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The Pillars of the Earth on Starz

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Ken
Compulsive Reader
Location: Truro, Cornwall, UK

Postby Ken » Sun October 17th, 2010, 5:53 pm

"Vanessa" wrote:I enjoyed the first episode and thought it was quite close to the book as I remember it! It was entertaining.


I enjoyed it too! A bit too much gratuitous sex, (I watched with my daughter), but overall, pretty faithful to the book, not many obvious (to me) historical blips and pretty authentic scenery and costumes. The villains were suitably villainous and I look forward to their comeuppance(s)! :p

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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee & The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau (Pigeonhole)
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favorite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Postby Vanessa » Sun October 17th, 2010, 7:34 pm

Yes. But they do warn you at the beginning of the programme and I suppose it did happen in the book. Not very nice at all, though.

I was reading about it in the TV Times - all the pots, pans, etc, were copies of the original 12thC versions. Interesting that it was filmed in Budapest! And, of course, Regan was quite ugly in the book!! :rolleyes: Not just a little mark on the side of her face.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: Christmas Lights by Karen Swan & The Christmas Card Crime and other stories
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Postby Madeleine » Mon October 18th, 2010, 11:20 am

I was wondering what that mark was on Regan's face, was it a birthmark?

I didn't actually think it was that gratuitous; after what people have said about the sex scenes in the book, I was expecting much worse!
Currently reading "Christmas Lights" by Karen Swan & "The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories"

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EC2
Bibliomaniac
Location: Nottingham UK
Contact:

Postby EC2 » Mon October 18th, 2010, 11:34 am

Re the costumes. I could see they were wrong from the 5 minutes I saw, but they are not going to detract from the enjoyment of everyone at large and I thought the overall feel was good. (apart from Rufus Sewell's silly knitted vest). However, there's a discussion of Pillars the TV prog going on, on an academic list where I lurk. One of the guys there feels very strongly that historical films should get the look right - after all it costs no more, so he had a rant the other day which I have posted below! Enjoy - or not!

"OK, some basic principles then… Mario Davignon is the costume designer for the series. He has an impressive list of credits for that kind of work on 23 films since 1994 and worked in wardrobe departments on another 23 since 1986. Among his main jobs are such classics as Highlander III, Bury my heart at wounded knee and Journey to the centre of the earth. I think this is his first medieval movie, so he may have come a bit raw to the job. There is, however, a lot om material about 12th c dress and armour available (I know, I own most). I can see he saw some of it, mainly in the dress of the elite. There are some beautiful silks around in royal and nobles’ costumes. But as soon as monks or commoners appear on the scene he is out of his depth. Hoods are 14th c, monks wear them as well, but they did not start to wear separate hoods until in the 15th c, a lot of costumes are buttoned up in front, but the first use of single buttons is the middle of the 13th c and rows of buttons appear only after 1300. Both male and female cottes (tunics) sometimes have short sleeves; not in the 12th c they didn’t. Tom Builder (Rufus Sewell in perfectly shaven designer’s stubble) sports a roughly knitted sleeveless vestlike garment over his cotte which has never existed during the whole of the middle ages. Others, both male and female, wear other, longer, similar overthrows, maybe just to get more variation in dress. That’s one thing directors of medieval movies like: not everybody the same, differents colours and textures, details of thick bands and chunky jewellery. Alle very theatrical. Face it: people looked much the same in the 12th c, not drab, but sameish: loose long cottes, for men as well, although not as long as for women, not much jewellery except maybe a belt buckle or mantle clasp, not too close fitting hose, small hoods, thick semy circular mantles, low shoes, coifs (linen head caps tied below the chin), all women had natural coloured linen headcloths, only some young, rich noble ladies had yellow silk head rails, but al others had white coverings. Oh, I could go on. All this is easy to look up in the regular costume books (except maybe for the monks’habits, that’s more specialised knowledge), but mr Davignon hasn’t done it.

Same goes for the armour. Professional soldiers, knights, mercenaries, followers and guards of the kings and nobles wore head to toe mail (hauberks) with integrated mail hoods. None of these separate mail hoods or camails. The Crusades had recently introduced cloth jupons over the hauberk, not yet heraldic, but even so brightly coloured. Nobles wore them of silk. Shields were still quite long, proto- or early heraldic, not round and made of plastic as in the series. Helmets were slightly pointy or round with nasals, at the end of the century followed by the squarish top helmets, still without the facemasks. Swords were shortish, broad, and used for hacking only. For the rest: lances and pikes, simple ash sticks with a small steel tip. So where are these decorated metal (read cast plastic) curasses coming from? The ‘leather’ or lamellar gambesons? Too few mail coats?



