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6.92 h 19 min1970PG
Alec Guinness and Richard Harris star in this historical epic. Great battle scenes and cinematography plus an Oscar winning music score.
Ken Hughes
Richard HarrisAlec GuinnessRobert Morley
English [CC]
Audio Languages
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Supporting actors
Dorothy TutinFrank FinlayTimothy DaltonPatrick WymarkPatrick MageeNigel StockCharles GrayMichael Jayston
Irving Allen
Columbia Pictures
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
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4.6 out of 5 stars

1383 global ratings

  1. 72% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 7% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Keith PhillipsReviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 January 2019
3.0 out of 5 stars
Amazing film but not a particularly good copy.
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I remember showing this film when it was first released, I was a projectionist at the Odeon Kensington in London at the time, being a prestigious cinema back then most of our first release screenings were in 70 mm format and this film was no exception we showed it in 70 mm with full magnetic sound strip.
Both the picture and sound quality were superb, so I was very sad to see and hear the poor quality of this release, although the picture is just about passable as average DVD quality it is nowhere near what it could be if an original 65 mm negative had been used to master it. Also there are multiple running scratches in various places during the last 15 to 20 minutes of this copy, obviously this particular copy has been produced directly from an old release print.
Why this is? Or for that matter why the only Blu-ray version of this excellent film currently available is a German import priced at around £15.00 with no guarantee or review regarding the quality of the picture or sound I don't know.
Unless it has something to do with the fact that this film is coming up for it's 50th anniversary next year 2020 perhaps Sony are planning a digitally re-mastered Blu-ray version for the 50th anniversary, let's hope so.
34 people found this helpful
A. W. WilsonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 22 July 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
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This review is for the SONY PICTURES/COLUMBIA TRISTAR DVD. An excellent transfer of the Panavision shot film (bars top and bottom), good sound, with good optional English subtitles. The British seem pretty good at making big budget, but serious historical epics ("Becket"/"A Man for all Seasons"/ "Anne of 1000 Days"/Lion in Winter" to name a few). This is, in my opinion, one of the best. This is down to two superb performences. Richard Harris (an actor I have never really taken to) gives a really powerful, believable showing as Cromwell. Some of his speeches are so powerful his voice is genuinely hoarse, and are delivered from the heart. Much more subtle, but none the less impressive, is Alec Guiness as King Charles, all pomp, stammering, and uncertainty/certainty. The support cast is an A-Z of great British character actors - too many to name, but especial mention to Nigel Stock, Patrick Wymark, Robert Morley and Charles Gray. Half way through we get the classic battle scenes, all noise and confusion as I am sure they were. Very good second unit direction. Yes, it is dialogue led, but such good dialogue. Not a film for everybody, but if you like the 2 actors and serious historical dramas do give this a go.
15 people found this helpful
JWHReviewed in the United Kingdom on 06 March 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Fair Stab at Making the Story Work on Film
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It was a pretty good watch. The acting and soundtrack have been justly praised. Visually it does look quite dated and the battle scenes lack the mass and violence that would be doable now. There are many historical inaccuracies and shortcuts on all levels but the tale mostly works emotionally in the film. I thought that the contrast between the Cromwell character - played as unselfish, principled, homely, determined yet prejudiced - and the King Charles' character - played as unsure, proud, changeable, but fundamentally trying to do good by his people and be tolerant - worked really well. These contrasts are the basic drivers of the film: at least to me, the depictions of the "historical events" e.g. the battles, or the parliamentary set-pieces, are less interesting because they are harder to emotionally connect to in this film, although Richard Harris does his best to inject some meaning into them. The basic issues of the time are brought out, in simplified fashion. I thought that the film highlighted the villains of the piece as Manchester and to a lesser extent, Essex, much more than either of the two principals.
I find it hard to imagine that this could be anyone's favourite film, but to fans of either Alec Guinness or Richard Harris, these kind of historical epics or those particularly interested in the period, it is worth a look.
11 people found this helpful
Mooncarrot the HareReviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 August 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
A film the Lord Protector would have approved of.
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This is an entertaining film. It's pleasant to watch for many reasons. There are the fine actors and, being made a quite astonishing fifty years ago, it is free of the gross.

It is perhaps one of the last of a long line of films of the historical sort, or a sort of historiography, produced in the previous ten to fifteen years. Being of its time it is stirringly patriotic stuff. It depends what is your taste in history. If it were made today it would probably include a damning reference to the Commonwealth government's capture of Jamaica and the beginnings of slavery there, as well as conversations between Charles and his wife while in bed having 'good sex'. Let's hope it won't be.

