johnlink ranks ROB ROY (1995)

So this is a movie I saw about a dozen years ago and remember really liking. It is one that comes up in conversation every so often, because I reference the ending duel as one of my favorite sword fights when I’m running a choreography workshop. But other than that duel, the 18th century Scotland setting, a rape scene, and Liam Neeson hiding in a carcass as though he was still in the STAR WARS universe, I remember little about the film.

I watched ROB ROY (1995) on 11.20.10. It was my second viewing of the film, but first in at least a dozen years. TRAILER HERE

Liz turned to me at one point and said “How have I never seen this before?”

It has about everything she likes. Action, romance, kilts, broadswords, Scottish music, and the Highlands. This is a sweeping epic, but one which doesn’t often get mentioned with BRAVEHEART (ROB ROY’s complimentary film in many ways). ROB ROY, really, is a smaller film than that. It is an epic in terms of scope and shot selection and theme. But really we focus on the title character, played by Liam Neeson, his wife (Jessica Lange) and a villain (Tim Roth, in an Oscar nominated performance).

The acting triangle these three play is brilliant. Roth was nominated, but all three were deserving. Make no mistake, watching this again catapulted Roth’s character as one of my 5 most hated villains of all time. He is absolutely nasty in this. They try and soften him with a locket of his mother around his neck, and he is able to play sweet, but he is just a sniveling, terrible human being without ever becoming a caricature.

Jessica Lange is so strong as Rob Roy’s rock of a wife. She commands attention, even when she isn’t getting the ear of her husband the way she wants. The post-rape scene is heart-wrenching. Liam Neeson is, as usual, perfect. A real hero, who never feels out of place or off-balance. He is an absolute monster of a man (in a good way) in this.

The Scottish Highlands shine. Don’t you dare watch this in a full-screen version. The ratio is 2.35: 1, so it is one of those truly widescreen films. Just beautiful to look at.

My one complaint is that we get nailed over the head with the themes of honor, integrity, and nobility. It’s bad enough that the opening titles blatantly TELL you that this story is symbolic of the struggle of the Clan system of the early 1700s. But there are at least nine or ten conversations about honor. It never gets boring, but it sometimes feels forced. With two minutes of editing, this film would have felt less like it was brow-beating you thematically, and more like a single man’s journey to always do the right thing, to always be good.

But that aside, I love this movie. I can tell you now, I won’t wait a full dozen years to watch it a third time.



I think this is fairly predictable. A point for the superb fight choreography. There are two awesome sword duels in this. The second is a broadsword versus rapier battle which is amazing to watch. Perfectly shot too, not just perfectly choreographed.

The second point is for the cinematography. Again, a beautiful film to behold. This is a film where it feels like they’ve always set up the right shot, always shown you the right angle. Just beautiful.



~ by johnlink00 on November 21, 2010.

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