Borgia show

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Borgia show

Postby Galloglaich » Sun May 05, 2013 3:16 am

I'm very into the European show they are describing in this review (haven't seen the Showtime one he is ridiculing) but anyway I recommend the European one highly, it's on Netflix http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/3 ... e-Inferior
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Re: Borgia show

Postby zarlor » Sun May 05, 2013 3:31 pm

I enjoy the Showtime one quite a bit, and I think the reviewer is WAY off when he talks about the acting (I find the acting in the Showtime show to be superb, the Canal+ version is good in spots, but other times it can be distractingly bad, although I've only gotten about 3 shows in on that one.) The production values are not as good in the Canal+ version, but it's obviously not a mega-budget show, either, so that's more than forgiveable. Sometimes the clothing is just wrong on that one, though (not as bad a Tudors but the Showtime one gets things a bit off at times as well.) For me it's a bit like watching Mad Men where everyone is dressed like a hipster. Some if it is period appropriate, some it is appropriate only in part but then there are whole pieces that are just 60-80 years ahead of their time. I think both shows have their appeal, but for the moment the Showtime one has been holding my attention with story while the Canal+ hasn't done so yet. I'll keep trying to slog through it, though.

Vikings, on the other hand, has been pretty awesome, although I have yet to watch the last 3 episodes so no spoilers!
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"A soldier uses arms merely with skill, whereas a knight uses them with virtuous intention." - Pomponio Torelli, 1596.

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Re: Borgia show

Postby Galloglaich » Sun May 05, 2013 6:58 pm

Yeah I know you didn't like it, you mentioned it when I was talking about the first season when it came out.

As I said then, I really couldn't disagree more. I'm with the reviewer / ranter from Daily Kos 100% on both the comparisons between the two shows and the reasons behind the differences. Both of them have some occasional issues with costumes, kit and so forth, but actually the Canal+ is, I find, vastly more accurate, both on the costumes (not just of the principle characters, but all the extras and so on) - and on the details of life, the legal rules, politics, the rituals of the Church and the importance of the various Holy Days and so on. To me it just 'feels' like that period, in that place, to an extent that that none of the other historical dramas or shows I've seen so far (including HBO's Rome and Vikings) have managed to get to. The closest other example for me would be the With Fire and Sword movies.

Some of the things I liked:

    1) You get a real sense of MULTIPLE factions, not just two or three. One problem I have with nearly every American produced historical show or film is that it always seems like there is only one (or at most two) rivals to the protagonists at any given time. By contrast, in the Canal+ Borgia, you have a real sense of the Sforsa's, the Collona, the Orsini, the French King, the German Emperor, the Spanish King, the King of Naples, the Republic of Venice, and the Turks, etc. etc. as strong rivals exerting their influence. It feels really multi-lateral. Which is crucial for any period drama like this. American audiences really don't understand a political struggle that isn't simple and binary (i.e. Republicans vs. Democrats, or Yankee vs. Confederate, or McDonalds vs. Burger King) which is why I think these things tend to be so simplified in US shows. That and it's much easier to write.

    2) Because they didn't just try to substitute "English" for "Foreign", (where upper class English accents signal nobility and cockney' accents signal peasants) like in 90% of Ango-American period pieces; but instead made the difficult (and I think very wise) decision to recruit actors from all over without regard for their accents, they are able to convey a better sense of place. It feels more Italian to me. This is in contrast to a large extent (for me, anyway) to HBO's Rome which was a little too English (even though they did have a decent number of Italian extra's). It's like they gave over papering over the accents of the main characters to get that superficial convenient illusion of being a foreign drama, but instead emphasized the uniqueness of the characters themselves. The effect is that you don't see them so much as all one type of foreigner, but as individuals. I think it's also relevant (and related) that the series was actually shot in English for it's French, German, Italian and Czech audience.

    3) They include customs and practices which while alien to a lot of their audience, help hold together the logic of the time and place. Like the various religious holidays which don't make much sense to a non-Catholic and / or modern audiences, or the way the consumation of a wedding had to be witnessed for legal reasons in some cases. Or the unique customs of various towns (such as Florence extinguishing every light leading up to one of their holy days- and ended up with a complex and elaborate fireworks display, something most modern audience members wouldn't have associated with a medieval context).

    4) They do not insult the audience's intelligence by either filtering out or laboriously trying to explain everything going on in every frame, as most American productions do, but rather they put the details out there under the (correct) assumption that they will enrich the story since they are part of the world that is being portrayed. An example is including the Florentine Carrocio in one recent scene. Or the complex and often contradictory role that sex and religion plays in the lives of many of the key players. or the mixture of Classical mythology and Christianity.

