'm happy to report.  I very much look forward to watching it with my kids when they're a bit older, as it's totally the kind of movie I would have watched over and over as a kid.  Especially since it includes quite a bit of Robin Hood, who's always been a favorite of mine.

The story, for those who are just joining us, is that Wilfred of Ivanhoe (Anthony Andrews) ran off to join King Richard's crusade against his father's wishes.  He returns home just in time to rescue Isaac of York (James Mason) from being waylaid by forest robbers.

Isaac (James Mason), who has the weirdest and silliest hat in the whole movie.

Isaac is a wealthy Jew with quite a few enemies and a beautiful daughter named Rebecca (Olivia Hussey).  Out of gratitude, he outfits Ivanhoe with a horse and armor to enter a tournament.  There, Ivanhoe is briefly reunited with the fair Rowena (Lysette Anthony), who is his father's ward and was Ivanhoe's intended bride until Ivanhoe's father disowned him because he went on that fool crusade.

At the tournament, Ivanhoe also meets up with three scurrilous knights:  Brian de Bois-Guilbert (Sam Neill), De Bracy (Stuart Wilson), and Front-de-Beouf (John Rhys-Davies).

Three bad, naughty, evil knights.

They're cronies of Prince John's and not well loved of the Saxon populace, being Norman oppressors, etc.  And then there's lots of jousting, and this is getting long, so I'll skip ahead to the fact that Ivanhoe gets wounded, and he and Isaac and Rebecca are captured by those three scurrilous knights, as are Ivanhoe's dad Cedric and Lady Rowena.  And they have to get rescued by Robin Hood (David Robb).

This Robin Hood is pretty cool.  He's got a very Saxon look, all blond and blue-eyed and sharp-cheekboned, and he does the role justice.

Locksley the Lethal

Oh, and I forgot the bad guys also captured Athelstane (Michael Gothard), who's the son of Saxon royalty and cracked me up the whole movie through.  He thinks of absolutely nothing but food!

Athelstane the Always Hungry

I can see why Anthony Andrews fans would like this movie a great deal.  He spends most of it wounded and shirtless.  And he looks very, very good that way.

Of course, with such a lovely nurse, who wouldn't prolong their recovery?

But the real highlight of the casting in this, for me, was Olivia Hussey as Rebecca.  Wow.  She was wonderful!  Beautiful, of course, but also with a mixture of innocence and resilience that really entranced me.

I would totally wear any of her costumes.

Plus, Rebecca is such an intelligent character.  Especially when contrasted to this version's Rowena, who is very pretty and sweet, but extremely dippy.

Though she be but dippy, she is fierce.  Or something.

All in all, this is such a delightfully colorful and joyous production.  Everyone's having a grand time, and they hope the viewers will too.  Lately, I've realized that I really dig movies that simply want to be enjoyable.  The people making the movie are having fun, they want their audience to have fun, and no one is worried about making High Art or Important Statements.

Colors, colors everywhere!

In fact, some of the actors, who we know can Really Act, turn in remarkably silly performances here.  I'm talking to you in particular, Sam Neill.  You spent the whole movie smirking and sneering, except at the very end, where you were suddenly so wonderful it's like you remembered you could act, or something.

One of Sam Neill's vast collection of smirks.

Is this movie family friendly?  Mostly!  There's medieval violence, swords and so on, but very little blood -- this is a TV movie from the '80s, after all.  And there's some talk of taking a woman as a concubine, a bit of leering and menacing toward her, but nothing overt.  A couple of chaste kisses elsewhere.  I can't recall any bad language at all.

Now, one last picture of Anthony Andrews just cuz he's the star and I couldn't find anywhere else to include a close-up.

I'm terribly wounded.  How's my hair?

24 comments:

  1. "I'm terribly wounded. How's my hair?" is the best way to describe Ivanhoe... LOVE IT.

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  2. "I'm terribly wounded. How's my hair?" Okay, that's my new favorite non-existent line. I laughed out loud and am still giggling. Perfect picture to go with it. Althelstane the always hungry cracked me up too. He really is. About to expire of hunger at any moment.

    It was so much fun watching this together!

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    1. Well, what else could he be thinking in that shot? :-D

      A movie shared with you is always more fun!

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  3. This is one of my favorite books! I loved all the characters (Rowena drove me nuts, though). I have to see it now.

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    1. I've only read it once, over my Christmas break my freshman year in college, so... fifteen years ago now. I'm planning to read it again later this year! But I remember liking Rebecca better than Rowena in it too.

