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Aaron Hoard




Location: Seattle, WA
Joined: 01 Sep 2009
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Oct, 2015 8:17 pm    Post subject: The Last Kingdom         Reply with quote

Is anyone else watching BBC's The Last Kingdom?

This is based on the book of the same name by Bernard Cornwell. It covers 866-876. The main character is Uhtred - heir to Bebbanburg in Northumbria. He's captured by the Danes when he's about ten years old and grows up in a Danish household thinking of himself as a Dane. Of course, all things come to an end, and he eventually finds himself in Wessex with a young Alfred the Great.

In terms of story and dialogue, I'm actually enjoying it. Even my wife likes watching it. It has a gritty feel to it, which I always appreciate in historical dramas. A reasonable amount of blood - life is hard, war is hell, etc.

In terms of arms and armor, I'm not so sure...

In the first episode, Earl Ragnar is carrying what looks like a ring-hilt sword on his back. Maybe a little late for a ring-hilt sword? I don't know. Could be a war prize; could be something that's been passed down. Sword on the back? Eh...

Lots of axes - which is great. Don't cross Brida, or you'll get an axe thrown in your back.

The Saxons seem to be using unpainted, square shields. I don't know - would these have been decorated in some way? Painted, at least? Or, maybe they were thrown together just in time for battle?

And, let's talk about Uhtred's sword....he has this thing made by a smith and I thought "Great, now we'll get to see some kind of wonderful sword being made." Instead... we get something that looks like it comes out of a sword-and-sorcery thriller.



Just doesn't look right to me.

Maybe this is actually a clever character development opportunity? Uhtred, without much experience and fresh on his own, walks into the smith's shop and orders what he thinks is a great sword. The smith, sensing an easy mark, makes him this thing. Sort of like a 16yo who walks onto the used car lot for the first time - I want the coolest car you've got!

Anyone else watching this? What do you think?
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Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Oct, 2015 8:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Uhtred's sword - the grip is way too long. They were all singlehanders in the late 9th century. The crystal pommel is totally wrong. The sword must have a terrible balance problem with a pommel like that. It's been awhile since I read the book, but I remember that the smith who made the sword, created a pommel that was an unromantic steel ball or lumpish shape, telling Uhtred that function trumped beauty.

I wonder if we will see someone try to draw a sword out of one of shoulder scabbards. Maybe the swords are short enough to make that work.
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Aaron Hoard




Location: Seattle, WA
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Oct, 2015 8:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When I saw him with that sword, the first thing that came to mind was "Lords of Light!"

(bonus points if you can place that reference)
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Oct, 2015 11:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When I watched the first episode I kept expecting Xena or Hercules to show up. Dreck. Visually it's complete crap.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Sancar O.





Joined: 04 Mar 2014

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PostPosted: Wed 21 Oct, 2015 5:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm seizing to opportunity to shamelessly hijack this thread Razz to ask about another "historical" drama that caught my eye: The Bastard Executioner. I really have low tolerance when it comes to historical inaccuricies and anachronisms so I usually refrain from watching even a trailer when it comes to historical dramas unless they come highly recommended. Thus I have no idea if it is any good. I read that it is about a Welsh knight in 14th century. Have anyone watched it? Is it worth giving a try?
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Tim Mathews




Location: St Paul MN
Joined: 02 Oct 2004

Posts: 164

PostPosted: Wed 21 Oct, 2015 9:42 am    Post subject: The Last Kingdom         Reply with quote

Greetings all,
I have been looking forward to the BBC`s adaptation of the Bernard Cornwall book for some time with a mixed bag of excitement and trepidation . I love the books - they are a fun read - and have enjoyed the first two episodes - For what they
are - entertainment..While it is disappointing that the BBC - Like Hollywood - refuses to go 100% historical accuracy it is - at this point- hardly surprising.
I have read and reread all the Uhtred books - along with other Cornwall series -and again have thoroughly enjoyed them - But as far as Historically accurate - well I would not use them as reference material.
His descriptions of battles are vivid and compelling .Mostly they are fun to read.
That being said I like the gritty and brutal element of the show ... Some of the costuming and battle gear are passable - some of it - such as Uhtred`s sword - Serpentbreath- are laughable.
There- I have put in my two cents.

Tim Mathews
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Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Oct, 2015 12:04 pm    Post subject: Re: The Last Kingdom         Reply with quote

Aaron Hoard wrote:


In the first episode, Earl Ragnar is carrying what looks like a ring-hilt sword on his back. Maybe a little late for a ring-hilt sword? I don't know. Could be a war prize; could be something that's been passed down. Sword on the back? Eh...

Lots of axes - which is great. Don't cross Brida, or you'll get an axe thrown in your back.

The Saxons seem to be using unpainted, square shields. I don't know - would these have been decorated in some way? Painted, at least? Or, maybe they were thrown together just in time for battle?


There are things that show they are trying at least some of the time. That ring hilt could still be around in the mid 800's - An heirloom passed down through the generations. I saw a number of Viking style hilts, No horned helmets (hurrah!) I read that the square Saxon shields are the result of a decision to easily differentiate the two sides in battle.

At least they are trying with the Shield Wall and not doing the typical disorganized mass melee thing beloved by Hollywood.
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Michael Beeching





Joined: 22 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Oct, 2015 12:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was actually very disappointed when I saw the Viking helms, as they omitted the faceguard. Now you're left with a skullcap with... guilded eyebrows. I could tell why they did this - so you could see the actors - but I thought it was pretty lame regardless. The faceguard is also quite an intimidating feature on a Viking helm - losing it make the Norse a lot less intimidating, in my opinion.

Matt Easton actually made a video to point out the historical inaccuracies of the show that he spotted a while ago. If you follow his channel you may have seen it.
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Oct, 2015 4:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Everyone tends to have their little thing that just makes them go "urrrrrgh..."

Mine is the back carry sword.

Belongs on a Klingon Warrior or a Sith Lord or something...else. Not on a warrior in something that positions itself like this does. Then again, just my own little annoyance and I've seen nothing of the show, so who is to say!

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy


Last edited by Joe Fults on Thu 22 Oct, 2015 7:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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David Wilson




Location: In a van down by the river
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Oct, 2015 5:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What's not to love... back scabbards, an ugly sword with a hilt that's way too long for period, the old "village blacksmith making a sword to order" BS, lots of leather armor, weird rectangular shields in use by the Saxons (okay, so I can see that both sides using the correct round shields would be confusing to some. Maybe you could have given the Saxons kite-shaped shields? Yeah, may be a little anachronistic but at least it's something they eventually actually used), Danes wearing a lot of fur...

On the other hand, I did notice several Del Tin and Windlass swords that are reasonably appropriate to the era! And no horned helmets (unless you count a chamfron in one episode so far)....

David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

Now available on Amazon: Franklin Posner's "Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition -- With Vampires" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072N7Y591
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Tom Wolfe




Location: East Anglia, England
Joined: 10 Aug 2015

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PostPosted: Fri 23 Oct, 2015 2:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's the soppy little tea trays that the Saxons use as shields that got me. As soon as I realized that they were going to be a feature of the whole episode I turned off. I've downloaded it to my phone, so I might give it another go later, but I don't hold out much excitement for it.
Collector of original 16th-17th century European arms and armour. Would like to collect earlier, but budget doesn't allow- yet!
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Clark Volmar




Location: Lompoc, California
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PostPosted: Fri 23 Oct, 2015 7:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron Hoard wrote:
When I saw him with that sword, the first thing that came to mind was "Lords of Light!"

(bonus points if you can place that reference)


Thundarr The Barbarian!

..sorry.

Couldn't help myself....I grew up right in the era.

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. -- Douglas Adams
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

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PostPosted: Fri 23 Oct, 2015 5:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To play Devils advocate,the books weren't exactly accurate either. One of the references in the Last Kingdom refer to shield arms loops when strap shields haven't been invented yet, fancy horse hair and plumed helmets, people ramming through people's chainmail and body pinning them to the ground, supple leather jerkins etc. The books were great reads by into wasn't as historical inspired character placed into a historical setting as a history impaired drama.
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Kevin Hughes




Location: United States
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PostPosted: Fri 23 Oct, 2015 7:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is disappointing to hear about the lack of historical accuracy in this series, considering the amount of research Cornwell puts into his novels. He always seemed to have a pretty thorough understanding of weapons systems and tactics used in the past.

Its a shame that Hollywood and the networks are not willing to take the effort to get it right.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
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Aaron Hoard




Location: Seattle, WA
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PostPosted: Fri 23 Oct, 2015 9:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It kind of begs the question - how hard would it be to hire someone with a bit of knowledge about this time period to consult on what to use or not?
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Fri 23 Oct, 2015 10:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron Hoard wrote:
It kind of begs the question - how hard would it be to hire someone with a bit of knowledge about this time period to consult on what to use or not?


Historical consultants are often hired. They give advice that often gets ignored.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Sat 24 Oct, 2015 8:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron Hoard wrote:
It kind of begs the question - how hard would it be to hire someone with a bit of knowledge about this time period to consult on what to use or not?



Films have a director who has his own vision, a costume department with a Carte Blanche, a budget and a time constraint. Somewhere between all those seen and unseen forces historical accuracy gets lost.

There is also the fact that some period fashion items look odd and don't really appeal to modern audiences. Tights and a bowlcut would probably not look that good on an actor today. I believe Orlando Bloom wore tights in Lord of the Rings and in Henry V (Kenneth Branagh) there is something resembling Henry's actual haircut, however those are exceptions.

An overweight Henry VIII with a codpiece... yeah that's gonna end up with an X rating.
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Oct, 2015 7:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
There is also the fact that some period fashion items look odd and don't really appeal to modern audiences. Tights and a bowlcut would probably not look that good on an actor today. I believe Orlando Bloom wore tights in Lord of the Rings and in Henry V (Kenneth Branagh) there is something resembling Henry's actual haircut, however those are exceptions.


I doubt it. I would easily pin this on Hollywood traditional bad period costume and laziness. LotR is more historic in look than most of these so called historic movies and series.

Just takes a few big movies to do it right and I suspect most would jump on. Simply easier to keep doing it how it always is done though.

RPM
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Sun 25 Oct, 2015 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One odd thing that I noticed in episode 3. Alfred became king on the death of his brother, because Ethelred's sons were very young children who couldn't lead Wessex. One of them, Ethelwold, unsuccessfully disputed the coronation of Alfred's son Edward almost thirty years later. In this show Ethelwold is depicted as a young man who wants to contest Alfred's accession.
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Joshua Anthony




Location: The Redneck Riviera
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PostPosted: Mon 26 Oct, 2015 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sancar O. wrote:
I'm seizing to opportunity to shamelessly hijack this thread Razz to ask about another "historical" drama that caught my eye: The Bastard Executioner. I really have low tolerance when it comes to historical inaccuricies and anachronisms so I usually refrain from watching even a trailer when it comes to historical dramas unless they come highly recommended. Thus I have no idea if it is any good. I read that it is about a Welsh knight in 14th century. Have anyone watched it? Is it worth giving a try?


I watched the first couple of "free episodes" since it was written by Kurt Sutter. I thought it would be better and probably won't watch more. You can watch the first episode or two on Amazon for free to see if you like it. As far as weaponry it looked accurate to me, but there are others on this forum far more knowledgeable than I about such matters.

"...He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." - Jesus, Luke 22:36
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