The Pillars of the Earth (2010)

TV Mini-Series  |  TV-MA  |   |  Drama, History, Romance
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Set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles which tears lives and families apart.

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Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 4 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
 Waleran Bigod (8 episodes, 2010)
 Philip (8 episodes, 2010)
 Jack (8 episodes, 2010)
 Aliena (8 episodes, 2010)
 Regan Hamleigh (8 episodes, 2010)
 Ellen (8 episodes, 2010)
 Remigius (8 episodes, 2010)
John Pielmeier ...
 Cuthbert (8 episodes, 2010)
 Percy Hamleigh (8 episodes, 2010)
Clive Wood ...
 King Henry I (8 episodes, 2010)
 Richard (8 episodes, 2010)
 Alfred (8 episodes, 2010)
 William Hamleigh (8 episodes, 2010)
 Stephen (8 episodes, 2010)
 Bartholomew (8 episodes, 2010)
 Maud (8 episodes, 2010)
 Archbishop (8 episodes, 2010)
László Áron ...
 Architect (8 episodes, 2010)
 Abbot Suger (8 episodes, 2010)
Kelly Endresz-Banlaki ...
 Princess (8 episodes, 2010)
Virág Bárány ...
 Young Woman Whore (8 episodes, 2010)
David Bark-Jones ...
 Francis (8 episodes, 2010)
Tamás Baross ...
 Gabriel (8 episodes, 2010)
Oliver Bauer ...
 Medieval Child (8 episodes, 2010)
 Martha - young (8 episodes, 2010)
 Henry - 15 years old (8 episodes, 2010)
 Eustace - 15 years old (8 episodes, 2010)
Ottilia Borbáth ...
 Townfolk #3 (8 episodes, 2010)
 Father Ralph (8 episodes, 2010)
Scott Curtis ...
 Peasant (8 episodes, 2010)
Antal Czapkó ...
 General (8 episodes, 2010)
Brooke Dean ...
 Maud - 6 years old (8 episodes, 2010)
 Gloucester (8 episodes, 2010)
 Agnes (8 episodes, 2010)
Lara Dzikowski ...
 Townfolk #5 (8 episodes, 2010)
Gabriella Fon ...
 Townfolk #1 (8 episodes, 2010)
Stu Gamble ...
 Lad (8 episodes, 2010)
 Lord #1 (8 episodes, 2010)
David Haderer ...
 Robin Goodfellow (8 episodes, 2010)
Jody Halse ...
 Johnny Eightpence (8 episodes, 2010)
 Messenger #3 (8 episodes, 2010)
Jeremy Haward-Grau ...
 Little Henry (8 episodes, 2010)
Emily Holt ...
 Martha - older (8 episodes, 2010)
Péter Horkay ...
 Steward (8 episodes, 2010)
Ákos Horváth ...
 Simon Goodfellow (8 episodes, 2010)
Barna Illyés ...
 Labourer (8 episodes, 2010)
Csaba Jakab ...
 French Mason (8 episodes, 2010)
 Jonathan - 4-5 years old (8 episodes, 2010)
Mike Kelly ...
 Messenger #2 (8 episodes, 2010)
Péter Kertész ...
 Stephen's Physician (8 episodes, 2010)
Bernadett Kis ...
 Midwife (8 episodes, 2010)
László Konter ...
 Bishop (8 episodes, 2010)
Alexis Latham ...
 One-armed Wool Man (8 episodes, 2010)
Antal Leisen ...
 Townfolk #4 (8 episodes, 2010)
Peter Linka ...
 Townsman (8 episodes, 2010)
 Elizabeth (8 episodes, 2010)
Pál Makrai ...
 French Master Builder (8 episodes, 2010)
 Prior James (8 episodes, 2010)
George Mendel ...
 Lord #2 (8 episodes, 2010)
Lisa Millett ...
 Kate (8 episodes, 2010)
 Grandmama (8 episodes, 2010)
Ben O'Brien ...
 Winchester Clerk (8 episodes, 2010)
Kende Orbán ...
 Eustace - 4-5 years old / ... (8 episodes, 2010)
Miklos Pavel ...
 Sentry Edgar (8 episodes, 2010)
Mark Phelan ...
 Otto (8 episodes, 2010)
Tibor Pintér ...
 Shareburg (8 episodes, 2010)
John Rado ...
 Sentry (8 episodes, 2010)
Kevin Rees ...
 Jonathan - 30 years old (8 episodes, 2010)
 Brother Paul (8 episodes, 2010)
Richard Rifkin ...
 Matthew (8 episodes, 2010)
András Sándor ...
 Page (8 episodes, 2010)
Nicolas Sipek ...
 Stephen's Fake Son - 4 years old (8 episodes, 2010)
Tibor Süle ...
 Antoine (8 episodes, 2010)
 Young Woman (8 episodes, 2010)
 Gabriel's Mother (8 episodes, 2010)
Sándor Téri ...
 Physician (8 episodes, 2010)
Dorian Thomas ...
 Teenage Boy (8 episodes, 2010)
Geoffrey Thomas ...
 Earl of Weymouth (8 episodes, 2010)
Zoltan Toth ...
 Prince (8 episodes, 2010)
Zsófi Trecskó ...
 French Peasant Woman (8 episodes, 2010)
Tamás Varga ...
 Townfolk #2 (8 episodes, 2010)
András Várkonyi ...
 Captain (8 episodes, 2010)
Zsolt Zágoni ...
 Shiring Messenger #1 (8 episodes, 2010)
Marcell Závodi ...
 Tommy - 9 years old (8 episodes, 2010)
Bianca Bauer ...
 Medieval Child (8 episodes, 2010)
 Tom Builder (7 episodes, 2010)
 Walter (7 episodes, 2010)
Ken Follett ...
 Merchant (3 episodes, 2010)