A film called Cromwell wouldn't do if he were not made the centre of every episode, even ones where he wasn't, especially before the Civil War began. This dramatic licence turn's Cromwell into the sort of figure that the Parliamentarian-supporting newspaper and pamphleteering propaganda made him out to be at the time. At its worst, this over-dramatization makes a travesty of history and turns into a caricature Cromwell's own character. Of the latter, how Richard Harris depicts him is reasonably accurate enough in so far as it goes, but a lot else that can be established about Cromwell is omitted.

The scriptwriters have taken a certain line that reflects the concerns of the present day in their time. Of course, it's their film, they can do what they like with it. However, to make Cromwell out to be a champion of democracy is to over-egg the pudding rather too much. And that's a charitable assessment of both him and them. To have Cromwell lecture Charles about democratic monarchy is both absurd in the context of the 17th century and a clumsy way of illustrating to modern audiences the effect that the ripples of change started by the Puritan revolution subsequently had. Even so, given the complexities, the scriptwriters can be given some praise for their achievement. It would be unfair to criticise them excessively.

At the end of the film, what the narrator says about what England became under Cromwell's Protectorate is, again, what he and his associates would have wanted it to be, had they been successful. A chastening illustration of the sad reality is described in the recent book, Providence Lost by Paul Lay. Another recent book that re-examines the evidence about Cromwell himself, and which is a useful corrective to be read alongside watching this film, is The making of Oliver Cromwell, by Ronald Hutton.

One other thing that must be said about this DVD itself is the imperfections in the copy I received. Flaws in its manufacture meant that the whole of the Battle of Naseby was skipped, and further corruption of the software resulted in only parts of the scenes at Carisbrooke and Cromwell's confrontation with the Levellers being available. Caveat emptor.
2 people found this helpful
One of the SlavsReviewed in the United Kingdom on 03 November 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
It's History Jim, but not as we know it.
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I bought this 'Cromwell' dvd, the 1998 Columbia Tristar version. I had vague memories from the past, the 70s when I had first seen it. I echo another review. Good as a novel but not history. Cromwell was not one of the five MPs Charles sought to arrest. Cromwell was late to Edgehill and took a limited role as a captain of horse. . Essex had died by the time of Naseby.
However it is a film from 1970, before the renewed research into the civil war which took place in the 80s and 90s. If you view it has such then enjoy the performances. And then read up about the real events both political and military.
3 people found this helpful
recipioReviewed in the United Kingdom on 04 August 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Worth a look if only for the actors.
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Somehow I don't remember this movie from 1970. It didn't rank anywhere near 'Lawrence of Arabia ' or Ryan's Daughter' in popularity so its probably worth a look if only for the actors. Richard Harris and Alec Guinness are excellent and Robert Morley and Timothy Dalton also get a look in.
Yes, the print quality is only so so and the costumes have a sanitised drama soc look about them. Cromwell's campaign in Ireland is ignored and Richard Harris gives a somewhat over earnest performance as the Norfolk farmer himself. One to watch with a few beers and a nostalgic view of some great British/Irish actors now sadly passed.
4 people found this helpful
Lewisham GuyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 December 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
An enigmatic Cromwell
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There's a lot to like in this old film. Good costumes, good recreations of Westminster Hall, good battle scenes, and great acting by Alec Guinness in the role of King Charles. He conveys how the King remained confident to the end that Cromwell and his rebel supporters would never dare chop off his head, only to find he had misjudged their determination. Yet on the scaffold the King retained his dignity. Harris is less convincing in the Cromwell role. He lacked the nuanced skills needed to bring out the complexity of the man. I also would have liked more on the development of Cromwell's New Model Army, victors in the war.
A. PerryReviewed in the United Kingdom on 06 April 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Superb Period Drama about Important Events
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With Richard Harris' Cromwell glowering at Sir Alec Guinness' Charles I it would be hard to go wrong, and it doesn't!

It would be hard to over-state the significance of the English Civil War in the development of the type of parliamentary democracy so much of the modern world aspires to. The film covers the key events, issues and personalities and does it fairly. You can watch this film and be entertained. You can watch this film and be informed. You can watch this film and be both entertained and informed. It is also a reminder that freedom is not free, though we sometimes take it too much for granted.
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