Arn Tempelriddaren (Arn The Knight Templar) (2007)




Director:     Peter Flinth. 

Starring:    Joakim Ntterqvist  (Arn Magnusson),  Sofia Helin (Cecilia Algotsdotter),  Stellan Skarsgrd (Birger Brosa),  Michael Nyqvist (Magnus Folkesson),  Mirja Turestedt  (Sigrid),  Morgan Alling (Eskil Magnusson),  Sven-Bertil Taube (Bishop Bengt),  Bibi Andersson (Mother Rikissa),  Fanny Risberg (Cecilia 'Blanka' Ulfsdotter),  Gustaf Skarsgrd (King Knut Eriksson),  Simon Callow (Father Henry),  Vincent Perez (Brother Guilbert),  Julia Dufvenius (Helena Sverkersson),  Svante Martin (Karl Sverkersson),  Jrgen Langhelle (Erik Jedvardsson).

part of a trilogy based on the work of Jan Guillou


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

The Holy Land. 1187.  Three riders are pursued by five riders.  Two men on a hill descend on the five.  They kill two of the men.  The two from the hill then finish off the rest of the five pursuers.  The three men being pursued say that this man with the red cross on his chest is the devil:  Al Ghouti (real name Arn Magnusson). 

A priest takes a woman out of her prison cell.  The woman's name is Cecilia.  He tells her there is no point in being stubborn.  She must accept her fate.  Mother Rikissa only wants what is best for her.  Cecilia recently gave birth to a child.  The nuns took the child from Cecilia saying:  "This bastard was born in sin."  She screams for them to give her back her child.  They ignore her.

The three men go say hello to Al Ghouti to thank him for saving their lives.  Al Ghouti says that he only did his duty.  The leader of the three tells Al Ghouti that he does not want to be indebted to a Christian.  At night they camp together.  The leader says that only God knows why He sent an enemy to save their lives.  Al Ghouti says that it is his job to protect the Christian pilgrims and those men were bandits.  The leader says that he and his brother are merchants headed to Cairo.  Al Ghouti doesn't believe them for they are taking the shortest, but the most dangerous way, around the Dead Sea.  He goes on to say that the Arabs are warriors, like himself.

The leader tells his brother to leave.  The leader asks if Al Ghouti knows who he is?  Yes, he is the great Arab leader Saladin.   Al Ghouti tells him that he knows Arabic because he has been here for many years now. 

In the convent.  Cecilia is brought to the dining room to eat.  All the nuns look at her as she eats at the far end of the table all alone. 

Flashback.  Many years earlier.  A young monk rides to the convent. The nuns are singing at the moment.  After the choir stops singing Cecilia goes up to say hello to the young fellow.  Later the young guy goes to confess his sins.  He says he ventured outside the grounds of the monastery.  A girl name Cecilia spoke to him. The priest forgives him his sins.  The young fellow was originally brought here by the wishes of his mother when he was just a boy.  His parents promised him to God if God would save him and He did.   Arn was a member of the powerful Folkung Dynasty. 

The boy (Arm Magnusson) watches a monk take target practice with bow and arrow.  In French the Monk asks the boy if he would like to shoot the bow and arrow?  Much to the surprise of the monk, the boy almost hits a bull's eye on his first shot.  The monk teaches Arn swordsmanship and reading and writing. 

The priest and Brother Guilbert have decided that it is time for Arn to return to his home. 

Brother Guilbert tells Arn that before he came to the monastery he served in God's Holy Army: the Knights Templar.  He gives Arn his sword with which he fought in the Holy Land for twelve years.  The brother also tells Arn that he must never draw the sword in anger or for personal gain.  Use the sword to serve God.  Arn rides a horse back to his village, Arnas.  He goes into the village and the people ask who he is.  He explains to his father that he is Eskil.  Dad just tells him that it's good to have him back.  Arn sees his Uncle Birger Brosa and they shake hands.   

