The Baron

The Baron


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Writer/director Mick Fairbridge, a former coal miner, remortgaged his home in order to realise his dream of making this medieval comedy adventure. Though crewed by professionals, the film has a cast of first-time actors and the stunts are all their own.

The Baron follows the adventures of Sir Percivere and Sir Cole, two knights charged with ridding the land of a band of thugs led by the ambitious title character. It is aimed squarely at a family audience, with farcical elements which will appeal strongly to young children, though they'll be over-familiar to adults. Featuring cameos from Robin Hood, the Lady in the Lake and a mysterious damsel in distress, the film is a veritable tour of traditional British fantasy.

Clearly the production team had a lot of ideas they wanted to include, but the film is only 24 minutes long, and its hectic jumping around between story elements is a bit overwhelming. This problem is exacerbated by the shortness of many scenes and the abruptness of scene changes. Caption cards (or scrolls) filling in plot details are overused. It would have been interesting to see what Fairbridge might have achieved if he'd had the time and money to develop all these ideas fully.

For first-time actors, the two leads here do a fair job, with good comic timing. Most of the supporting performances are solid enough, though the King (apparently a last minute casting choice) is more wooden than the surrounding forest. Horse riding scenes are beautifully handled, and great use is made of the dramatic Welsh landscape, helping to give the story a more expansive feel. Most of the costuming is also very good, though tents and banners look a little too clean to be convincing, contrasting with the earthy nature of the script.

There's a lot of focus on physical comedy. Unfortunately, the director's inexperience shows through in the fight scenes, which, despite some good swordsmanship, never quite convince. It's also difficult to believe that a king and a baron would be escorted by such small armies; the story might have worked better if it had been moved down the feudal system a notch or two.

Like many low-budget films, The Baron is let down by its music. Specially composed themes work well enough, but the incidental music is clumsy and shows its age. The Baron is a bold first time effort which many fans of the fantasy genre may find entertaining, but it's far from a professional piece of work.

Reviewed on: 04 Apr 2009
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Two knights set out to rid a kingdom of bandits led by the notorious Baron.

Director: Mick Fairbridge

Writer: Mick Fairbridge

Starring: Edward Hocking, Alan Palmer, Mick Fairbridge, Darren Watkins

Year: 2005

Runtime: 24 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance


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