The series follows two women-medieval Alaïs Pelletier du Mas (Jessica Brown Findlay), who lives through the Crusades and Cathar massacres in medieval France, and modern-day Alice Tanner (...
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The series follows two women-medieval Alaïs Pelletier du Mas (Jessica Brown Findlay), who lives through the Crusades and Cathar massacres in medieval France, and modern-day Alice Tanner (Vanessa Kirby)-in their quest to find the Holy Grail. Alice, a volunteer at a French archaeological excavation, discovers the skeletal remains of two people in a cave, as well as a labyrinth-engraved ring, which attracts the attention of unscrupulous individuals. In 1209, newly married Alaïs is living in Carcassonne, a stronghold of Cathars who have been declared heretical by the Church. Alaïs and her father are protecting three sacred books that reveal the secret of the Holy Grail from the Crusaders. Written by
Love the Cathars, would be happy to have one for a neighbour. The concept of liberal Christians that believed in equality for all, accumulation of wealth was bad, sex was healthy and believed in reincarnation is very interesting. The fact that, in the 12/13th century, philosophically they were kicking the roman catholic churches butt says a lot. Tying that in with the holy grail and mixing it in with factual historical references gave this mini series a lot of scope. The reference to carrying our past with us in our blood is very reminiscent of Frank Herbert's Dune and the inference of a genetic memory.
However, the heavy handedness of the direction and use of cliché characters and tropes that did not make sense left me squirming in my seat. Especially in part 1 and the end of part II in the medieval period it felt as if the Cathars had some rabid twitter account saying "Dear bad guys guys want to know all our secrets?....". Yes we know it's the good guys against the bad guys but how come the bad guys seem to know more about what their counterparts are doing than they do? Damn you twitter account!!!
Speaking of which, I felt sorry for Katie McGrath who portrayed a cardboard cut out of her Morgana character in the Merlin series. She's a good looking woman and a fine actress but did she seriously have to lose her clothes so often? She was only one of many flat characters with trite dialogue. There is one scene where she can see someone shake his head in response to a question she asks when she is looking away from him. At this point I was also shaking my head as the dialogue/monologue leading up to this point felt like a quick fix to try to explain her motivation for being such a nasty piece of work and failing miserably.
When it came to the end it felt that I had only seen half the production. It felt as if a whole group of scenes had been cut out and re-spliced leaving me trying to figure how we got to F from A without B, C, D and E. If I'm being kind I would like to think that due to external pressures that a real cracker of a production is out there waiting to be shown at a future date.
As it was I found myself just becoming more frustrated as things made less and less sense. Even the role of the grail in the end becomes diminished except potentially as lesson teacher to humanity.
On the plus side Jessica Brown Findlay playing the medieval heroine was the closest to a fully formed character in the whole story and I'd like to see her in more roles. Production was good especially in the medieval scenes and the filming felt clean and slick. I now feel enlightened as I've had a chance to meet the Cathars, not to be confused with the Kardashians. Giving it 5 out of 10 as I feel like I only saw half of what could have been.
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