The Lord of War

The War Lord ( The War Lord ) is an American film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner released in 1965 whose main actors are Charlton Heston (Chrysagon of Cruex), Richard Boone (Bors), Rosemary Forsyth (Bronwyn), Guy Stockwell (Draco de la Cruex), James Farentino (Mark), Henry Wilcoxon (Prince Frison).


In Normandy the xi th century, Chrysagon Knight Cruex (whose father once captured by the leader of the Frisians in an attack had lost the land his family after a ransom) receives a fief with the mission of his suzerain Normand, the duke of Gent, to defend him with his few warriors (including his younger brother, Draco and the faithful Bors man of arms of experience and little talkative who watches over him since his youth ). This stronghold, far from being a paradise, is a coastal and marshy area regularly raided by their neighbors Friesians and inhabited by Celtsremained pagan despite appearances. At first, the inhabitants are delighted with this new protection.
However, Chrysagon, although anxious to do justice and administer his fief with fairness ends up provoking the uprising of his new serfs, not wanting to apply his right of slicing, which they accept because they can not do otherwise, but by keeping the young and beautiful wife, the blonde Bronwyn, whom he falls in love with in spite of himself, instead of returning it to the husband, Marc, the son of the Celtic chief. Chrysagon is then wrong and also causes the disapproval of his brother who does not admit this misalliance. He must at the same time defend, with his men-at-arms and his faithful Bors, his new stronghold against the raids of the Frisian pirates, who are all the more bitter to his loss as he unknowingly captured the son of their son. chief. The Celts as well as the clown jester of the Knight taking advantage of this attack rallied to the Frisians. Discovering this felony, Draco kills the buffoon by giving him an arrow from the top of the rampart. Having thrown their last strength into this battle, Chrysagon and his troop will be saved by Draco gone to seek reinforcements near his suzerain. However, when Draco informed the Duke that his brother had provoked a peasant uprising because of a young Celtic, he was given the fief. At the end of the battle against the Frisians, Chrysagon will kill Draco despite himself, in a duel caused by the latter.
In the last part of the film, Chrysagon narrowly escapes the vengeance of the scoffed husband, Marc, thanks to his faithful Bors who kills him by seizing him on horseback and throwing him against a stump. At the end of the battle, Chrysagon lost a lot: the Duke’s trust, which corresponds to the loss of his honor and his stronghold, but also his brother who seemed to be his last family tie. However, he won the love of Bronwyn who is now banned by his. He also maintains the trust and respect of his faithful companions in arms who always recognize in him their true lord. In a momentum of magnanimityhe decides to return the young Frisian prince to his father. He grateful, forgets their past rivalry and offers him hospitality and wealth. Chrysagon declines the offer for himself but decides to accept it for his companion in order to save her from the vengeance of the Celts. Reassured about the future of Bronwyn, he decided to take the path of Gent with Bors to implore the clemency of the Duke he had hitherto and successfully, faithfully served.


This film is one of the most accurate on the Middle Ages , despite the curious name of its hero. It presents a time not having great prestige (movies about the Middle Ages are more interested in the period xiv th  -  xv th centuries, much shimmer). However, the tiny castle (actually a simple watchtower made of stone) entrusted to the hero is extremely realistic and representative of the dungeons or clods of the time, the one where feudalism was still being formed and establish its rules. The mentality of time is very well restored. The script, however, takes liberties with history, by implying that such noble Normans of the 11 thare Christians unlike the local population of Gallo-Roman origin mixed with the Franks who is subject to them, which would continue to practice Druidism as more than a millennium ago. Gaul has been a part of Rome for five centuries. Its inhabitants have as such been Christianized over 500 years before the Vikings, who came down the Norman nobility of the xi th century. Another important freedom taken with historical reality, the right of cuissage , to which more a serious historian does not believe 1 .

The costumes and the semi-pagan atmosphere correspond well to all that we could reconstruct on this time, as well as the modesty of the engaged combatants. The battle scenes are probably among the most realistic of the cinema.

Period little known to the general public, lack of grandiose scenery, modest means, simple story but not obvious references for non-specialists, the film, despite its qualities (or on the contrary because of them), did not know a great success.

Technical sheet

  • Title: The Lord of War
  • Original title: The War Lord
  • Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
  • Scenario: John Collier , Millard Kaufman , from the play The Lovers of Leslie Stevens
  • Technical Advisor: Vittorio Nino Novarese
  • Music: Jerome Moross
  • Photography: Russell Metty
  • Artistic direction: Alexander Golitzen
  • Editing: Folmar Blangsted
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Filming language: English
  • Producer: Walter Seltzer
  • Production Companies: Court Productions, Fraser Productions and Universal Pictures
  • Distribution Company: Universal Pictures
  • Genre: historical film , war film
  • Format: color by Technicolor – 35 mm – 2.35: 1 Panavision – monaural (Westrex Recording System)
  • Duration: 122 minutes
  • Release date : in the United States
  • All public in France


  • Charlton Heston ( VF : Raymond Loyer ) : Chrysagon of the Cruex
  • Richard Boone ( VF : Claude Bertrand ) : Bors
  • Rosemary Forsyth ( VF : Janine Freson ) : Bronwyn, the bride
  • Niall MacGinnis ( VF : Emile Duard ) : Odins
  • Guy Stockwell ( VF : Georges Aminel ) : Draco
  • Henry Wilcoxon : the Frisian chef
  • James Farentino : Marc
  • Maurice Evans : the priest
  • Woodrow Parfrey : Piet
  • Michael Conrad : Rainault
  • Belle Mitchell : an old woman
  • John Alderson : Holbracht


  1. ↑ Alain Boureau The seigneur Law. The Making of a Myth, xiii th – xx th century, in 1995, Albin Michel, ( ISBN  2-226-07634-4 ) ,

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