The Borgias: Season 1
DVD | Box Set
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The Borgias is a complex, unvarnished portrait of one of history’s most intriguing families. Oscar®-winner Jeremy Irons stars as Rodrigo Borgia, the cunning, manipulative patriarch of the Borgia family who ascends to the highest circles of power within Renaissance-era Italy. The series begins as Rodrigo (Irons), becomes Pope Alexander VI, propelling him, his two Machiavellian sons Cesare and Juan, and his scandalously beautiful daughter, Lucrezia, to become the most powerful and influential family of the Italian Renaissance.
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I have tried not to compare it to THE TUDORS, but I didn't succeed there. Like THE TUDORS the actors and actresses were all first rate, excellent actors and actresses. Jeremy Irons is a living legend and the most known of the cast. Colm Fiore is an excellent actor, and the rest of the cast was no less radiant. The sets and costumes were spectacular without a doubt.
But unlike THE TUDORS, THE BORGIAS series still lacked "something". I want to say that it didn't have quite the same sexual tension and intrigue that THE TUDORS had. And, I want to say that the cast of THE TUDORS was just a "little bit better". JRM almost "over acts" as Henry 8th, but his sex appeal and magnetism makes that series. And quite frankly, THE TUDORS was in no short supply of beautiful people.
The only thing that made me uncomfortable was the season ending. I won't mention exactly what made me uncomfortable because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't yet seen the whole thing, but I will say, I felt that the series ended rather quickly and abruptly. Over all though, it was a very fine series.
Overall I absolutely loved this show, and I cannot believe that Showtime cancelled it before the final season. It was only suppose to last 4 seasons from the start and Showtime said it was too expensive, they even turned down a 2 hour movie to summarize the 4th season, the screenplay for the movie is available to purchase on iBooks. The last season was looking to be amazing, and since Showtime showed its viewers such little appreciation and respect to not even green light the 2 hour movie, I'll be passing on future shows they create until it's series finale, I refuse to get into a show only to have it pulled JUST before the end....
The film is all about power politics even if there are passages around sexual affairs and the rivalries and tensions within the Borgia family. The Papal States were those lands that belonged to the Papacy and that fell between Tuscany, often ruled by the Medici; the Marshes, often ruled by the Sforza family; and the Kingdom of Naples. The rural Papal States were often actually dominated by feudal dukes who had only tentative allegiance to the papacy. Rome was dominated by a range of noble families, such as the Orsini, and all of the major families had relatives who were cardinals, the princes of the Church, and thus were contenders to become pope.
The Borgia family was actually Catalan and Rodrigo Borgia had a mistress and children when his uncle, a pope, named him as a cardinal and he came to Rome. At age 26 he was the vice-chancellor of the papacy, which means he was in charge of the entire curia around the world. This is the second most powerful position in the Vatican. He must have been a superb manager and politician to survive the infighting within the Vatican and after 30 years become Pope Alexander VI.
Alexander VI begins to make political alliances, sealed with the marriages of his children, to build a network of allies to support his papacy. In this way he acts as any secular prince. However, Durant’s book points out the evidence that Alexander VI was also a religious man. This series depicts Alexander as a Christian despite his considerable skills at consolidating power. Jeremy Irons is beyond fantastic at being able to show the multiple facets of this fascinating character from history.
The series also depicts the rivalry between Alexander VI and Cardinal Della Rovere (who later becomes Pope Julius II who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel). Colm Feore plays this role very well since he must play a man of God who also has considerable political skills and sees the Borgia family as an insult on the Papacy and thus sees himself as the necessary antidote to their excesses.
Alexander VI had an illegitimate son, Cesare Borgia, who he makes into a Cardinal. However history tells us that Cesare had considerable military skills. This is not explored in the first season of the series and we see Cesare struggling to implement the duties of a Prince of the Church while having an affair with a married woman and having to endure his braggadocios younger brother Juan with whom the Pope has placed the responsibility of military protection of the Papacy and Vatican. Francois Arnaud plays the role well of a smart but passionate man whose loyalty to his father is strained and tested often.
Younger son Juan is played well by David Oakes but a major role has been assigned to daughter Lucrezia, played by Holliday Grainger. In fact, the disastrous first marriage of Lucrezia is a major theme in the first season. We know from history that Lucrezia Borgia was a complex and highly intelligent character. In the first season we begin to see the emergence of her diplomatic skills. The costumes, settings, and other details are very well done. Italian politics was complex and the script actually honors this with a mix of characters from Machiavelli from Florence to the invasion of Charles of France.
I strongly recommend this first season. It is intelligent and well made. Where it may at times play with historic fact, for the most part it sticks to the historic outline of events.
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IN ITALY MIDDLE AGES PERIOD