Film Corner: Arn


Amazon Movie Time! ARN: THE KNIGHT TEMPLAR: "Arn, the son of a high-ranking Swedish nobleman is educated in a monastery and sent to the Holy Land as a knight templar to do penance for a forbidden love." Bets on whether the forbidden love is white and cishet? I'm just saying, film makers, there's MORE forbidden loves than just "her daddy has a moneys" or whatever. This may or may not have a Skarsgard in it, but I don't think it's the naughty vampire one.

In the Holy Land, Europeans attack some Arabic-speaking men, who are surprised when a templar knight busts up to kill the Europeans. "Why is he helping us?" I feel a flashback coming on. In a picturesque monastery, a dirty young woman languishes in a dungeon. She flashbacks to giving birth and the baby being taken away because she's unmarried, as if the church didn't have an entire legal process for legitimizing bastards and shotgun weddings. (I mean, I'm not gonna say they never stole babies because OBVIOUSLY THEY DID, but it was never just because of a hardline policy against premarital fucking.)

Back in the Holy Land, everyone is deeply impressed that Arn speaks Arabic and isn't racist; he's Not Like Other Europeans, etc etc. Back in the nunnery, Girl is dressed as a nun. I don't know if this means she is one now, has been one all this time, or they just don't have anything else for her to wear. All the nuns look judgey as fuck, because no medieval nun has EVER wanted to ride to poundtown with a Skarsgard.

MANY YEARS EARLIER. Ah, there's the flashback I smelled. Arn looks like he's wearing a monk's habit, and she's in a choir, so I guess they tried to Abelard and Heloise it up. Ok, he was literally raised as a monk so he didn't even take orders by choice.

WE'RE NOW IN A NESTED FLASHBACK, WE HAVE LAYERS OF FLASHBACK. Young Arn learns archery from a Frenchman, as one does. He's really good at fighting, and ambidextrous, so they raise him to be a crusader and are sending him off to go home and/or the Holy Land, so he's not a monk--false alarm, everyone, not a monk.

Mikael Blomkvist lives in his village! Nice for me; not so nice for John Wick.

A gripping drama unfolds over who has grazing rights in this village. It's the law that if your neighbor calls you a pussy, you have to fight him to the death the next morning, whether you want to or not. I AM THE LAW. Arn takes his father's place in the duel and fights with prowess that would cause grown men to weep that they were not born women, etc etc. Sensing this, Blonde rides home to gaze upon his manly beauty, so I guess she's not a nun either. WHAT IS THE FORBIDDEN PART.

I really want to dig into the part where it's illegal to NOT duel your neighbor if he calls you a pussy, because I've literally never heard of this legal concept and it seems pretty exploitable. Her dad promised her to another dude to settle a debt and, like, every century has has shitty people in it, but there were some medieval church folks who did give a damn about female agency, believe it or not. BUT WHATEVER.

Like, this is not "forbidden by the church" love, this is "complicated by shitty family politics" love. I want my Forbidden Love investment back. A story in the A DISTANT MIRROR popular history book about the dark ages was that there was a king who married his infant daughter off and she never talked--people said it was God's judgment on the dude for doing her marriage vows for her without her consent, basically.

ANYWAY, she's engaged to the family who Arn fought on account of the "ur dad is a pussy" joke, so obviously no one is going to be reasonable here. They declare their intent to marry, and there's no prior engagement, so BY CHURCH LAW they're basically married as is, and again it's not like nobody ever broke church law, it's just that I get fussy about legal details.

Blondie fucks Arn, then tells her sister she's pregnant, and sister is like "but we are poor and father can't afford TWO weddings, so I'll never be able to stop being a nun" and no no no NO. LOOK, medieval nunnery was not one size fits all, but lots of women were paying to GET IN, not paying to GET OUT. And if you're poor, your daughter is gonna earn way more WORKING YOUR FARM. She's not even conveniently disabled or consumptive or anything!!!!

