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Cadfael: The Complete Collection - Series 1 To 4 [DVD]

4.7 out of 5 stars 237 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Derek Jacobi, Michael Culver, Julian Firth, Terrence Hardiman, Mark Charnock
  • Directors: Sebastian Graham Jones
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: ITV Studios
  • DVD Release Date: 16 Aug. 2004
  • Run Time: 988 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (237 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002475S4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,763 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

All thirteen episodes of the drama series starring Derek Jacobi as the medieval sleuth. In the opening episode 'One Corpse Too Many', Cadfael, once a man of the world, has become a man of the cloth. However, this by no means qualifies him as a saint. He discovers a murder, and sets out in pursuit of the perpertrator, assisted by a lovely young fugitive. 'The Sanctuary Sparrow' sees Brother Cadfael investigating the murder of the local goldsmith. In 'The Leper of St Giles' a great wedding is to take place in the Abbey of Shrewsbury between Baron Huon (Norman Eshley) and Iveta De Massard (Tara Fitzgerald). Iveta is a beautiful, kind soul and on the day she and her betrothed ride into the town she throws money to the lepers, but her brutish Baron beats them. On the eve of the wedding he rides off into the night never to return. Cadfael sets out to find out what is going on. In 'Monk's Hood', a landowner cuts his son-in-law out of his will, leaving his inheritance to the church. However, before the transaction is finished, Gervase Gurney (Bernard Gallagher) is poisoned whilst staying at the Abbey of Shrewsbury. Cadfael finds someone from his past as he looks into the poisoning. In 'The Virgin in the Ice' Cadfael has to prove the innocence of his novice, Oswin (Mark Charnock), who is accused of murdering a nun after he is found wandering deliriously. In 'The Devil's Novice', Cadfael is suspicious when a young man, Meriet (Christien Anholt), arrives at Shrewsbury Abbey wishing to become a Novice. Canon Eluard (Ian McNeice) shares Cadfael's doubts as to Meriet's intentions, and when the half-burned body of a colleague is discovered, Meriet is accused of murder. In 'A Morbid Taste For Bones', Cadfael reluctantly accompanies an expedition to dig up the grave of St Winifred, after one of the Shrewsbury monks has a vision. He soon finds himself investigating a murder, when Lord Rhysart (John Hallam) is found dead on a forest track with an arrow in his chest. Robert (Michael Culver) believes the culprit to be Godwin, who was having an affair with Rhysart's daughter, Sioned (Anna Friel). However, Cadfael has other ideas. In 'The Rose Rent', the recently-widowed of a rich merchant becomes an attraction for the men of Shrewsbury, until one of her suitors and a monk are murdered. In 'St Peter's Fair', conflict arises between the townspeople of Shrewsbury and visitors to the annual fair. In 'The Raven in the Foregate', Cadfael has a double murder to solve when a pregnant girl and a priest who refused to hear her confession are both killed. In 'The Holy Thief', Cadfael is on the hunt for a beautiful slave girl and the bones of St Winifred, both of which have mysteriously disappeared from the Abbey. In 'The Potter's Field', Cadfael uncovers a terrible web of jealousy, adultery and suicide pacts when he examines the past of a potter who has entered the monastery under suspicious circumstances. Finally, in 'The Pilgrim of Hate', an old man's corpse is found in a sack in the Abbey, and Cadfael must find his killer.


Brother Cadfael, the medieval mystery-solving monk, is a fascinating detective, at once a man of God, of science, and even of action. Derek Jacobi stars as the former "soldier, sailor, sinner, and Crusader" who has his faith tested by crimes of royal intrigue and baffling murders that seem to plague 12th-century Shrewsbury. You'll find few Benedictine monks so skilled at using a quarterstaff, but beware never to tell him your theory of how a crime "must" have been committed. "We must always be wary of 'must'," he states. "Nothing is certain." And so attest these divine mysteries based on the books by Ellis Peters. Each feature-length episode is self-contained but plays against the backdrop of England's civil war between forces loyal to King Stephen and those to Empress Maud. Eoin McCarthy costars as local Under-Sheriff Hugh Beringar, who relies on Cadfael when murder subverts his efforts to keep the peace. --Donald Liebenson

