Ken Follett’s much-loved novel “World Without End” was made into a mini-series. It can be difficult to capture the depth of a novel; a challenge to find the same pace and ability to build character. This mini-series is spot-on. If you need a little bit of excitement to entice you well – there are epic battles and equally epic romances, gay monks and lesbian nuns having clandestine affairs, an evil Queen Mother, witch trials, ongoing theological debates and convoluted mysteries.
Not having read the novel I’m unclear on what differences there may be after its transition to screen. The story is engaging, satisfying and remarkable. You may have to suspend your disbelief a little if you’re a history buff. After all, much of what went on during the 1300s is speculation, at best.
“World Without End” is a story that revolves around four main characters from Kingsbridge and the ways in which their lives change over the years. It’s much more than the things I listed above. The central characters go through huge life-changes and face challenges that – I’m happy to say – most of us probably don’t have to face these days. (At least those of us lucky enough to live in “first world” countries).
Caris (Charlotte Riley) is a young girl at the beginning of the series. She shadows Mattie (Indira Varma) – the local healer – who challenges old-fashioned beliefs about healing. Even as a young girl, Caris rebels against what’s expected of her. She is intrigued with science, wants to be a doctor and wonder aloud why she has to marry at all.
Ralph (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and Merthin (Tom Westin-Jones) are brothers who are torn from their life of luxury and choose very different paths for themselves. Ralph becomes darker and Merthin spends a great deal of his life longing for a love he is unable to have.
Gwenda (Nora Von Waldstatten) comes from a poor family but has the spirit and fight of a hero. One of the male characters in the movie does point out to her about half way through the series that she has “more of a prick than most of the men” he knows. She’s strong-willed and motivated to change her life.
These four characters lives are interwoven throughout the story – it’s difficult to describe much of it without giving away the plot and I definitely don’t want to do that. It is a remarkable story and spans a rather epic amount of time.
One of my favorite characters in the series is Sir Thomas Langley. Ben Chaplin, as usual, gives a remarkable performance as the knight turned monk in the series. Without a doubt, he is one of the best actors of my generation. His performance alone makes this mini-series well worth a watch.
“World Without End” will be available at the beginning of December this year. It would make a great Holiday present!