an incoherent witch hunt (on Blu-ray and DVD)

Artistic note: Red StarRed StarRed Stargray stargray star(3/5)


In England, in 1685, on the death of King Charles II, James II ascended the throne. But a large part of the population is loyal to William of Orange, in exile. In order to control the conspirators, Judge Jeffreys is responsible for keeping order. He carries out his mission with great zeal, torturing and burning at the stake many so-called female witches. The family of Lord Wessex will oppose the bloodthirsty judge.

• Original title: Il trono di fuoco
• Media tested: Blu-ray
• Genre: biopic, horror
• Year: 1970
• Director: Jess Franco
• Cast: Christopher Lee, Maria Schell, Leo Genn, Hans Hass Jr., Maria Rohm, Margaret Lee, Peter Martell, Howard Vernon, Milo Quesada
• Duration: 1 h 42 min 37
• Video format: 16:9
• Cinema format: 2.35/1 Techniscope
• Subtitling: French
• Soundtracks: LPCM 2.0 monophonic English, French
• Bonus: Digipack with the Blu-ray (102 min 37) and the DVD of the film (98 min 25)
• Bonuses on Blu-ray: Jess’ Thronepresentation of the film by Stéphane du Mesnildot (2022, 17 min 06) – deleted scene (5 min 39) – slideshow of posters and photos (2 min 24) – original trailer (VO, 0 min 48) – Trailers from the Jess Franco collection
• Publisher: Artus Films

Art commentary

The Throne of Fire, a biopic devoted to Judge Jeffreys who raged under James II, is one of those countless films directed by Jesús Franco in the middle of his long career (185 films between 1957 and 2012) and is no exception to his inimitable style cleverly mixing sadistic horror and gratuitous eroticism. Directing several films at the same time with often skimpy budgets, his work intensity and artisanal approach can produce both the best and the worst. Produced and written by Harry Alan Towes, photographed in Portugal and Spain by Manuel Merino and featuring epic music by Bruno Nicolai, The Throne of Fire financially associates the FRG, Spain, Italy and Liechtenstein. This complex editing desired by the producer particularly complicated the shooting, each co-producer having different requirements! If Jess Franco directs several actors with whom he had worked like Christopher Lee (the judge), Maria Schell (Mother Rosa) and Howard Vernon (Jack Ketch), a talented cast, he must also count with Leon Genn (the count), replacing Dennis Price prevented, and features seductive actresses, Maria Rohm (Mary Gray), Margaret Lee (Alicia Gray) and Diana Lorys (Slly Graunt) that he likes to strip. Depending on the country of exploitation, the film has changed title and editing several times. Initially conceived as a horror biopic, the content gradually turned into a film about the Inquisition punctuated by incoherent erotic sequences (scenes in the prison or seduction of Alicia Gray when we know that Christopher Lee was absent filming…) arriving like a hair in the soup. Inspired, according to the director, by the cursed dungeon of The tower of London (1939), The Throne of Fire Embroiders on the personality of George Jeffreys who became Lord Chancellor under James II and known for his bloody action in 1685 when he sentenced hundreds of rebels to the king to capital punishment. In the film, without any historical evidence, he is shown as a psychopathic pervert who only wishes to eliminate pretty women accused of witchcraft. Of course, this choice to describe the Inquisition in his works allowed the filmmaker to play on two fronts: align the scenes of torture as a sneaky pretext to undress his actresses according to endless sequences of voyeurism. This does not prevent him from rewarding us with energetic battles and fights but which become tiresome in the repetition of their plans (in the forest). Too conventional, often static, without real breath, rather confused and weighed down with dispensable scenes, The Throne of Fire does not leave much room for the great Christopher Lee to express the extent of his talent. Entertaining.

Throne of Fire Blu-ray

Technical Comment

Picture : HD copy, very good definition and excellent sharpness on close-ups, homogeneous film texture (shooting in 35 mm Techniscope, Master Format 2K), clean and bright image, saturated blacks, warm calibration, shimmering colorimetry with bright hues and saturated tones

His : 2.0 monophonic English mix, with insert in German of short missing scenes, clear dialogues, very nice dynamics on the atmospheres, no distortion or saturation, imperceptible hiss; VF 2.0 monophonic, clear, old dubbing, a little less clear than the VO but neat and relatively balanced

Our opinion

Picture : Red StarRed StarRed StarRed Stargray star(4/5)
Sound mixes: blue Starblue Starblue Starhalf blue stargray star(3.5/5)
Bonuses: Red StarRed StarRed Stargray stargray star(3/5)
Packaging: blue Starblue Starblue Stargray stargray star(3/5)

IMDb :

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an incoherent witch hunt (on Blu-ray and DVD)

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