Known as the father of English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer's literary eminence was achieved despite having lived in one of the most troubled centuries the world has known, and one particularly fraught for England. Chaucer... more » may have suffered accordingly. It has been proposed that he was murdered!
He was born as England had entered into a war of conquest which was to last over 100 years, he survived the Black Death, and would witness the first revolutionary rising to challenge the status quo to date. He would be a soldier, a prisoner, a spy, a top civil servant, and a courtier. Throughout and despite all this, he would lead what was a brief golden age of English literature. Ultimately, he may have fallen foul of an English Inquisition.
ln addition Terry Jones, writer, film director, actor and historian contributes an interview to the program during which he presents his view of Chaucer and his society with wit, charm and passion and vigorously supports his theory that the poet became a victim of the political upheaval caused by the regime change from Richard II to Henry IV.« less
"The title is somewhat misleading, because this lengthy documentary is about so much more than the Canterbury Tales. Indeed, it covers Chaucer's life and career and the various literary works he produced, including the Canterbury Tales, but also Book of the Duchess, etc. It also provides a great deal of incidental information about life in the 14th-century, the politics, economic situation, the Black Plague, the 1381 Rising, etc. Terry Jones is not only a member of the Python group, but also a published scholar about the 14th century, including books about Chaucer's pilgrim knight (titled Chaucer's Knight), and the politics near the end of Chaucer's life (Who Murdered Chaucer?). He has participated in other documentaries about the period that are a bit more humorous and Python-esque, such as the delightful series, Medieval Lives. However, this foray is much more serious. The length would make it cumbersome to show in a single class period, but at the college level, it would be a useful adjunct, for viewing in the library, for students taking courses in Chaucer and other medieval literature. I did not have any problems with the sound or understanding the accents."
Elaine M. Manneh | Anaheim, California | 05/17/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The video portion is excellent but the audio leaves so much to be desired. I tried to use it in my English class and the students couldn't understand anything that was being said. This is unfortunate because there is too little out there in a visual format to enhance this topic."
Terry Jones' Canterbury Tales
English Major | 08/20/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was a little disappointed because I thought this was going to be a filmed version of some of the Canterbury Tales. Instead, it is a narrative by T. Jones about the background history of the times, and of Chaucer, and shows some places in England that relate to the Tales. The DVD is interesting to me because I have a deep interest in English history, but was not what I expected. There was no way to discern this from my reading of the blurb that accompanied the Amazon DVD info. Or, because it didn't say 'narrative only', I expected something different.
Nonetheless, I have appreciated it for what it is. Just wish I'd known that before I sent for it."
Crissi | Austria | 07/14/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The picture quality is not the best - and Terry Jones is somehow being interviewed - if they would have filmed one of his lectures, it would have been much better."
Only good for its intended purpose
Michael Powell | Roanoke, VA USA | 11/24/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"While those who are as interested in Chaucer as Jones seems to be might enjoy it, I felt I should point out that unlike most of Jones' historical documentaries, he does not "host" or even "narrate" this one. He is only shown in brief, rather dry interview segments between long stretches of even drier narration by Peter Morgan Jones (likely no relation to Terry). The video portion consists mainly of panning over still images, with any actual video footage being zoom-ins and zoom-outs on scenic views, containing very little motion at all. The only real comic relief is the painting behind Jones. Misidentified as some random joke by another reviewer, Python fans will recognize it as depicting Jones' "nude organist" character from Monty Python's Flying Circus. While there are plenty of good historical docs from Jones that are both educational and entertaining (and this is the first one I've seen that isn't), I'd recommend this only if your focus is on Chaucer rather than Jones."