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Customer Reviews

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Format: DVD
Presented here are all thirteen episodes of `Cadfael', starring Derek Jacobi. Based on Ellis Peter's popular series of novels, they tell the tale of Brother Cadfael, Soldier, sailor and sinner, now a Brother in Shrewsbury abbey at the height of the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maud, in the late 12th century. The location and time were well chosen by Peters, as the civil war and Shrewsbury's position close to the sensitive Welsh border provides rich territory for plotting and bloody murder. Bodies keep popping up all over the place, and it falls to the worldly Cadfael, with his knowledge of pathology gained from the battle field and his knowledge of men gained from many years in the world, to solve the crimes and see justice is served.

The productions are quite well done, evoking the medieval period very nicely. The pace is usually quite leisurely, with the occasional burst of excitement. Jacobi is perfectly cast in the central role, bringing forward the various facets of the character (his devotion to god and spiritualism, his worldliness and, finally his willingness to act in the face of all authority in order to see what he thinks is justice served) very well. He is ably supported by Sean Pertwee and latterly Eoin McCarthy as Cadfael's friend Hugh Beringar, under sherriff of Shrewsbury. Michael Culver as the ambitious Prior Robert, Julian Firth as the officious and sneaky Brother Jerome and Mark Charnock as Cadfael's other worldly, yet loyal and brave assistant Oswin form most of the regular supporting cast, and all do very well at providing memorable characters.
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Format: DVD
Well filmed, well acted, medieval who-dunnits in the vein of the equally superb 'The Name of the Rose', although the first Brother Cadfael novel 'A morbid taste for bones' was published in 1977, three years before 'The name of the Rose'. Each of these Cadfael TV episodes is loosely based on one of Ellis Peter's original Cadfael books. English/Welsh Cadfael is a worldly wise 12th century Benedictine monk who solves murder mysteries while providing herbal remedies and medicines (so he knows his poisons). Having been on the Crusades and been disappointed in love, Cadfael is far more down to Earth and sensible than his stay at home snooty & spiritual monk superiors who often find him an irritation. Being Derek Jacobi he is also very nice, in a rather ruthless Miss Marple 'Nemesis' sort of way. The Cadfael books and episodes are all quite accurate historically, and include real event's like the siege of Shrewsbury by Stephen in 1138 that forms the setting for One Corpse Too Many. Like-wise all love interest is strictly between those of the same class.

The series is set in Shrewsbury Abbey, Shropshire, near the volatile Welsh border. The stories take place between 1135 and 1145, during the civil war between the forces of King Stephen and the Empress Maud - they eventually agreed a peace where Stephen remained king with Maud (Matilda)'s son being recognised as heir to the throne (but that's not important).
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Format: DVD
When the decision was made to produce for TV several episodes from her mystery series about Brother Cadfael, that 12th century crusader turned monk turned detective who has been, ever since his creation, one of the most compassionate and unusual sleuths of literary history, novelist Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) was not entirely happy. In fact, as the series' star, Sir Derek Jacobi, explains in the extra footage provided on the now-released DVDs, Ms. Peters had very mixed feelings about giving up her brain child and entrusting it to other people who went about cutting and adjusting everything, from the storylines themselves to the way the protagonists speak and even the Chronicles' sequence, to the necessities and limitations set by the new medium. But she eventually acquiesced and at one point promised that "the next one I write, I'll make sure it's easier for you all to film."

While the thirteen episodes that were eventually produced are, thus, not entirely true to the individual Chronicles they are based on, they are closer than many other movie or TV versions of famous works of literature. Most importantly, they maintain not only the core story lines but also the historical authenticity, atmosphere and spirit set by Ms. Peters's books in a marvelous fashion. And Sir Derek Jacobi brings both the wealth of his experience and skill and all of his own shrewdness, intelligence, sense of humor and empathy to the role of the medieval Benedictine sleuth and thus truly becomes Cadfael -- for the thousands of new fans who are discovering the series through its enactment for TV just as much as for us who loved the books before they were ever transposed to a visual medium.
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