Saturday, November 6, 2010

Druids (2001)

Wouldn't you feel like the biggest bastard on the planet if you made a great actor like Max von Sydow utter lines like, "The magic of his death must teach us the lesson of his sacrifice"? Of course you would. And yet, that's just what Jacques Dorfmann did in the terrible film Druids (also known as The Gaul, a title which makes a hell of a lot more sense).

Druids is one of those films that's incredibly frustrating because it has some good elements. The locations are good. The costumes are good. They hired some good actors. But this is one of the most poorly structured films ever made. It seems like mistakes were made and scenes were inserted in the incorrect order.

Vercingetorix (played by Christopher Lambert) is forced into a giant battle that he didn't want. (This battle scene is absolutely awful, by the way.) He loses the battle to Caesar's army. Then there is a scene where Caesar talks about how he is sure that Vercingetorix will avoid a decisive battle. Uh, wait, Caesar, the decisive battle just happened, and you won it. Clearly these scenes were somehow inverted in the editing, and no one caught it.

A bit about the title. It's called Druids, but the druids are only in the very first scene. After that it's mentioned that they've all been killed. Max von Sydow survives, but doesn't really do anything for the rest of the film, so his survival doesn't matter. And some supposedly amazing female warrior also survives, but again, she plays no part later.

Actually, that's another truly irritating thing about this film. Vercingetorix wants revenge for his father's murder, which he witnessed as a little boy. He tells Max von Sydow that he's going to go take care of that now (it's been how many years?), and Max tells him he's not ready. He says he must take him to a great master. So Max leads him approximately twenty feet into the forest, and there she is: the great master.

We then get one of those terrible scenes where the master tells the pupil to attack, and of course the master easily defeats the pupil. Now those scenes usually lead into the long training. But in this film, at the end of the scene, the great master tells him he's ready. What? After being easily defeated? Okay, whatever.

Also, in that fight scene, she moves with superhuman speed, clearly possessing some magical talents. Then later during that decisive battle scene, she is there, but does no fighting, and is easily killed with a spear. So much for setting up that magical ability. The movie is full of crap like that.

Like right before the big battle scene, some of the women begin taunting the Roman soldiers by showing their breasts. The soldiers then break formation as Caesar watches, and begin efforts to climb the walls - not to fight, but to fornicate. The soldiers place tall ladders against the wall and begin climbing. So of course while watching this, i'm wondering, okay, what is the women's plan? Are they going to dump oil on the soldiers or what?

Well, guess what, we never find out. The battle begins, and we never get another shot of those soldiers on the ladders. Who knows? Maybe they made it over and were having their way with the women during the entire battle. Hell, maybe that was the women's plan - maybe they were just horny. It doesn't really matter, because the filmmaker tells us that it doesn't really matter.

Also, in the decisive battle scene, Vercingetorix never lifts his sword. He does no fighting whatsoever. Some leader. The only shots of him are slow motion shots of him looking around at everyone dying. In fact, basically everyone is slaughtered but him. What a jerk.

One other thing: the music in this film is seriously irritating.

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