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Friday, May 2, 2014

'The Reckoning' DVD: Medieval Murder Mystery

Reckoning, The (2003) (Dir. McGuigan)
"The Reckoning", which Warner Archive released on DVD several weeks ago, from 2002 is one of the newer and artier titles in the Archive library. It additionally is one of the more compelling films from the good folks at Archive.

This film is based on the novel "Morality Play," which is among the 100s of not-read-yet books in the tomes section of the Unreal TV library.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of the spoiler-laden trailer for "Reckoning" offers a good look at the drama and beauty of the film.



The expertly filmed "Reckoning" is set in 14th Century rural England. It opens with disgraced priest Nicholas, played by Paul Bettany, coming across the camp of a traveling group of actors under highly compromising circumstances for both him and them.

Desperation on the part of Nicholas and a strong need on the part of the troupe leads to the former joining the latter. Willem Dafoe is Martin, who is the very newly appointed leader of the company.

The arrival of the thespians in a village roughly coincides with the trial, conviction, and jailing of a mute woman for killing and robbing a peasant boy. These proceedings (and a need for revenue) inspire the troupe to break from following the tradition of the era of portraying Bible stories to writing and presenting a "ripped from the headlines" play based on the crime.

Subsequent events result in Nicholas, who is seeking atonement for his own sins, investigating the killing and robbery; his findings point both to someone other than the convicted woman being the perpetrator and to the boy being only one in a series of victims.

The highly dramatic final scenes greatly intensify the general Shakespearean vibe of "Reckoning" and throw in a dose of "Frankenstein" for good measure. The ending is not particularly happy but is apt and moral.

The epilog of these musing on this film is that it shows that period pieces can be as stunning and action packed as a CGI-laden blockbusters. It offers the bonus of providing a very digestible history lesson.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Reckoning" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.