As for sets: churches, castles and palaces were brightly painted and decorated on the inside and sometimes on the outside as well. This would have been a perfect occasion to introduce proper plastered and decorated interiors, but no: all bare stone walls and pillars. Churches were decorated from top to bottom (in that order) while the scaffolding still stood so they did not have to build them twice. No such thing occurred in the series, it was all white, except for a few statues, which then stood out like sore thumbs. No wall hangings were seen in the palace or castle rooms and halls as well. They would have been used to keep the warmth of the fires in and the draught out (yes, in winter they were hung in front of the lower parts of the windows too, which were glass-less, because light came through the upper glazed parts). And did I notice the entrance to brother Cadfaels monastery in the Kingsbridge priory? This was also shot in Hungary, maybe they still had it in storage?

Sofar: I think set and costume designers could do much better and a good art-director should be aware of the possibilities and pass them on to both the director and the designers. But this one didn’t and it shows. Again."
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Miss Moppet
Bibliophile
Location: North London
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Postby Miss Moppet » Mon October 18th, 2010, 6:08 pm

Costumes in film always seem to be wrong somehow.

Image

This is from The Libertine. I don't know if the scene is set in the 1660s or 1670s, but either way it's wrong. Johnny Depp (Rochester) is wearing a coat, but coats didn't come into fashion for men in England until the 1670s. If it's the 1670s, Rosamund Pike (his wife) is wearing an outdated gown, with the full sleeves and wide neckline of the 1660s rather than the elongated, slim lines of the 1670s. They are supposed to be court nobility and this was a time when if aristocratic tourists arrived in a capital city and found their clothes were out of style, they would stay in the inn for two or three days until a tailor could adapt their clothes or make new ones, so as not to be exposed to public ridicule. So I have no idea what the costume designer's rationale is in this case.

That’s one thing directors of medieval movies like: not everybody the same, differents colours and textures, details of thick bands and chunky jewellery. All very theatrical.


Yes, I think directors want things to look visually interesting, and don't care if it isn't authentic.

As for sets: churches, castles and palaces were brightly painted and decorated on the inside and sometimes on the outside as well. This would have been a perfect occasion to introduce proper plastered and decorated interiors, but no: all bare stone walls and pillars. Churches were decorated from top to bottom (in that order) while the scaffolding still stood so they did not have to build them twice. No such thing occurred in the series, it was all white, except for a few statues, which then stood out like sore thumbs. No wall hangings were seen in the palace or castle rooms and halls as well. They would have been used to keep the warmth of the fires in and the draught out (yes, in winter they were hung in front of the lower parts of the windows too, which were glass-less, because light came through the upper glazed parts).


I wonder if this is a cost thing (less expensive not to bother with painted interiors or hangings) or do they produce what they think people want to see? Eg, the Elizabeth Golden Age movie was all filmed in cathedrals and churches doubling for secular interiors, which looked totally wrong to me, but perhaps because that's how it's been done in the past, that's what they think is expected.

Image
Last edited by Miss Moppet on Mon October 18th, 2010, 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: Christmas Lights by Karen Swan & The Christmas Card Crime and other stories
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Postby Madeleine » Mon October 18th, 2010, 7:22 pm

Actually I would think cost probably has quite a bit to do with it, this type of drama is incredibly expensive to make and has a pretty large cast.

And I think you're right about the use of colours; they probably want the actors/characters to stand out more on screen and thus make the best use of the visual medium. I caught the end of an old Robin Hood film on TV today and was almost dazzled by all the different colours, it was like looking at a human rainbow!
Currently reading "Christmas Lights" by Karen Swan & "The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories"

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EC2
Bibliomaniac
Location: Nottingham UK
Contact:

Postby EC2 » Tue October 19th, 2010, 2:17 pm

"Miss Moppet" wrote:
but perhaps because that's how it's been done in the past, that's what they think is expected.

Image


Reader expectation is always a challenge. The sound you hear of swords zinging from scabbards doesn't actually happen, but the public expect it, so it has to be dubbed in afterwards.
With a drama set in the 1670's I wouldn't know what was wrong unless it was really obvious and centuries adrift, but give me the 12thC and I can spot the errors a mile away. Knowing stuff is definitely a double edged sword. Even if you make a pact with yourself to suspend the critcism, the eye is still taking in the wrong detail and nudging the mind.
Les proz e les vassals

Souvent entre piez de chevals

Kar ja li coard n’I chasront



'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'


Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal



www.elizabethchadwick.com

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sweetpotatoboy
Bibliophile
Location: London, UK

Postby sweetpotatoboy » Tue October 19th, 2010, 4:31 pm

This is fascinating. I don't really know much about precise details of period dress or architecture so I probably wouldn't notice errors such as these. And I'm reasonably into history obviously. So I would hazard that 99.9% of the audience would not notice either. Then again, obviously a lot of time, effort and money goes into deciding on and designing costumes etc., so why not build in a little bit extra to consult an academic who knows their stuff? Or do they do that already and then frequently ignore them for the sake of the visual impact?
I found particularly interesting the comment about most people's clothes looking practically identical in real life, which obviously wouldn't work that well on screen.


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