As a result of his journeys, Jack has learned how to fulfill Tom Builder's dream of a cathedral filled with light. Aliena tracks Jack by following the trail of his carvings. Waleran offers Philip a ...
Eight years later, Jack's fixation with the cathedral leaves him little time or energy for anything else, while Aliena's fixation with the distant Earldom of Shiring has married her to Alfred, a man ...
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
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 »
Grand, thrilling epic respectful to its source material
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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