Strikingly filmed by Polish director Bartosz Konopka, Sword of God looks fantastic with strange, chilling scenery, but the message of the movie is murky and unclear to me. Things happen in the last act that left me feeling baffled and unsatisfied, and I honestly don’t understand what the movie was trying to say.
Two knights of a holy order are sent on a quest to convert the pagans living on an island, but find themselves pitted against each other when the pagans choose sides with the two knights.
In the Middle Ages, a holy order of knights set sail to a remote island inhabited by a tribe of pagans with a quest to convert them to Christianity, but by the time they reach the shore after their long voyage, only two knights are left, while the rest have perished. Willibrord (Krzysztof Pieczynski) is the seasoned knight with a much firmer conviction in his beliefs, while Noname (Karol Bernacki) is the younger, less convicted knight. Right from the start, these two knights are on opposing ends of the quest: Willibrord sees their task as a crusade, while Noname sees it as a burden. When they encounter the pagans who live on the island, they are thrust into a wild, untamed, and savage culture, and it almost appears that the two knights will be killed by the tribe, and when the knights learn that previous knights sent on a similar quest died on this island before they could convert the pagans, they realize that their task won’t be easy. Willibrord puts himself through several brutal trials in front of the pagans (he walks through fire and survives, and when their shaman tries doing it too, the guy dies), which makes him appear as a god, and so Willibrord’s message of Christianity is already off to a confusing start. As Noname’s faith is shaken, he begins to fall in love with the pagan culture, and half of the tribe considers him to be a prophet, while that same half looks to Willibrond as some kind of monster. This does not bode well for either camp on the island, and disaster is sure to follow when Willibrond looks to his counterpart with jealousy and hatred.
Strikingly filmed by Polish director Bartosz Konopka, Sword of God looks fantastic with strange, chilling scenery, but the message of the movie is murky and unclear to me. Things happen in the last act that left me feeling baffled and unsatisfied, and I honestly don’t understand what the movie was trying to say. Clearly, these knights didn’t understand the message of Christianity (that’s obvious), but it’s rare when a movie does understand the message of Christianity, especially one where a “holy order of knights” is involved. I appreciated the presentation of the story, and the set and costume design and make-up of the pagans are vividly realized, but the film’s story just wasn’t able to appeal to my sensibilities as the audience. It’s worth watching, though, especially if you’re interested in movies about knights vs pagans. This might also appeal to horror fans, as it has a very weird, unsettling atmosphere.
Film Movement Classics recently released a DVD (but no Blu-ray) of Sword of God. The film was shot digitally, and the transfer is decent on the DVD, but I find it strange that it wasn’t released on Blu-ray. No special features are included.