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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent TV Series
I must admit when i saw the trailer for this tv series i was not that impressed and now i admit that my first impressions were entirely missleading. This production is fantastic especially since it has such a fantastic cast. Rufus Sewell and Donald Sutherland act really well in it making it pleasurable to view. The storyline was really intriguing thus making me finish the...
Published on 3 Jan. 2012 by Matt Taylor

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121 of 139 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What a drama!
This series is based on the 1,000 plus page epic of the same name by Ken Follett. As such there's a lot to cram into each episode. In brief for the lovers of the book, everything feels like it moves along a little too fast and for people new to the story then pay attention because you are in for a full speed tour of Medieval England.

The story is set mainly...
Published on 27 Oct. 2010 by J. Duducu


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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent TV Series, 3 Jan. 2012
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I must admit when i saw the trailer for this tv series i was not that impressed and now i admit that my first impressions were entirely missleading. This production is fantastic especially since it has such a fantastic cast. Rufus Sewell and Donald Sutherland act really well in it making it pleasurable to view. The storyline was really intriguing thus making me finish the whole tv series in a night because *SPOILER* i just wanted to find out what the whole saga about the ring really meant.
I thought that the scenery was also really nice with all the numerous forests and castles. The fighting scenes were really well done but perhaps maybe a bit to bloody but hey, everyone needs different aspects to watch in a film.
What i liked about the tv series was it didn't just focus on the lives of the middle aged people but also went through the lives the young people during those times.
I highly reconmend this TV series t history fanatics because they can learn new facts especially about King Stephen who isn't really portrayed in the media. I must watch show which will forever remain amongst my beloved historical tv shows like Rome, The Tudors, The Borgias and Camelot.
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147 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant TV, 21 Nov. 2010
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Sometimes tv production companies excel themselves when making something, and this is a case in point. It is some years since I last read Ken Follett's novel, but I can still remember most of it. The idea in making this was to try to create something that was inspired by the book, but not necessarily a strict word for word adaptation. Lets face it there will always be differences between book and screen versions and it is a brave person who takes on the task of adapting something that has been enjoyed by many people.

Ken Follett himself I believed praised John Pielmeier for his screenplay, which is magnificent. To a lot of people this story has been so good because the production shows more than the novel did what life was like back in the period it was set, and what a major part politics and favour played, as well as the power of the Catholic Church throughout our history. Indeed any historical programme cannot leave out the machinations of church authorites in these most troubulous periods of our history.

With a fine cast of characters and sex and violence this is what a lot of people enjoy, and in this household it has been must see tv. Although as I have said, there is sex and violence here, this isn't done gratuiously, and where it appears is relevant to the storyline. Who knows, perhaps it may interest some people to want to know more about the times it portrays, which is very interesting. I know when I read the book it made me find out more about architecture and how churches were built, and builders learnt from each others mistakes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling adaptation., 23 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Pillars of the Earth [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
The perfect gift for history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

"Pillars of the Earth" is one of Ken Follets most popular books. Originally published in 1989, it gained a cult following that snowballed around the globe.

The screen adaptation to my mind is a worthy salute to this great work, although many historical inaccuracies abound, still the makers of "Pillars of the Earth" succeeded in what seemed like an impossible challenge. They have followed the novel's plot entirely, making minor tweaks and changes for the sake of exposition and moving things along.

The special effects and art direction masterfully create the grimy, gritty world of 1100s England and the stark contrasts between privileges of royalty and serfs wallowing in the mud beside the hogs they keep. Public executions and dismembering are commonplace as one plot change involving the deposed Earl Bartholomew of Shiring (portrayed aristocratically by Donald Sutherland) tears at the heart.

While the novel relied on straightforward storytelling, the miniseries offers deftly executed, haunting flashbacks to establish the mysterious Ellen's role in the dirty laundry of Percy Hamleigh and Archbishop Waleran's past. Her husband had been mysteriously executed around the time the ship burned. Ellen's son Jack, who is portrayed as an artistic savant, becomes a force in building the cathedral.

