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Borgias - Season 1 [Blu-ray] 
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From the makers of The Tudors, The Borgias is the sordid saga of one of the most remarkable and legendary families in history. Set in 15th century Italy at the height of the Renaissance, The Borgias chronicles the corrupt rise of patriarch Rodrigo Borgia (Academy Award® winner Jeremy Irons) to the papacy, where he proceeds to commit every sin in the book to amass and retain power, influence and enormous wealth for himself and his family. The unbounded audacity of this original crime family went on to inspire Machiavelli's The Prince and Mario Puzo's The Godfather. Don't miss a minute of the lavish, sexy, scandalous drama from the creative mind of Academy Award® winner Neil Jordan.
“The epic saga of Rome’s original godfathers”--The Mail On Sunday
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Top Customer Reviews
However, I am going to begin in the obvious place: with Jeremy Irons' interpretation of Rodrigo Borgia. I do so if only because so much hinges on this pivotal character. The Telegraph critic Rachel Ray criticised this series on the grounds that it "lacks the amoral aura of a psychopathic family", and specifically criticised Irons' own performance as "disappointingly undiabolical". On a strictly literal level Ray's perception of this series is entirely accurate. However, I would argue that it also entirely misses the point.
The Rodrigo Borgia we find in this show was never intended as an inhuman monster who would not have been out of place cackling maniacally atop Snake Mountain. Rather, what we gaze upon here is far closer to the true face of evil as it most often exists in the real world: ordinary, resigned in the face of the dictates of Realpolitik, and when confronted with the moral reality of where such dictates lead, by turns a true believer, actively self deluding, and at times even self doubting. Not unlike a concentration camp guard who can go home at night and be a loving father to his children. I am very much reminded here of political theorist Hannah Arendt's famous phrase "the banality of evil".Read more ›
Coming off the back of the very successful Tudors series (even Henry ran out of wives in the end), Showtime have stuck with their audience and lavished the Borgia's with the big budget treatment. The story will be less familiar here in the UK, but in Renaissance Italy the Borgia's were a dynastic family (from Spain), contemporaries of the Medici's and Machiavelli. The tag line for the series is `The original crime family' and with good reason - Rodrigo and his family will stop at nothing in their quest for temporal and spiritual power, even Tony Soprano could admire their black manoeuvres, indeed the family's reputation for ruthlessness inspired Mario Puzo's to mold the characters featured in "The Godfather" after the real life Borgia's, yet like Tony they have to grapple with the reality of their actions.
The first season runs to just nine episodes, setting the stage, inviting us into Renaissance Italy, and introducing the players. The premiere starts with the death of the reigning Pope, which leaves a vacancy that ambitious Cardinal Rodrigo (Irons) intends to claim at any price. Through back room deals and other nefarious deeds, Rodrigo ascends to power while making a firm enemy of Cardinal Della Rovere (a solid Colm Feore)--an act that will have long range repercussions as the exiled Cardinal aligns with outside forces to unseat the Pope.Read more ›
Had I seen this on ITV 2 on a Tuesday night, I wouldn't have been surprised in the least...
And yet, it works. Stylish, with some great cinematography, great locations, and a surprisingly good turn from Irons, who is clearly enjoying himself.
Historically, it's as about as accurate as a blindfolded man with a gun trying to hit a mosquito at fifty paces, but entertainment should always take precedence above historical accuracy.
Visually, it is a stunner - sumptuous sets a treat for the eye. Battle scenes are spectacular, horrifying too, especially when those chained cannon balls cause so much carnage. Sadly, though, it is not enough simply to look good. The script (several times in the bonuses described as "beautiful") is all too often heavy handed, bogged down with words - scenes dragging on when key points could have been far more deftly made. The acting also proves uneven. Most unexpectedly Jeremy Irons fails to impress, his character prone to prolonged actory utterances. Other key characters (daughter included) fail to make necessary impact. Cesare has charisma, the Pope's wife and mistress appealing dignity. Although somewhat over-colourful, the King of France at least makes his presence felt. Some of the best acting occurs in smaller roles - not least Sean Harris as assassin Micheletto - he simply IS whom he plays, totally credible.
Generally interesting bonuses also can prove cumbersome. Note that Q&A section. Why so often the need to press keys for the next bit? Why not simply "PLAY ALL"? (On a more lighthearted note, there are recipes inspired by leading Borgias. It is tempting to observe, given their track record, each course seems to lack a certain ingredient.)
Critics declare the show over-hyped. I did not wish to believe them but have now to agree. "The Original Crime Family"? So far at least, the Borgias are not a patch on the "I, Claudius" lot.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great series. The drama and costumes are very good. The settings and extras, I feel, give the piece a good feel for the period. Read morePublished 6 months ago by One of the Slavs
WOW GREAT ACTING SOLID FROM ALL THE CAST WITH PLENTY HAPPENING YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE SET OR NONEPublished 6 months ago by W. C. Chelton