It is the year 1215 and the rebel barons of England have forced their despised King John to put his royal seal to the Magna Carta, a noble, seminal document that upheld the rights of free-men. Yet within months of pledging himself to the great charter, the King reneged on his word and assembled a mercenary army on the south coast of England with the intention of bringing the barons and the country back under his tyrannical rule. Barring his way stood the mighty Rochester castle, a place that would become the symbol of the rebel’s momentous struggle for justice and freedom.
Rochester Castle from the 13th Century has been remade nearly 200 miles from its Kent home at a film set in south Wales for a new movie called Ironclad.
Dragon Studios at Llanilid near Llanharan in Rhondda Cynon Taf has been transformed for the feature length movie, filmed entirely in Wales.
It has been billed as a medieval Magnificent Seven and stars Derek Jacobi, Brian Cox and Mackenzie Crook.
The gut-wrenching violence used in the open scene of Saving Private Ryan is being transferred to another movie – about the siege of Rochester castle.
And instead of Nazi machine guns cutting down hapless US infantrymen, this is steel on steel up close and personal.
Ironclad is being shot not in Rochester where the castle actually stands, but in the wilds of Wales.
The imposing walls and battlements have been recreated on a Welsh coal tip for the filming of the medieval action movie.
Rochester is a tad too modern for the filmmakers now with a thriving city grown up around it, making the area a little different than the time when it came under siege in 1215.
And the set designers and builders have done a pretty good job with the wood, metal and plastic looking completely authentic – from a distance.
The producer said he wanted to make the film as historically accurate as possible, designed to recreate the siege and make the viewer experience a medieval battle in action.
With a budget of £12 million, it is set to become the most expensive independent movie shot in the UK.
The amazing cast includes Kate Mara as Lady Isabel, Brian Cox, Paul Giamatti as King John, James Purefoy as Marshall, Derek Jacobi as Cornhill, Jason Flemyng as Beckett, plus Mackenzie Crook as Marks along with Rhys Parry Jones and Jamie Foreman.
Bob Hoskins, Robert Carlyle and Richard Attenborough are also tipped to make appearances, but are not confirmed yet.
Producer Rick Benattar made the frenzied bullet-laden Shoot ‘Em Up with Giamatti, who stole the show, and was able to get him on board Ironclad.
Benattar said: “There is a gritty script based on one of the bloodiest battles in world history. We hope to bring a sense of kinetic energy, which will make the viewer feel as if they are right in the thick of it, to the screen and with our amazing cast feel that the film will truly be spectacular.”
Ironclad will hit the screens next year.
This may be a good film. There’s a good cast line-up, but that’s no guarantee – the budget can go on their fees. I did see a bit of joke-shop weaponry in the footage of the filming. We’ll see.