Lionheart (1987 film)

Lionheart, also known as Lionheart: The Children's Crusade, is a 1987 adventure film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and produced by Talia Shire and Stanley O'Toole. Shire's brother, Francis Ford Coppola, initially planned to direct the film but instead opted to be executive producer along with Shire's husband, Jack Schwartzman. The screenplay was written by Menno Meyjes and Richard Outten from a story by Meyjes. The composer Jerry Goldsmith wrote the score. The film was released in August 1987. It was distributed by Orion Pictures.

Promotional film poster
Directed byFranklin J. Schaffner
Produced byTalia Shire
Stanley O'Toole
Screenplay byMenno Meyjes
Richard Outten
Story byMenno Meyjes
StarringEric Stoltz
Gabriel Byrne
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyAlec Mills
Edited byDavid Bretherton
Richard Haines
Distributed byOrion Pictures
Release date
  • August 14, 1987 (1987-08-14)
Running time
104 minutes
United States


Loosely based on the historical Children's Crusade, the story follows an exiled young knight, played by Eric Stoltz, who leads a band of orphans to join the Third Crusade with King Richard the Lionheart while protecting the children from the Black Prince (Gabriel Byrne), a disillusioned crusader turned child slave trader (not to be confused with the real-life Edward, the Black Prince).



Lionheart was a big budget film. It was filmed in Hungary and Portugal, utilizing several castles and hundreds of Slavic children hired as extras. The film was Schaffner's penultimate film and represented the final collaboration between the director and his friend Jerry Goldsmith (together they previously worked on Planet of the Apes, Patton, Papillon, and The Boys from Brazil).


In 1987 Varèse Sarabande released the soundtrack on two separate albums, with Jerry Goldsmith conducting the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra; in 1994 the label released a one-disc edition as Lionheart: The Epic Symphonic Score featuring all of Volume 1 and six tracks from Volume 2.

Volume One

Volume Two

Lionheart: The Epic Symphonic Score


The distributor, Orion Pictures, delayed its theatrical release but when the film was finally shown in August 1987 in Canada, the limited release garnered negative reviews. Therefore, the movie was largely unseen until being shown on pay television and finally released on VHS tape and DVD.

Leonard Maltin's initial review was anything but complimentary: "A weak script does in this spiritless saga...Intended for kids, but too silly and boring to engage them." Maltin later saw the film again, and changed his rating from "BOMB" to 3-out-of-a-possible-4 stars: "Richly produced, well-acted, with a superb Jerry Goldsmith score; it's a shame this sincere, if slight, film received almost no theatrical release."[1] Variety's reviewer watched the film at the Cineplex Odeon Canada Square theatre in Toronto on August 18, 1987. The review appeared in the August 26, 1987 issue describing the movie as "a flaccid, limp kiddie adventure yarn with little of its intended grand epic sweep realized" and accurately predicted that the movie "should head straight for the home video shelves".[2][3]

Home media

Warner Home Video brought out a VHS tape in July 1994 and issued a DVD in December 2009 on the Warner Archives label.

See also

  • Nash, Jay Robert and Stanley Ralph Ross. The Motion Picture Guide 1988 Annual. Evanston, Illinois: CineBooks, Inc., 1988, pp. 165–166.
  • Weinberg, Marc. "Hidden from a Theatre Near You" in Orange Coast Magazine, June 1989, p. 248.


  1. Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's 2009 Video Guide. p. 807
  2. Variety's Film Reviews 1987-1988, volume 20. R.R. Bowker, 1991, unpaged but see August 26, 1987.
  3. "Lionheart". Variety. Extract of a review from 1987. Retrieved November 22, 2011. Check date values in: |date= (help)
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