World Without End (2012)
Directed by Michael Caton-Jones
Starring: Ben Chaplin, Charlotte Riley, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Rupert Evans, Blake Ritson
The English town of Kingsbridge is a rural community, struggling to survive amidst the beginning of the 100-year War with France. The citizens are caught in the middle of a power struggle between their Prior (Evans), a young noble (Jackson-Cohen), a young doctor (Riley), and many other who are hungry for control. This fight is complicated further by the arrival of the Plague in Europe. As the turmoil grows, the people of the community are faced with tough choices and huge risks to maintain their homes and their livelihoods.
World Without End is the sequel to the mini-series The Pillars of the Earth which was produced and originally aired in 2010. Both series came from books of the same names which were written by Ken Follett. The time the series has some great actors including Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Raven), Rupert Evans (Hellboy), Cynthia Nixon (Amadeus), and Blake Ritson (Titus). This group, along with a number of other good actors, made this a really good series.
The acting throughout the movie is good, better than most series like this. Despite not having any huge names, this series is a marked improvement over The Pillars of the Earth in terms of overall quality. The characters seem well-written, and the dialogue doesn’t ever seem to try too hard. Director Michael Caton-Jones (This Boy’s Life) does a great job boiling down the novel into ten episodes. No small feat when you consider the fact that the novel is over 1,000 pages long.
The production design and costumes in this series are wonderful. It was the major weakness of the first series, and one of my biggest fears when I started this one. I was happily surprised with a series that either has a much better budget, or just more talent working on the production. Either way this is a fun movie from a visual standpoint.
The weakness of this series is likely to be noticed only by people who read the novel. The changes are obvious and sometimes a bit frustrating. This didn’t hurt the series for me, but some fans of the books might not be so accepting.
Overall, this is a good series. The story was familiar to me, having read the books, but it wasn’t necessary for me to enjoy the episodes. If you’re a fan of historical fiction I would suggest checking this one out. Despite the flaws, the first one is also a fun watch, although not necessary to see before starting this series. There is language, violence, and nudity which make it a series for adults. I give this one 3.9 out of 5 stars.