14 October 2003 | lilitha-1
Not bad, not great
Since it was on television, I didn't expect it to be "Lord of the Rings," as apparently some others did. They wouldn't have the budget. After seeing such horrosities as "The Druids" based on a Norman Spinrad novel and the American series "Roar" based on goodness knows what (The Romans in Ireland!), this was not bad, but not great. Celtic-Roman history seems to be beyond film/television writers ken. Maybe they need to read a little.
I actually liked the main player, Alex Kingston. I didn't watch ER, so I have no preconceptions about her. I liked most of the actors. I think the problem does not lie with the actors, but the script and this appalling need to make things relevant. It can be done, but it doesn't have to be done, and it was done badly here.
It would have been far more interesting to have a scene where Boudicca uses divination with a rabbit as described in Dio or show the statue of Victory fall rather than the statue of the Roman emperor. Both the Britons and the Romans were very prone to omens and portents. I suppose they thought the audience would not get it. Hello, that's what good writing does! Explains things we don't know.
I didn't mind the accents. We all know the Roman generals and emperors spoke with upper class British accents! We saw Lawrence Olivier in "Spartacus." We watched "I, Claudius.";)
I liked that they had the Britons lime their hair and paint up with woad, but costuming needed to be brighter and jewelry needed to be richer. However, this seems to be a general trend among costumers in film/television; they think that ancient peoples dressed dully. In fact, most ancient peoples dressed in brilliant colors. Positively garish by our standards. They did have Boudicca & her husband dress a little better when they meet Emperor Claudius. In fact, they look like a color drawing straight out of a costume book I have. However, a king and queen of a people would be far better dressed in this.
As for caricature of Nero, the Roman writers don't seem all that fond of him, either. I knew before I watched this how Boudicca died, so I assumed (wrongly perhaps) that they simply didn't show it. However Tacitus says she took poisoned and died. Dio says she got sick and died. The fate of her daughters is not mentioned by either. And they have no names either.
I wasn't expecting exact history here. Or a documentary. I was expecting a really good historical adventure and romp. It is better than other attempts at ancient Celtic-Roman stories. But it would have been far better if the writers had stuck closer to Roman accounts and stopped trying to brain us with relevancy.