Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: N/A
THE mythology surrounding The Sword of Xanten supposedly provided
the inspiration for Richard Wagner's opera, The Ring Cycle, as
well as JRR Tolkien's The Lord
of the Rings trilogy, but it fails to provide any sort of
inspiration for the film.
Instead, German director, Uli Edel's movie feels like a weary
re-tread of countless other epics, including Homer's Odyssey (or
Troy in film-form) and The Vikings
to boot, which comes laden with a truly wooden performance from
its central protagonist.
German-born Benno Furmann heads the cast as Siegfried - The Dragon-Slayer,
an apparently simple blacksmith who is unaware of his true heritage.
The movie begins with a prologue chronicling the way in which
his father, the King of Xanten, is betrayed and killed by some
evil twins, forcing Siegfried to narrowly escape with his life.
Brought up by a fellow blacksmith (played by Max von Sydow),
Siegfried appears content with his life until the Gods send him
a sign of his destiny in the form of a fallen meteor, the debris
from which provides him with a rare metal from which to forge
an invincible sword, as well as a meeting with the woman who will
become his love, Brunhild, the Valkyrie warrior queen (T3's
Duty, however, tears them apart and
Siegfried travels to the kingdom of Burgund to fulfil his destiny.
During the course of his journey, he gains the respect of King
Gunther, as well as the love of Princess Kriemhild (Alicia Witt),
but must battle a powerful evil that has been plaguing the land
for some time.
Hence, Siegfried must battle the dragon, Fafnir, and claim the
dragon's gold as his own - a feat which brings with it a curse
from the gold's rightful owners, the mystic Nibelungs, as well
as the hatred of King Gunther's adviser, Hagen (Julian Sands),
who covets the gold for himself.
Siegfried's victory agains the dragon renders him invincible
(with only one weak spot), yet the curse he subsequently inherits
gradually manifests itself so that mortality beckons for the plucky
blacksmith and many of those who dare cross him.
With so much mythology behind it, it's little wonder that Sword
of Xanten clocks in at well in excess of two hours, but anyone
expecting an epic to rival The
Lord of the Rings is sure to be sorely disappointed.
The movie is constantly hindered by a lacklustre script and some
truly bland performances, which tests the patience long before
the halfway stage.
While the effects are not-so special as to leave viewers decidedly
Anyone in search of a little fantasy is therefore urged to wait
for the DVD or catch it on television, as this is where Edel's
movie feels better suited.