Review: Sword of Honor (2001)

Sword of Honor (2001)

Directed by: Bill Anderson | 132 minutes | drama, war | Actors: Daniel Craig, Will Adamsdale, Nick Bartlett, Christopher Benjamin, Jane Bertish, Peter Blythe, Nicholas Boulton, Monica Brady, Tim Briggs, Selina Cadell, Rebecca Cardinale, Katrin Cartlidge, Simon Chandler, Josh Cole, Richard Coyle, Graham Crammond, Abigail Cruttenden, Robert Daws, Megan Dodds

Guy Crouchback (Daniel Craig), 35, is much too old to join the military. Because his own life has become a reasonable mess after the divorce from his wife Virginia (Megan Dodds), he wants to show that he can indeed make a good contribution to society. And by joining the army at the start of World War II, he hopes to make this happen. In the end, it’s only a rather unprofessional brigade led by the slightly hysterical Richie-Hook (Robert Pugh), called the Halberdiers, that gives Guy a chance to make his dream come true.

‘Sword of Honour’ is based on three novels by British writer Evelyn Waugh (of ‘Brideshead Revisited’ fame), published in the 1960s, which reflected his view of the Second World War. After a three-part film version of these novels was made in 1967 and also a radio version that appeared in 1974, this film adaptation by director Bill Anderson, who chose to release the film in two parts, is actually the third. time this book series is used as inspiration.

At the time of this production (the film dates from 2001), Daniel Craig did not yet have the status of top actor that he now has. The film itself, although the story takes place during the war and Guy also regularly ends up in a war zone, is more of a drama film than a real war film. ‘Sword of Honour’ follows Guy’s wild journey in the army, as he is sent from one place to another, from England to Africa, back to Scotland, before arriving in Crete and via a detour in Bosnia and ending up in Italy. Everywhere Guy goes something goes wrong with his troops and especially in the beginning this makes for an entertaining film, thanks to the aforementioned commander Richie-Hook and the chemistry (or rather the lack of it) between him and his troops. However, the longer the film goes on, the more the story begins to focus on Guy and his ex Virginia, who continues to run through the story as a red thread. Guy just can’t let go of her.

The biggest problem with ‘Sword of Honor’ is that after a while it all starts to get rather long-winded. Nowhere in the film will you develop too much sympathy for the main characters and the later more dramatic events will largely leave you cold. A total playing time of more than three hours is simply too long. It is not for nothing that the film was initially made in two parts, because towards the end it becomes difficult to stay focused. The slow pace at which the story takes place certainly plays a role in this. All this makes ‘Sword of Honor’ a film that is particularly interesting for fans of the genre and fans of Daniel Craig. If you don’t fall into this group, you can safely skip ‘Sword of Honor’.

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