King Stephen also plays a larger role in the miniseries. His father portrays a ghost in his dreams in a manner similar to Hamlet, creating a torturous tumult of inner conflict in him. Best of all, Ian McShane as the absurdly evil Bishop Waleron Bigod explodes from the screen with a voice that booms like a thunderclap as he progresses from one dirty deed and double cross to another.

Some viewers may blanch at the changes involving the relationship between William Hamleigh and his mother, Regan. Even a casual review of the works of Shakespeare reveals that incest ran rampant through royalty during the middle ages, so the plot detail is historically relevant and manages to create additional atmosphere and tension.

Overall, the television miniseries should thrill the fans of the novel. Even the opening credits contain a clever, metamorphosing animated sequence and a stirring dramatic musical score punctuates and accentuates the grandeur.
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121 of 139 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What a drama!, 27 Oct. 2010
By 
J. Duducu (Ruislip) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This series is based on the 1,000 plus page epic of the same name by Ken Follett. As such there's a lot to cram into each episode. In brief for the lovers of the book, everything feels like it moves along a little too fast and for people new to the story then pay attention because you are in for a full speed tour of Medieval England.

The story is set mainly around the reign of King Stephen. It was a time of civil war as he usurped the throne from King Henry's daughter which led to more than a decade of sieges, ravaging the land and pitched battles. It's a great backdrop seldom used to set a drama. However rather than set the central characters around the court of the King (a story telling conceit used countless times) instead the main story is about the building of a new cathedral and all the politics and drama that kind of massive undertaking touches on. It's a great idea and was all set to be something a bit special.

One of the weird things is the fact that at times it is obviously really paying attention to historical accuracy, at others it couldn't be lazier if it tried - why does Henry 1st dies 3 years after he actually did? Why are breastplates and concentric castles being used well before their invention? My point here isn't it should be a history lecture (that would be dull) more the rather jarring effect of moving from something that feels authentic to something that feels like a pantomime. There are times where the fiction works really well- the white ship disaster was seen by contemporaries as an unfortunate accident, here it's a conspiracy- that's a nice idea.

The biggest problem here is the adaptation. The hero of the tale- Tom Builder played by Rufus Sewell is a great role and you warm to him instantly, he really breaths life into the character. Likewise Matthew Macfadyen plays a priest who wants only to be spiritual man but is sucked ever inwards into the seedy dealings of mortal men. Ian McShane by contrast (who I normally love) plays a scheming bishop who might as well come on to a "boo hiss" sound track. Tony Curran- who is also a great actor- is forced to make King Stephen a hysterical maniac which really is of 6th form drama class subtlety. Overall though most of the cast bring the characters from the book to life with what good bits of script they've got. However most of the scenes are pretty over wrought. You get the feeling the script discussions involved people saying "we need more drama! The scene doesn't work unless someone is crying at the end, or someone has died, or there's a twist!" All of this happens in dramas (and mostly in the book), but scene after scene of it gets to be a bit ridiculous.

It's all enjoyable hokum but it could have been so much more. I was hoping for something of the quality of a Deadwood or Elizabeth, instead it's more camp than Rome. Fun to watch, never dull but a missed opportunity.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A (Love)joy to behold!, 22 Nov. 2010
By 
tallpete33 (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I loved this series, it was certainly not without it faults but it had enough intrigue, spectacle, mad monks, swordplay and er...building to keep me amused for more than a few hours. Opening on a burning ship in the English Channel, King Henry's son shares his lifeboat with the wrong passengers and a quick trip to Davy Jones' locker ensues. The miscreants' deadly deeds were witnessed however and will later come back to haunt them....

Back on dry land, the evil but opportunistic Bishop Waleran (Ian McShane) cunningly aligns himself with the new King Stephen and Lord William in a bid to further his political ambitions at the expense of the incumbent Earl of Shiring (Donald Sutherland). At the same time, an equally ambitious builder called Tom (Rufus Sewell) arrives at Kingsbridge and persuades the new Prior Philip (Matthew MacFadyen) to let him build his cathedral and the foundations are laid for an epic story and holy construction (did you see what I did there?).