A boundary dispute between Magnus Folkesson and Emund Ulvbane is heard by the Council of Elders.  Folkesson has agreed to settle and pays 30 pieces of silver to Ulvbane.  Ulvbane says he has to comply with the decision of the Council of Elders, but he does not like the decision. Ulvbane says that Folkesson is not a man at all and his sons are no better.  Uncle Brosa says that the Sverker King planned this and told Ulvbane to say what he said.  Be that as it may be, according to the tradition, a public insult has to be redressed through single combat. 

At the challenge, Arn steps forward to accept the challenge from Ulvbane.  Ulvbane says he doesn't like fighting a nun.  But he does fight Arn.  Arn keeps dodging and ducking Ulvbane's attempts to kill him.  In a short time Arn knocks the man down and holds his sword to Ulvbane's neck.   Arn's people want him to kill Ulvbane, but Arn steps back from the defeated man.  When Arn turns his back to Ulvbane, the older man tries to hit Arn in the back.  But Arn turns and whacks off the right hand of Ulvbane.  Ulvbane is taken away by two of his men. 

Cecilia rides to Arnas to see Arn.  She is the daughter of Algot Plsson of a nearby village.  She says she just wanted to see the village again.  Cecilia and Arn walk their horses in the woods.  She tells Arn that everybody is talking about him these days.  They say he saved his father's honor.  Cecilia gets back on her horse and starts riding away, telling Arn to try and catch her.  Arn catches up with her, but then he runs right into a low hanging tree branch and goes down.  Cecilia rushes over to check on him.  He suddenly gets up, surprising Cecilia.  He tells her that she has stolen his heart.  She then says the same thing to Arn.

When Arn gets back to his family, they say that Algot has accused Arn of running away with his youngest daughter, who was promised to a Sverker. Algot owes a debt to the Sverkers and the Sverkers are mad about Arn's victory over Ulvbane even if he did spare the man's life.  Furthermore, Algot cannot give his daughter to to an enemy of the king. 

Arn meets Cecilia in the woods.  She says that she only wants Arn.  The two make love in the grass. (not shown)  Cecilia goes to the convent to tell her sister Katarina that she is betrothed to Arn Magnusson.  The sister is shocked and a bit disappointed.  Her sister says that their father cannot pay for two weddings, so she will have to remain here in the convent.  Cecilia says that the family won't leave her here in the convent.  She goes on to tell her sister that she is pregnant with Arn's child.  And lastly, she asks her sister not to say anything about this to anyone.

Katarina immediately goes to tell mother superior, known as Mother Rikissa.  She also tells the mother that before Arn had sexual relations with Cecilia, he had sexual relations with her.  But the truth is that Arn refused to have sex with her.  Mother Rikissa now writes to the Most Reverend Lord Bishop.  She says she is being true to her clan of the Sverkers.  In church the bishop denounces Arn and then excommunicates both Arn and Cecilia.  No clergyman in West Gothia is allowed  to do anything for the pair.  The two will do their penance in the abbeys of Varnhem and Gudhem for a period of 20 years.

Arn rides away.  Cecilia is brought to the convent.  He reaches her just before she is to enter the convent.  He denies to her that he slept with her sister.  And he swears that he will come for her.  Cecilia gives him the cross around her neck and then tells Arn that she will wait for him.  The nuns grab her and take her into the convent.  A guard stops Arn from pursuing Cecilia. 

The only thing ahead for Cecilia is prayers and work.  Life won't be easy for her because now she is surrounded by Sverkers.  Mother Rikissa says that she will tame Cecilia. 

Arn returns to Varnhem where he was raised.  The priest and brother there tell him that he is to go to Rome and from there to the Holy Land.  He will be a Knight Templar. 

Sweet Mother Rikissa taunts Cecilia with the fact that Arn is being sent to the Crusades and she will never see him again. 

