A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Even though the bad guys ultimately get what's coming to them, the ruined lives, broken families, and large body count left in their wake doesn't leave a positive impression. Granted, the message may be realistic for the events and time period portrayed, but it's also disheartening and dreary. Plotting between various characters and factions, as well as instances of backstabbing and betrayal create a negative overall tone.
Positive Role Models
Several main characters provide positive role models, however, the numerous negative characters that populate the miniseries virtually obliterates this influence -- especialy when coupled with the intense documentation of violence on screen.
Violence & Scariness
Nearly every kind of violent action possible before the invention of firearms, from self-flagellation and bloodletting by a priest to murder. Also: poisoning, intention to commit infanticide, burning at the stake, rape, throat cuttings, executions used as entertainment, arson, murderous plottings, violent thievery, torture, and copious amounts of splattering blood, sword fighting, and hand-to-hand combat.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sex with partial nudity. An incestuous relationship between a mother and son. Close up views of venereal disease.
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References to hell and God damning people -- all in a religious/historical context, as well as "bastard" children.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Many mugs of mead are consumed in courtyard market scenes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Pillars of the Earth is a historical miniseries filled with graphic violence, including rape, murder, and torture. The series also features an incestuous sexual relationship, some sex, and partial nudity, as well as a generally dark and dreary tone. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
First and foremost, The Pillars of the Earth is incredibly and intimately violent. There aren't legions of nameless zombies mowed down by machine guns in this series. Instead, viewers are subjected to slow torture scenes, up-close images of venereal disease, and bloody battle scenes between beloved characters.
However, if you can stomach the violence, the intricate web of storytelling showcased in the series is impressive. Taking place over eight episodes, the miniseries packs in an impressive level of detail. History, especially the civil war between Queen Maud and King Stephen, is laid out in vivid, albeit violent, detail. The acting is nothing to sniff at either. The treacherous and absolutely evil Bishop Waleran (Ian McShane) is particularly affecting -- a character fans will absolutely love to hate.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.