Friday, January 12, 2007

A Histrionic History of Britian

I've been sick, and lying on the sofa watching the 15 hour miniseries "A History of Britain". This documentary is hosted by Simon Schama who has a very compelling histrionic narrating style, and who loves to emphasize his pronouncements by pausing towards the end of his sentences and then coming down hard on the last word. Very dramatic. I love it.

Of course in 15 hours you can only hit the selective high points (Romans, Henry & Eleanor, Black Death, Poor Richard II, Henry & Anne, Reformation, etc.) and one could argue as to why those particular high points (Magna Carta in passing only; Jane Grey who?), but there's so much history to cover that you can only cover so much history. I'm only up to Charles I and the Roundheads, so I have another four hundred years to go, and I know enough of it on my own that if I doze off during Cardinal Wolsey in the mule's saddle and then wake up to find Thomas Cromwell now in charge, I'm not confused. A red hat for a black cap and keep moving...

And when you are sick, there's something comforting about historical documentaries...The hurley burly of the historical pageant, all silent and still now. During her lifetime Anne Boleyn's problems seemed pretty big ones (at least to her), but it's all over now, quietus, and that sure puts your own problems in perspective, innit? You may think your life sucks, but no one's going to chop your head off for fertility problems. So enjoy yourself; it's not as bad as you think.

Anyway, if you find yourself lolling on the sofa, with a lot of time to kill, you could do worse than spend some time wandering through the ages with Sieur Schama. He'll keep you entertained and informed, and there's some pretty cool music, too. If you don't want to plunk out the cash for the entire set, you can get it at Netflix too.

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