Back to the present. Arn and his assistant are headed to a big city.  He goes into the headquarters of the Knight Templars to tell them that Saladin is here in the area and he is sure of his victory.  The Knights find it hard to believe that Arn saved the life of Saladin and then ate with the man.  Arn says:  "I gave him my word."   Arn says that the attack will come from the south.  He also says that Saladin is a man just like them.  He is a man of honor. 

A new girl is brought in to do penance in Mother Rikissa's monastery.  She takes the empty bed near Cecilia.  She says that Cecilia is no longer alone, that she knows her story.  Helena hears Cecilia Blanka talking, which is against the rules, and reports Cecilia Blanka to Mother Rikissa. 

The Knights Templar have an Arab down on the ground, while he shouts that he will only speak to Al Ghouti.  Arn comes over and the Arab says he is to bring Saladin and Al Ghouti together to speak with each other.  Arn tells the Arab to take him to his master. 

It's winter at the monastery.  Mother Rikissa is going to punish Cecilia.  But it's not Cecilia Algotsdotter, but the new Cecilia, Cecilia Blanka.  This Cecilia from now on will be called Blanka to avoid having two Cecilias.  The girl that tattled on Blanka, Helena, is now given the task of lashing the girl with a whip three times for the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.  When it is over Blank looks directly into the eyes of Helena. 

Al Ghouti is brought to the camp of Saladin.  Saladin says that the Christians will lose this war.  He will pay his debt to Al Ghouti by letting the Christians leave Jerusalem peacefully.  They will have safe passage wherever they wish to go.  Al Ghouti tells Saladin no.  "Then you will die," says Saladin.  Al Ghouti answers:  "It's all in the hands of God."   

Cecilia asks Blanka who is she and Blanka says she is Cecilia's future queen.  She is betrothed to Knut Eriksson, who will seize the crown from the Sverker king. Blanka says there is no news of Arn, but Magnus, her son, is doing well.  Poor Cecilia didn't even know that her son was still alive.  She is very grateful to Blanka for the news. 

Arn tells the Knights Templar that they can attack Saladin before he reaches Jerusalem.  They could set up an ambush at one of the mountain passes and do Saladin's army a great deal of harm.  Arn's rival, Gerard De Ridefort, says they have no proof that this is the way Saladin will come.  The Grand Master dismisses his concern.  He now tells Arn that he will led the attack on Saladin. 

The crusaders ride out into the mountains to set up an ambush.  Ridefort tells Arn that a sand storm will soon be upon them.  Arn says that's a good thing, because it will make the surprise attack all the more unexpected by Saladin.  Arn kneels in prayer and has a vision of Cecilia touching his beard.  Soon Saladin's army comes marching through the mountain pass in the sand storm.  The crusaders mount their horses. 
Suddenly Saladin sees the Christian cross on the mountain top and at that moment the Christians attack Saladin.    In the fighting Arn's assistant is killed.

Saladin orders the sound for the retreat to be played.  Saladin and Arn see each other on the battlefield.  Saladin turns and leaves the battlefield.   

For his success, the grand master gives s safe passage document (an honorable discharge) to Arn and tells him to use it when the time is due. 

Uncle Borsa has come to get Cecilia Blanka for Knut Eriksson has taken the throne.  She will be queen.  The other Cecilia thanks Uncle Borsa for taking care of Magnus.  Mother Rikissa calls Cecilia over to her.  Blanka tells Cecilia that Arn will be back for her. 

Arn is ordered to lead unit 4 into the desert.  It is a small patrol.  From atop the mountain the Arabs watch the crusading force.  Arn sets up camp for the night.  He says that he can return home at the next full moon. 

Mother Rikissa has a cold.  Cecilia is sent for.  The sick woman asks Cecilia to forgive her sins against her.  She says:  "I tried to punish you because I never had love."  Rikissa is hoping that forgiveness will help shorten her time in Purgatory.  Cecilia tells her that only God can forgive her.  Now the wickedness comes out of Rikissa and she curses Cecilia, who runs out of the room and closes the door behind her. 

