E1 Entertainment // 2002 // 128 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 10th, 2011
The true story that shaped Britain's history.
It was the 15th century and there was much unrest in Medieval England. Granted, living conditions generally sucked back then anyway, but it was even worse, especially with the tumultuous ruling class unable to sort their own matters. The political fireworks combined with the unhappy great unwashed led to a series of civil wars between the houses of Lancaster (Red Rose) and York (White Rose) that carried on from 1455 and 1487. Though these conflicts created much death and weeping and gnashing of teeth, they at least generated some badass history.
The Wars of the Roses endeavors to sum up this pivotal period in British history and, like so many of these documentaries tend to do, it succeeds in its educational imperative. The production is a high-end piece of non-fiction and shined a light on an plenty of things that I was unfamiliar with. The short of it: a must for fans of English history.
The program is robust, running just over two hours. The producers have loaded the telling of the Rose clash with all manner of supplemental aids: re-enactments, expert interviews, animated maps, and armor and weapons demonstrations. As usual with these types of productions, the reenactments are the least impressive of the ingredients. The producers likely understand this fact because all the footage is black and white and grainy...and cut together with a band saw. Basically, it's next to impossible to see what's going on.
But as dorky as the re-enactors might appear, they absolutely know their stuff and the weapons demonstrations are genuinely interesting. They go into detail about how the terrifying weapons were used to pry off armor and generally maim the crap out of Englishmen.
Decent DVD all around: clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 2.0 stereo and featurettes on weapons, combat techniques, the Battle of Bosworth and the Towton Graves.
Not Guilty. But where's Danny DeVito?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 128 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated