March 17, 2005

Ivan "Whoa"...

Burly saxons with frizzy hair, corrupt knights, evil monks, damsels in distress, effeminite kings and, of course, a noble hero. What more could you possibly ask for in a miniseries, I ask? We recently watched Ivanhoe, a 1997 miniseries jointly produced by the BBC and A&E (god bless them both) based on the classic novel by Sir Walter Scott.

The movie kept us on the edge of our seat, with plenty of action, surprising plot turns and captivating character development. Somewhere in the middle of the two-part series, I found myself feeling secretly guilty over the fact that one of the movie's most hateable villains, the Templar Knight Sir Brian Dubois-Guilbert (played by Ciaran Hinds), was beginning to win me over. "Is it wrong of me to be rooting for this horrendous cur?" I wondered, wishing his kidnap victim, Rebecca of York, would fall as madly in love with him as I was beginning to. (In the end, this villain's redemption becomes complete, assuring me I wasn't such a sicko to be rooting for him after all.)

Meanwhile, I found myself less moved by Steven Waddington's portrayal of Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe. "If he were only a mite bit sexier -- or less dopey," I crassly sighed during his most heroic endeavors.

The sword-wielding heroics of the Black Knight (a.k.a Richard the Lionhearted) were fairly swoon-worthy, and the mounting tension in the film's final hour was interrupted only by a truly brilliant comic moment where Prince John and King Richard's mother ordered them to make nice.

All in all i could definitely watch this one again. Hooray for A&E/BBC! -- Amy


  1. Dubois-Gilbert and Rebekah definitely were the hawt couple of this mini-series, while King Richard "The Black Knight" was the perfect rebel hero. Other pluses: The stomach-churning jousting scenes and the Shakespearean fool who manages to subtly out-savvy them all.

  2. Also, Ciaran Hinds is the tall, dark, and handsome Capt. Wentworth in Austen's Persuasion.

  3. Anonymous5:20 PM

    Dubois-Gilbert has always seemed to be a tragic character to me. The one woman he loved married another. He went to the Holy Land in the Crusades to find redemption and only found damnation. Finally, as Ivanhoe is about to kill him, he says, "I would not bleed for Richard, but I will bleed for her. Do it!" He found his redemption in the love for the one woman that he could never have, at least in the mortal world.

  4. Anonymous5:29 PM

    A post-script to my comment on Dubois-Gilbert. The mushroom-haired Saxons were a bit much. Although they didn't cut their hair, there is little historical evidence that they were fuzzy. Anglo-Saxon illuminations from the period demonstrate the opposite, with long hair the norm, but not puffing out. This certainly matches with the burial evidence that indicates that fluffy hair would not have worked with their helmets.