The Pagan King

(Nameja gredzens)
Latvia/United Kingdom 2018. Dir: Aigars Grauba. 110 min. DCP

A lavish, big-canvas historical epic from Latvian writer-director Aigars Grauba (whose Dream Team 1935 screened in EUFF 2013), The Pagan King was a box-office behemoth in the Baltic state, as well as one of its priciest productions. Co-written with British novelist and screenwriter Max Kinnings, Grauba’s medieval blockbuster, based on the popular “Namejs Ring” legend, is set in 13th-century Semigallia during the Northern Crusades. There, the last pagan stronghold is being insidiously undone by the nefarious actions of Max von Buxhoeveden (Dunkirk’s James Bloor), a crusader vying for the heirless throne. When the king, on his deathbed, unexpected bestows power to his nephew Namejs (Edvin Endre), learned in the ways of pagan theology, it’s incumbent on the new, inexperienced monarch to mobilize his people for impending war.