Sister tells the Head Mother who is a busybody bitch because apparently someone needs to be. (She has no grounds to interfere!! She has no REASON to interfere!! SHE HAS NO AUTHORITY OVER ANY OF THE INVOLVED PARTIES.) SHE CERTAINLY HAS NO STANDING TO TAKE THE BLONDE'S BABY LATER. Sister lies and says she fucked Arn, and this is used to slander him and run him out of town because LOL there's definitely no examples in the bible of someone fucking two sisters. *starts drinking heavily*

They're not even treating it like a legal pre-contact, THAT WOULD AT LEAST MAKE SENSE AND HAVE LEGAL STANDING. It's also totally unclear why the sister would lie about this???? She wants her sister to marry rich so that SHE can marry too; burning her own reputation to ash help her get a husband? The trope just seems to be "bitches lie because they're bitches". Ooookay.

Oh my god. The bishop single handedly excommunicates ONE sister (not both, and gee THAT'S not suspicious) and Arn, and sentences them to 10 years of Monastery Prison. THAT'S NOT HOW THIS WORKS. No, sorry, 20 years, lol. Make it a thousand, that's just as accurate. Put them in a prison on Mars, why not. You can't excommunicate a random peasant girl for fucking a cute boy, I'm sorry. You can't. No, not even if he supposedly seduced your sister first.

They're taken into custody by military nuns, sure why not. "You've been convicted of an abomination." I'm literally crying at how hilarious this is. Yeah, nobody in the 1100s had ever HEARD of a dude fucking two sisters before. All of this would've worked a lot better if it HAD been gay like I wanted. There is nothing forbidden about this, and the only part which is shocking (the sister angle) is a lie which made no sense and would've irreparably hurt her reputation.

The church makes him a Knight Templar rather than waste his talents, which you'd think wouldn't mesh well with the whole ABOMINATION AND PUNISHMENT thing, but nothing else makes sense so why should this.

Haha, if one more of you assholes tries to tell me what's in the bible like I don't know, I will block you forever and pretend you died. I KNOW THE BIBLE, THANKS. "Actually the bible says not to do X." Yes that's why literally no one has ever done X since that was written down, thank you. There's a difference between whether something is forbidden, versus how people historically reacted when it was inevitably done anyway, and I'm talking to the latter. We have HISTORICAL EXAMPLES of people being mostly just titillated and amused by famous examples of dudes who fucked two chicks what had the same folks. Because our (toxic) patriarchal society mostly sees that as male virility to aspire to.

ANYWAY, we're in the Holy Land and I could not be less invested in whether this dude survives for 20 years to rejoin his girlfriend.

The Duke of Buckingham is here and I'm afraid he's going to start talking about Jabberwockys. The Europeans are shocked that Arn can speak Arabic, so I guess there's no natural linguists in the crusades and Arn is the only non-racist one there just doing a job.

@peura. It's based on a bestselling Swedish book trilogy. The books explained everything much better. "Everyone" had already read the books when the movie was made so they cut some corners in the movie.

So we've got one part "adaptation loss" and two parts "cultural context" where the peasant girl isn't actually a peasant. Thank you!

Like, I did *assume* that the issue was Daddy Has Money, but then sister had to bewail being poor and that made everything confusing because a bishop usually just isn't going to care about a poor chick fucking her neighbor. Once everyone involved is Rich or Noble, then it makes a lot more sense for people to interfere in who they fuck. ....well, I won't say it makes "sense" but there's far more motivation.

Back in the monastery, innocent girls are being whipped because the Head Mother is a monster, etc. I'm honestly expecting evil forced lesbianism to show up, given how she's been characterized as wanting to dominate and break the girls. Sigh. Back in Jerusalem, Saladin (yes, THAT Saladin) offers Arn a chance to leave peaceably because he's the one nice European, etc. Arn honorably tells him to Bring It On.

Back in the monastery, the girl who was being whipped is saying she's going to be queen one day (just as soon as her fiance completes his planned coup) so I guess that's how we're going to hang the evil bitch running this place? It's nice to have dreams. Back in Jerusalem, Arn is not only the best fighter and the best linguist, he's also the best tactician. No one else has considered the idea of an ambush rather than just digging in for a siege. I'm deeply confused by the constant switches between Swedish and English, which don't seem to hinge on anything except maybe whether the famous actor in the scene doesn't speak Swedish?

