Cromwell

Cromwell (1970)

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New this month Continuity mistake: Cromwell purges an altar of "idolatrous" objects by knocking down candlesticks. He begins by knocking down the second from the left. In the close-up, the candlestick is standing again and he has to knock it down a second time. This happens twice in the same scene.

New this month Factual error: At the end of the film the Earl of Manchester is shown setting up corrupt, self-seeking government that will be much worse than the royal regime it has replaced. An enraged Cromwell calls soldiers to drive the Earl of Manchester and his sycophantic supporters from the Houses of Parliament. This scene completely re-writes history. The Earl Of Manchester, was what would now be termed a 'moderate' supporter of the Parliamentary cause, who hoped that Charles I would remain king, but with reduced powers. He did not want to replace the monarchy, or to take over as ruler of the country (in the way that Cromwell eventually would). As Cromwell's power grew the Earl of Manchester's role in affairs shrank. At Charles I's execution he withdrew from government until Cromwell's death, when he assisted the Restoration of Charles II, becoming one of Charles II's most loyal supporters.

Rob Halliday

Factual error: In the scene where the king attempts to seize the five members from Parliament, Cromwell makes a dramatic refusal to leave and proposes various "Laws" to prevent his arrest. Cromwell was not one of the five members whom the King tried to arrest and no law can come into force until it had been signed by the reigning Monarch anyway.

Factual error: Sir Thomas Fairfax was in overall command of the New Model Army at Naseby, not Cromwell. He was in charge of the cavalry on the right wing (the Ironsides).

Continuity mistake: At the battle of Edgehill when Crowell's cavalry and Prince Rupert's cavalry are in the middle of a melee and you can see a wound on Crowell's left arm, the same wound he receives at Naseby. It is clear that the scene was meant to be used for the battle of Naseby but was cut and used at Edgehill.

Factual error: Halfway through the film, Cromwell decides to create the New Model Army, and he kits them all out in dark brown uniforms. In fact, Cromwell's New Model Army wore red coats, (cheapest available colour), and this was the reason the British army wore red until the late 19th Century. In the movie, King Charles's troops all wear red; in fact each different regiment wore their own coat colours, blue being a popular choice.

Factual error: In the scene of the Battle of Edgehill (the first battle in the movie) Cromwell utters the famous "Oh Lord, Thou knowest this day..." prayer. This was, in fact, said by Sir Jacob Astley one of the Royalist Generals on the other side. It is also unlikely that Cromwell was even at the battle.

Factual error: In the last battle, Naseby, the Parliamentarians are shown to be outnumbered by the Royalists. In fact it was the other way round (13,000 to 9,000).

Continuity mistake: Peers and commoners (like Cromwell) are seen sitting in the same chamber in Parliament. In reality, of course, the Houses of Commons and Lords are separate chambers.

Factual error: After the execution of Charles I / Alec Guiness, Oliver Cromwell / Richard Harris returns to his home. Sitting by the fire, he is consoled by his wife: he can now put the cares and worries of war and politics behind him, and enjoy a quiet life as a country gentleman. This cosy domesticity is rudely interrupted when some of his old colleagues arrive to tell him tell him that he is now needed to run the country. He protests that, as a country gentleman he would be unfit for such a role, but he reluctantly assumes power. In fact, by the time of Charles I's execution Oliver Cromwell was one of the most powerful political figures and military commanders in Britain, and actively continued commanding armies in Ireland, Scotland and England, and involving himself in government. Although rejecting a suggestion that he should be crowned king (after much deliberation), he was quite willing to take the title of 'Lord Protector' and govern England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales until his death in 1658.

Rob Halliday

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