Cromwell - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Cromwell Reviews

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garyX
Super Reviewer
September 7, 2007
Crowmell tells the story of the man who was the driving force behind the English civil war and the father of English democracy. Oliver Cromwell is played with great intensity by Richard Harris as an honourable and incorruptible man who stuck by his principles despite the burden of his conscience; the fact that he was also a bigoted religious zealot, bullying imperialist and war criminal are all conveniently glossed over. But it would be in a film called "Cromwell", wouldn't it. Alec Guiness juggles the arrogance and inflexibility of Charles I and his refusal to relinquish absolute power even though his life depended upon it, with his more human side as a loving father. It also has some (for the time at least) epic battle sequences but it is very stagy, and may not quicken the pulses of those without an interest in politics and history. A well made and well acted historical drama that resembles an illustrated (albeit not entirely accurate) history lesson rather than Braveheart-like popular entertainment.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
December 7, 2009
Aided by a very good cast, "Cromwell" is a lavish if mostly simplistic spectacle about the conflict between Parliament led by Oliver Cromwell(Richard Harris) and King Charles I(Alec Guinness) that starts in 1640 as England is facing an invasion from Scotland and Cromwell is about to immigrate to America with his family and fellow Puritans. However, the cause of defending farmers from the king's interests intercedes and Cromwell and his allies work tirelessly in Parliament in an escalating fight that leads to civil war.

What works best in "Cromwell" is the contrast between Charles and Cromwell which is expressed perfectly in a great debate about whether ordinary men are capable of extraordinary things. Cromwell takes one side of this argument as he fights for a more just society but loses himself along the way, eventually becoming a tyrant as much as the one he eliminates. On the other hand, the subject of religion is skirted over as is Cromwell's brutal stint in Ireland.(Gore Vidal once wrote that the Puritans left England not because they were persecuted but because they were persecuting everyone else.) The movie's one critical error is in arguing that a country requires a strong head of state to succeed. Just don't knock anarchy if you haven't tried it.
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2016
A great film made greater by the two leads.
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2007
Caught this at the weekend. One of those big historical films that Britain used to make. Harris is excellent and really gets his teeth into the role. Great to see him acting in a 'class' project (sadly he will mostly be remembered by most young people now as an old wizard!). Guiness is also brilliant as Charles and in fact the film suffers once his character is executed. Yes the film is overlong and is probably not historically accurate but they don't make them like this anymore. Shame.
Jed
February 12, 2014
Featuring riveting battle sequences, excellent cinematography, and good pacing, Cromwell is a highly entertaining and engaging historical drama with fantastic performances, particularly Alec Guinness, who is absolutely superb as Charles I.
December 30, 2012
I have read a some critic reviews that say this was the worst movie that Richard Harris and Alec Guiness ever did. I disagree with that. This movie is great.
½ November 3, 2008
This was rather boring except for the amazing build-up and pay-off of the execution scene. Alec Guinness' portrayal of Charles I was excellent, but the way Cromwell was portrayed made me hate him even more. (Thus, it seems like it wasn't terribly historically accurate. Why would someone be considered so pious by his supporters swear curse-filled oaths on Jesus' name so often?) Perhaps this film would have been better served by simply being a courtroom drama because that's where it excelled, rather than an epic with boring battle scenes and little action beside in this very convoluted conflict.
½ November 18, 2008
Not as inaccurate as people would like to claim. I felt that is covered a lot of the basic ideas behind the English Civil War without getting bogged down in dense specifics. It's only true historical fault is the fact that Cromwell's eventual reign as Lord Protector is left out, which was a reign that included the massacre of many people (mainly Catholics). The rest of the historical side can be cleared up easily by opening a book. Apart from all that, the two main performances are strong, especially Guinness, who adds some much needed sympathy for Charles' character. (Not that he was a completely innocent man, but he was not as awful as Cromwell made him out to be, either.) Harris is good as Cromwell, though his outbursts seem exaggerated at times.

The sets are impressive in this and the battles are adequate, though I doubt anyone is really watching this these days for the battles. Just remember, open a book after reading it and clear up the details. (Look into the Rump Parliament and look at who Cromwell really was.)
½ November 30, 2007
Although the film ultimately stumbles with a finale that is more of a petering out than a conclusion, Cromwell captivates much more than might be expected. Richard Harris and Alec Guinness give powerhouse performances.
½ May 15, 2016
Good retelling of the story with great actors and a fun peek at those who would be famous later.
½ April 4, 2016
A grand spectacular. How the great, difinitive events of history should be portrayed, if only it was a difinitively accurate portrayal.
Richard Harris, born a Catholic, in a superb performance as probably one of the most Anti-Catholic characters in English history.
Alec Guinness is superb as his royal antithesis, Charles I.
Both actors portray their respective parts with more sympathy than the real individuals attracted at the time or since. A testament to the deserved reputations of each actor.
Typically for a "historically accurate" movie it suffers from a broad range of historical inaccuracies. Cromwell's role in the causes of the outbreak of the war is seriously exaggerated. For a start he was not in regular meetings with Charles, he only met him once and that was on the Ilse of Wight. Cromwell did not enter Oxford to arrest the king. Neither was he at the Battle of Edgehill. Charles surrendered to the Scots and was handed over to the English, to Cornel Joyce's troops.
Oliver Junior did not die at Naseby 1645, he died of smallpox in 1644.
Historical accuracy sucks, but it is a good film.
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2016
A great film made greater by the two leads.
December 28, 2015
Two tour de force performances make this a top historical epic. Harris is great, Guinness is an uncanny Charles I, and the film itself makes the Civil War (more or less) easily understandable.
April 18, 2014
Fascinating, even for an older film. Also fun to see Guinness in a role besides Obi-Wan.
Jed
February 12, 2014
Featuring riveting battle sequences, excellent cinematography, and good pacing, Cromwell is a highly entertaining and engaging historical drama with fantastic performances, particularly Alec Guinness, who is absolutely superb as Charles I.
March 2, 2009
Good acting, but ultimately a story that's only supporting factor in bringing it to the screen is for home video release and constant viewing in Social Studies classrooms.
January 15, 2013
great cast brings this bio-pic 2 life
January 4, 2013
Some impressive acting but its only loosely based on history. Cromwell is placed centre stage when he was merely leading a troop of cavalry, The battle of Edge Hill is not shown as the indecisive engagement that it was, and the representation of the battle of Naseby is a complete fantasy. Which is perhaps a sad reflection of the lack of public awafeness of its own history. This was an amazing and cruciall time in British history that does not benefit by being fantasised.
December 30, 2012
I have read a some critic reviews that say this was the worst movie that Richard Harris and Alec Guiness ever did. I disagree with that. This movie is great.
½ March 24, 2012
I loved it but don't want it on DVD, it was a good film, Richard Harris and Alec Guinesss played great characters, Richard Harris and Alec Guinness played good parts, I thought it was a good film
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