Newest Reviews
Weathering with You
Rim of the World
Love & Basketball
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
We Need to Do Something
Bigfoot Hunters
Armitage III: Polymatrix
Girls Nite Out
Five Women for the Killer
Dolce Vita, La
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
East, The
Newest Articles
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
  Druids It's Asterix done straight.  And shite.
Year: 2001
Director: Jacques Dorfmann
Stars: Christopher Lambert, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max Von Sydow, Inés Sastre, Denis Charvet, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Maria Kavardjikova, Yannis Baraban, Vincent Moscato, Jean-Pierre Rives
Genre: Weirdo, Historical, Adventure, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: In 60 B.C. wandering druid Guttuart (Max Von Sydow) arrives in Gaul in time to see Celtill, chieftain of the Arvenes tribe, betrayed and slain at a gathering of his fellow chiefs. Aided by Guttuart, Celtill’s young son Vercingetorix manages to escape. Years later a matured Vercingetorix (Christopher Lambert) returns seeking revenge. Reunited with his childhood sweetheart, Epona (Inés Sastre), Vercingetorix forms an uneasy alliance with the Roman army, lured by a promise of peace and prosperity from none other than Julius Caesar (Klaus Maria Brandauer) as long as the Gauls aid his invasion of Britain. But when Vercingetorix uncovers Caesar’s treachery he leads a rebellion striking out against the might of Rome.

Rechristened Druids for its international release, this French-Canadian historical biopic was presumably meant to do for real Gaulish chieftain Vercingetorix what Braveheart (1995) did for William Wallace. Instead it went down in infamy as among the worst French films ever made and failed to recoup its fifteen million dollar budget. If you ever wondered what an Asterix adaptation might look like minus all the wit, charm and ingenuity, then Druids is your answer. The film was evidently a pet project for Jacques Dorfmann, a respected figure in the French film industry more active as a producer (notably Jean-Pierre Melville’s wartime thriller Army of Shadows (1969), Jean-Luc Godard’s experimental drama Tout Va Bien (1972) and Francis Girot’s dark comedy The Infernal Trio (1974)). As Mel Gibson did with Wallace, Dorfmann paints Vercingetorix as a hero able to rally disparate peoples in the fight against tyranny. A visionary whose foresight helped forge a nation’s identity. Yet curiously the film also hints that he is resigned to the foolishness of his people. It paints the Gauls, and the chieftains in particular, as selfish, drunken louts unable to rise above their own petty nature even with the fate of a nation at stake.

Interestingly the film is loosely based on a novel by American science fiction writer Norman Spinrad. Which might be why it opens like The Fifth Element (1997) tracking a comet as it streaks through space, past stars, planets and a vast orange sun. However events unfold in the same obtuse mould as the Arthurian fever dream of co-screenwriter Rospo Pallenberg’s Excalibur (1981) with similar heavy symbolism, flash-forwards in time and philosophical debate. Early scenes where Max Von Sydow’s genial druid tutors the callow young king-to-be recall the relationship Nigel Terry’s young Arthur had with Nicol Williamson’s wildly eccentric Merlin although Von Sydow, incapable of delivering a bad performance, plays it far more straight. To its credit Druids attempts to delve into a complex web of alliances and betrayals that lay the groundwork for the nation that became France. It even tries to give Caesar his due and casts the clash between him and Vercingetorix as one of opposing philosophies rather than strictly good and evil. There is an anti-capitalist subtext to the script as Vercingetorix chastens Caesar for using free trade as a pretext to oppress and enslave the ‘uncivilized’ world.

Alas, for all its good intentions, Druids stumbles every step of the way. While mounted on a scale impressive relative to its meagre budget the film never stages a stirring or suspenseful sequence when a laborious exchange of cringe-worthy dialogue will do. Dorfmann, whose handful of directing credits include Shanghai-based drama Le palanquin des larmes (1988) and Shadow of the Wolf (1993), an adventure set among Canada’s Inuit tribal folk that pairs Toshirô Mifune with Lou Diamond Phillips (together at last?), exhibits no aptitude for historical adventure. His battle scenes are clunkily staged and, worse, set to embarrassing techno music (it is worth noting cult Euro-horror director Aldo Lado supervised the second unit). Meanwhile the florid melodramatics are straight out of a Monty Python skit. Klaus Maria Brandauer seems to be having some fun as a self-amused Julius Caesar while supermodel Inés Sastre wafts through the whole film with the same fixed grin. Christopher Lambert, then at the tail end of his post-Highlander (1986) groove as the go-to guy for this sort of thing, at least attempts to invest his role with some intensity and commitment with that myopic thousand-yard stare. Happily his career would rebound (in a different vein with a run of acclaimed art-house roles) while Druids remains justly forgotten. Seriously, just go watch any Asterix cartoon instead.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 883 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: