Krull

Krull posterWhen the world of Krull is invaded by a powerful creature known as “The Beast” and his army of “Slayers,” the kingdoms know it is time to bury their differences and unite against the attackers.  In the hopes of joining their two rival kingdoms, Princess Lyssa and Prince Colwyn decide to marry to form an alliance.  But on their wedding night, the castle is raided, and Lyssa is stolen away to the Beast’s Black Fortress.

Colwyn sets off to find her, with the help of an aged prophet.  Along the way he meets a clumsy, shape-shifting magician, a band of robbers, a seer, and a cyclops, and comes up against the Widow of the Web, the murderous Slayers, quicksand, evil creatures, the Black Fortress itself, and eventually, the mighty Beast.

Can Colwyn claim victory over the forces of evil and rescue his bride?  Can Krull be freed from the clutches of the Beast?  And in the face of fear and danger, can faithful love prevail?

The Good

There is a great deal of good in this fun and delightful film, which I’ve heard was the first live-action epic fantasy.  For one thing, it is very clean.  There is no sexual content, graphic violence, language, or crude humor.

Many excellent themes are presented also.  The love story is an unusual one, as the couple has decided to marry as a political alliance rather than romantic feelings, but later find that they love and admire each other.  The marriage ceremony that is begun is an interesting one, featuring a flame that the woman gives “only to the man she chooses as her husband.”  Through all the pressure and danger, she refuses to give in to the Beast’s pressure to choose him as her husband, remaining faithful to her vows.

Colwyn also shows great faithfulness and true love.  When Lyssa begs him to let her fight alongside him in the raid, he refuses, saying that if she loves him she will protect herself as best she can.  And then when she is in danger, he risks his life and all that he has to rescue her and bring her safely home.

Courage, loyalty, honor, kindness, and self-sacrifice are virtues that are extolled throughout the story.  Lyssa and Colwyn are loyal to each other, Ergo shows small kindnesses to little Titch, Rell is willing to die for the others.  They are all willing to lay down their lives in any way they can to free their land from tyranny.

The Bad

While there is no goriness, there is a great deal of violence.  A large castle raid at the beginning kills everyone inside except Colwyn.  Nearly all the characters have died by the end, some of them in rather disturbing ways.  One character is crushed to death by a large stone door closing, while another is stabbed by a slowly extending spike in the terrible Black Fortress.  A giant white spider chases a character across a web, another character is sucked under and killed by quicksand, and still another is poisoned by the fingers of a very evil looking shapeshifter.  Plus there are some things, such as the Beast and his terrifying fortress, that are just plain scary.

There is some mild kissing in a couple places, and at one point Colwyn is tempted by a beautiful woman to “keep her company for one night,” but he refuses to betray his bride.  One robber is said to have several different wives, one in each city he visits, which is portrayed as somewhat humorous.  A character who is said to have loved Ynyr, the Old One, long ago, admits to having borne his child, and later killed it.

There is a great deal of magic throughout the film, which is not ever explained.  There are prophets, enchantresses, shapeshifters with evil powers, magic fire, curses, magic artifacts, and more.  It is neither mentioned as coming from a demonic source nor a divine source, but simply exists naturally in the world, so viewers should weigh that against their own view of magic in fiction before deciding to watch the film.

The Art

James Horner’s score is magnificent, though admittedly extremely reminiscent of his score for The Wrath of Khan.  The film’s design is breathtaking, especially the surrealistic and disturbing interior of the Black Fortress, and it is well cast and well acted.  While the story wanders about from time to time and has some elements that are not fully explained or set up, it is an overall compelling narrative that is enjoyable from beginning to end.

I enjoyed this film immensely, not only for its considerable place in film and fantasy history, but also for its delightful tale of epic adventure and faithful love.

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  1. Good review. I’m glad you liked this often forgotten classic.

      • Grace Pennington
      • May 27th, 2012

      Thank you for recommending it, Jonathan! 😀

  2. Methinks I need to see this…

      • Grace Pennington
      • May 29th, 2012

      Methinks you do. ^_^

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