2009 [GERMAN]

Drama / History / War

IMDb Rating 4.4 10 1324

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
August 11, 2021 at 06:53 AM


Kasia Smutniak as Eleonora
Raz Degan as Alberto da Giussano
Ángela Molina as Ildegarda di Binden
1.11 GB
English 2.0
25 fps
2 hr 3 min
P/S 4 / 16

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by max-vernon 5 / 10

Italian Robin Hood character feeds into today's identity politics.

Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League (Lega Nord) and minister in Berlusconi's coalition Government has a bit part in this film (I failed to spot him). The film was sponsored by the Italian Cultural Ministry. Nothing wrong with taxpayers' money subsidising cultural projects beyond the reach of commercial reward. I applaud how French local government sponsors recordings of obscure but delectable baroque operas. Unfortunately 'Barbarossa' is more soap opera than great cultural project.

This is a pity because it tells an important story. The film works best when it concentrates on the known history. Rutger Hauer makes a very good Barbarossa – the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick 1st who oversaw the canonisation of his predecessor Charlemagne as part of his bid to recreate a Universal Empire. This warrior king is supported by his feisty second wife Beatrice (who bore him 12 children) and his cousin Henry the Lion who finally abandons him before his famous defeat at Legnano. There is some attention to historical detail – his standard, Charlemagne's crown, the outbreak of plague in Rome, the destruction of Milan, Henry's refusal to help before Legnano.

Opposing Barbarossa's imperial ambitions we have the film's hero, one Alberto da Giussano, a mythical figure in the mould of Robin Hood and William Tell. Alberto is also an icon of the Lega Nord. He inspires the Lombard League of rival Northern cities to unite against Barbarossa with such cunning devices as - an unbreakable bundle of sticks!! The writers weave an unconvincing story around Alberto. There is a distracting romance with a 'seer-witch' whose sister is pursued by arch-villain and imperial-supporting Milanese 'traitor' F. Murray Abraham. The sub-plot of what happens to these fictitious characters does nothing for the film at all. It simply dumbs down and spoils the film's central theme, pace and dynamic. Alberto is one-dimensional and has little to recommend him. There is much plain silliness, cliché and banality.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong in mixing fact and fiction in a feature film. Interweaving the lives of the mythical Alberto and the real Barbarossa is a useful device which personalises the political struggle. It is a pity that the quality of the very good opening scene is not sustained. The film degenerates into a flabby unfocused meander through some 20 years of history. Hildegard of Bingen prophesying Barbarossa's watery death is an unnecessary distraction which has nothing to do with the film's theme. It should be possible to make a much better 'pro- Lombardy' film than this one. Frederick bearing off the Magi Relics from Milan Cathedral to Germany (where they still reside) added insult to injury after he destroyed Milan. But this is omitted. Script and direction needed to be much tighter.

The battle scenes are mediocre when compared with recent medieval films. The portrayal of the climactic Battle of Legnano is inaccurate. A central role is assigned to scythe-wielding peasants in carts who wreak destruction among the imperial cavalry. The one Carroccio (cart) bearing the standard and crucifix of the rebels has been multiplied and transformed into a division of 12th Century tanks! This is a laughable end to a disappointing film. The battle was, in fact, decided by the late arrival of the Brescian cavalry.

Why these North Italian cities opposed Frederick is never clearly explained. We witness some tax-avoiding sword-smiths butcher imperial officers who catch them smuggling. A written demand from Frederick to Milan is ground underfoot with no explanation. Alberto and friends spend a lot of time crying 'Freedom!' Rivalries between and within cities are alluded to but the F. Murray Abraham character is left to shoulder the burden of the pro-imperial cause. This is shown simply as cowardly and self-serving.

All history is partial and I have no quarrel with an Italian film singing the virtues of the Lombard League. North Italian cities have made a great contribution to Western Civilisation. They were but one player in the forces arrayed against Barbarossa. These included Pope Alexander III, the Norman king of Sicily and innumerable German princes who had already drained power and wealth from the office of emperor which was fast becoming elective. None of these appear as protagonists in this film. This complex political struggle lasted centuries and sowed the seeds of future German and Italian disunity.

In this respect, at least, the film renders good service in highlighting an important piece of history. This long-lasting disunity eventually produced two manic nationalisms, wars of unification and unstable modern unities which quickly degenerated into the Fascism/Nazism whose shadow still hangs over us. So the obscure story told here is an important component of European history which raises the perennial issue of Centralism versus Localism.

