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Ivanhoe - The 1982 Version

Updated on October 19, 2013

The early 80s was an interesting time for those who had access to video recording equipment. However, if your parents hadn't yet invested in a system, you had to rely on catching television movies as they were released or hope for a re-run. Even if you had the technology in your home, it might be hit and miss when a movie aired.

I was a junior in high school when this movie aired. I had a pretty regular babysitting job down the street, and the 1982 Ivanhoe release coincided with a babysitting night. It worked out well because the youngsters I was watching enjoyed the movie along with me. Thanks to instant video solutions today, you can grab that bowl of popcorn and relive the television feature right now!

I don't remember reading Sir Walter Scott's tale, but I'm sure that I had a copy of it as a kid. As an avid reader, I devoured a lot of books. Some of the classics didn't stick with me as well as others, and in the case of Ivanhoe, I don't remember the details. However, the movie version was enjoyable. One of the main reasons was the lead character, Anthony Andrews. If you were a teen girl in those early 80s, you might remember him along with a couple of other characters for their appearances in some dramatic tales produced in the era.

Olivia Hussey, playing the Jewish girl, Rebecca, in this feature, was better known for her role as Juliet in the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet. While this wasn't a brand new release in those days, it was the version used in my literature classes in high school. We didn't have the extensive options of today, but you know that if you grew up in the era.

Anthony Andrews starred alongside Jane Seymour in The Scarlet Pimpernel, released later in 1982. I was a senior in high school at this point, and I managed to capture that film on video to watch time and again over the next decade. If I could have recorded Ivanhoe, it would have received equal time. One of my first Netflix DVD choices when I signed up for the service a few years ago was this one.

A couple of important notes about the information provided by Amazon about the stars:

  • Amazon lists Sam Neill and James Mason as the stars. The lead was definitely not Sam Neill, The Jurassic Park star was a supporting actor when compared to the central figure, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, played by Andrews. James Mason played the part of Rebecca's father, another supporting role.

  • John Rhys-Davies plays one of the three bad knights in the picture, Front de Bouf. My 20 year old daughter was thrilled when I bought the movie as she loves Rhys-Davies' role in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy as Gimli.

You'll find a lot of interesting historical innuendo in the movie. I don't retain medieval history details well, but as an adult revisiting the film, I found this an interesting view into the Saxon and Norman issues. As well, the challenges facing Jews in the era can be observed. Robin Hood's appearance is also quite enjoyable. Of course, the King Richard and Prince John conflict is also an interesting part of the entire tale. There's a lot packed into this movie, and just when you think it's nearing the end, there seems to always be another twist...until, at least, the very end!

I'm not a history buff, but I love a good historical drama that can present concepts while providing entertainment. It may be more of a chic flick, but my husband enjoyed watching it along with me anyways. My 20 year old daughter really enjoyed it as well. It's one of my fave options when I need to relax after a long day of online writing!

Check out these features if you are interested in more films with these 80s actors:

The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Scarlet Pimpernel

Fun, exciting, and great for a perspective on the French Revolution. Jane Seymour is really good in this Anthony Andrews picture.

Romeo & Juliet
Romeo & Juliet

The version used in the 70s and 80s for literature classes, at least in my neck of the woods. Features Olivia Hussey

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

My favorite movie featuring John Rhys-Davies...he plays the villainous uncle!


I really love the fact that I can pull up some of the obscure movies from my youth that may have only aired once or twice. Now, it's easy to own them for instant access without the crackling or damage issues that my old VCR tapes had. I heartily enjoyed buying the 1982 Ivanhoe film on Amazon, and I look forward to finding more that I enjoyed in school and in my teen years.

Did you see Ivanhoe when it came out in the early 80s? Have you watched it on Amazon Instant Video? Do you plan to?

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