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March 14, 2010
Arn: The Knight Templar Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
None23/2/2010EaglePeter Flinth
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MJoakim Nätterqvist

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Joakim Nätterqvist is good as Arn Magnusson.

Truth be told I had absolutely no idea what Arn: The Knight Templar was about prior to receiving the Blu-Ray in the mail for review. Sure, from the title you can figure our it's about Knights of some kind, and that's true, but it's also a love story, a story of religion, and yes, one of epic battles.

Arn Magnusson is born in 1150, in Western Sweden. he grows up to become an educated young man and a skilled warrior, and meets Cecilia, the love of his life. Then a cruel and jealous world forces them apart. Cecilia is imprisoned in a monastery. Arn is sent to the Holy Land as a Knight Templar, where war is raging between Christians and Muslims. Arn and Cecilia both have to struggle to survive, to learn how to confront evil and overcome physical hardship. Their painful separation causes their faith in God to waver.

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A massive battle in Arn: The Knight Templar.
Arn: The Knight Templar is actually based on the very popular trilogy of novels by Jan Guillou called The Knight Templar and we have to point out we haven't read those books so can't speak for the films accuracy so bear that in mind. Strangely there is sequel to this movie called Arn – The Kingdom at Road's End however that movies events appear, albeit in much condensed form, in the latter part of this movie after Arn enters the final battle and Cecilia leaves the monastery. There's no word yet if that sequel will finally be released on Blu-Ray here, but The Knight Templar stands up well on its own. Interestingly while the majority of this film was made and financed in Sweden it was also a joint production with Denmark, Norway, Finland and Germany.

There were a couple of things that impressed me about this movie. Firstly the storyline which covers many topics from religion, to love, to warring clans. Acting is fairly solid across the board with no standouts at either the good, or bad, end of the scale. Impressively, and to add authenticity, the movie includes five different languages including Swedish, English, Latin, Arabic, and French. This was done so the film accurately reflects the languages spoken in each area, and by each different person. It works quite well, and we would estimate that just under half the film is in English.

Another aspect of this film I really enjoyed were the fights and battle sequences. Sure some seem a little too similar to Braveheart in some aspects (you'll know it when you see it), but the choreography, cinematography and limited use of computer generated visuals gives this a realistic, epic feel.

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Two sisters having a chat about love!
I went into Arn: The Knight Templar not knowing what to expect, but what was here was a fairly entertaining movie that fans of Braveheart, Kingdom of Heaven and King Arthur would do well to check out.

If there is one negative to the video on this release, and I will start this section with the negative, it's that Eagle have taken the much wider 2.35:1 aspect ratio and cropped the image to fill 16:9 HDTV's. While we certainly hate to see movie butchered in such a way we must also give credit to Eagle for such a fine transfer of the film. The AVC MPEG-4 codec handles the visuals superbly and even despite a bitrate that rarely gets above 20Mbps in the 133 minutes runtime this really is a gorgeous film with lush green fields, deep oranges in the deserts and sandstone buildings of the Holy land.

The primary audio track on this release is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (16-bit/48Khz) which, as previously mentioned, is actually in five different languages including Swedish, English, Latin, Arabic, and French. Fortunately the English subtitles are clear to read when required.

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That's one brutal battlefield!
As an actual audio experience I found the movie fairly good, with some deep bass and use of surround sound channels, particularly during the battle scenes. Music from composer Tuomas Kantelinen is brought into the film when required and sounds quite delightful, although not quite as "epic" as one may expect.

The only other track on this disc is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps which gets the job done by all accounts but doesn't have the same clarity and impact as the lossless track.

There are a few extras on the Blu-Ray disc and certainly a little more content then we were expecting (although it is only in Standard Definition).

Behind the Scenes Part 1 & 2 (42:53): Certainly the most impressive extra is this rather detailed documentary which looks at the making of this film including the various filming locations, the actors and the storyline which are each covered in quite a bit of detail through plenty of interview. It's quite well put together too and worth checking out.

Locations (HD): Two maps are presented here, Sweden and The Holy Land (being what we know as Israel today), with locations marked.

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Sofia Helin as Cecilia Algotsdotter in Arn: The Knight Templar.
Clans (HD): Images of family trees for the three main clans in the movie are shown on these pages.

Image Gallery (HD): 52 images, primarily from the film are presented here for your viewing.

Trailers: Trailers for In Tranzit (3:00), Blood & Bone (2:10/HD), American Violet (2:13), and American Trap (2:09).

I have to say that while this isn't a flashy Hollywood production I genuinely enjoyed watching Arn: The Knight Templar. As one of the biggest movies ever made in Sweden this is a great film with solid production values. Worth a look.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Eagle. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.