Review of Ivanhoe 1982 movie

Just for fun, I thought I’d occasionally review our weekend movie, especially if it is old or forgotten or good or stupid and I just want to tell my opinion without being interrupted.

Last weekend it was a blast from the past, Ivanhoe. I’m pretty sure that seeing part of this movie is what made me read the book when I was a kid.

Ivanhoe returns from one of the crusades with the ‘Good King Richard’ to find his name sullied and his girl betrothed to another. Right behind him is Brian De Bois-Guilbert. This name is pronounced differently by all the actors in this film; our household settled on Sir Brian de Boogeybear as being the most accurate entertaining pronunciation. De Bois-Guilbert  is a Knight Templar, you may note that Sir Walter Scott’s opinion of said group doesn’t quite jive with the National Treasure version.

There’s a bit of fighting, they fight to defend their honor, the honor of their favorite ladies, the honor of the Saxons, and evil John is killing people left and right to maintain his grip on the English Throne, the usual medieval stuff. The violence is regular and wide-spread, with many stabbings and a high body count. All this violence was stagey enough to leave my kids unconcerned.                          The leading ladies are Rowena and Rebecca. First, De Bois-Guilbert makes some eyes at Rowena, bringing the ire of all the Saxon men upon his foul self. Then Rebecca, a beautiful Jewish girl, happens on the scene accompanied by her father. De Bois-Guilbert pursues her relentlessly, kidnaps her and is, according to him, determined to possess her soul. Right, her soul. Because that’s what they all really want you know.  Then we have this scene.


At this point can you hate De Bois-Guilbert anymore? Here he suddenly is not the villain anymore, sure he’s going to get her killed and is trying to make her accept him under duress, but  he’ll buy her books, that makes up for it all. This is the moment Rebecca herself, a paragon of virtue, falters for a second, but no, she is made of sterner stuff than the rest of us.

Ivanhoe sweeps in and manages to rescue Rebecca, and then returns, although not completely happy, to the rather boring Rowena. De Bois-Guilbert of course, dies for his crimes, but he dies a changed man.

It’s been quite a while since I read this book, so it’s a little hard to try to compare the two. In a couple of ways the movie was superior to the book; First because it purges the story of any anti-Semitic tone lingering in the book. Secondly, it adds complexity to De Bois-Guilbert. His character eclipses Ivanhoe’s in the movie as Rebecca eclipses Rowena in the book. Not being a dissertation of any sort  this flippant review is certainly not going to cover the symbolism between the Saxons and the Normans. Nor shall we discuss the ‘Good King Richard.’ (Snort)

Non-nerdy children may not enjoy this movie, but if your family enjoys complicated period adventures combined with a generous dash of melodrama, this one may be worth digging out of the dusty ‘80s.

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