My friend Kevin Harty reviews David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King (2018) for Medievally Speaking. The king in question is Robert the Bruce (1274-1329), who ruled Scotland from 1306. Excerpt:
The medieval historical epic has been a cinematic staple for more than a century. The reasons are obvious—such films present larger than life characters whose stories are the stuff of legend. But the golden age of the medieval historical epic has long past. In Outlaw King, except for two very brief scenes, a wedding and a funeral, in which the costume and wardrobe department seems to have decided to blow the budget, gone is the pageantry, the epic sweep, the panoramic long shot—think how Charlton Heston as the eponymous hero in Anthony Mann’s 1961 El Cid goes riding off into the sunset in the film’s final, awe-inspiring scene, and compare that scene and ride with the domesticity more than evident in Robert’s final rush on horseback to embrace his wife, who has been uncaged and returned to him as part of a prisoner exchange. Robert is not here riding off into history and legend. He is simply going home to his wife and daughter. Outlaw King goes for the close-up—the personal rather than the epic. Instead of pageantry, we get gore. Instead of history, we get a gritty costume piece. The lulls in action are brief, and few, quickly giving way to more violence and gore. The camera wants us to see Robert’s scarred and bloody face, and Edward’s puking crawl through the mud as he feebly tries to reunite with troops who have abandoned him.
Read the whole thing.