Sword of God
In the early Middle Ages, a contingent of knights embarks on a dangerous journey to spread Christianity and baptize the pagan inhabitants of an isolated village hidden deep in the mountains of a faraway island. After being shipwrecked, the two survivors set out to complete their mission, but as they attempt to convert the tribe, their diverging beliefs put them at odds with each other. Soon, love is confronted with hate, peace with violence, sanity with madness, and redemption with damnation.
Directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Bartosz Konopka, this genre-bending historical epic has been hailed as a “stunning showcase of experiential horror” (Bloody Disgusting) that “strikes with brutal clarity” (ScreenAnarchy).
- "From the first frames, The Mute declares itself as a stunning showcase of experiential horror.... There are clear inspirations from Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising at play, both thematically and visually. Every frame, shot, and sequence are exquisitely constructed, and the cast delivers spellbinding performances. Though the horror is steeped in realism, this is a horror film through and through."
- "Enrapturing, beautiful, and deeply uncomfortable. [O]ne of the most fascinating works of Polish cinema, and horror in general, that I’ve had the pleasure to see this year and beyond."
- "...an impressionistic and beautiful film about innocence and human ugliness. [I]t is a throwback to works like Refn’s Valhalla Rising and that’s a good thing. "
- "When a movie slips out of nowhere that has the ability to grab you and sweep you along with the current, you have to celebrate it. [Sword of God] is that movie. It’s a striking movie that has something to say, but does so with sounds and visuals rather than traditional storytelling and dialogue. You can tell that there is a singular vision and intent here, one that reminds me of similar works of auteurs like Hagazussa or Mandy. [It] won’t be for everyone. But for some, it’ll be their favorite movie this year."
- "[Sword of God] strikes with brutal clarity."
- "This is a world of primal struggle, fur, unworked wood, blood and mud. And Konopka baptizes the viewer in it and delivers something wholly credible and holy horrific, a grim tale of survival and “civilization” from an era when the two weren’t necessarily compatible. It’s“Black Robe” set on the Baltic Sea, where we’re tumbled into a small boat with only two survivors staggering ashore on a remote island."
- "More of a stark historical drama with horrific imagery than straight up horror, SWORD OF GOD... is a powerful and mesmerizing look at how a seemingly holy mission can quickly turn foul given the right circumstances. Reminiscent in tone to Terrence Malick’s meditative narratives that soak in the nature around the ugliness of humanity, filmmaker Bartosz Konopka immerses the viewer in a world completely alien and new. This film is set during the time of the Crusades, but it might as well be Mars with the way everything looks. Konopka’s camera lingers on beautiful juxtapositions of nature in full bloom and in decay in a way that can’t help but transfix the audience."
- "Set on a northern island in the early middle ages, Bartosz Konopka’s frightfully striking film pits Christianity against a more humane pagan tradition. Cinematographer Jacek Podgórski creates a beautiful ugliness out of mist, fire, and muted color. Thick liquids ooze from everywhere. Jerzy Rogiewicz’s haunting music helps you believe that you’re in a strange and unnatural place – even though nature is all around."
- "Sword of God sits in a sweet spot between Dances with Wolves/Avatar and the Game of Thrones series. It is grittier and grimmer than the former two, yet not as much as the latter, while being more believable and compelling than either. It is a finely acted and written film with some great cinematography. Fans of drama, historical or otherwise, will find a fine treat in this film. Thus, for these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars."
- "Like a wizard, Polish filmmaker Bartosz Konopka summons the elements — the wind, rain, sun, rocks, earth and sky — and with the aid of brilliant cinematographer Jacek Podgorski bends them to his will, turning his violent religious fantasia “Sword of God” (originally “The Mute”) into a mind-bending, time-traveling wonder."
- "Sword of God is one of the most unexpectedly terrifying horror films of the year so far. It is truly a hidden foreign gem of the genre, and hopefully audiences will discover it in all of its dread-inducing and thought-provoking glory."
- "Watching Sword of God, directed by Bartosz Konopka, is such a mesmerizing immersive experience it will make you sweat, squirm and shake waiting for the lights to come back on and your breathing to come back to normal."
- "Take the color palette of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Valhalla Rising,” add a voiceover spoken in an undertone characteristic of Terrence Malick, and top it off with the excessive grandeur of John Boorman’s “Excalibur” and you have arrived at Polish filmmaker Bartosz Konopka’s “Sword of God.” Written by Konopka, Przemyslaw Nowakowski, and Anna Wydra, “Sword of God” is filled with love, hatred, and intense scenes of violence in the name of religion. Pieczynski and Bernacki as the missionaries deliver solid performances (the two resemble a team made up of Donald Pleasence and Paul Bettany) while Wiktoria Gorodecka as Prahwe, a female leader in the tribe, gives the men a run for their money in a smaller but pivotal role. It’s an unforgettable and essential piece of cinema."
Awards & Recognition
Polish Film Festival
Polish Film Festival
Sitges Film Festival
Moscow Int'l. Film Festival
Gdynia Film Festival