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The Pillars of the Earth 

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Set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles which tears lives and families apart.
952 ( 83)




Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 5 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
Ian McShane ...  Waleran Bigod 8 episodes, 2010
Matthew Macfadyen ...  Philip 8 episodes, 2010
Eddie Redmayne ...  Jack 8 episodes, 2010
Hayley Atwell ...  Aliena 8 episodes, 2010
Sarah Parish ...  Regan Hamleigh 8 episodes, 2010
Natalia Wörner ...  Ellen 8 episodes, 2010
Anatole Taubman ...  Remigius 8 episodes, 2010
John Pielmeier John Pielmeier ...  Cuthbert 8 episodes, 2010
Robert Bathurst ...  Percy Hamleigh 8 episodes, 2010
Clive Wood Clive Wood ...  King Henry I 8 episodes, 2010
Sam Claflin ...  Richard 8 episodes, 2010
Liam Garrigan ...  Alfred 8 episodes, 2010
David Oakes ...  William Hamleigh 8 episodes, 2010
Tony Curran ...  Stephen 8 episodes, 2010
Donald Sutherland ...  Bartholomew 8 episodes, 2010
Alison Pill ...  Maud 8 episodes, 2010
Gordon Pinsent ...  Archbishop 8 episodes, 2010
László Áron László Áron ...  Architect 8 episodes, 2010
Féodor Atkine ...  Abbot Suger 8 episodes, 2010
Kelly Banlaki Kelly Banlaki ...  Princess 8 episodes, 2010
Virág Bárány Virág Bárány ...  Young Woman Whore 8 episodes, 2010
David Bark-Jones David Bark-Jones ...  Francis 8 episodes, 2010
Tamás Baross Tamás Baross ...  Gabriel 8 episodes, 2010
Oliver Bauer Oliver Bauer ...  Medieval Child 8 episodes, 2010
Skye Bennett ...  Martha - young 8 episodes, 2010
Freddie Boath ...  Henry - 15 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Douglas Booth ...  Eustace - 15 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Ottilia Borbáth Ottilia Borbáth ...  Townfolk #3 8 episodes, 2010
Jonathan Coy ...  Father Ralph 8 episodes, 2010
Scott Curtis Scott Curtis ...  Peasant 8 episodes, 2010
Antal Czapkó Antal Czapkó ...  General 8 episodes, 2010
Brooke Dean Brooke Dean ...  Maud - 6 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Matt Devere Matt Devere ...  Gloucester 8 episodes, 2010
Kate Dickie ...  Agnes 8 episodes, 2010
Lara Dzikowski Lara Dzikowski ...  Townfolk #5 8 episodes, 2010
Gabi Fon Gabi Fon ...  Townfolk #1 8 episodes, 2010
Stu Gamble ...  Lad 8 episodes, 2010
Kevin Griffiths ...  Lord #1 8 episodes, 2010
David Haderer David Haderer ...  Robin Goodfellow 8 episodes, 2010
Jody Halse Jody Halse ...  Johnny Eightpence 8 episodes, 2010
Máté Haumann ...  Messenger #3 8 episodes, 2010
Jeremy Haward-Grau Jeremy Haward-Grau ...  Little Henry 8 episodes, 2010
Emily Holt Emily Holt ...  Martha - older 8 episodes, 2010
Péter Horkay Péter Horkay ...  Steward 8 episodes, 2010
Ákos Horváth Ákos Horváth ...  Simon Goodfellow 8 episodes, 2010
Barna Illyés Barna Illyés ...  Labourer 8 episodes, 2010
Csaba Jakab Csaba Jakab ...  French Mason 8 episodes, 2010
Sidney Johnston ...  Jonathan - 4-5 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Mike Kelly Mike Kelly ...  Messenger #2 8 episodes, 2010
Péter Kertész Péter Kertész ...  Stephen's Physician 8 episodes, 2010
Bernadett Kis Bernadett Kis ...  Midwife 8 episodes, 2010
László Konter László Konter ...  Bishop 8 episodes, 2010
Alexis Latham Alexis Latham ...  One-armed Wool Man 8 episodes, 2010
Antal Leisen Antal Leisen ...  Townfolk #4 8 episodes, 2010
Peter Linka ...  Townsman 8 episodes, 2010
Skye Lourie Skye Lourie ...  Elizabeth 8 episodes, 2010
Pál Makrai Pál Makrai ...  French Master Builder 8 episodes, 2010
Michael Mehlmann ...  Prior James 8 episodes, 2010
George Mendel George Mendel ...  Lord #2 8 episodes, 2010
Lisa Millett ...  Kate 8 episodes, 2010
Piroska Molnár ...  Grandmama 8 episodes, 2010
Ben O'Brien Ben O'Brien ...  Winchester Clerk 8 episodes, 2010
Kende Orbán Kende Orbán ...  Eustace - 4-5 years old / ... 8 episodes, 2010
Miklos Pavel Miklos Pavel ...  Sentry Edgar 8 episodes, 2010
Mark C. Phelan Mark C. Phelan ...  Otto 8 episodes, 2010
Tibor Pintér Tibor Pintér ...  Shareburg 8 episodes, 2010
John Rado John Rado ...  Sentry 8 episodes, 2010
Kevin Rees Kevin Rees ...  Jonathan - 30 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Barnabás Réti ...  Brother Paul 8 episodes, 2010
Richard Rifkin Richard Rifkin ...  Matthew 8 episodes, 2010
András Sándor András Sándor ...  Page 8 episodes, 2010
Nicolas Sipek Nicolas Sipek ...  Stephen's Fake Son - 4 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Tibor Süle Tibor Süle ...  Antoine 8 episodes, 2010
Margaréta Szabó ...  Young Woman 8 episodes, 2010
Tatiana Turner ...  Gabriel's Mother 8 episodes, 2010
Sándor Téri ...  Physician 8 episodes, 2010
Dorian Thomas Dorian Thomas ...  Teenage Boy 8 episodes, 2010
Geoffrey Thomas Geoffrey Thomas ...  Earl of Weymouth 8 episodes, 2010
Zoltan Toth Zoltan Toth ...  Prince 8 episodes, 2010
Zsófi Trecskó Zsófi Trecskó ...  French Peasant Woman 8 episodes, 2010
Tamás Varga Tamás Varga ...  Townfolk #2 8 episodes, 2010
András Várkonyi András Várkonyi ...  Captain 8 episodes, 2010
Zsolt Zágoni Zsolt Zágoni ...  Shiring Messenger #1 8 episodes, 2010
Marcell Závodi Marcell Závodi ...  Tommy - 9 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Bianca Bauer Bianca Bauer ...  Medieval Child 8 episodes, 2010
Rufus Sewell ...  Tom Builder 7 episodes, 2010
Götz Otto ...  Walter 7 episodes, 2010
Ken Follett 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

