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 didnt. Tom Builder (Rufus Sewell in perfectly shaven designers 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. Thats 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 monkshabits, thats more specialised knowledge), but mr Davignon hasnt 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 didnt and it shows. Again."
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard nI 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