Audio commentary by Derek Jacobi
Xeneri | 08/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Have a care with visionaries, they are not always bidable," Brother Cadfael in the beginning of A MORBID TASTE FOR BONES. In this installement, the Abbot instructs former soldier turned Monk, Cadfael to journey to Wales and bring back thr bones of St Winifred, so that she may rest in the care of Shrewsberry's Abbey. Reluctantly Cadfael does as he is told and leads some of his brethren to rescue Winifred. By difficulties arise when Lord Rhysart and the good people of Gwytherin do not wish to give up the saint. Rhysart vows to protect her and her burial place to the death. Prophetic, since he is found murdered the next morning. Cadfael must solve the mystery else he and his Benedictine brothers die themselves. After separating facts from lies, Cadfael sees to it that St. Winifred and Columbarnus both rest peacefully. Those fascinated by Medieval pagan rituals and customs will enjoy this mystery.If you've never read any of the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters you are in for a treat. This series originaly broadcast on the BBC are faithful adaptions about a master sleuth in Monk's clothing. Brother Cadfael is a monk with a difference and never what he seems. Given a choice, he would rather work in his garden or practice his herbal remedies. But too often, events force him to use his detective skills in response to mysterious crimes happening in his community, often finding himself at odds with the medievil times in which he lives.This DVD release includes an audio commentary by Derek Jacobi and a Ellis Peters Biography, complemented by full frame, 2.0 stereo sound. A nice little package for Cadfael fans."
In the beginning....
Dianne Foster | USA | 10/22/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Fans of Ellis Peters know she was born in Wales and her protagonist Brother Cadfael was also of Welsh birth. They also know that Peters wrote history under her real name, Edith Pargeter. One of her books describes a battle near Shrewsbury where the Welsh attempted with Sir Percy (Harry Hotspurs) to defeat Henry IV in the early 1400s. Fans of Shakespeare's Henry VI Part II know that Sir Percy died on Shrewsbury battlefield, and that the Welsh were defeated and Henry V became the Prince of Wales and a "national" hero. Pargeter, writing in the 20th Century had not forgotten the humiliating defeat, and in her own way she contributed to the Welsh independence movement underway in the U.K. at this time. I mention all this, even though these events occured after Cadfael's exploits take place in the mid-1100s, because it is important to understand the long history of tension between the people of Wales who are primarily descended from the Celts and the people of Norman descent who served as priests in the monasteries of Cadfael's era and beyond (the brothers were normally Anglo-Saxon). And, of course the aristocracy including Henry IV and V was Norman. In "A Morbid Taste for Bones" (the first of Peter's 20 volumes on the life of Brother Cadfael the Benedictine monk), Cadfael is fairly new at his vocation, although he is in his fifties. At one point in the series a rather nasty priest says to Cadfael, "You came late to the church" to which he replies, "I came when God called." Brother Cadfael is constantly challenged by the Norman monks who are "fathers" (can hear confessions and grant absolution) partly because of his age and his past career as a soldier who killed other men, but mostly because of his Welsh background. It is because of his Welsh background that Cadfael is called upon by the Abbot of Shrewsbury to lead an expedition of monks into Wales to seek the bones of a young saint named Winifred. Of course, it barely occurs to the Norman monks at Shrewsbury in England that the local folk in Wales may not be eager to give up their native saint.Almost as soon as the monks arrive in the village where Saint Winifred is buried trouble arises. Of course the monks are challnged and threatened physically by the local Welsh. Next day, the leader of the Welshmen is found dead. Could it be one of the monks killed him? Quite possibly, but there are others who had a grudge with this overbearing man including a young Anglo-Saxon man who had sought shelter from political enemies in England. All of Ellis Peters stories about Brother Cadfael have many layers of complexity and this one is no exception. I read all the books before I saw the video series on PBS and I found them rich and complicated. I think it must be difficult to follow the storyline without having read the books, and I recommend that you buy the books and read them, and buy this DVD with the proviso that you may find it difficult to understand all the political angles. The DVD productions are quite well done, although the filming is somewhat lacking in verismilitude (it is now known, for example, that the English of the 1100s were not nearly so dirty as those of the 1400s and beyond, so overlook some of the dirt). If you love the Middle Ages, you can't go too far wrong. I have one reservation, I think the series declined after Ellis Peters died. They had not finished filming all the tales at the time of her death, but this one must have been completed beforehand, or she came back and haunted the set, because it sticks pretty close to the story."