Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Sharpe's Honour (TV)

In 1993, ITV broadcast Sharpe, a series of TV movies that were adaptations of the Bernard Cornwell novels.

Sharpe's Honour was adapted by Colin MacDonald, based on the novel of the same name. It was directed by Tom Clegg. The plot is In 1813, Napoleon is reeling from his disastrous invasion of Russia the year before, and Lord Wellington is preparing to drive the French out of Spain. Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) is mourning the death of his wife Teresa.
Sharpe's archenemy, French Major Ducos (Feodor Atkine), proposes a plan to his emperor to split the alliance between Spain and England (and gain revenge on Sharpe). He has a French spy, la Marquesa (Alice Krige), write a letter to her Spanish husband claiming that Sharpe tried to force his unwanted attentions on her. Sharpe is forced into a duel with the outraged nobleman, but the fight is broken up by Wellington's men. Later that night, while he is sleeping, the Spaniard has his throat cut by El Matarife (Matthew Scurfield), a partisan leader. Sharpe is framed for the murder and is sentenced to hang. To placate his Spanish allies, Wellington is forced to go along.
Major Nairn (Michael Byrne), Wellington's spymaster, arranges for another condemned soldier to be executed (keeping spectators at a distance so the switch can remain undetected), while he sends Sharpe and Sergeant Harper (Daragh O'Malley) to find out what is going on. Meanwhile, Father Hacha (Nickolas Grace) and his brother El Matarife, Ducos' co-conspirators, abduct la Marquesa and imprison her in a nunnery to tie up loose ends. Sharpe learns of this and frees her, only to be chased by El Matarife and his men.
Sharpe is captured by a French patrol and taken to Ducos. The gloating Frenchman tells Sharpe that his duel and the murder of the nobleman has made it possible to negotiate a vital peace treaty with King Ferdinand VII of Spain; the British army will be forced to leave the country. Harper and the rest of Sharpe's "chosen men" infiltrate the French prison in disguise and rescue their commander, just in time for him to play a pivotal role in the British victory at the Battle of Vitoria. Sharpe finds El Matarife at the end of the battle, fights him man to man, and forces him to confess in front of Spanish and British witnesses. El Matarife then tries to stab Sharpe in the back, but is shot by the Spanish major, who now clearly believes Sharpe. With his plot in ruins, Ducos kills Father Hacha.
In his attempt to flee from the advancing British, the arrogant Ducos is hauled from his horse by the routed French soldiers and is shot and left to die (but survives to bedevil Sharpe in the future).
The movie aired in 1995 on ITV. It ran for 100 minutes. The movie would be released on VHS and later DVD.