Enter the Normans: The British History Challenge- #4 & #5

Ok. Onwards with our history challenge! We’re out of the Roman period and after a huge gap known as the Dark Ages, we’re back blinking into the light of a nation ravaged by raiders and war… And we don’t miss those pesky Romans one bit… Or their Indian ninja women!

#4 ‘The Vikings’

  • General Opinion- Good solid film, but slightly dated.
  • Review: Throwing axes at women imprisoned in stocks, people ripping their clothes off in the middle of the sea, throwing people into a freezing cold fjord…  These Vikings know how to party!  This is history as it probably was- people having fun, taking the piss and generally behaving like trolls and completely off their face half the time, not staid and lifeless, speaking in ways that sound like they’ve been watching too many episodes of Call my Bluff.  All the main players- Kirk Douglas, Ernest Borgnine, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh give it their best shot and it shows, giving the film the extra dimension it needs to take it to the next level.  This is not to say the film is perfect, far from it. It does start to drag after the first hour due to a slow pace and long, sometimes unnecessary bits of dialogue. The animated Bayeux tapestry at the start, along with the accompanying narration is almost completely pointless.  The visuals, as well, do look dated in places but this is easily resolved by removing the colour.  And one more thing…Just exactly whose side are they on here? Norway looks a lot less bleak and depressing than England does, whilst the English themselves are the barbaric ones with their pits of ravenous dogs and cruel laws… Then again, in a film called “The Vikings” this is probably to be expected.
  • Rating: 7/10- Good… but looks better with the colour switched off.

5#- The Pillars of the Earth

  • General Opinion- A riveting eight part epic about the building of a cathedral during the reign of King Stephen and easily one of the highlights of the list.
  • Review: What the hell is with Matthew Macfadyen’s accent? I know he’s supposed to be trying to sound Welsh but he sounds more Indian. This is a minor niggle, however, in what is a great series. Starting off with the White Ship disaster, in 1120, that killed William Adelin, only legitimate son of Henry I, the series utilises the events that followed (namely the succession crisis commonly referred to as “the Anarchy”) as a backdrop which interweaves with and affects the main plot throughout, eventually coming once again to the forefront towards the end, tying up the varying plot threads in a satisfying way.
  • Ok… This is one I’ve seen before and it went on the list because I thought i’d give it another run through. Second time around it doesn’t disappoint and it’s just as good, if not better.
  • It’s good… But there’s another annoyance. Somewhere in there is an extra who seems to state the obvious every time something happens. You don’t really notice it when watching the first time round but now he’s cropping up everywhere. You never see him, but you always hear him shouting things like “the church is on fire,” and “here comes king Stephen, here comes king Stephen.” Unfortunately the best line of “oh my God it’s ginger,” is one that I made up myself… but could have been in there. By the time you reach episode five you’re kind of hoping that William “The MOFO” (literally) Hamleigh is going to slit his gizzard in some truly gruesome fashion.
  • We don’t get enough of Donald Sutherland as Bartholemew, Earl of Shiring either, as he’s bumped off early on, and even then he doesn’t do an awful lot. The rest of the cast more than make up for this though, despite Macfadyen’s accent.
  • Eight parts means the plot get’s a bit strung out towards the end but it still manages to stay true to form and quality leaving a good, lasting impression.
  • Rating: 8/10- Outstanding but gets let down by that annoying extra… And one more question… HOW THE FUDGE DID SHE GIVE BIRTH IN THAT SITUATION?

For a change, we’re sticking with the same century for the next few films, The double slam combo of Peter O’Toole’s Henry II films and the most recent film on the list, Ironclad.


3 thoughts on “Enter the Normans: The British History Challenge- #4 & #5

Add yours

  1. 😮
    And where mister… is the peter o’tool and catherine hepburn version of Lion in Winter??!!
    And there is also Ironclad based just after the Magna Carta of 1215!

    Come on man!

      1. Yeah… another one that could have been included but i decided to leave it out for some reason. Can’t recall why.

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