Bossi and his Lega Nord wish to rally rich Northerners against corrupt Romans and Mafia-ridden Southerners. They would, no doubt, like to remind us that Barbarossa was able to establish a tight control over Central Italy and a marriage alliance with the Norman South. It seems that only sturdy Northerners can be trusted to maintain freedom from corruption, indolence and outside interference! Having defeated the great Barbarossa, the Lombard League's modern descendants must unite to prevent their hard-earned cash being syphoned off to an unworthy South. So the film's message serves modern identity politics. Nothing wrong with that. All politics is identity politics.

Another historical interpretation would argue that Barbarossa ceded very little to the cities after his Legnano defeat, that his 40-year struggle to build a power base in Germany, Burgundy and Italy left him feeling secure and wealthy enough to embark on the fatal Third Crusade. The premature deaths of Frederick and his son conspired to prevent Germany from developing into a united hereditary monarchy with all the consequences this entailed. The relations between the North Italian cities and their subsequent rulers remained tense because cities produce great wealth which rulers want to get their hands on. Clearly, these tensions remain!

Reviewed by ma-cortes 6 / 10

Spectacular and epic movie about Federico I and his fights against a league of Italian cities

Rousing movie based on historical events , including impressive battles , intense drama , love stories and noisy action . It deals with German Emperor Barbarossa who wants to return the Holy Roman Empire , following his ascendant , the great emperor Charlomagno. Federico I Barbarossa , Rutger Hauer , of the dynastic Hohenstaufen (1122-1190) married a very young Queen called Beatriz , Cecile Cassel . Federico I of Suabia will stop at nothing to conquest , and defeat his enemies and to build his powerful empire . However, a young man from Milán called Alberto de Giussano : Raz Degan, along with his troops of 1000 men known as the Company of Death , is prepared to challenge to the emperor . Battlefields run Red with warriors' blood .

Breathtaking and overlong miniseries dealing with historical happenings , about a merciless war between Emperor Federico I and the bustly city of Milan. It delivers acceptable interpretations from Rutger Hauer as the cruel emperor , Cecile Cassel as his wife Beatrice , Raz Degan as Alberto da Giussano , Angela Molinas as a rare clairvoyant and F. Murray Abraham, the Oscarized Salieri, as traitor Barozzi , the latter gives overacting , as usual . The picture contains spectacular scenarios , being shot on several locations from Bucharest , Hunedoara, Transylvania , Alba Lula , Romania .Being sponsored by Italian Cultural Ministry and partially financed by the Northern league or Lega Nord , a political party presided by Umberto Bossi that wants the Italy separation between North and South. Having as main symbol the famous rebel warrior Alberto de Giussano. The motion picture was professionally directed by Renzo Martínelli, though it has some flaws , gaps and failures. Martinelly subsequently made another epical, historical film in similar style : "Day of siege, September Eleven 1683", about the Vienna siege by the Ottoman Empire, also starred by F. Murray Abraham.

Based on facts , these are the following ones : Emperor Federico I carried out 6 campaigns in Italy . In the first Federico battles Armando Brescia rebellion in exchange for being appointed Emperor by Pope Adriano IV. In second one Federico battles Milán , he supported anti-Pope Victor V , against Pope Alexandro III . In third campaign combats Italian cities headed by Verona. In fourth campaign (1166-1168) Imperial army was vanquished by the Lombard league supported by Pope Alexandro III. In fifth campaign (1174-1178) Federico was again defeated in battle Legnano . Later on , Federico I headed third Crusade (1189-1193), accompanied by known kings as Felipe August II of France and Richard LionHeart of England . Federico I embarks in Ratisbona , after crossing Balkans and arrives in Asia Minor . There he defeated the Muslims in batalle Iconio (1190). A bit later on , he died drowned in River Salef , Asia Minor. Federico I was succeeded by his son and heir Henry IV , being crowned in Italy , he married a daughter of the Normand King of the two Sicily kingdom.

Reviewed by nelly3 5 / 10

Had potential but missed the mark

It's a shame. The story has potential. Good ol' fashioned right vs wrong. The film looks pretty good: rousing battle scenes, nice costumes, and good looking actors (Rutger Hauer actually makes a striking Emperor Federick I Barbarossa), but the story meanders. I suspect a bit tighter direction could have saved this film. As is, I never developed any strong sympathies for any of the protagonists. In fact, one's sympathies run as much for Frederick as they do the Milanese supposedly fighting for freedom from the empire (repleat with a recurring Braveheart-esquire cry of 'freedom'). I didn't give it a lower rating because at least the film left me thinking about it enough to want to look it up and write a review (and that is significant). Seeing a film like this always makes one wish to see the results from a more seasoned director.

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