The Pillars of the Earth is set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles which tears lives and families apart. In that time, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against the backdrop, love-stories entwine: Tom, the master builder, Aliena, the noblewoman, the sadistic Lord William, Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, the artist in stone work and Ellen, the woman from the forest who casts a curse. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age. Follett masterfully weaves these stories through political turmoil of 12th century England, creating a relevant and viable world for today's audience and for generations to come. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Nothing is sacred. See more »


TV-MA | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


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Release Date:

23 July 2010 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los pilares de la Tierra  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This is Donald Sutherland's second appearance in a Ken Follett adaptation. He previously appeared in Eye of the Needle (1981). See more »


Throughout the series, Stephen and Matilda are both referred to as "Majesty". English kings and queens did not use the title "Majesty" until the middle of the 16th century, nearly 400 years after the setting of this series See more »


Referenced in Richard Roeper & the Movies: Eat Pray Love (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

My favorite book of all time was turned into an ambitious, dramatic and emotional miniseries, that could hot have been better!
23 July 2010 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

I always wondered why nobody ever thought about turning Ken Follett's brilliant epic "The Pillars of the Earth" into a movie. Without a doubt, it is the greatest book I have ever read, with a cleverly constructed and well-researched story, engaging characters and is full of intrigues, violence and sex. There is so much going on in the book that not a single page seems to be wasted, which is saying a lot about a novel that has over 1000 of them. Now, over two decades after the novel hit the bookshelves, Ridley and Tony Scott bring you an eight-part miniseries that promises to be one of the best ones I have seen in recent years.

