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Movie Review

 

Movie Review: Brother Cadfael:

Image: portion of illuminated manuscript page from "The Book of Kells."   

DVD 

Color / Stereo  

13 Shows: 75 Min. Each

  Brother Cadfael

The 13 Programs Are:

Season I:

One Corpse Too Many

The Sanctuary Sparrow

Monk's Hood 

The Leper of St. Giles

Season II:

St Peter's Fair

The Virgin In the Ice

The Devil's Novice

Season III:

A Morbid Taste For Bones

The Rose Rent

The Raven In the Foregate

Season IV:

The Holy Thief

The Potter's Field

The Pilgrim of Hate  

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Based on the Best-selling Books by Ellis Peters.  A Production of Central Films, England.   Executive Producer Ted Childs.  Producer Stephen Smallwood.  Programs 1994 Central Independent Television plc.   Programs Carlton UK Television MCMXCV, MCMXCVI, MCMXVIII.  Disributed by Acorn Media, Bethesda, MD. _____________

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Brother Cadfael (PBS Series)

Because so many of you are watching this Public Broadcasting Series starring the Award-winning Sir Derek Jacobi as Brother Cadfael, we felt that we should Review the Series.

Photo: Brother Cadfael and Hugh Beringar.

Based On the "Brother Cadfael" Novels by Ellis Peters

These 13 Films are based on the best-selling  Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters (which was the pen-name of Elisabeth Peters), an excellent writer who for most of her life, wrote mysteries other than those having to do with Brother Cadfael.  Later in life she started the Brother Cadfael Series, writing 21 Books (20 Novels and one book containing 3 Short Stories) in which Brother Cadfael is the central character, before she passed on.

Photo: The Benedictine Monks of Shrewsbury travel to Wales.

Crusader Turned Monk

The time is the 1100's.  Brother Cadfael is a former Crusader (of Welsh background) who has fought in the Middle East from his youth, and "taken the cowl late in life" as a Benedictine Monk. His Abbey, that of St. Peter and St. Paul, is located in Shrewsbury, in western England near the Welsh Border.

Photo: Sir Derek Jacobi as Brother Cadfael. Historically Accurate Setting

The background of the books (and many of the characters in them) are meticulously researched and historically accurate: their setting is the time of Civil War in England between King Steven and the Empress Maud.  You can actually go to Shrewsbury and see the ruins of the ancient Abbey.  Elisabeth Peters lived her whole life near Shrewsbury.  The main characters and their stories are fictional.  Brother Cadfael is the Herbalist of his monastery, and solves murder mysteries as a medieval monk detective.  ______________________________

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Photo: Front Cover of "St. Peter's Fair" Video. Packaging 1995 Acorn Media Publishing, Inc.  Designed  by Joseph Yacinski Design. 

Not available through Vision Video. ______________________________

Sometimes Scriptural: Sometimes Not

Each Story has a certain moral to it, and often Brother Cadfael sums it up in a final statement.  The problem is, the "morals" run the gamut from pure quoting of scripture: "man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." (The Leper of St. Giles) to decidedly un-biblical (in The Rose Rent, Cadfael advocates "mercy killing" for a terminally ill patient who is experiencing terrible pain).

Summary: 

With screenplays based on story-lines taken from excellently written books, the Brother Cadfael PBS Series is a very high quality production, also excellently filmed and acted.  However, every program includes a "gross" scene (a dead body, etc.) that we feel would be better edited out.  This is not seen in the novels.  Of course, the practices and beliefs of the Monks of Tenth Century Shrewsbury are of historical necessity Pre-Protestant Reformation, (even Pre-Council of Trent and Pre-Vatican II!).  Brother Cadfael, "a good man in an evil world," usually a very inspiring Christian that one can look to as an example, every once in a while makes a statement that we consider in error as to Bible teaching. Aside from these flaws, they are very enjoyable, entertaining and often inspiring.

Our Conclusion:

USE DISCERNMENT: These are Not Films of Christian Teaching, but are works of Secular Fiction, and as such must be viewed with Spiritual Discernment.  ______________________________

The Real "Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul"

Those who have watched the Brother Cadfael PBS Series or read the Brother Cadfael Novels will want to visit the real Abbey of St Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury:

Shrewsbury Abbey  

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Copyright 2002 S.G.P. All rights reserved.    

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