It's a great 12th century romp - bricklayer porn with Machiavellian deeds, bloody skirmishes and power struggles that kept the plot bubbling along nicely. McShane owned the screen every time he appeared, hogging the best lines and playing it just the right side of panto villain although older viewers may be upset to see Lovejoy uttering the "c" word in episode one (!). Unfortunately some of the other male leads are a bit lacking (with the exception of Rufus Sewell's Tom Builder) but a special mention must go to Sarah Parish, the scheming mother of Prince William who appeared to take motherly love a bit too far on occassions and also Natalia Wörner as the foxy witch who caused a splash at the priory ;o)

Like The Tudors? You'll love this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't expect to like it, but really did., 20 Aug. 2012
Not much for TV, but the cast looked so good I had to give it a go. Ian McShane, Matthew Macfadyen & Eddie Redmayne were particular highlights for me, as they had such complex characters which they played so excellently.
The sets were outstanding - from the little wooden market stalls to the giant cathedral, you can see a lot of thought (and money) went into getting it just right.

As for the story, it really does give you everything. There's sex, violence, history, corruption, good deeds & bad. The story focuses on 3 groups of people; the nobles & royals, the people of the church and the workers. There are both nice and nasty people in each group, but those with more power are generally the more selfish and cruel of the bunch. They're the kind of characters you'd hate to exist, but that are fascinating to watch onscreen. It's not all candyfloss and rainbows and it isn't afraid to show the more unsavoury parts, which is rare for TV.

Don't try to compare it to the book. Whilst is does stay fairly true, TV/Film adaptations are never going to be word for word, (a) because that would be fairly dull & uncreative, (b) because some things just don't translate well onto screen. Just enjoy for what it is, which is pretty darn good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun,but full of disappointments., 17 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: The Pillars of the Earth [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I won't go on about the storyline.
I watched this after reading 'World without End', and was keen to see how 'Medieval England' transferred to screen. Why is so much spent on lavish costumes and production only to be let down by simple things like A TOTAL LACK OF REALISM?
The actors flash Hollywood smiles (they could have dirtied them up a bit! ). Regan is supposed to be hideous with a face full of boils. What do we get? A really gorgeous looking woman with a silly birthmark drawn on her face like a modern tattoo.
The streets should have been depicted as muddy. There was little or no sanitation ion those days.The clothes all look bright and straight from the dry-cleaners. The ladies make-up was straight from a 1990 Revlon counter.
The worst scene was the falling down of the cathedral. Haha. One would expect to see dust. Just a load of clean polystyrene blocks.
Ian McShane is really good though as the baddie and Matthew Mac? is great as Prior Phillip.
Having said all that, it was quite fun. Lots of exciting twists and turns. Just lacked authenticity for me.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the pillars of the earth, 7 Nov. 2011
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This is an absolutely briliant eight part period drama with really outstanding acting, and a great cast of actors some well known some relativly new but all play there parts well, with a great story line keeping the watcher enthralled all the way, once you have seen the first episode, you just want to put the next one on, just like not being able to put down a really good book, for period drama fans this is a must see item.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant enough, 26 Mar. 2013
By 
R. C. Harris "Eden House" (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pillars of the Earth [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
This DVD has an age classification of 15. I assumed that this was recommended for those over 15. However, maybe I was mistaken and it was intended for those of 15 and under?

Actually, I exaggerate, it isn't bad, just lightweight and not particularly gripping, rather trite. The cast all look what they are, 21st century actors dressed up in medieval costume. Airbrushed make up. No shades of grey... Goodies and baddies. And there's no mistaking the goodies as they are better looking and far more noble. I hadn't realised dentistry was so sophisticated in the 12th century as everyone, even the poor peasants have toothpaste smiles. And the ladies all look as if they've stepped out of vogue! A bigger helping of gritty reality would have added hugely to this series.

But the sets are excellent. And for those who enjoy an uncomplicated historical soap (and why not?) then this is fine. No great depth to the characters, the dialogue is somewhat prosaic but, the plot romps along reasonably well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 5 July 2012
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Some books just do not lend themselves to TV adaptation and in my view this is one of them. Had I not read the book maybe I would have enjoyed the DVD's more. The TV series differs from the storyline in the book in several ways and why? The book is so descriptive and a lot is lost in this series I am afraid so I was disappointed.
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The Pillars of the Earth [DVD] [2010]
The Pillars of the Earth [DVD] [2010] by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (DVD - 2012)
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