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Terry Jones' Medieval Lives (2008)

Terry Jones  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Terry Jones
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 1, 2008
  • Run Time: 231 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0010V4VJY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,951 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Terry Jones' Medieval Lives" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Terry Jones: Medieval Lives (Dbl DVD)

Terry Jones brings his inimitable style, a mix of goofy humor and scholarly inquisitiveness, to the subject of the Middle Ages in Terry Jones' Medieval Lives. While best known as an alum of Monty Python's Flying Circus, Jones is also somewhat of a historian, and it's obvious that he loves delving into the past, bringing to life the characters of antiquity with as much enthusiasm and skill as he brought to comedy sketches with Python. In this adventure he is focusing on the medieval world to find out what it was really like, and dispels some tired old misconceptions and brings to light new discoveries. The series is broken up into individual episodes focusing on one social class of the time: kings, priests, peasants, knights, and so on. Interspersing documentarian moments of research with goofy skits and Terry Gilliam-esque animations to illustrate his point, Jones assumes the roles himself (a bumbling priest, a weary peasant) and presents the mini skits in his particular comedic style as a supplement to his narrative. The result is a very entertaining and easy-to-absorb program that never takes itself too seriously, and though some of the editing is a bit rough and clumsy, and some of the skits seem to actually detract from the overall flow of the show rather than contribute to it, Medieval Lives succeeds in bringing the subject to life in a novel way. As an added bonus for parents and educators, it's also appropriate for young children without being too heavy for them to absorb its historical lessons. --Daniel Vancini

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Totally worth the purchase October 9, 2008
Though he's best known for his Monty Python stuff don't be fooled into thinking this series is comedy. Terry Jones is an expert on this topic and presents some very compelling detail about roles in medieval society. The real gem of the series is that with each profession you watch another piece of the whole puzzle fits together to give you a broad picture. Finding real information about this time period that isn't about nobility or war is virtually impossible and Jones fills that gap admirably. Invaluable (and very entertaining) knowledge for anyone with a casual or professional interest in this sort of thing.

If I were pressed to find a negative about this series, it feels like a few ends are left dangling- I'm left wanting to see more chapters about the daily life of professional soldiers or lesser nobles. Some chapters, such as the one about kings, is more concerned with interesting trivia over daily life. All in all, minor complaints.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well made! April 21, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed Terry Jones's Hidden History Series (Egypt, Rome, History of Weapon technology) and purchased the "Barbarians" documentary. This one is enjoyable and educational like the other ones but adding the animation is brilliant! Considering that Monty Python always had animation, they should have done this on all the Terry Jones documentaries! There is also a bonus documentary on gladiators in Rome which is about an hour or so. Nice!
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34 of 42 people found the following review helpful
I echo all the praise of the previous reviews. As a medieval historian turned businessman, and a multimedia producer, I can't say how impressed I am with Mr. Jones' treatment of the subject, with his beloved humor and creativity - challenging our misperceptions and revealing details of medieval life we can appreciate through our shared humanity with people who lived so long ago. Thank you for caring so much about history, and sharing your enthusiasm!!

I challenge Mr. Jones to take another look at medieval monastic life and medieval spirituality. His episode on monks leaves the viewer with no sense of the value of spiritual life in general, or medieval or monastic life in particular. Mr. Jones' criticism of religious institutions and their worldly nonsense is most welcome, but can he look beyond these diversions from spirituality toward the real values and benefits that genuinely attracted people from all strata of society, and still do today? For a very different look at monastic life, I recommend the DVD "Into Great Silence" by Phillip Groning - a glimpse into the lives of Carthusian monks today, at the Grande Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps, founded by St. Bruno and his followers in 1084.

