Ivanhoe (TV Mini-Series 1997– ) Poster

(1997– )

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Best version yet.
grendelkhan3 October 2003
I first came in contact with Sir Walter Scott's famed romance, Ivanhoe, through an animated version shown around the holidays. I fell in love with the story (mostly due to the inclusion of Robin Hood) and leapt at the chance to view any version of it, as well as read the original novel. The 1952 version was interesting, but not very faithful. The 1982 version was closer, but Anthony Andrews was a bit wooden and his feathered hair was out of place. This 1997 mini-series finally got it right, with both a faithful adaptation of the story and fine performances.

All the characters are portrayed well and are given greater depth than in the past. Gilbert is not just an evil schemer, he is a man torn by love and hatred. Ivanhoe is torn between two women and despised by his father. Gurd and Wamba are given greater roles and speak for the underclass. Prince John is the true schemer, longing for the kingdom he has watched over while his brother was off playing the soldier. Richard finally gets some of the criticism he deserves for abandoning his subjects for treasure hunts, disguised as "holy wars". Rebecca is wise beyond her years, but torn between a forbidden love of Ivanhoe and the affections of the tormented Gilbert.

This production captures Scott in all his romantic glory, and makes a great attempt at historical accuracy, with the inherent problem that the division of Norman and Saxon was mostly gone by this point in history. Still, we see that medieval life was cheap and conditions less than sanitary, though thankfully not to the point of a Terry Gilliam production. This is well worth viewing.
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An epic with great characters.
Walt-429 June 1999
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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10/10
My Favourite Version Up to Date
kitsilanoca-121 August 2006
I watched this outstanding four hour epic for the umpteenth time yesterday evening and found I still was drawn to it as I was the first time I saw it. I agree with another viewer's comment that it isn't to be used for historical reference, but what it does with 12th century English history can be overlooked because of the way it makes you feel you are witnessing what life was truly like in the 1190s.

Ciaran Hinds and Susan Lynch sizzle as Brian de Bois Guilbert and Rebecca; I particularly find fascinating the way Hinds is able to transform Bois Guilbert from a deeply embittered, ruthless man into one who finds his own soul in searching for Rebecca's as he tries to woo her. After he has learned that the Grand Master of the Templars has demanded that she be tried as a witch, he immediately goes to warn her and tells her that "I haven't felt fear in 20 years, but I feel it now!", and you truly believe him. That and his final line as he lies beneath Ivanhoe's sword after he has fallen defeated in their Trial by Combat to decide whether Rebecca is to be burned as a witch: "In Austria I was not brave enough to die for (King) Richard...But for her...Do it!" A true anti-hero.

This drama has dozens of wonderful lines, but I think my favourite is when Sian Philips, in a very impressive brief role as the Dowager Queen Eleanor, comments to her lady-in-waiting in reference to her late husband King Henry II and her sons Richard and John: "Beware of powerful men, Bernice. They spawn unspeakable whelps!" It makes me smile every time.

Ralph Brown is deliciously wicked as Prince John, and I think his is the first accurate portrayal of the man destined to be King of England that I have ever seen, showing him as a scheming usurper, devious at statecraft, a womaniser and murderer. The way he subtly makes a joke at Rebecca's trial as he questions the claim by a dog's owner of Rebecca using magic to kill the animal. John says with a smirk he doesn't try to hide from the Grand Master, that the present panting, healthy hound "looks just find to me." He shows boredom and almost rolls his eyes at certain points of Rebecca's trial at what her accusers say, a sign of his defiance of the Church he will show later in his life.

I think Sir Walter Scott himself would be pleased with adaptation of his novel, which follows most of the story very closely while filling out certain characters that are more three dimensional in this film than they were in the classic novel. A true BBC masterpiece!
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10/10
Splendid, unforgettable film.
murdoch111113 June 2005
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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8/10
Once again, the BBC regales us with an astounding and outstanding production
Keith F. Hatcher6 January 2003
After having been unduly assaulted by Jerry Zucker's unacceptable interpretation of British folklore in `First Knight' (1995) (qv) with an overaged Richard Gere doing his best – which is not much – to be a romantic young dashing philanthropic Lancelot, it was a blessing indeed to come across this 1997 version of `Ivanhoe' from the BBC, shown here over Christmas on a regional channel in two hefty parts.

