Terry Jones: Medieval Lives (Dbl DVD)
The Emmy-nominated Medieval Lives by legendary Monty Python star and medieval scholar, Terry Jones, finally arrives on DVD! Terry Jones has been leafing through the history books to find out what the medieval world was really like. What he discovered is a treasure trove of extraordinary stories and characters that challenge the tired traditional stereotypes we all grew up with. With the help of animated medial paintings, these wonderful tales bring the Middle Ages vividly to life in all its corruption, violence and greed, courage, enterprise and learning. Anyone who enjoys Chaucer and Rabelais will be familiar with the early humor of the time, but few people know about the dark side of chivalry or that women and serfs were not downtrodden creatures at all. Each episode explores the role and function of a different medieval archetype.
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