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This was my favorite's of Ellis Peter's novels, and as it turned out I
wasn't failed by this episode. It has become my favorite's of the whole
Brother Cadfael series, and the only one on DVD that I own.
It is hard to put all of Peter's complex stories into 70 minutes, so any characters or scenes that are cut out aren't really missed as the writer and director are able to bring the main part of the story into excellent focus. They even show us events we are told happened in the book, but Peter's doesn't describe, so we feel closer to those characters that those events involve.
The story tells of the monks, plowing the Potters Field that was given to the by Sir Eudo Blount, overturn some soil, uncovering a decaying body in a shallow grave; a woman's body with long black hair. Since Lord Eudo died six months before fighting in battle for King Stephen, no one is sure who the body is, until someone mentions the potter's wife, Generys.
Ruald, the potter left his lovely wife Generys to join the Benedictine monastery in Shrewsbury, claiming it was a call of God and that though he loves Generys, he loves God even more. Generys is heart-broken and feel betrayed by the church. Everyone see this when she is cast out the abbey gates by Brother Jerome, and she sobs back at him "You are unChristian!" and then shoves away Lord Eudo's teenage son Suliean as he tries to comfort her, saying "You are a boy! What can a boy give me!" Generys disappears later on and everyone believes she finally found another man, but with the uncovering of the body, wise Brother Cadfael finds himself searching for the truth of what happened and uncovers an ill-fated love triangle involving Generys, Lord Eudo and his wife. Seeing Generys' unhappy position makes you wholly sympathize with her when she and Eudo become lovers; at the same time the elegant but long-ill Lady Astola also wins your feelings of sympathy as you learn the what led to Generys' death from her.
I think the whole cast did a very fine performance: lovely Sioned Jones was very convincing as the abandoned wife Generys, Jack Klaff, handsome as ever, made a strong Lord Eudo and Mel Martin was wonderful as a painful wisp of the once beautiful Lady Astola Blount.
This is a very complicated plot. You will never guess what is going to
It starts with a man leaving his wife of 10 years and joining the priesthood. He is obsessed with the question of whether it is God or the Devil drawing him to do this. From our perspective, it is neither. It is himself, but why? Is he gay? Is he sick of his wife? Is he just tired of being a potter, and wants to goof off all day with prayers and chanting? We have no clue.
Some of the loose ends:
Why does young Sulien claim he saw Generys alive when he did not? Why does he lie about how he came into possession of her ring? Why does Sulien confess to the murder?
How did Ruald's (the husband's) cross come to be in the grave?
Perhaps if I watched again, it would make more sense. There are medieval motives like ensuring burial on hallowed ground and protecting the reputation of one's family that have almost no pull for us today.
Why did Generys hide valuables in the wheel as she was dying? Should they not be there already?
The religious people have a short-circuited sense of justice. It there is any clue at all that points to the culprit, they want to hang right away. They love hanging, so can't wait to do it.
Whoever did the makeup for Peter "the hedgepig" should get an Oscar. He was covered in boils. He teeth were hideous. He was so repulsive you could barely look at him. It was as though you could smell him through the screen. It was completely believable.
There is a scene where Sulien gets blood on his hands and tries to wipe it off with leaves. This somehow magnifies the horror.
This episode of Cadfael begins with a body being uncovered while
someone is plowing a field. The body appears to be that of a
woman--dead about a year. But who she is and how she got there is a bit
of a mystery.
At this point, the show does a flashback. The couple who lived on this land a year ago had an odd breakup of their marriage. The husband announced that he had received signs from God that he was to abandon the marriage and join the monastery. While this seems highly dubious, nonetheless, the friars accept him and show a pitiful amount of passion for his wife. And, it is now thought that the corpse they discovered was this wronged wife. What's next? Well, see this one for yourself--just understand that it might not be a murder mystery at all but more a mystery about how the body came to be buried there in the first place.
I like this particular show because it's tough to predict what's happened. There is no evil rich person who deserves to die (the typical victim on the show) nor is there a real bad guy in the film (aside from the husband who joined the order). It's nice to see that the shows are not falling into a predictable rut with this one. Well worth seeing.
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