Years ago I thrilled reading Sir Walter Scott's excellent adventure stories – Rob Roy, Westward Ho!, Ivanhoe, etc. A few days ago I thrilled seeing the written word converted into a brilliant film for TV. Magnificently photographed mostly in the north of England and the south east of Scotland, the film adheres faithfully to the 44 chapters of Scott's book, such that you could almost follow it on screen page by page. Superb directing by Stuart Orme, specialist in TV films and series, which produces convincing performances from all the actors. Battle scenes on the North York Moors, around the alleyways of Craigmillar and Doune Castles, astounding scenery somewhere up on the Northumberland coast, all added up to a dramatic telling of this legendary novel.

Probably one of the very best medieval tales I have ever seen on film: once again the BBC has shown it is capable of really high-class intelligent viewing. If you should doubt this, try the magnificent BBC production of Stendahl's great novel `Scarlet and Black' (1993) (mini) (qv) directed by Ben Bolt. Thoroughly recommendable. Just about the best that can possibly be put on television – or even at the cinema.
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10/10
Fun, but don't use it as a history text
thesnowleopard4 February 2004
The biggest problem with adapting Ivanhoe for the big screen is

that the original book had some massive plotholes in it, and the

titular hero was completely overshadowed by the main villain. One

certainly shouldn't take any of it as historical fact. You've got a

Saxon woman from a culture Christianised for centuries calling on

Scandinavian deities that even her pagan ancestors never

worshipped. The portrayal of the Templars is slanderously

inaccurate and reflects Scott's antifreemasonry far more than any

historical fact. Nor would they have tried Rebecca for witchcraft; it

would have been for heresy. And since Jews weren't really recast

as heretics until the Fourth Lateran Council, even that is pushing it

by about two decades. Also, the antisemitism in the book is pretty

intense, and hard to read these days. You can derive a whole lot of

amusement from the contortions of the book's apologists who try

to explain away all the "fun" that the hero's sidekicks have at poor

Isaac's expense. Scott, by his own admission, wasn't even

remotely interested in historical accuracy. He once said that if he

thought the story would work better if the heroine was blue, he'd

make her blue.

This version tries, with some serious story revision, to rise above

all of this. It doesn't completely succeed but you know, I sure had

fun watching it try. I'd say this is probably the best of the three

versions, though I enjoyed Sam Neill's turn as Bois-Guilbert in the

'82 version. The story is still chaotic, but the elevation of Bois- Guilbert from villain to anti-hero helps a lot. What helps even more

is Ciaran Hinds' blistering portrayal of Bois-Guilbert and his

unsurpassable chemistry with Susan Lynch as Rebecca. They

blast Ivanhoe and Rowena right off the screen, though granted,

that's not hard to do. I can guarantee that by the final fight it won't

be Ivanhoe you're rooting for Rebecca to run off with!

Even better, the movie is chock full of excellent actors chewing

scenery as villains with whom Alan Rickman's Sheriff of

Nottingham would happily have shared company. Unfortunately,

this means that as the movie progresses and bad guys are offed,

or otherwise neutralised, things get rather less fun (the good guys

are really, really dull). The middle third, when the unholy trio of

Bois-Guilbert, Front de Boeuf and De Bracy is in full plot-and- pillage mode, is probably the best. The last twenty minutes,

however, are a snore.

Overall, it's definitely worth a look--not perfect, but still a hard act to

follow for any future adaptations.
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Another winner from the BBC
suessis10 October 1999
Nobody does it better than the BBC for producing the best in television based on literary classic, and we must thank A&E for bringing them over here. Everyone in this production is good, particularly Ciaran Hinds as Bois-Guilbert. The bigger stars, though, of this beautiful production are the photography and the script which allows for a very realistic portrait of life in Medieval times. This mini is a must see.
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10/10
Thrilling, 'edge-of-your-seat' duels with hero's & romance
g0b05 August 2001
Excellent depiction of the Sir Walter Scott epic. There are thrilling duels that kept me on the edge of my seat and maidens needing to be rescued. This movie has all the elements of a great adventure story or a great romance. Take your pick; there's something for everyone here. Costumes and set seem to be so true to the era. Once again, A & E has produced a masterpiece.
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Great medieval adventure
LunatickNick7 August 2002
This BBC mini-series was tremendous fun, with a lot of attention to period detail and an outstanding cast. Highlights for me were the castle attack and another wonderful performance by Ralph Brown (surely the definitive Prince John?). Move over Niccolo Machiavelli!
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9/10
great series
louisejuel30 December 2006
I first saw the story of Ivanhoe in the 1982-film version which I saw again and again (and again...).

