The Advocate

( 2 )

Overview

In France in 1452, the dark superstition of the Medieval era was beginning to give way to the more enlightened attitudes of the Renaissance. But the changes were slow in coming, as Richard Courtois Colin Firth learns when he moves to the country village of Abbeville, owned and ruled by the Seigneur Nicol Williamson. Courtois is a lawyer, or an "advocate" as they were called in those days, and the Seigneur has hired him to act as a public defender for those who cannot provide their own legal counsel. One odd ...
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Overview

In France in 1452, the dark superstition of the Medieval era was beginning to give way to the more enlightened attitudes of the Renaissance. But the changes were slow in coming, as Richard Courtois Colin Firth learns when he moves to the country village of Abbeville, owned and ruled by the Seigneur Nicol Williamson. Courtois is a lawyer, or an "advocate" as they were called in those days, and the Seigneur has hired him to act as a public defender for those who cannot provide their own legal counsel. One odd remnant of the dark ages that Abbeville has not purged from its legal system is the practice of prosecuting animals as well as humans for crimes; as Courtois arrives, he nearly witnesses the execution of both a man and a donkey who were found guilty of bestiality the donkey was spared at the last minute because it could not be proved that she consented to the act. So Courtois is not exactly surprised when one of his first cases finds him defending a pig against charges of murdering a small child. Courtois soon discovers that the pig belongs to Samira Amina Annabi, a beautiful gypsy woman he finds himself falling in love with. Losing the pig would mean losing many meals down the road, so to win Samira's good tidings, Courtois must prove the pig innocent -- which means finding the real killer. However, since the Seigneur is eager to see Courtois or anyone, for that matter marry his daughter Filette Lysette Anthony, his affection for Samira may not be good for his future employment prospects. This period comedy/drama also features Donald Pleasance, Ian Holm, and Michael Gough.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Genevieve Williams
Also called The Advocate, this is probably one of the stranger based-on-true-events crime dramas to emerge in the 1990s. It has all the trappings of a noir thriller -- apparently disparate plot elements that draw together like a net, a progressively less confused protagonist, supporting characters who offer cryptic utterances, and, of course, a mysterious woman -- but the setting, the French countryside in the late Middle Ages, is decidedly unusual. The plot turns upon the conceit -- based, the opening text tells us, on historical fact -- that medieval law allowed animals to be prosecuted on the same grounds as human beings. The opening scene provides dramatic illustration of the consequences of such thinking: A man and a donkey are about to be executed for the crime of bestiality; the donkey, however, is released based on testimony from character witnesses. Into this less-than-idyllic setting stumbles a naïve young lawyer (Colin Firth, who has since gone on to play less naïve and more buttoned-up characters) and his clerk (Jim Carter), who from the outset seems to know more about everything that's going on than his employer. The lawyer's comment, in an early case, that "Truth, as always, gentlemen, is simple" turns out to be the famous last words. The ensuing tangle involves the murder of a Jewish boy, the pig of the title framed as the killer, a band of itinerant Gypsies to whom the pig belongs, a jaded priest (Ian Holm), and a local landlord in little better state than the peasants he rules. The result is equal parts courtroom and historical drama, with some darkly funny moments and a clear understanding of the medieval mindset.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/11/1996
  • UPC: 765362560035
  • Original Release: 1993
  • Rating:

  • Source: Walt Disney Video
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Colin Firth Richard Courtois
Ian Holm Albertus
Donald Pleasence Pincheon
Nicol Williamson The Seigneur
Lysette Anthony Filette
Amina Annabi Samira
Jim Carter Mathieu
Justin Chadwick Gerard
Michael Gough Magistrate Boniface
Harriet Walter Jeannine
Joyce Nettles
Elizabeth Spriggs Madame Langlois
Emil Wolk Print Seller
Vincent Grass Bailiff Labatier
Raoul Delfosse Blind George
Jean-Pierre Stewart Sheriff
Dave Atkins Valliere
Francois Lalande Builder
Vernon Dobtcheff Apothecary
Sami Bouajila Mahmoud
Joanna Dunham Lady Catherine d'Auferre
Peter Hudson Sheriff's Officer
Charles Dale Witness
Roy Evans Travelling Player
Robert Putt Travelling Player
Ralph Nossek Poiccard
Michael Cronin Dark Stranger
Technical Credits
Leslie Megahey Director, Screenwriter
Stuart Brisdon Special Effects
Isabelle Dedieu Editor
Alexandre Desplat Score Composer
Dave Edwards Associate Producer
John Hooper Cinematographer
Bruce Macadie Production Designer
David M. Thompson Producer
Michael Wearing Executive Producer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    hidden gem

    Set in medieval times, The Advocate opens with the journey of idealistic new lawyer Richard Courtois from Paris to the southern French village of Abbeville, where he hopes to make a difference in the lives of the downtrodden peasants. In no time at all, he's overwhelmed by a backlog of cases the likes of which he has never encountered. When he finds that the majority involve animals accused of such crimes as bestiality and murder, Courtois simply cannot accept the absurdity of such a practice. But his attempts to reform the local system of justice are vigorously impeded by the corruption of the gentry.<BR/><BR/>This movie has much to recommend it, from the excellence of its cast, to the scrupulously rendered settings and costumes, to the factual underpinnings of its plot. Based loosely upon the life of medieval advocate Bartholomew Chassene, it achieves a pleasant balance between subtle comedy and drama, a commentary on the readiness of the powerful to capitalize upon the fears and superstitions of their day.<BR/><BR/>(Warning to those who find nudity offensive - there is quite a bit, both male and female, although the love scenes are not excessively graphic.)

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2013

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews