The premium channel Starz introduced an 8-hour movie cut up into eight parts called The Pillars of the Earth. The series is based off of the novel of the same name by Ken Follet. The story’s conflicts and plots are centered on the building the first of a new generation of cathedrals in 12th century England.
The cast of characters features some big players in the business including Ian McShane as the corrupt Bishop Waleran, Rufus Sewell (A Knight’s Tale) as Tom Builder, Matt McFayden (Pride and Prejudice) as Prior Phillip, Eddie Redmayne (The Other Boleyn Girl) as Jack and Donald Sutherland as Bartholomew.
The succession of the throne is in jeopardy due to the fact that King Henry I’s son and his wife are on the crossing from France back to England when suddenly the boat catches fire and sinks. There are no survivors and there is speculation at court to determine whether the fire was deliberate. Princess Maud and her half-brother Robert are left as heirs, but because Maud is a woman and Robert is illegitimate, the crown is not safe.
Tom Builder and his family are desperately searching for work that will secure them during the winter. Along the way, the family pig is stolen by a hungry monk and Tom’s daughter Martha is injured. They meet Ellen and Jack who take them in. Alfred, Tom’s son suspects Ellen of being a witch and demands that they leave immediately.
18 years later, the King has been poisoned and Maud is to be queen until her son is 18 and able to rule. She is overthrown by Stephen, the nephew of the King before Henry I. 34 years of war ensue and reign flip flops continuously with the help of Bishop Waleran.
The only beacon of hope is the new Cathedral being built under Prior Phillip at Kingsbridge. Tom Builder has become Master Builder with the help of Jack and Ellen. During the war, Stephen’s son Eustice is killed by Maud’s son Henry II. Stephen dies 14 years later. Henry II is restored to the throne and peace settles in England.
Out of 5 popcorn balls, I give it 4.