Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Pillars of the Earth

Does anyone have the Starz channel besides Dezmond and myself? If so you should check out the special they've been airing on Friday nights this summer. It's a mini-series adaption of a great novel from the 80s called The Pillars of the Earth, which was written by Ken Follett.

It's a Scott Free production which if you aren't familiar with the company simply means that the Scott brothers, Ridley and Tony of Blade Runner, Gladiator and American Gangster fame are executive producers. That doesn't mean much artistically since neither one of them directed or produced the films or wrote the screenplay, but their involvement is evident in the attention to detail. It's a television production so of course there is not the big budget feel of a Hollywood blockbuster, but the plot of Pillars is too convoluted for a 2-3 hour film anyway.

If you've never read the book I would definitely suggest it. I haven't read it for years but I do recall enjoying it quite a bit. Ken Follett isn't the greatest wordsmith ever. His prose doesn't flow like McCarthy's or resonate like Tolkien's, and his dialogue does not have the snap of a Leonard or Price, but what he can do, and what he does VERY well is craft memorable characters who he intertwines into the most epic, complex and thrilling plots.

Much of his work is historical fiction but he is probably most famous for Eye of the Needle and On Wings of Eagles. It's not highly literary work but the books have been very commercially successful and the ones that I have read have all been fun, engrossing stories. But anyway, back to the TV version.

I especially enjoy the cast in this adaptation. It stars some well known character actors but only Donald Sutherland is famous, and he only has a small role in the beginning. Some of the other actors whose portrayal's I've been enjoying are:

Ian McShane, as Bishop Waleran.
Rufus Sewell, as Tom Builder.
Matthew MacFayden, as Prior Philip.
Hayley Atwell, as Aliena.
and Eddie Redmayne, as Jack.

Of course this is not the greatest show ever. It's certainly not as exciting as True Blood, as funny as Glee, or as entertaining as Entourage, but it is good, and it's historically educational and not so violent that we can't watch it with our older daughter, who loves it. If you have Starz and you enjoy political intrigue involving the church and crown set in the Middle Ages I suggest you check this show out.

28 comments:

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Hmm, doesn't really sound like my cup of tea ... Not really into historical stuff. Which is odd considering I was addicted to my history class in high school!Interesting though!

Are you a writer? Then you MUST enter this CONTEST!

Candyland said...

Sounds interesting, Tim. Never seen it though.

DEZMOND said...

hey, Matt, who says I have STARZ??? :))) Here in Europe we don't have STARZ but we do have internet :) which we can use to download programmes of interest :) Otherwise we'd never see any of the fresh shows and films.
The cast in PILLARS really is great, especially Rufus, but I must admit I've never liked Hayley Atwell, I would choose another actress for the role.
As you read over in my HOLLYWOOD SPY, the sequel might be on its way as well.

Vicki Rocho said...

I LOVED that book...at least I loved it in the 80's when I read it. I had no idea they were making it into a movie.

Do I have Starz, though? hmmm. I know it's sad, but I don't remember WHAT channels we have. Don't ask me to find ABC / NBC / TLC or any of the others. I use the onscreen guide and pay no attention to what channel my show is on.

Okay, that's not true. Truth is when I get TV, it's usually on HGTV (47)...the rest is a puzzle! But thanks for the heads up, this should be interesting to watch

Kristi Helvig said...

I have Starz free for 3 months but want to read the book first--it's sitting on my TBR pile upstairs and I've heard great things about it! Too many books, too little time...:)

Alissa said...

I've had The Pillars of the Earth on my to-read list for awhile. I really need to get around to reading it. Anyway, of course I can't watch the movie before I do.

Lenny said...

hi mr matthew! sorry no starz at our house. my brother like history a lot and im gonna tell him about this book. maybe he already read it. i dont know so im still gonna tell him.
...smiles from lenny

Bish Denham said...

Oh I'd like to see this. I LOVE both Ian McShane (he was awesome in Deadwood) and Rufus Sewell (he was great in The Last King) Besides which they look like they should be related.

Will Burke said...

I love that church-and-state intrigue! I hope another network picks it up!

Christina Lee said...

We DO have Starz--what have we been doing on Friday nights that this doesn't even sound familiar to me (we channel flip a lot)? I'm on it!

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Im totally watching this each week--I havent read the book but now I want to. Im really bummed Tom died...I love Rufus Sewell!

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

I did enjoy the book. I shall have to rent the series once it's out.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I used to have Starz, but between NetFlix and Hulu, I just wasn't watching it anymore.

Elana Johnson said...

Well, how can you get funnier than Glee? My only requirement is entertainment, and this sounds like it has that.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Sounds interesting. I'll have to hope it comes across the pond on the SciFi channel. :)

Old Kitty said...

I want to see I want to see I want to see!!

I have no idea what Starz channel is but I'm hoping the terrestrial channels here (BBC preferably!!) pick it up - sounds fabulous!!

I want!! LOL!! Maybe I ought to read the book first? I've (hangs head in shame) not read any Ken Follet so it's maybe a good place to start!

take care
x

Jemi Fraser said...

I haven't seen it either - I'll have to check it out :)

Jared Larson said...

I've always thought about reading it, but never did. I think I'll pick it up now. Thanks man.

Eric W. Trant said...

Man, I just downgraded all my cable channels. I don't even have Sci Fi anymore...

- Eric

Elaine AM Smith said...

I'll look out for this turning up! It sounds well worth watching to me. :)

Lisa of In Pencil said...

I don't have Starz, but I'm wondering if there is place to stream it online? Anyone know?

Angela Ackerman said...

Haven't seen this, but I'll look for it (the series and the book). :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Robert Guthrie said...

Church, crown, Middle Ages and Rufus Sewell who always does a great job... I'm might be sold.

Talli Roland said...

I've not heard of this and I probably can't get it over here. But, er, thanks! :)

Jen said...

I loved all the title's of shows that you enjoyed at the bottom that you made clear you were not comparing them to. You had me laughing out loud.

This doesn't sound like something I'd watch but I'm glad you're enjoying it!

Ted Cross said...

I loved the book, but I can't get that channel. Blade Runner is my favorite movie, too, so Ridley Scott is awesome.

aspiring_x said...

don't get the channel... but WOW that pic is absolutely GORGEOUS!!!

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