Ridefort says that he has gotten word that Saladin has his forces at Lake Tiberias (aka, the Sea of Galilee).  Ridefort says they will attack Saladin at the lake.  Arn says it's not a good idea.  It would take them three days to cross the desert to get to the lake and there is no water available in the desert.     Ridefort says that's why it will be a surprise attack.  The man is now the grand master and Arn has to obey his orders. 

Mother Rikissa dies.  The bishop says that Brosa put in a good word for Cecilia and he would like her to become the abbess in their convent.  Cecilia declines the offer.  She says her time of penance is almost over now.  Cecilia says she will soon be free and she will go to the queen to wait at court for the arrival of her betrothed. 

Arn tells Ridefort that his time is up and he is leaving.  He shows the grand master the document for his honorable discharge from the former Grand Master of the Knights Templar.  Ridefort tells Arn that he is free to leave, but if he leaves, he will leave as a deserter.  He tears up the honorable discharge. 

The Knights Templar go across the desert.  The sun is a scorcher and soon the men are dragging themselves through the desert. Ridefort decides to camp for the night.  One of the knights tells Ridefort that they must keep on until they find water, but Ridefort orders the tents be raised. 

A scout reports to Saladin on the movements of the Knight Templars.  They are south of the Horns of Hattin.  Saladin says the Knight Templars are fools to fight them in the desert.  The Arabs will have a great victory. 

Arabs sneak into the camp of the Knight Templars to set fires.  The knights are still sleep as Saladin's army attacks.  Arn prepares to meet them. 

Arn wakes up laying on the sand.  An Arab stands over him ready to strike him with his sword. 

Brosa and some of his men pick up Cecilia.  They will take her to the royal court.  He has sent Magnus there already. 

The king and queen greet Cecilia, but she is more interested in Magnus.  It is a bit awkward at first meeting.  Later she talks to Magnus and says that his father Arn is still alive. 

Arn now wakes up in Saladin's tent.  He has a nasty, long gash going over his left eye.  It is Saladin who has saved Arn.  They are both now in Damascus.  Saladin says he has Jerusalem in his hands and it will fall whenever he wishes it to fall.  He says that when the Christians took Jerusalem, they killed everyone.  Arn tells Saladin that if the Muslims do the same, the Christians will come back in greater numbers and the war will never end.  The great Arab leader say he has a dream that one day the religions can share the Holy City.  And now he tells Arn that it is time for him to go home.    

Cecilia looks out over the sea.  A ship emerges from the fog.  It brings not Arn, but a man named Ebbe Sunesson of the Sverker clan. At dinner the Sverker notices Cecilia and asks who she is.  Meanwhile, Borsa tells the king that they must strike the Sverkers before the Sverkers strike them.  Cecilia tells Ebbe her name.  Borsa says she was a nun at the abbey.  Ebbe says she doesn't look like a nun and Magnus gets offended by the remark.  Ebbe asks Magnus where is his father?  In the Holy Land.  Ebbe now offers them his condolences because Jerusalem has fallen and:  "The Knights Templar were slaughtered like dogs."  Magnus almost gets into a fight with Ebbe, but Cecilia intervenes.  She leaves the room and then falls to the floor in grief. 

Cecilia decides to go back to the abbey.  Just as she is being welcomed back by the nuns, a group of men ride up.  A man gets off his horses and approaches her.  She starts to back up until he says:  "Cecilia."  She goes forward to him and asks if it is him?  Yes, it's Arn.  They embrace.  Then they go into the abbey.  Magnus comes to meet his father.

Cecilia and Arn work on building a home for themselves. 

The Sverker clan approaches the new home.  It is led by Ebbe.  He tells Arn to keep a wary eye on his beautiful wife for King Knut lies now on his deathbed.  Ebbe turns and leaves. 

