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So I’m in the process of watching Sword of Vengeance (2015, dir. some talentless hack). It’s set in late 11th century England, just after the Norman Conquest of England. I went to grad school for a long time studying medieval Europe, but this film has taught me a lot of things that my formal education somehow managed to miss. I can’t be bothered to figured out the plot of the film. I dunno, I’m guessing it involves vengeance somewhere along the line, based on the title and the protagonist’s constant scowling. So instead, I figure I’d just tell you what this film is teaching me.

  1. Northern England has a really tall mountain. I think Peter Jackson filmed the Mt Doom sequence there.
  2. The Anglo-Saxons took their landscaping cues from the Blair Witch.
  3. Color had not yet been invented in this period.
  4. Darkness and fog were extremely common. I think the locals must mine them somewhere nearby, thus making them cheap and plentiful commodities.
  5. Normans used names like Durant, Artus and Romain. The Anglo-Saxons were too poor to have names, except during credit sequences.Our hero uses the name Shadow Walker, which I think means he was baptized for St. Shadow Walker, the patron saint of emo.
  6. If you pause Netflix long enough, it logs you out.
  7. If you try really hard, you can use pottery as a mirror.
  8. I’m wrong. They don’t mine fog. They grow it in fields around the castle.
  9. “We could rule this land with a dozen men.” Is that some sort of zen koan? I mean, the bad guys have a dozen men at least, and I think they rule. So why say that? Ok, that’s not something I learned. But I think there must be some secret of enlightenment lurking in it. I want to learn it.
  10. 11th century Normans knew how to build 13th century castles.
  11. The Anglo-Saxons never converted to Christianity. Neither did the Normans, except on paper.
  12. A well-made sword can cut through a soundtrack, or at least scratch it.
  13. The Anglo-Saxons were way pluckier than the Normans, and better fighters as well. I guess that’s why the Normans defeated them.
  14. Everything important happened at night. Except fog-farming. That was a daytime activity.
  15. The Normans were the worst villains ever. Literally every scene they appear in, at least one of them dies or gets maimed.
  16. You can make a longbow by picking up any old stick and tying a string to both ends.
  17. Berserkers were so bad-ass, they had to be kept locked in a wagon until it was time for them to fight. But they were Normans, so they still sucked in combat.
  18. Fur was a very popular fashion statement. So popular, nobody actually wore fabric back then. Just fur and leather. And occasionally white face paint.
  19. Weird masks and head-dresses were a popular accoutrement for fur and leather, especially if they had horns.
  20. Turning your back to someone who’s trying to kill you and then waving your swords behind you is a really cool way to fight. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that.
  21. If you’re going to kill your brother with his own knives, don’t leave those knives lying around where his young son can find them, swear vengeance against you, and carry them with him for a decade while he learns to be a kick-ass scowly warrior, even if you sell the kid into slavery. It will end badly for you.
  22. The Normans were not smart enough to avoid charging into bonfires.
  23. In the 11th century, doing things at regular speed was pretty expensive, so people did as many things in slo-mo as they could, to save money.
  24. Stanley Weber got paid a lot of money to play Shadow Walker. How else could they get someone to wear this haircut for an entire movie?

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