Ivanhoe returning from crusading in the Holy Land to England which is ruled by corrupt Prince John.
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1997  
1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Series cast summary:
David Barrass ...
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 Prince John 6 episodes, 1997
Jimmy Chisholm ...
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...
...
...
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 Lady Rowena 6 episodes, 1997
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 Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe 6 episodes, 1997
...
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 Louis Winkelbrand 5 episodes, 1997
Rory Edwards ...
 King Richard 5 episodes, 1997
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 Robin of Locksley 5 episodes, 1997
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 Malvoisin 5 episodes, 1997
David Nicholls ...
 Little John 5 episodes, 1997
...
 Waldemar Fitzurse 5 episodes, 1997
Chris Walker ...
 Athelstane 5 episodes, 1997
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 Prior Aymer 4 episodes, 1997
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 Montfitchet 4 episodes, 1997
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 Lucas de Beaumanoir 4 episodes, 1997
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 Maurice de Bracy 4 episodes, 1997
Niven Boyd ...
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 Reginald Front de Boeuf 3 episodes, 1997
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 Friar Tuck 3 episodes, 1997
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 Brother Ambrose 3 episodes, 1997
Renny Krupinski ...
Peter Needham ...
Chris Barnes ...
Cynthia Grenville ...
Ciaran Madden ...
...
Martin Walsh ...
 Young guard 2 episodes, 1997
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Ivanhoe returning from crusading in the Holy Land to England which is ruled by corrupt Prince John.

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12 January 1997 (UK)  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Christopher Lee's first acting role for the BBC since 1947. See more »

Goofs

Ivanhoe's shield is punctured by Bois-Guilbert's lance in the joust. In subsequent scenes the hole disappears, then reappears. See more »

Quotes

Brian de Bois-Guilbert: [lying defeated on the ground, whispering to Ivanhoe] In Austria, I was not brave enough to die for Richard... but for her...
[turning his face to look at Rebecca]
Brian de Bois-Guilbert: [to Ivanhoe] Do it!
See more »

Connections

Version of Ivanhoe (1952) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Splendid, unforgettable film.
13 June 2005 | by See all my reviews

I have watched the 1997 television production of "Ivanhoe" dozens of times, and I have taught the Sir Walter Scott novel on which it is based to university graduate-literature classes. The novel is good; the film is superb; Deborah Cook should be highly commended for her adaptation of Scott's complicated narrative, whose color and vigor make it a natural subject for a film. The book has many narrative strands; the film is better able to portray the shifts among them than was Scott, despite his extraordinary gifts as a writer. In the film, smooth editing was perhaps deliberately avoided in order to make plain the shift from one narrative line to another.

Readers and reviewers often complain that Ivanhoe and Rowena are less interesting than are other of Scott's figures. I will simply remark that Scott knew they were less interesting than were his other characters and that he perhaps deliberately made them so. In both the book and the film, they carry heavy symbolic burdens. Ivanhoe is a Normanized Saxon who is loyal both to his Norman king, Richard the Lion-Hearted, and his Saxon father, Cedric: He represents the future of England, in which, as Scott says, the Normans and the Saxons eventually came together. Rowena, for her part, represents the natural hopes of Cedric and others for the restoration of the Saxons to the throne of England, while in the film her spirited denunciation of Cedric, who is her guardian, and of the Templar Knight Bois-Guilbert makes her lively nature clear. Scott while writing the book was aware that that readers might find Rowena less than fascinating, so he took pains to state that despite her blonde hair she escapes the dullness that sometimes afflicts fair-haired heroines because of her regal bearing and her proud lineage (in the book it is she, not Athelstane, who is descended from Alfred the Great).

The film stays remarkably close to the book, for the most part. Its departures from the book are necessary and praiseworthy. The portrayal of the Jewish characters in particular is outstanding. Isaac in the book is elderly and timid; in the film he is middle-aged and heroic. Rebecca in the book is not so prominent as she is in the film, and she is attracted to Ivanhoe, whereas he is not particularly attracted to her. By making Rebecca the central figure in the film and by having her fall in love with Ivanhoe and he with her, the makers of the film adapted Scott's narrative brilliantly.

In both the book and the film, Rebecca's courage when she is told she will burn at the stake is breathtaking. It is natural to wish--as dozens if not hundreds or thousands of readers and viewers have wished--that Rebecca had married Bois-Guilbert, or, alternatively, Ivanhoe. But in the twelfth century it would have been virtually impossible for a Christian and a Jew to marry. The fact makes the conclusion of the film especially poignant--particularly when Rebecca visits Rowena to assure her, "I never loved your husband, nor he me," when in fact she and Ivanhoe have fallen deeply in love.

The film is deliberately realistic, and sensibly so for an unromantic age. The tournament, for example, takes place in the woods, as tournaments probably did in the medieval era. Moreover, Scott himself disliked the romanticism associated with chivalry. In the book, Rebecca repeatedly denounces the institution to Ivanhoe, and Scott himself remarks that in King Richard "the brilliant, but useless, character of a knight of romance was in a great measure realised and revived." Scott's sentiments are echoed in Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine's reproach to Richard near the end of the film. She says she has no patience with weak, vainglorious men, no matter how much they clothe themselves in boyish charm. She also stresses the fact that Richard's brother Prince John, although he is a "miserable little runt," has saved the kingdom from bankruptcy. And she sensibly reproaches Richard for spending so little time in England--"Three months?" "Four?"--once he had assumed the throne.

Historical fiction and the films that are based on it pose particular problems, which have not escaped the notice of readers or reviewers. During Scott's lifetime, readers objected that his introduction of Robin Hood into the narrative was anachronistic. A recent reviewer of the film objects to the Scandinavian deities such as Zernebock that are mentioned in the book. Long before the reviewer, Scott's 1970s biographer Edgar Johnson acknowledged that Zernebock "was not even a Scandinavian god but a Slavonic idol" (Johnson, Volume I, p. 745).

Writers of fiction, finally, are at liberty to invent as they please. The constraints of fiction that employs history leave it more vulnerable to criticism than are works that are assumed to be entirely imaginary. But in this general connection, I will observe that historians such as Hayden White observed decades ago that written history itself involves repeated acts of imagination.--By the way, in both the book and the film, the given name of Beaumanoir, the Grand Master of the Templar Knights, is "Lucas," not "Lucard."

I will close with a cautionary observation. The splendid pageantry of both film and book obscures the fact that each tells a grim story that includes treachery and murder. The film is extremely violent. Violence in film affects the viewer directly. In print it is somewhat less direct. But the book is, finally, more violent, and far darker, than the film.

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