      Do see this! It's great fun.

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  4. Awww, I'm so happy you enjoyed it. It's such a cute movie, and you're right, it's fun because it doesn't try to be anything that it's not. All it wants to do is entertain, and succeeds mightily. Olivia Hussey was brilliant. I think it's her casting that contributed to my loving Rebecca more than Rowena. It's not that I didn't like Rowena, but you're right that she's quite dippy. Great word!

    And yes, perfect hair. Some guys got it and some guys ain't got it! ;)

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    1. I may have to make up a story where Rebecca gets a happily-ever-after.

      And Ivanhoe's hair, even when he was gravely ill, was always better than Brian's!!!

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  5. Did Daniel watch this with you? It would help him appreciate my favorite, Knight's Castle.

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    1. No, he didn't. It has way too much tension, anxiety, and danger for him to find it enjoyable right now. Give him a few years, and then I think he'll love it, once he learns not to worry so much about fictional characters.

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  6. Ok, I have to find this movie now! I love the book and I always enjoy a good, humorous take on it. I mean, it has Anthony Andrews in it, how could this not be amazing? My favorite movie of his though is still, and will always be, "The Scarlet Pimpernel".

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    1. I think if you love TSP, you should greatly enjoy this. Amazon has it for under $10 right now. Totally worth the money!

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  7. oohh! I really want to see this! I've seen the 1997 Mini-series which is amazing and my favorite as of now but I want to see this one as well. Anthony looks fantastic in this!

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    1. I'm getting ready to order the 1997 version right now! I have a little birthday money to spend, and it's something I've had on my wish list for a long time now.

      Anthony definitely looks fantastic in this! I liked him WAY better here than in TSP.

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  8. I've never much cared for this story in general (and I don't know why, either -- considering its adult themes and all the racial and religious turmoil, you'd think it would be right up my alley; hmm, maybe it's time to revisit this!), but this is a great little movie. I'm glad you liked it.

    Though, I like men better with shirts on than off. I'm weird that way. :)

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    1. Well, I don't love the story like I do many others, but I do quite enjoy it. Maybe a revisit would be good!

      And it depends on the man and why his shirt is off. A guy who has his shirt off for a reasonable reason (wounded, working hard outdoors, going swimming) I can quite enjoy. A guy taking his shirt off just to show off, I'm not so much a fan of.

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  9. Ohhhh I REALLY want to see this movie!!! I've wanted to see it for a while now, ever since I heard about it more than a year ago. Unfortunately our library system doesn't have it, so I guess the only way I'l be able to watch it is if I buy it. I'm a huge fan of Anthony Andrews, so I'm pretty sure I would love this movie-- especially if he spends most of the movie wounded (and shirtless, as you pointed out. ;-P)
    Very nice review! :-)

    ~Emma

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    1. Like I said, Amazon has it for less than $10 right now -- that's the cheapest I've seen it, so now would be a good time go buy a copy.

      And thanks! It's always nice to hear people enjoyed one of my posts. I do put quite a bit of time and effort into them ;-)

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  10. I've actually never seen a film version of Ivanhoe, though I love the book. This Athelstane and Rebecca especially look just about how I pictured the characters myself. Athelstane always cracks me up in the book—I love the scene where he and Cedric are being held prisoner and Cedric is raging away, while Athelstane interrupts with a remark about food every chance he gets. :)

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    1. It's been years and years and years since I read the book -- I didn't remember Athelstane at all! The only part I remembered clearly was Wamba dressing up like the priest and saying Pax vobiscum all the time. Anyway, that scene with Athelstane interrupting with food remarks is totally in this version! In fact, the screencap I included here is from that scene. He's just commented that his tongue cleaves to the roof of his mouth because he has been without food or drink for so long.

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  11. Tom likes this one -- I didn't, so much. Not bad or anything, but it just didn't capture me. I like AA in the one Agatha Christie he was in better (not getting into TSP again ...) :)

    I can't remember if we got this one from Netflix or the library. We've also seen the 1952 version with Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor (A Tale of Two Taylors!) which I actually liked better. Surprises the hay out of me that that's so ...

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    1. I don't know -- the Robert Taylor one is both too eager and too staid or something. And he gets better way too quickly from his wounds. Who does he think he is, Sgt. Saunders?

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  12. Good stuff. Ivanhoe is a great book, never seen the movies except a snippet of the Liz Taylor one.

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    1. Thanks, Matt! I love the book too. I've seen the Liz Taylor version too, and it's enjoyable, but I prefer this one.

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