When I was about 12-13 years old I read the novel - and loved it.

Now I've seen this BBC-series. At first I was a little skeptic - could it be as good as the one from 1982. And yes it could - and better.

First of all we really get to know the characters, and prince John is not portrayed as all evil, which I like, as it gives him more substance.

Also the things that takes place does not happen because people are evil, but because they interact with each other - sometimes with misunderstandings as the result.

I rate the series 9 out of 10 - the mistakes in the continuity makes it lose the last point.

/Louise, Denmark
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10/10
Excellent mini series
ivanhoefan10 January 2001
I thought this was a great adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's Novel. I have seen this many times and enjoy it each time. I appreciate the time, effort and artistry that was put into this film. The actors in this film are outstanding and I hope to continue to see them in other films in the future.
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10/10
'Ivanhoe' is set in the last decade of the 12th century, in Austria and England.
wimsattm28 March 2007
I use several types of films in university classes; I have friends who specialize in teaching various aspects of film--history, artistry, and so forth. I am familiar with the history of film criticism. The last fact explains why I make the following comments about reviewers of the 1997 'Ivanhoe.'

Blueghost, The SnowLeopard, and ModernTelemachus discuss the way in which the film was made. They complain about various aspects of the filming. There is merit in what they say, though I dislike the negative, overbearing way in which they say it (SnowLeopard, in particular, is condescending). I also dislike their assumption that they know more about the subject than other viewers and their blithe disregard of the point that the creators of great historical fiction or films such as 'Ivanhoe' can appropriate and alter what is mistakenly construed as historical 'fact.'--By the way, it was not Scott but his friend Matthew Gregory 'Monk' Lewis who made the remark about painting a heroine blue.

In closing, I shall praise once more the film's action, its narrative power, and its drama.
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10/10
Favorite Film
ipothistle25 July 2001
I found this mini series to be absolutely true to the Book by Sir Walter Scott! In some places almost verbatim. It was true to the era it took place in, and the acting was fabulous and believable. I've watch it more times than I can count, and still find it as thrilling and insightful as the first time I watched it. I will continue to watch it over and over again, and will never tire of it's fresh and genuine appeal.
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Poorly shot, decent art direction, and not enough money.
Blueghost4 July 2005
There was an effort here to put forth a more rugged, more down to earth, more gritty and earnest version of Sir Walter Scott's tale, than previous incarnations. The co-venture between A&E and the BBC is successful on this point, and seems to stick closer to the book than say the version with Elizabeth Taylor. There's a lot of positive aspects here, including the acting.

The downside is that it's just not very well shot. There're a lot of camera tricks used here to give an epic feel to what is undoubtedly a moderately budgeted mini series. I applaud the effort, but there just aren't the number of bodies needed to really make this production shine.

Portions of it are kind of neat and endearing, but the lack of exposition, and the occasional over the top performance (particularly by a couple of the female leads), in my opinion, makes this production some what lacking.

The camera is simply not used to its fullest, and there's little in the way of dressing the sets, though there seems to have been a lot of effort gone into costuming.

I like the production for what it is, but it's not my favorite, and could've been so much more had the funds been there to see through the production. One of the highlights was the jousting sequence, but even here we're treated to confined views, and are not given the full scope of the tournament. The nail in the coffin is the use of a swish pan to show the number of spectators at the event. It's somewhat jarring to see this, and is visually unsettling.

I can understand why people rate this so highly. It's striving for a kind of authenticity that would've been heresy in Hollywood's golden age, where sets, actors and story were sanitized and given a bright color gloss, but for all the effort that went into making this version more "definitive" and supposedly authentic, visually, it's just very narrow. This visual confinement and lack of scope brings down what could've been a much more sterling production.

Minor quibble; the actor who plays Friar Tuck wears a skull-cap prosthetic that looks like a bad hat. Fortunately his character has limited exposure, and the makeup isn't too distracting because of that. It's nearly the final nail in the coffin of a borderline production.

To the BBC and A&E both, the next time they launch another such joint venture make sure the money is there to do visual justice to the piece, or don't embark on the project at all. Adequate acting and art direction can only hide so many sins, especially for a project that's shot on a made for TV movie schedule.

In the meantime I'd recommend the 1952 version over this mini series. For all its Hollywood gloss it's actually more appealing than this version on a number of levels.

