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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Action > War > Drama > British History > TV Mini-Series > Ken Follet: World Without End (2012/Sony DVD)

Ken Follet: World Without End (2012/Sony DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Episodes: B+



Ken Follet: World Without End follows the highly successful Pillars of the Earth, picking up the story of the English village of Kingsbridge, now in the 1300’s (some 150 years after the events of Pillars).  Set against the backdrop of the 100 Years War and the impending doom of the Black Plague, the village of Kingsbridge and its inhabitants struggle against forces pulling them in opposite directions. The scheming and backward forces of the church, embodied in the conniving and treacherous Brother Godwyn (expertly played by Rupert Evans) vie for control against the progressive beliefs of Enlightenment thinking represented by the charismatic Caris (Charlotte Riley) and Merthin (Tom Weston-Jones).


Produced by Ridley & Tony Scott’s Scott Free Productions and directed by Michael Caton-Jones, World features a stellar ensemble cast, tremendous costume work and set design, and script that lovingly captures Mr. Follet’s acclaimed novel.  Originally aired as a Television miniseries, this story spreads out over 8 episodes, and comes in two discs in this package. While running some six hours, the story never feels padded, as Caris, Merthin, Mother Cecilia (Miranda Richardson), Gwenda (Nora von Waldstätten), her husband Wulfric (Tom Cullen), and others fight against illogical and destructive power of a Church bent on maintaining its influence and acquiring land.


Much of the struggles of Kingsbridge’s denizens centers around a bridge, not surprisingly. When the series opens it stands as a rickety, wooden reminder of old thinking and older design. When Merthin, an apprentice builder, seeks to rebuild it after it collapses under tragic circumstances, he must contest the right to do so with his former master, an ally of Godwyn and the Church.  Indeed the struggle for the bridge acts as a metaphor for the village’s fight to bridge the gap from the Dark Ages into the Enlightenment.


Familial strife also comes into play when Merthin must also contend with his vain and misogynistic brother, Ralph (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a fighting man, and a rapist and cad whose mistreatment of women masks the pain of his unfulfilled life.  Ralph is spared the hangman’s noose by the press of history, as King Edward empties his jails to fuel the war effort against France.  He soon shows his quality as a warrior in one of the story’s most epic battle scenes in Episode 5.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix look and sound great for the format, though Blu-ray fans should note it is available in that format as well.  This set also includes a special feature entitled “The Making of Ken Follet’s World Without End.”  The featurette does a wonderful job of showing how much care and work went into making the village of Kingsbridge, and its colorful inhabitants, come to life. While made for television, the picture and sound on this set are solid and do not detract from the story.  Fans of Mr. Follet, Pillars of the Earth, and period pieces in general will find World Without End a worthy follow-up effort.



-   Scott Pyle


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