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Shadow Of The Sword
Shadow Of The Sword“The horror of the Inquisition hangs
  over the heads of those who upset the
  Catholic church in 16th Century Austria,
  where a monk and an executioner are
  caught up in the middle of a religious
  fervour that threatens both their lives
  and their close friendship in Shadow Of
  The Sword
..
.”

IT IS 1520 IN THE TYROL, AUSTRIA. Martin Luther's many theses are being circulated and there is a thirst for knowledge among the poor people who, unlike the elite, cannot read. And the Catholic Church is ready to come down hard on anything that may not be in its interests. The Church is a power to be feared, and those who oppose it will suffer the dire consequences.

Two young boys are growing up in a monastery, as close as brothers, but each is destined for a different life. Fifteen years later, in 1535, Martin (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: Game Of Thrones; Headhunters; Kingdom Of Heaven) has become a captain in the Imperial army and Georg (Peter McDonald: The Damned United; Wreckers) a Prior. Having sworn allegiance and brotherhood to each other in childhood, neither can imagine how fate will pull them apart.

Returning from combat with a serious shoulder wound, Martin seeks out Georg in the monastery. While The Prior walks with his friend in the village, Martin sees a beautiful woman in the marketplace. Georg warns him that she is the daughter of the Executioner, who carries out justice for the administrative committee. She and her father are untouchables and live outside the town walls.

Not to be put off, Martin pursues the girl. She tells him her name is Anna (Anastasia Griffith) and she also has feelings for him. As luck would have it, Anna has also learned about medicinal herbs from her mother and is able to treat the wound for Martin before he goes off to fight once again.

When Martin returns, Anna's father has died and she has given birth to a child. In order to marry her and have the child baptised, Martin turns to a religious man outside the church to perform both ceremonies.

Martin has no choice, married as he is to an untouchable, other than to take on Anna's father's role of Executioner. He does so reluctantly, tired of fighting and death, little realising he is opening himself up to jealousy, resentment and betrayal.

Georg is having to work hard to keep the Archbishop (John Shrapnel) happy and is devastated to find the golden heart relic that is so valued by the monastery has been stolen. One of the monks tells him that he saw the person who took it although Georg mistrusts both the monk and the witness.

By now all hell has been let loose and the dreaded Inquisition, led by The Inquisitor (Steven Berkoff : The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; Television's The Borgias), is ready and eager to torture all those who do not confess to crimes, whether they have committed them or not, and there is a backlash against both so-called heretics and book-sellers. It seems no-one is safe from the burning stake or the Inquisition's vile tortures.

Martin is forced to try and protect his family as best he can while Georg is battling with his loyalties, his conscience and his faith. As the two get swept along in the horrifying tide of gratuitous persecution, will friendship win through and the innocent find safety?

A star performance by Steven Berkoff as cold-hearted Inquisitor and impressive offerings from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Martin and Peter McDonald as Georg enhances this epic tale of religious persecution, friendship and betrayal. Shadow Of The Sword is a thrilling, gritty costume drama and a fascinating portrayal of the turbulent and terrifying 16th Century. By virtue of the content, there is violence and gore and a few look-away torture scenes which are happily short-lived.

Shadow Of The Sword also features: Eddie Marsan as Fabio; Lee Ingleby as Bernhard; Julie Cox as Margaretha; Patrick Godfrey as Bertram; and Joe Mason as Jakob.

Costumes Designed by Caterina Czepek; Original Music By Matthias Weber; Cinematography by Vladimir Smutny; Written by Steve Attridge and Susanne Freund; Produced by Helmut Grasser; and Directed by Simon Aeby.

The loyalty of two life long friends is tested during the notorious Inquisition in this 16th Century epic, Shadow Of The Sword, which is released on DVD on 9 April 2012. Certificate: 15 | RRP: DVD/Blu-ray 12.99.

"Shadow Of The Sword is a thrilling, gritty costume drama and a fascinating portrayal of the turbulent and terrifying 16th Century"
Maggie Woods, MotorBar