RESCREENED, Sept 2005

I'm sorry some folks didn't appreciate or like my comments, but after re-screening this two disk set I can firmly stand by my convictions and observations regarding this title. The acting for the supporting cast is hit or miss, the "action" sequences look very staged, and it appears this film was shot in the low season to cut down on costs of renting locations (namely the castles). That, and as I stated earlier, the cinematography is very confining. I like the story, but this presentation, however thorough, misses a few marks.
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At 4 1/2 hours it is quite an experience
FISHCAKE7 July 1999
This filming is considerably less slick and more faithful to Scott than the Robert Taylor version, enjoyable as that was. The costuming, makeup, and backgrounds evoke the 12th century powerfully at the same time that the character's souls are laid out in all their seaminess or glory as the case may be. The cast is uniformly effective, though only the actor portraying the Grand Master could be called famous. On the down side, the editing is generally choppy, and the use of modern English lower class idiom to denote the peasant characters is grating. But never mind these cavils, it is enjoyable for the whole 4 1/2 hours.
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7/10
True Faith Overcomes All...
newkfl9 March 2008
I was pleased with the television adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. The dialog, costumes and scenery were added tidbits that moved the storyline along with crisp acting. Christopher Lee did a great job with his role and even in the end, Lee did not falter when it came down to life or death. Ivanhoe went through many trials and tribulations and he learned the meaning of true friendship and what it took to become a real man. It was only fitting that Ivanhoe finally got the woman of his dreams because I thought that he deserved it. I thought that most of us could have learned a valuable lesson from Ivanhoe. It was a pleasure to view. I recommended it to those that enjoyed period pieces and strove for the equality of man.
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5/10
read the book
wilvis-9396320 June 2017
This series might be more political correct according to some but that's whats wrong with it.Jews in the 12th century were discriminated you may not like it but that was the case then.In this version Prince John himself is depicted as a killer.Even if he ever had part in a murder he ordered it and did none himself.He did not have to.A love affair between Ivanhoe and Rebecca would be unrealistic.Same with tintin in Africa you can read that comic and this book without a problem if you remember that is how the sentiment was in those days.Don't try to turn it in a modern version which is political correct.The BBC has messed up a lot of historical series in that way lately.I would like a new version that is more according to the book.And btw i doubt Sir Walter Scott was antisemitic and i certainly am not.
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3/10
Not for lovers of the original masterpiece
taipancroft23 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Perhaps it is a bit unfair to fairly rate a serial that was made way back in 2010. However, this review is not about the quality of the movie, but rather about how true it is to the real thing. The serial is a make of the 1820 novel 'Ivanhoe' by Sir Walter Scott. Like other lovers of historicals, I love the novel and have read it about thrice. The narrative of the book is second to none. It's therefore very disheartening to see the storyline being totally bastardized the way the serial has made it. This is unlike other epics such as Lord of The Rings where the makers of the movie consciously made much effort to keep to the original storyline. From the very beginning, the story is twisted. Wamba's famous dressing is missing, the clever dialogues which Wamba & Gurth have with the Normans are watered down, the giant Athelstane is now normal size, fearful isn't so fearful anymore, and terrible to behold, Wilfred (of Ivanhoe) reveals himself to Rowena! Moreso, the story has been changed to make Wilfred something of a pariah. The reason for this drastic change is bewildering, but only serves to water down the rest of the plot. In fact, I was unable to watch this serial past the first two episodes. I really do hope they do a remake one of these days that will do justice to Sir Walter Scott's masterpiece.
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1/10
Faithless and ineffective adaptation
Whythorne30 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I am not someone who believes a movie has to follow a book exactly in order to be a good movie. But the screenwriter's instinct for what to change from Scott's classic is all wrong.

The result is a faithless adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's novel in spite of the paradox that most of the major plot elements are kept intact....this conundrum is effected by the terrible screenplay. It simply takes most of the character out of the characters that Scott created. The script doesn't come close to matching the clever and intriguing dialog written by Scott. Consequently, the qualities that make the various personalities appealing or interesting have been changed for the worse.

For example: Wamba the jester, with all his incisive, clever and witty comments removed just becomes a superfluous annoyance. King Richard, instead of being a charming, humorous rogue becomes a boring heavy. Ivanhoe, portrayed as a brash, emotional upstart loses any of that noble subtlety which gave him a heroic mystique in the book. The lady Rowena, portrayed in typical anachronistic fashion, is missing the quiet dignity that gave her her charm and comes off as a brat that you just want to shut up and send to her room. Rebecca is far too forward with her enamor of Ivanhoe, ironically making her hopeless romance far less sympathetic than it was in the novel. The villains, especially De Bois Gilbert and Lucas de Beaumanoir, are so over-the-top that the performances make you cringe. It's a shame, because with the proper script, Ciaran Hinds and Christopher Lee could have been perfectly cast.

