Ivanhoe's shield is punctured by Bois-Guilbert's lance in the joust. In subsequent scenes the hole disappears, then reappears. See more »
It matters not to me if all the nations of Christendom know that Queen Eleanor's sons are curdle-brained ninnies, so incapable of settling their differences that they have to send for their mother to do it for them!
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This mini-series of Ivanhoe is that rare breed of production, a costume epic with fleshed-out characters we can believe in and care about. Lavishly filmed on locations in the United Kingdom, it's a project that appeals to the eye as well as the mind. And best of all, it's got really great bad guys.
There's nothing unusual about villains holding center-stage, but Ciaran Hinds' turn as the tormented Brian de Bois-Guilbert in Ivanhoe stands as one of the most complex and riveting evildoers you'll see on a screen.
Hinds' Guilbert is a fleshed-out Darth Vader, a valiant knight who's become jaded and abandoned youthful convictions after years of bearing the sword in a harsh world. He murders and plots, but can still be moved to anguish and despair.
Hinds' strong performance typifies this powerful presentation of Walter Scott's convoluted story of knights, castles, revenge and redemption during the reign of Richard the Lionhearted. The tricky-to-follow story is still there, but it hardly matters amid exciting chain-mail carnage, scheming monarchs and great characters.
Nothing can beat Sian Phillips (I Claudius) as Queen Eleanor, chiding her grown sons Richard and Prince John. Even evil princes can't talk back to mother. Christopher Lee is Lucard de Beaumanoir, head of the hard-praying, hard-fighting Templar Knights. Lee's piercing eyes and rich voice demand respect in his few scenes. It's truly a shame he hasn't been in more high-quality productions over the years. Susan Lynch (Cracker, Waking Ned Devine) offers another strong presence as Rebecca, the Jewess who enters the hearts of Guilbert and Ivanhoe. And it's refreshing to see such larger-than-lifers like Robin Hood and Friar Tuck look like real men for a change.
In the title role, Steven Waddington is stoic and strong, but through much of the story he's a wounded hero on the run. Shown in North America by A&E, this mini-series is now available on video. It's well worth seeing for anyone who wants meaty characters to go along with castles and swordplay.
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