I think one of the most important jobs of a historian is not just to present the facts as accurately as possible, but actually help us see the world through the eyes of the people studied - and most medieval people lived in a world profoundly centered around religious belief and practice. Could he share with us something of the personal experience of devotion and spirituality, in a way that doesn't seem to assume that medieval people were too ignorant to know better?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Civilization for Dummies? July 12, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Where was Terry Jones when all of us were in the History of Western Civilization 101? Medieval Lives has to be the most entertaining, informative treasures of man's ascent from the bog! The DVD format is wonderfully produced with much of the creative descendants of Monty Python; brilliant use of art, music, interviews with academics and a whole range of scientific observation. Mr. Jones creates the perfect balance of humor and historical perspective as he traverses the map of civilization - dispelling the myth of Roman superiority with hilarious delight!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, irreverent, and dead-on December 2, 2009
By L. D.
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Nobody can skewer a subject like Terry Jones, but these episodes are funny AND tell it like it was. History sometimes sinks in better if taken with a grain of humor, and there's plenty of that here, liberally mixed with facts. Myths get debunked, and history is improved. There's a lot of meat mixed with the fluff, and you'll be surprised how much you can learn. Recommended to both those with mild interest, and to those who really really LIKE this stuff. (Or who just like Terry Jones, who appears as every one of the characters he reviews.)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I used to live in the UK and I saw Medieval Lives when it ran on the BBC and on reruns on UK History. I also have the book and recently reread it for the second or third time and thought to myself yet again, "Why isn't this series available on DVD?" My entire family enjoyed this show, even my then 11 year old son. This show is legitimate history but presented with a light comic touch that makes it accessible and definitely NOT boring. If you liked any of Terry Jones other history shows, you will like Medieval Lives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better post-Python solo projects October 4, 2010
Whilst some of the Pythons have continued to milk the MP catalog as much as possible (let's name no names, squire, nudge nudge), others such as Palin, Cleese, Gilliam and Jones have each done interestingly original things, and Terry's Medieval Lives is a fine addition to that list.

I haven't read his book of the same name and thus have no idea how the two intersect, but did come across this dvd in the local library and gave it a spin. Many misconceptions about the middle ages are dispelled here, and other theories are given new life. The best thing is that TJ doesn't take himself too seriously, and manages to have plenty of fun with a topic few would think worthy of comic spelunking (unless they'd seen Python's Holy Grail...and if you haven't, run don't walk and watch that golden comic masterpiece immediately!).

Some of the skits here are rather daft, but others hit the nail on the head. The best of the bunch might be The Knight, which skewers many misperceptions about chivalry and shares some most unpleasant truths about how very brutal many knights actually were. The Peasant and The Minstrel chapters are standouts as well; the latter also turns some typical historical assumptions upside down, and Terry's happy, goofy grin shows how much he really does love this topic.

I do know that I would have loved seeing this in school! If you teach history and want to wake your kids up, show them some of this dvd. If only all of history was approached with the same irreverence for cliches, matched with reverence for the subject, that we find here. And no doubt about it: Jones loves the medieval period and does his best to share that love here, and when it works it works quite winningly indeed.

Plus which, the guy can still make funny faces with the best of 'em. As with Palin traveling around the world, it's hard to not smile as you watch Jones have a good time here. The fact that we learn plenty in the meantime is a lovely bonus.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by Leslie Shields
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining
Educational and entertaining. Was well worth the cost and no problems with the product or function. Would recommend to anyone that likes history and Monty Python.
Published 4 months ago by kevin brodie
4.0 out of 5 stars informative fun
Terry Jones brings history to life in a entertaining way. Informing you of Medieval lives and myths by humorously portraying the people he is enlightening us on.
Published 5 months ago by Deb Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyable
If you are interested in Medieval times, Terry Jones does a great job. Being a former Monty Python member, you can expect lots of dry humor. Read more
Published 6 months ago by suzietoo
5.0 out of 5 stars Always the best
Terry Jones makes history easy to learn. If you are or anyone you know loves history, get this. Humor and history do not often go together, but that does not mean they conflict. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jtown
5.0 out of 5 stars Aunt's Gift
This was a gift for my aunt; to be honest, I'm not even sure what it is about. But she absolutely loved it, and the DVD works great! Thanks!
Published 7 months ago by Kylie Gross
5.0 out of 5 stars I learned about fleabane
Peasant's revolt 1381 is also called Wat Tyler's Rebellion turns out to be more complex than first thought. Read more
Published 7 months ago by bernie
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful, droll and concise!
Short and droll views of medieval life!
Usable as a source for middle school history resource. Each episode is less than an hour. Read more
Published 9 months ago by CarolineJordison
5.0 out of 5 stars masterful!!!!
This series gives a lot of information about the medieval times, mostly dispelling the notions we have about the way they lived. Read more
Published 13 months ago by charlotte's web
3.0 out of 5 stars Kinda Thin
interesting premise, and some kernals of wisdom here and there, but much of the show meanders as, i imagine, medieval life would, before the dawn of television, mass communication... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Matt
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