We're going into slow motion, friends. I've checked and supposedly the books are pretty historically accurate-ish, so I will say that either this adaptation was VERY loose or the Swedish Catholic church was following a ruleset I'm not at all familiar with from my England/France side of the fence. Apparently the movie has Swedish troops using tactics that supposedly hadn't been invented yet, but I expect that from pretty much all movies. Real historical warfare was boring.

Arn wins and I guess Saladin is routed. Buckingham tells Arn he's the best thing since sliced bread. HOW IS THERE STILL AN HOUR OF THIS MOVIE TO GO. The Innocent Nun is now queen, but this in no way improves Blonde's life so it's unclear why that subplot needed to be here. Arn struggles with being hated for his burden of extreme competency but he can return home in one month's time!! I'm sure that will go off without a hitch.

Head Mother is dying of a cough and asks Blondie for her forgiveness. Blondie refuses and Head Mother magically curses her. I'm sure it'll be fine. The Incompetent Leader in Arn's unit is sending everyone, himself included, to certain death because he's just so angry that Arn is smarter than he is. Arn asks to leave (he's One Day From Retirement) and since this Leader Guy wants all the glory you'd THINK that would be great news for him (victory without Arn to take credit!) but he says no because angst.

Look, I think we might just fast forward a bit because this is painfully predictable. We all agree Arn is gonna get taken captive by Saladin, yes? Ten minutes later: yup, he's in Damascus. Of course everyone back home thinks he's dead except his faithful lover, who tells their adult son to have faith.

Her benefactor is probably going to try to marry her, I'm predicting.

The Mean Family has shown up to ogle Blondie and threaten the throne.

....nothing really came of that, and Blondie wants to go back to the convent now that Arn seems pretty likely dead.

She pauses just outside the convent door, looks back into the mist, and Arn rides up with everyone he's ever known. Uh, ok. There's still 30 minutes left, how is there still 30 minutes left. I am just not fond of stories where two good people are separated by spiteful circumstance, it's like the ONE kind of fairy tale I can't bear, it's too painful. ANYWAY, they're married now and their son thinks they're both super cool and they probably have 18 hunting dogs, idk.

The king is dying and the Mean Family shows up to threaten Arn and Blondie. Arn is concerned. Arn teaches men to fight and his son is there and also Arn's scars seem to be forgotten about by the makeup department from scene to scene. History is fascinating because I assume if a different side had won this battle, we'd have a movie in which Arn is the Big Bad and his wife is evil (and probably slutty and wearing black a lot) and the other family would be the hero of the tale.

Arn gives a braveheart speech, but I've heard better. Oh, there's the apparently inaccurate longbow tactics that weren't invented yet, according to a historian review site. Arn cleverly invented the plan of not loosing arrows until the enemy is in range. The other side is very impressed and panicky about this invention. I laughed when the enemy commander yelled "it's a trap!!!" because the other side has arrows.

Arn's side wins easily and he rides home to his wife, hugs her, promises to never leave her side again, and then--having tempted the fates--LITERALLY collapses dead on the ground right then and there. I bust out laughing. I can't help it, it's just so contrived for angst. Like, I'm not exaggerating, he says he'll never leave her and he's FINE and then she says "you're wounded?" and he collapses and dies.

Wow, I'm so sorry that I didn't read the books first because apparently they're great and this is a solid adaptation if you already love the characters, but if you came in UTTERLY UNAWARE like me, that was so cliche I think I sprained a trope muscle. He was captured and presumed dead ONE DAY from retirement. He fell over dead the MOMENT his happy ending was in sight.

I gotta say, though, if Blondie's sister really did accuse Arn of fucking her, I believe her. It made NO SENSE for her to make that story up. A good enough dowry can get around the problem of not being a virgin, but not much fixes "I had sex with him and then he left immediately after and banged my sister and now my entire family is shamed."


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