And while we're speaking of the script, it's amazing how dull and tedious it is. Actually, there is a lot of dialog in Scott's Ivanhoe, but his genius for turning a phrase is what made the reading of long passages worthwhile. In this mini series, it has all been transformed into the typical dumbed-down approach for the masses. To make things even worse, the pace is all off. One almost gets the impression that the script and filming was done ad hoc, and the director discovered that they were near the end of the story but still had to fill a couple of hours of time. The ending just drags on and on with several added and unnecessary scenes that just come off as dull filler.

The unambitious production values likewise are a problem here, as Scott's epic calls for a cast of hundreds, not a cast of a couple dozen. This is nowhere more apparent than in three hugely important scenes: the tournament at Ashby, the storming of Torquilstone castle, and the climactic ending at the Templars' headquarters.

In the tournament at Ashby, for example, especially since it is presided by the interim ruler John of Anjou, one expects to see from Scott's description an event populated by lords, ladies, yeomen and country folk from all over the kingdom. In this version, everybody must have missed the advertisements in the color supplement, because instead of having a majestic tournament, Ashby looks like a poorly attended, mismanaged Renaissance Festival.

The staging of the jousts is equally unambitious, and hence, something that is a pivotal point in the story - because it establishes a victory for the Saxons and the heroism of Ivanhoe, as well as a reason for De Bois Gilbert's passionate hatred for Ivanhoe - is utterly lifeless and lacks any impact at all.

Curiously, with all the superfluous scenes added in this mini series, they did not include the entertaining confrontation between Locksley and Prince John at Ashby. It's fascinating that the screenwriter deemed this unnecessary, when Scott's depiction of Locksley has influenced portrayals of Robin Hood in literature and screen ever since he wrote Ivanhoe 200 years ago.

One also gets the impression that the makers of this version must have realized the second half was plodding along, so a few deaths were added...I guess just to spice things up.

It's also very unfortunate that Scott's climactic confrontation between De Bois Gilbert and Ivanhoe was also monkeyed with, because Scott's was far more dramatic.

Anyway, after viewing versions like this, the 1950's version starring Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor, with its heavy-handed Hollywood treatment, is looking better and better all the time. At least that version was somewhat entertaining.
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Looking at a Historical Subtext
Hans C. Frederick17 October 2003
There really isn't a great deal more to add to this that hasn't been mentioned in previous reviews.The cast is first rate;the script is quite good,AND extremely faithful to the original text,and all of the production values show professionalism of the highest levels.While the sets,props, and costumes lack the glamour and romantic aspects of the 1952 and 1981 productions,they demonstrate a gritty realism that shows a vivid historical verisimilitude.This was the way the Middle Ages really looked.

I was pleased to see that this adaptation included the character of Urfried/Ulrica,the Saxon noblewoman whose enforced collaboration and concubinage to the Norman brutes who massacred her family,husband,and daughter leads to psychosis and a horrifying revenge.Not a nice character,but a dramatically satisfying resolution.

HISTORICAL NOTE:The whole business of the enduring conflicts between the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons,125 years after the Conquest,was a total fabrication of Scott's.At the time when the novel was written,there was a movement in Scotland to attempt to keep Gaelic as an official language,used in legal and governmental capacities,on an equal basis with English.So the REAL conflict isn't between Normans and Saxons,but rather between English and Scots.And yet,there IS a pervasive belief that the Normans and Saxons were bitterly antagonistic.Such was Scott's influence.
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Not a goof, but there are others
modernTelemachus9 December 2006
If you watch the showdown with Bois-Guilbert closely, Ivanhoe slices two separate shields. After Bois-Guilbert loses the first, it looks as if he is quickly handed one from a nearby guard - you see him raising the second one up from foot-level. This second shield is subsequently damaged as well, in much the same way as the first. These shots are over in a matter of seconds, so it's easy to miss.

That being said, there's no end of other goofs to be seen. The tournament scenes in second hour of the movie are full of them. Most glaring is the reference to a joust between Bois-Guilbert and one of the Saxons lords, "Bois-Guilbert met his with such pleasing... finality," that is never observed, for example.
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