Commandant_Eichelsdoerfer

Complicity or Respect? Conflicting Themes in HBO’s Band of Brothers

I recently had the pleasure of re-watching HBO’s Band of Brothers as I introduced Heather to it for the first time. Unlike most other historical media I consume (or re-consume), I won’t be writing a general review for this miniseries. Band of Brothers is beloved and much talked about, and I frankly have nothing new to add to the conversation. While watching, however, I noticed something odd. In the final two episodes lurked a cognitive and thematic dissonance that, given recent trends in American and world politics, was thrown into higher relief than on other viewings.... Read More
Spartacus Caesar-and-Crassus

Man Pain for Days: Starz’s Spartacus

This show has been on my watch list for years. Ironically, it was originally recommended to me by my brother (I’m usually the one mentioning historical shows he might like). I had heard other rumblings and knew something of its reputation since, but only recently, when I saw that it had made it onto Netflix, did I finally get around to checking it out. Spartacus both delivered on everything I had heard and surprised me with its gratifying attention to historical detail.... Read More
Master of Rome

Cracks in the Marble: Netflix’s Roman Empire: Master of Rome

While we are officially historians of the modern era, faithful readers of this blog will know that both of us are part-time Classicists, and so it should come as no surprise that we welcomed a new season of Netflix’s docudrama series Roman Empire (previously thought to be only a miniseries) with open arms. The new season, subtitled Master of Rome, focuses on the life and exploits of the most famous Roman, one of the most famous people, to ever live: Julius Caesar. We must confess, we were both a bit disappointed by this. The decision to focus Roman Empire’s first season, Reign of Blood, on Commodus at least expanded upon a lesser known figure; Julius Caesar is in no need of such a treatment. Indeed, if you’re looking for an excellent dramatic adaptation of Caesar’s rise and fall, HBO’s Rome will scratch that itch all day. Unfortunately, our disappointment with Roman Empire’s second season did not end with its choice of subject matter.... Read More
Minas_Tirith Meduseld

The Historical Middle Earth: Men of the West

Another Hobbit Day (September 22nd, the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth) has passed. This year, rather than singing dirges of fallen Gondolin now that we must wait another 365 days to eat a third breakfast (also known as elevenses) without shame, we decided to look at some of the lesser known historical inspirations for crucial civilizations in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.... Read More
Hostiles-movie-poster

Certain Points of View: Scott Cooper’s Hostiles

Late last year, I caught wind of a new Western starring Christian Bale entitled Hostiles. I wasn’t able to catch it while it was in the theater, but after hearing positive rumblings about it on the interwebs, I resolved to keep an eye out for whenever it might appear on a more convenient streaming service. I’m happy to say that time has finally come. Prepared for a movie that I had heard was not for the faint of heart, I settled in for what turned out to be a grim story that is either a complicated reflection of historical memory or a simplistic fantasy with an overlay of modern sensibility.... Read More
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Thirsty Women: Sophia Coppola’s The Beguiled

About a year ago, we watched, intrigued, as a new trailer for a romantic drama unfolded before us. An independent film with a star-studded cast, it promised suspense, betrayal, and revenge in a tale of stilted lovers and, even better, it was set in during the American Civil War! That film was Sophia Coppola’s The Beguiled, and we couldn’t wait to check it out and bask in the melodrama, for good or for laughably bad. We were finally able to get our hands on it recently, and it while it certainly wasn’t the most enriching film in terms of history, it’s story certainly didn’t disappoint.... Read More
Marco Polo

At the Court of the Khan: Netflix’s Marco Polo

Let’s be honest with each other for a minute: our historical movies and television in 2018 are still overwhelmingly, almost-hilariously, Eurocentric. Indeed, at least half a dozen of the shows on my (long, long) list of things to watch focus on the English/British monarchy alone. When I learned of Netflix’s drama recounting the travels of Marco Polo through Central Asia and China, then, I couldn’t wait to try it out. Sure, it would still be somewhat Eurocentric, but at least some underserved regions and periods of history had the possibility of being fully realized onscreen. Towards that end, my hopes would prove to be realized in full.... Read More
the-terror [www.imagesplitter.net]

Into the Frozen Weirdness: AMC’s The Terror

Almost a year ago now, Concerning History launched a series entitled “Episodic History,” in which each of us expanded upon some ideas that we felt would make for riveting historically-based television. It should come as no surprise that all of us had to seriously whittle down our lists, and that further installments of this series are in the works. Imagine our surprise and enthusiasm, then, when one of Bryan’s own, cut, ideas received just the treatment we were arguing for. From its first trailer, then, we couldn’t wait to watch AMC’s drama recounting the story of the doomed Franklin arctic expedition. As we eagerly consumed each episode, however, the story The Terror chose to tell got stranger and stranger.... Read More
Troy - Fall of a City generics troy-fall-of-a-city

Faithful, with Liberties: Netflix’s Troy: Fall of a City

Regular readers of Concerning History will be well aware of my affinity for the swords and sandals genre. It should come as no surprise, then, that my ears perked up when learning of the new South African/Netflix miniseries Troy: Fall of a City. My previous review of the movie Troy (found here) acknowledged that that film took great liberties with its ancient source material, sometimes for the best. An epic poem on the level of the Iliad is impossible to adapt in only two or so hours; would 8 hours of television serve better to bring Homer’s vision to the screen? The answer turned out to be both emphatically yes and emphatically meh.... Read More
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Checking All the Boxes: TNT’s The Alienist

The end of March saw the end of the TNT miniseries event, The Alienist. We had our eyes on the show from its first aired commercial, and tuned in with great interest for ten weeks to see its enigmatic story unfold. Though the show was certainly eye candy for anyone interested in nineteenth-century America, and its story proved just as intriguing as promised, The Alienist as a period piece never proved more than simply competent for our tastes.... Read More