We saw the final episode of this in the UK – oops. But it did get us quite excited about the fact that ABC bought it, and it started tonight.
It’s pretty bad, and pretty good at the same time.
Oh, the action
The music – very Superman/Star Wars
So, so may cliches
Two arrows at once?!
Robin is short
Oh, the action
Robin has to work for Marion
The music – very Superman/Star Wars
Very, very modern
OK, so overall it was pretty bad. Definitely no Ivanhoe, Will Scarlet is no Christian Slater, the scenery didn’t even try to emulate 1190s reality (1190s? Didn’t he mention it was Urban II’s crusade??). But the sheriff – he is SO bad; and Guy of Gisborne, from what I have seen in this and the final episode, walks that wonderfully fine line of being bad but evoking a fair amount of sympathy from the audience – enough that it makes things a little bit uncomfortable for them, And, to make matters worse in the UK, just after the final episode was the Christmas episode of the Vicar of Dibley, in which the actor who plays Guy was the romantic lead… very, very funny.
I think I will be watching more. If only to find out how the Arabic girl (oops, slight spoiler there) makes it into the Merry Men.
I am in the middle of Ivanhoe, the TV show. I thought it was much older than it is – it was made in 1997! And there was me thinking there were parts that looked like Monty Python’s Holy Grail! Oops.
I am definitely enjoying it… I got Scott’s book at a second hand book sale ages ago, but haven’t got around to reading it yet. Of course. The romantic entanglements have me very confused about exactly how it will all be resolved in the end. Well, one of them is dead, so I guess that helps… .
Still in the Kingdom of Heaven
Gosh, it’s so useful to have a leader who used to be a blacksmith, isn’t it? You can think up all sorts of useful little tricks to bring down the belfries.
And, much as I am embarassed to admit it, Orlando really is a bit of a cutie (sorry J, but he is). He does always play the same character, though… much like Hugh Grant. And bordering on being almost as weak-looking, too. Perfect for Paris Alexandros… what a pansy.
Kingdom of Heaven
So I borrowed this out for viewing with some students on a Medieval Day we had at school. We offered Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Monty Python and the Holy Grail also, and I watched the former. I was glad I did, since half way through one of the teachers came and asked whether I had seen it, and if I knew where to forward it to. I hadn’t, so I didn’t; she said the kids were getting bored because it was a talkfest, with very little fighting.
Anyway, we decided to watch it tonight, since it’s our Friday and there is nothing else on TV. It’s not quite as bad as the teacher suggested yesterday, but I can see why the kids were bored. The fighting is – well, I think it’s stylised in some ways, and there really isn’t as much as I had expected. I had thought that this was set during one of the actual Crusades, but it isn’t. (but OH – we just got to the Saladin bit, and that is clever! I knew the Saracen he didn’t kill wasn’t a servant or slave… oh hang on, I thought he was Saladin himself. OK, that’s not quite as cool as I originally thought. Oh well.).
There is a lot of talking. And some bits that I find highly dubious. However, the fact that I picked it was going to be Baldwin the Leper as king has me very smug (and the mask is very cool; I wonder how Edward Norton felt about that, since you basically don’t know it’s him). And the portrayal of Saladin is very positive, for a Hollywood film. Made in 2005… so after the latest crusade was preached by Bush… I wonder if that is deliberate.
Lots of familiar faces in this film too, which is fun. Reinault, he fauning leader of the Templars, was Menelaos in another role. Jeremy Irons, hurrah! Liam Neeson, for all of 10 minutes. Guy de Lusignan… what a different role for Martin Csorkas. I loved him in Aeon Flux, and of course as Celeborn. And the lord not killed by Orlando was blown up in Spooks in very sad fashion. (Notice how I am not bothering to mention Orlando? Pft. Playing Will, again, basically.)
(Pseudo?) Historical films
I am flabbergasted that someone has bothered to make a film about Romulus Augustulus; I would not have thought that enough people would know about him and the Goths to make it worthwhile. Maybe it is indicative of the perennial hold that the Romans still seem to have over the Western imagination and self-identity… or myabe because it is relatively unknown, the producers/director thought it would be easier to cut historical corners on. Who knows; I think I will go and see it, whenever it gets released, just for curiosity’s sake. Romulus is played by that kid from Love Actually – that, I am not convinced by. Nor am I entirely convinced by Colin Firth as Aurelius – nice choice of name though.
The other, more probably pseduo, historical movie that has caught my attention recently is 300, which is about the Spartans at Thermopylae. This has great potential, I feel – nice bit of self-sacrifice, high drama, etc. I am a bit dubious, though, because it is based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller… and, having seen the trailer, it has a very similar feel to Sin City. I imagine it will be very gruesome, probably highly sexual, and – I dread – a long way from any sort of historical accuracy. I am a fan of Gerard Butler, and heck, it’s got David Wenham too (hasn’t he done well from himself?), so maybe they will be saivng graces.
I guess this brings up the whole issue of whether movies ought to be ‘factual’ and ‘true to history’ or not, much like the Inga Clendinnen question about ‘historical’ fiction. Having not seen Alexander, I won’t even bring that one up, but… I’m really not sure where I stand with this issue. I like my movies that are based on history to be fairly ‘true to life’ (ack, such tricky waters… I know this brings up all sorts of issues about what we actually can know blah blah blah). That said, if a movie is blatant about the fact that they are not, in fact, striving for accuracy, but for a jolly good movie – and they actually manage a good movie – then I can forgive a fair bit….
I bought this book at Borders called something like A Handy History Handbook; it wasn’t quite that bad, but it was $10 and I thought it might have some interesting and/or useful facts in it.
Like the fact that the Roman Empire began in 27BC when Julius Caesar became emperor.
My goodness. I hadn’t realised how bad submarine movies could get. I guess we have been spoiled, with Red October and K-19: The Widowmaker, but still! Largely boring action bits that don’t compensate for no character development. Disappointing… and you hardly hear boo from Bon Jovi, so even that potentially entertaining bit is squished.
Warriors of God
It’s not as academic as I had hoped. The author, James Reston, has probably set out to write a very approachable books – and it is, which is great. However, it rankles when he says ‘one chronicle remarks…’ and doesn’t tell you which chronicle that is. And, probably the most annoying thing, he does not give much reason for wholeheartedly accepting the theory that Richard and Phillip Augustus were lovers… and that annoys me. I don’t care if they were, I just object to the unscholarly way he approaches it – like he’s sensationalising it, and making Richard seem more modern, or something.
He also seems to have a love of Saladin and rather ambiguous feelings towards Richard. Which is fine, and I don’t mind authors saying that, but I do think they should make an effort to present balanced evidence, however much that is possible when you’re writing history.
It is a good book, though, and I think it is a good introduction to the period and people. I even like that it has me annoyed and asking questions, because that gets me doing my own research.