The Pillars of the Earth
TV Miniseries. Here’s a wild and woolly and very violent film about … the building of a cathedral. Because cathedrals fascinate me (ever since I visited some in France and Germany and read the book Cathedral by David MacAuley), I read the book, and didn’t recall so much violence, but maybe I’m wrong. The author, Ken Follett, is said to be pleased. It takes place in the 12th century, a time of chaos in England known as the Anarchy, when there were two competitors for the throne, neither of them very nice. Follett fits his story into the cracks of history, with some real events, some speculation, and some things made up. It was most interesting to me because of the all-pervasive role of the Catholic Church in that age. It was really the only game in town, with the power of life and death over everybody. Much of it, possibly most of it, was corrupt, cynical, anything but holy, but who would dare defy it? It was (and remains) a loathsome institution, and the only thing I have ever been able to say is good about it is the incredible structures it left scattered around Europe. There was entirely too much fighting and too little cathedral building here for my taste, but it was worthwhile.