Arn goes to see the king on his deathbed.  Magnus tells the men gathered there that the Sverkers have made Ebbe their new commander.  Furthermore, the Danish King backs the Sverkers.  Arn starts immediately to train recruits on how to be good soldiers.  To himself, Arn takes note of the fact that he prayed to God never to have to engage in war again.  Cecilia tells Arn that God has an important role for him to play in the creation of peace in the future Sweden. 

The Sverkers are on the move. Arn and Magnus get ready to go into battle.  Cecilia tells Arn that she knows he will come back to her.  The men move out. 

The two opposing armies are across from each other.  Arn makes a rousing speech to his men.  The Sverkers start the battle.  Their horsemen come at Arn's forces at full blast, but they are met by a shower of arrows and many go down.  Ebbe sends in another cavalry charge and the same thing happens.  Now Arn gives the order to attack.  Arn sees Ebbe's commander-in-chief and goes after him.  As he charges, Ebbe comes up from the side, hits the unawares Arn and down goes Arn.  Now it's single combat with Arn, who quickly kills Ebbe.  Now Arn and his men capture the commander-in-chief.  He kicks the man over and tells him to ride off from here.  The enemy leaves the battlefield. 

Cecilia sees the troops coming back.  The women all move forward to find their husbands.  She finds him on his horse.  He gets off the horse and they embrace.  He promises her never to leave her again.  Arn now passes out from his wound.  It is a mortal wound.  He tells Cecilia that he loves her and then dies.  Cecilia cries over her husband's body.

"Arn Magnusson's victory secured the peace for many years.  Thanks to him the country was soon united as the Kingdom of Sweden."


Good action film.  I was especially glad to see them cover the role of Saladin in the Arab victories in the crusades of this time.  He is presented as a very honorable man, just as good as Arn in honesty and loyalty.  There is also quite a bit of Swedish history in the film.  There were various dynasties fighting against each other: the Houses of Stenkil, Sverker, Erik and Folkung.  This fictional Arn Magnusson is given credit for uniting Sweden into a future nation, but there is no agreement on exactly when Sweden became one nation, so there is no one man who really stands out as "the" uniter. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:



c. 1060-1125 AD  --  the dynasty known as the House of Stenkil holds the Swedish throne. 


1125-1250  --  The Houses of Sverker and Erik.

1130-1156  --  after extinction of the House of Stenkil dynasty Sverker I of Sweden rules.  He is from the dynasty known as the House of Sverker. 

1155-1160  --  rule of Erik the Saint.  He was murdered in Uppsala by Edmund Ulvbane hired by the Sverkers or by Magnus Henriksson.  House of Erik. 

1160-1161  --  rule of Danish lord Magnus Henriksson,  Assassinated by Karl Sverkersson.  House of Stenkil. 

1161-1167  --  Karl Sverkersson.  House of Sverker. 

1167-1173  --  Knut Eriksson (later Canute I of Sweden) is a rival king.   House of Erik. 

1173-1195  --  rule of Canute I now king of the whole country of Sweden. House of Erik.

1187          --  start of the time covered in the above film Arn.

1196-1208  --  rule of Sverker the Younger.  House of Sverker.

1208-1216  --  rule of Erik Knutsson (Erik X). Only remaining son of Canute I.  House of Erik. 

1216-1222  --  John I the Child.  House of Sverker.

1222-1229  --  Erik XI or Erik the Lisp and Lame.  House of Erik.

1229-1234  --  Canute II the Tall. 

1234-1250  --  Erik XI the Lisp and Lame.  House of Erik. 

1250 -1364  --   The House of Bjlbo (aka House of Folkung).

The fighting between the Sverkers and the Eriks finally ended when a third clan married into the Erik clan.  This created the Folkunga dynasty that gradually consolidated Sweden into an actual nation.

The House of Bjelbo gradually married into all the rival royal dynasties in Sweden.  This eventually resulted in producing an heir related to all the royal dynasties. 

1250           --  Valdemar is elected as the King of Sweden. 


1397           --    emergence of modern Sweden out of the Kalmar Union. 



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