A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Barbarians is a German-produced historical drama series and is both subtitled and dubbed in English. It features a lot of graphic bloody violence, like stabbings, beheadings, and crucifixions. There is also plenty of sexual content, including simulated sex scenes and nudity. Marriage, prostitution, and other related themes are addressed. Strong cursing includes "f--k," "a--hole," and "piss." There’s some wine and ale drinking, too.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The German series BARBARIANS (aka Barbaren) is a historical dramatization of the events that led to the Battle of Germania’s Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D. Cheruscan noblewoman Thusnelda (Jeanne Goursaud) is about to be married off to a prince of a rival tribe in exchange for five horses and a strong alliance. However, she is already secretly in love with childhood friend and Cherusci swordsman Folkwin Wolfspeer (David Schütter). Meanwhile, the Roman legions in the region, headed up by Publicus Quinctilius Varus (Gaetano Aronica), continue to demand more tributes from the tribes. The events that transpire soon reunites Thusnelda and Folkwin with their long-lost friend, Ari (Laurence Rupp), now known as the distinguished Gaius Julius Arminius. As tensions increase between the tribes and the Romans, the Cheruscans realize the tribes must come together in unity if they have any chance of keeping the Empire at bay.
Is it any good?
This compelling episodic drama offers a somewhat accurate depiction of what led up to the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, which kept the Roman Empire from expanding into Northern Europe. The story of Thusnelda and Arminius is based on historical figures, but Folkwin Wolfspeer is a figment of the producers’ imaginations, and creates a narrative designed to add to the drama. This, combined with the inner-workings of tribal politics, and interactions with the Romans, is easy to get absorbed in.
This series also features all the brutal violence and sexual behavior one comes to expect from these types of shows. Cast members’ desire to avenge some wrong, their sense of loyalty, and their willingness to betray one another in exchange for power or survival, make for some important (albeit expected) events within the story world. But while not completely original, it is because of these characteristics that Barbarians is so absorbing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the true story of Thusnelda and Arminius. What parts of their lives does Barbarians get right? Why do you think the character of Folkwin Wolfspeer was created? Does it serve its purpose in the series?
Why are there so many historical dramas that feature bloody violence? Why do people find it compelling? Is it possible to offer a dramatic TV interpretation of a battle or war without including a lot of violent imagery?
Did watching this series spark interest in learning more about the era? What other historical period dramas have you watched? Can you draw any similarities between them?
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