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Terry Jones' Medieval Lives

4.5 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

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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

Special Features

None.

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.)
  • 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0010V4VJY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,195 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Terry Jones' Medieval Lives" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Thomas on October 9, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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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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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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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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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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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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I bought this tape to show it in class for my high school students (I teach piano repertoire and we were covering the Middle Ages) and it was a hit! The tape covers various professionals of the middles ages and their lifestyles. It is funny, informative and fresh. Lots of interesting facts.
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This DVD is medieval history at its finest! I loved it, and even my family, consisting of a 10-yr-old and a 15-yr-old, as well as a hubby, loved this video history of medieval times in Western Europe.

My husband and I always enjoyed Monty Python, so when we found this gem on Amazon by Terry Jones, and discovered that he is actually a medieval scholar, we were curious to see how the subject matter would be presented. We had a blast! It was totally appropriate for the kids, and we really learned a lot about medieval Europe that we did not previously know. For example, the Peasant Revolt of the 14th century was something glossed over in high school courses, but Terry Jones actually points out some very interesting facts to wrap one's mind around, such as: how did a bunch of peasants have the wherewithal to get together and how were they able to communicate in order to be organized enough to rebel in the first place? Answers provided, and it was a neat surprise.

If you are an Anglophile, Francophile, or history buff, get this DVD! If you just want to expand your mind without the use of illegal substances, get this DVD!
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