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145 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Borgias: In the Beginning, June 6, 2011
This review is from: The Borgias: Season 1 (DVD)
In 1492 while Columbus was sailing the ocean blue to discover the Americas things weren't so tidy in Rome. It was a time when the papacy was in disrepair with popes having wives and mistresses and all manner of scandal (sound oddly familiar...) and from this period in history highly regarded writer Neil Jordan has pasted together enough information about the infamous Borgias - 'the first crime family' according to the PR - to create what resulted in a fascinating account of world history, a fitting series whose first season of 9 episodes are tied together in this package of DVDs.

For starters, the opening title sequences are masterworks of graphics and art history albeit splatter or washed in blood. The series opens with the nefarious Spanish family taking over the important Roman power vested in the papacy: Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons in a splendid tour de force of acting), becomes Pope Alexander VI when Pope Innocent VIII dies. As Pope, the elder Borgia gains election of his son Cesare (François Arnaud, a stunningly gifted young and handsome actor in one of his very first roles) to the College of Cardinals while his other son, the libidinous Juan (David Oakes) is made head of the military: these sons and the daughter Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) are the children by the pope's 'wife' Vanozza Cattaneo (Joanne Whaley), though the pope is now in the throes of a sordid relationship with Giulia Farnese (Lotte Verbeek). One cardinal - Giuliano Della Rovere (Colm Feore) - is out to depose the unctuous Borgia reign and works with outside forces to overthrow Pope Alexander VI and makes alliances with King Charles VIII of France (Michel Muller). In the meantime Lucrezia is married off to the rather piggish Giovanni Sforza (Ronan Vibert) for monetary gain for the papacy but prefers sleeping with the illiterate commoner groomsman Paulo (Luke Pasqualino). Cesare appears to be the wisest of the descendants (despite a love affair with a married woman) but the entire family wiles its way into the role of oily evil that sets the stage for the episodes to follow.

The cast is uniformly excellent: there are cameo roles for the likes of Derek Jacobi, Sean Harris, Steven Berkoff, etc. The settings and costumes are enormously successful and the pacing of the action is fast - but not too fast to pause here and there for some rather graphic sensual scenes and gross and bloody fighting. it has the flavor of the times down to a fare-thee-well, making us eager for the next season to begin. Very worthwhile watching on every level. Grady Harp, June 11
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 7, 2011 10:20:57 AM PDT
when will we get a movie about Jimmy Swaggert and company? Not colorful enough?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2011 9:35:56 AM PDT
G. Arnott says:
COMPAIRED to the Borgia's? Are YOU KIDDING? Not NEARLY colorful enough....sorry Edward but great idea! Besides, are there even enough "fake tears" available to make a movie about that?!

Posted on Aug 20, 2011 11:34:30 AM PDT
David B. says:
Borgias were Italian, not Spanish.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2011 3:51:22 PM PDT
Grady Harp says:
Check your history books, David. From the dictionary: 'The Borgias, also known as the Borjas, Borjia, were a European Papal family of Spanish origin with the name stemming from the familial fief seat of Borja belonging to their Aragonese Lords; they became prominent during the Renaissance. The Borgias were patrons of the arts, and their support allowed many artists of the Renaissance to realize their potential. The most brilliant personalities of this era regularly visited their court.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 11, 2011 11:14:05 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 11, 2011 11:15:38 AM PST]

Posted on Jan 14, 2012 7:10:51 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2012 9:42:03 AM PST
Mary Allen says:
Just can't get into it; in and out of the DVD player it goes. Its an overwrought "Tudors" clone. All those young, beautiful people saying their lines like they're practicing at summer playhouse. Geez, can't they get those young, beautiful "actors" some Shakespearean training? Then maybe they could make me believe they're an assassin or the son and daughter of the pope as well as Irons makes me believe he is the pope. The only reason I've made it to the 3rd episode IS Irons. (If you want to see a tremendous portrayal of a truly evil villain, watch Irons as Claus Von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune.) And the killings are so unrealistic, never knifed a bi-ped but, trust me, when you're knifing an animal (that wants like hell to live), you don't have the strength much less the thought process to pop-off witty one-liners. At least they got the pope's donkey cart right.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 7:59:37 AM PST
David B. says:
So if I loved the Tudors, I will love this too? That's pretty much all I need to know at this point.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 8:36:17 AM PST
Mary Allen says:
If you can settle for another bourgeois period drama like "The Tudors" go for it! IMHO, Irons alone carries the entire "The Borgias" production but then I would enjoy watching Irons if he were playing Big Bird on Sesame Street. Period dramas are one of the most accessible ways to relive history. I'm delighted they are becoming mainstream and someone besides BBC and PBS are producing them now. With the commercial success of "The Tudors" they're bound to be some good ones coming down the pipeline...
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Grady Harp

Location: Los Angeles, CA United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 50