We hit the theatre Friday to see the new Christopher Nolan flick Inception, and though I won’t discuss it at length here, may I just say, YES.
I also took away from it the trailer for the new 8-part miniseries of The Pillars of the Earth, based on the wildly popular book of the same name. It wasn’t until I saw this preview that I realized it’s actually set in medieval England, during approximately 1135–1154.
As far as this project is concerned, this is great news; there’s not a ton of stuff set in the Norman period that’s applicable. Our other material is a television series from the early 1990s called “Cadfael”, about a Crusader-turned-monk who solves mysteries, which frankly sounds pretty awesome.
But back to “Pillars” — it’s been recommended to me by people who do know my taste in books, and I actually have the book on my Kindle waiting for me. And though I’m a fast reader, it’s about as long as Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, so there’s no way I’ll manage to read it before the series premiere on July 23, this coming Friday.
As I mentioned in “The search for Living in the Past”, there’s a huge gap in film coverage of pre-Roman Britain. But I have managed to find a few offerings, mostly through the kind help of strangers on the internet.
Y Mabinogi, aka Otherworld, is an animated version of the Welsh mythological record Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi (the Four Branches of the Mabinogi).
Since it was an independent Welsh production with a limited run, we can’t easily get ahold of a copy of it in time for us to watch it in the right timeline order. Which is a shame, because it looks like something I’d enjoy (naked ladies portrayed above not withstanding), and it’s a famously complicated story to portray, with its four interwoven narratives. I hold out hope for future viewing though.
Another helpful internet stranger, Sara C, recommended that we week out the BBC documentary series “A History of Britain” with Simon Schama, which ran from 2000 to 2002. The series looks great, and even better, is available through Netflix (though it’s also on YouTube for those of you who are feeling impatient). Nobody does historical documentaries like the BBC does historical documentaries. A highly valuable new addition to the timeline.
And finally, I never would have found the 1983 version of King Lear without the advice of Phanx, who pointed out that this particular production adheres to the appropriate setting (Stonehenge) for the myth of Leir of Britain.
This project wouldn’t be possible without all the helpful advice and collaboration we’ve received. Cheers to all of those who have helped so far!
Picking up where the schools left off - by watching movies!
We are learning about the whole of British history by watching films sorted into chronological order. In this way, we hope to place history's figures and events into a visual context, for easier understanding and retention. Our comprehension is supplemented by research and reading.
We started with Carl Sagan's Cosmos and films about cavemen, and we'll end with movies set in the future (Brazil, if..., A Clockwork Orange, Children of Men).
We will also be doing a branch of American history films when we reach that point in the timeline.
View our film list and offer us suggestions by commenting or emailing us at lehall-at-gmail-dot-com.