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“ROBERT THE BRUCE” Dividing Kingdoms, now on Blu-ray

 

 

Review by John Delia

The map of Great Britain can be a bit confusing as it has minor separations between countries much like Europe. To the north of England is the land mass of Scotland that attaches with a regular border and is easily accessible by roadways. The country of Scotland, much like Ireland is currently under the rule the Queen of the United Kingdom. Scotland became independent from the United Kingdom for a time following civil war with Robert the Bruce who declared Scotland’s sovereignty. Nearly 200 years ago, at that point in history, this historic change of power took place with the rise of Robert the Bruce. This is the story of how the only separation of powers between nations in the kingdom actually happened.

Angus Macfadyen as Robert the Bruce in ROBERT THE BRUCE for Screen Media

Robert the Bruce (Angus Macfadyen), in line to be King of England, meets with Sir John Comyn (Jared Harris) to discuss the situation between them and countryman William Wallace who lead one of the battles for independence. At the meeting there’s a sword fight ending with the death of Comyn and Bruce being heavily wounded. Robert flees the area offering his men to return to their homes and say they had served Comyn to avoid persecution.

The act of Comyn’s death by Robert the Bruce has him on the run with a bounty on head of 60 pounds gold and he flees into the snow covered mountains on his own. The story continues from there and tells how one Scottish family living in the mountains became a part of the legend that leads to Robert becoming King of Scotland.

Robert the Bruce (Angus Macfadyen) disappears in the mountains in ROBERT THE BRUCE from Screen Media

Director Richard Gray tells his story in a mountainous region of Scotland. It’s a touching one as it involves a family that lost their father during the fighting with warring factions. With his able cast Gray the story becomes more about the family, than Robert the Bruce’s rise to become King. Along the way he packs in some action and historical facts leading to the finale.

The locations and sets are as important to the story as the actors. The snow covered mountains, a small cabin, and a forest that will become their battleground against the men who want to kill Robert and claim the gold. Costumes take you back in time as do the swords, axes, bows and arrows used in the battles. It’s a good period piece in this respect and makes the film look historical.

Anna Hutchison and Patrick Fugut in ROBERT THE BRUCE from Screen Media Films

However the legend, although an interesting one, I found it unconvincing. I’m not disputing the legend, but it’s a bit over glorified and kind of incredible to accept that it happened this way in reality. If a small family could stand up to Comyn’s men, why not Bruce’s many that chose to leave him in his time of need?

The entertainment value is good for a fan base that would have considered Robin Hood a good choice. The acting surly is above par and the cinematography amazing showing the wide expansive views of the snow covered range, valleys and forest to the point of actually feeling the cold on by home screen. I do like the performance of Anna Hutchison as the mother of the family in the cabin. She shows that her heart in supporting Robert for independence and the survival of her children was in the right place.

BONUS MATERIAL
“The Making of Robert The Bruce”
“Audio Commentary with actor Angus MacFadyen and Director Richard Gray”

Anna Hutchison in ROBERT THE BRUCE from Screen Media Films

Robert the Bruce has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains graphic violence and blood. In some scenes arrows penetrate victims and other fighters get stabbed by knives and swords. Think PG-13 as a guide. The film is quite long so pop a lot of popcorn and keep the soft drinks flowing. Thank goodness for the pause button.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Only if you are a fan of historical lore. (3 out of 5 Stars)

Specifications and additional video information:
Cast: Angus Macfadyen, Anna Hutchison, Jared Harris, Patrick Fugit, Zach McGowan, Emma Kenney, Talitha Bateman, Gabriel Bateman, Kevin McNally, Brandon Lessard , Diarmaid Murtagh, Daniel Portman, Melora Walters
Directed by: Richard Gray
Genre: Action, History
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, bloody violence, some language
Running Time: 2 hrs. 4 min.
Video Release Date: June 2, 2020
Original Theatrical Release Date: April 24, 2020
Language: English
Reviewed Format: DVD
Audio: Stereo Surround 5.1
Video: Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
Subtitles: CC English
Released on: Blu-ray and DVD

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