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Building the Monumental Television Event of 2010 See more »


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Official Sites:

Official site


Germany | Canada | UK | Hungary


English | French

Release Date:

23 July 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Pillars of the Earth See more »

Filming Locations:

Tata, Hungary See more »


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Many tourists visit Kingsbridge in the English county of Devon to visit it's world famous cathedral. However, the Kingsbridge of the novel on which this series is based is entirely fictional and has nothing whatsoever to do with the real Kingsbridge in Devon, much to the disappointment of people who find they have travelled to see a cathedral that has never existed! 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: The Expendables (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Grand, thrilling epic respectful to its source material
8 August 2010 | by longcooljolieSee all my reviews

Ken Follett is one of the most brilliant novelists of modern times. His stories immerse and engage the reader into worlds so real that it seems possible to step into them.

"Pillars of the Earth" is one of his most popular books. Originally published in 1989, it gained a cult following through word of mouth then achieved even greater prominence when Oprah discovered it just a few years ago.

Tandem Productions and Tony and Ridley Scott took the risk of adapting the sweeping historic novel into a miniseries. The novel is such an intricate spiderweb of lust, revenge, and triumph of an iron will that the mere act of adapting the screenplay for sound-bite and short attention span 21st century viewers was a daunting challenge.

The makers of "Pillars of the Earth" succeeded in what seemed like an impossible challenge. They have followed the novel's plot entirely,making minor tweaks and changes for the sake of exposition and moving things along.

The two hour premiere manages to thrust the viewer into 1100s England and reveal the complicated origins of the civil war with the ship burning and the crisis related to heirs of the throne. A monk overhears a plot to overthrow the king and tells his brother, who tells an archbishop, and the brother becomes a prior by helping the archbishop become elevated to bishop.

Why is that detail important? The new prior, Phillip, has decided to rebuild his cathedral by making it a "compass to God" and this event becomes central to the story "Pillars of the Earth." While wars and strife erupt around it, the beautiful cathedral rises from an English meadow.

The special effects and art direction masterfully create the grimy, gritty world of 1100s England and the stark contrasts between privileges of royalty and serfs wallowing in the mud beside the hogs they keep. Public executions and dismembering are commonplace as one plot change involving the deposed Earl Bartholomew of Shiring (portrayed aristocratically by Donald Sutherland) tears at the heart.

While the novel relied on straightforward storytelling, the miniseries offers deftly executed, haunting flashbacks to establish the mysterious Ellen's role in the dirty laundry of Percy Hamleigh and Archbishop Waleran's past. Her husband had been mysteriously executed around the time the ship burned. Ellen's son Jack, who is portrayed as an artistic savant, becomes a force in building the cathedral.

King Stephen also plays a larger role in the miniseries. His father portrays a ghost in his dreams in a manner similar to Hamlet, creating a torturous tumult of inner conflict in him. Best of all, Ian McShane as the absurdly evil Bishop Waleron Bigod explodes from the screen with a voice that booms like a thunderclap as he progresses from one dirty deed and double cross to another.

Eddie Redmayne as Jack Jackson, one of the central characters of the story, deserves special mention for his deft portrayal of the sensitive but strong character. Rufus Sewell as Tom Builder also shines, especially during one early intense scene where he forces the nasty William Hamleigh to pay him and his helpers despite being out-armed.

Some viewers may blanch at the changes involving the relationship between William Hamleigh and his mother, Regan. Even a casual review of the works of Shakespeare reveals that incest ran rampant through royalty during the middle ages, so the plot detail is historically relevant and manages to create additional atmosphere and tension.

Overall, the television miniseries should thrill the fans of the novel. Even the opening credits contain a clever, metamorphosing animated sequence and a stirring dramatic musical score punctuates and accentuates the grandeur.

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