Saturday, April 01, 2017

[Review] The Last Kingdom Season 1

The Danes don't like Saxons. The Saxons don't like Danes. The Danes like the lands of the Saxons.
The end.

Uhtred has a very peculiar way of greeting people...

The series flew under my radar last year, I didn't read about it, I never even saw any promo or information. Then, one day during hot summer, having nothing to watch, I randomly waded through a certain site and I came along the poster for this series. I said to myself (yes, I talk to myself, hang me*): wow what an engaging plot and historical accuracy... what a good looking guy! And me, being shallower than a gutter along the pavement, I started to watch it.

It's gritty, dirty and sometimes non-pleasant. It follows the latest trend in portraying the times forever gone as dirty, raw and devoid of any subtlety. Sex is portrayed as a rut. The emotional intelligence is in an embryonic state. The particularly painful scenes were with Uhtred's wife and their child. What started as a nice romance turned quickly into an emotional abuse and souring the relationship between two people. Apart from the initial mutual attraction, there was nothing connecting them.

It's BBC's adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories, the serialized period novels about the last kingdom in whole Albion that defied the Danes. I remember I read Sword Song and I liked it. It took place in 9th and 10th century.
Synopsis (and anchor pic) from this website.

As a child, Uhtred witnessed his father being killed and the Saxon army defeated by invading troops. Danish warlord Earl Ragnar captured Uhtred and raised him in a Danish camp alongside fellow captive Brida, a sharp-tongued girl. Years later, Uhtred is a valiant** warrior who is dealt another tragic blow when his home is deliberately set on fire, killing his surrogate family, including Ragnar. Now exiled -- alone except for Brida by his side -- he vows to avenge Ragnar's death and reclaim his homeland. But, he must choose between his birth country and the people who raised him. If he is going to help birth a new nation and ultimately recapture his ancestral land he must walk dangerous path between both sides
But the series was so engaging, I was bereft after hearing vicious rumors it would not be renewed. Finally, some people realized that along mediocre TV productions, there have to be also great ones.
This is something to watch, unless one doesn't like violence, decapitated people, mud and grey sky.
I highly recommend it, it's on the verge of being brilliant, reveling in subtleties and nuanced performances. The music doesn't pound and crush, but guides the action through the turbulent waters of a well constructed narrative.

It was shot in Hungary, so if you're longing to see this beautiful country... err, well, not this time. They chose perfectly plain and forested parts to imitate England in 10th century.

The series has Twitter: @TheLastKingdom
I don't have to add I'm watching season 2 and moaning over the fate of Uhtred, right?

* quote after: Gaius Balthar, Battlestar Galactica.
** as defined by 10th century standards.