This 1970 film, skillfully written and directed by Ken Hughes and starring Richard Harris and Alec Guinness in the principal roles, is a complex historical subject rarely depicted in movies and made clearly detailed for the audience.
It’s the year 1640. In Cambridge, England, Oliver Cromwell (Richard Harris), a deeply religious Puritan member of Parliament, is planning to leave for America with his family. When someone asks him why, he bitterly answers with grievances against the King (Alec Guinness). However, Cromwell cares too much to leave everything behind. After all, he is compelled to make a change.
Although infuriated by the King’s actions, Cromwell doesn’t believe in raising arms against the Monarch and vehemently rejects that notion. Nevertheless, it’s just a matter of time before changing his mind drastically and cursing furiously the once respected King. Witnessing the injustices, now Cromwell not only raises his voice against the King but also he is willing to depose him by force if necessary.
On the other hand, King Charles lives pompously, influenced by his wife and his arrogant advisors. He doesn’t care about the people, orders Cromwell’s arrest, and dissolves Parliament provoking a Civil War.
Cromwell begins an uphill battle against the King’s tyranny. Little does he know that his fiercest battles are going to be against the entrenched traditions and political alliances that benefit only the privileged. As a cruel paradox, Oliver Cromwell is the one called a traitor and dictator by the same men who fought alongside him. To add insult to injury, they also offer him the Crown.
When the time comes for the jury to condemn King Charles, they doubt and hesitate. Cromwell’s resolute voice warns them echoing through the centuries until today.
The powerful performances by Harris and Guinness make us feel Cromwell’s passion and detest the King’s treachery and deceitfulness. This is only achieved by superb actors.
See also with Richard Harris: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1997), Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993), Abraham (1993), Man in the Wilderness (1971), Hawaii (1966).
See also with Alec Guinness: Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Doctor Shivago (1965).