It is 1135 and a dark time in the history of England. 15 years earlier the king's only legitimate heir died during the sinking of a ship, and England's monarch has neglected God and the church during his reign. The priests and bishops are most eager to ensure a religious man ascends the throne after the death of the king, and in return for swearing allegiance to them, they promise Stephen, the nephew of the king, to put him on the throne. A fierce battle of succession ensues between Stephen and King Henry's only legitimate child Maude. In these times, a young and ambitious monk named Philipp is made Prior of Kingsbridge, a fairly large city that has suffered in recent times and that is in dire need to have its church remodeled. Tom Builder travels through England with his son Alfred, his daughter Martha and after his wife Agnes died in childbirth, they are joined by the two outlaws Ellen and Jack. Finally, Tom finds a job in Shiring, but the Lord Bartholomew is conspiring against the new king Stephen and the William Hamleigh, who was rejected by the lord's daughter Aliena, finally sees an opportunity to take revenge. Philipp, Tom and his family and Aliena are faced with several challenges and hardships, but their paths cross in Kingsbridge, and they all will play a vital role in the construction of the brand new cathedral.

Two episodes into the miniseries, I'm quite impressed by how much the atmosphere of the book was kept and although I was prepared to be disappointed, I am really enjoying it so far. It seems that the best and most expensive stuff was just good enough for this series and the medieval cities of the book such as Kingsbridge and Shiring look stunningly real. I am glad that eight episodes were dedicated to tell the story of "The Pillars of Earth" instead of merely a two-hour movie, although it's not nearly as epic as Ridley Scott's big movies such as "Gladiator". The series does have combat scenes, but ultimately it's more of a dark drama, focusing on characters and relationships before anything else.

The miniseries stays very close to the plot in the novel, and only minor details were changed. One of them is that Tom knows that his son is raised in Kingsbridge from the beginning, and in the novel it's only revealed at almost the very end. And then there is the king, who dies at the beginning of the novel, but here lives through almost the entire first episode. Those are merely small deviations though, unnecessary perhaps, but not really something to make a big deal about. The series was mostly shot in Hungary and Austria, although most scenes are actually confined to the insides of a castle or a town. On a side note, there's a lot of blood, obscenity, violence and nudity in the series, and if you have seen HBO's "Rome", you should already know what to expect.

While there are not too many big names in the cast, some of them you have probably heard of and those are the ones standing out acting wise as well. Ian McShane was the perfect choice to play Bishop Waleran, and he is wonderfully slick and cunning as the main antagonist of Prior Philipp, played by Matthew Macfadyen. I actually find Macfadyen to be almost a little dry in the role of Philipp, but since the character is described with exactly that word many times in the book, I guess he should be commended for his performance. Rufus Sewell so far is the best of the actors in the series, and he is very emotional as Tom and exactly how I imagined him from the books. Natalie Woerner, a German actress, really stands out so far as Ellen and it's unbelievable that she is 43 years old already. She and Sewell have an amazing chemistry together and I completely believe the character's passionate, but scorned upon relationship. Hayley Atwell and Eddie Redmayne as Aliena and Jack will have more to do as the series progresses, as will David Oakes who doesn't seem evil enough for William quite yet. Anatole Taubman, whom you might know from the last James Bond film, is also quite good as Remigius, the manipulative sub-prior of Kingsbridge and Donald Sutherland also appears as Bartholomew in a few episodes. The cast is not well-known perhaps, but definitely strong and I really like what I'm seeing of them so far.

I suppose the miniseries won't be quite as epic as the book, but from what I'm seeing so far it will be a big candidate to pick up a couple of Golden Globes and Emmys in the miniseries category next year. "The Pillars of Earth" deserved a fantastic adaptation, and I'm glad to see that the producers and the director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan were seemingly ambitious enough to ensure that this would be a memorable series, worthy of this great book. But watching the series, no matter how good it is now and will be in the weeks to come, will never be an adequate substitute for actually reading the book.

102 of 130 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Sympathetic William Hamleigh? eanderson35145
PLEASE don't learn your history from this.... lordgoblinking
As good as Game of Thrones? rustynail925
Can someone please explain to me what was so great about the book? Mikaela90
What was your favorite scene(s) in Pillars of the Earth? jamesfairweather
For now on those who 'read' the books... cotywalker
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