    5) They include little details which I really liked such as clamshell hilt sword and a proper executioners sword

    6) It never seems ridiculously small scale or out of place. Vikings, though I like it, often gives me the feeling that there are about 30 people in Scandinavia, about 25 people in Saxon England and so on. This Canal+ version of Borgia really makes it feel like you are in that place, they have enough extras, and the extras themselves look like real people - not 'Medieval caveman' extras like you see in basically every video game or period show. In Florence when the population is under the regin of Girolamo Savonarola, the regular florentine citizens are wearing certain types of clothes, with a lot of these great white hats, which actually look like real medieval costumes - not at all what an American (or for that matter, a modern French or German) audience would expect, but something like the real thing, like what you see in a late 15th Century painting. I wish I could post a screenshot but sadly there is virtually nothing online about this series at least available to me searching from a US I.P. Showtime (CBS Corporatio) probably paid google to have it scrubbed.

    7) As the Daily Kos blogger mentioned, neither the sex nor the violence feels anesthetised or gratuitous to me, unlike almost always the case in American produced equivalents including the Showtime Borgia's. You got a sense of the characters actually being swept away by their lusts and passions and obsessions.

    8) I also think the guy they have playing Cesare looks like his painting, and Lucrezia looks like hers.


Furthermore, as the Daily Kos guy mentioned, I have recognised this as a pattern with probably at least 100 foreign TV shows and films I've seen in the last 10 years alone, everything from "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" to "Dinner for Schmucks" ... and it's depressing as it is pointless. I think this guys argument, as crazy as it sounds, is the only one which seems to fit the facts. Why else do you remake / ruin films like that? I think there is an argument of course, in US pop culture which is also a MAJOR issue in game design, (one which I specifically set out to challenge with the codex), that realism or historical grounding or even verisimilitude are contrary to 'a good story' or a 'cinematic' story, which also supposedly means that the former is doomed to a niche market while the latter is the only route to commercial success - despite a great deal of proof to the contrary (like all the Kirosawa Samurai films).

I think this is part of the US consumer slave mentality.



G
Last edited by Galloglaich on Sun May 05, 2013 7:23 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Borgia show

Postby drkguy3107 » Sun May 05, 2013 7:04 pm

Personally, having only seen 3 episodes, i find the european show boring, coming from someone who loves the Renaissance, I find that hard to believe myself.
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Re: Borgia show

Postby zarlor » Sun May 05, 2013 7:35 pm

G,

You said you haven't even seen the Showtime version, so how can you compare (beyond just taking that Kos reviewer's version as enough to make a non-judgmental comparison)? And I didn't say I didn't like the European show, only that I was having a harder time getting into it. There are some interesting parts to it (certainly some of the locations are awesome), but it also sounds like you might have some preconceptions to not liking the Showtime show, too. You know me, I'm a huge fan of European shows, and there are plenty that get screwed up when ported as American versions, but there are others where I can really enjoy the American versions as just something different, but still enjoyable, from the European shows as well as a few cases where the American version is just flat superior to the European version for my tastes.

I really don't care for the conspiracy theory mentality the Kos guy gets into, mainly because I just don't buy it, at least not as a whole. There are plenty of niche-markets in America, especially with Indy producers, playing around with and working out all kinds of different genres. The fact the Borgia is so readily accessible, even though it may not have gotten much publicity here, speaks volumes to me about the readiness of of us US consumer slaves to still pick that kind of stuff up, no matter the wishes of our Corporate Overlords. ;)
Lenny Zimmermann

"A soldier uses arms merely with skill, whereas a knight uses them with virtuous intention." - Pomponio Torelli, 1596.

- Systeme D'armes, New Orleans, Louisiana
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Re: Borgia show

Postby Galloglaich » Sun May 05, 2013 7:45 pm

Yeah I haven't really sat through SHOWTIME / Borgias (I couldn't get through a whole episode) but I have seen multiple fragments of it due to spending an inordinate amount of time in hotels lately. Probably something like 1/3 to 1/2 of about 6 or 7 shows before I flipped channels. But you are right I probably haven't given it enough of a chance - though what I have seen just struck me as 'empty' in pretty much the way the Kos guy was describing. I was probably contaminated from having seen the other one, but I noticed a stark contrast!

To be fair Canal+Borgia did take a while to really grab me, I never hated it but the 'really liking it' part was kind of a slow burn, probably I wasn't really sold on it until halfway through season 1 (which, it being on Netflix, was part of a brief but intense viewing marathon). But I was getting that same vibe- generally I don't like the various SHOWTIME seires very much, I liked Dexter for a while (it was very well done) but eventually got burned out on the whole serial killer as super-hero theme. I generally like the HBO series better. (Boardwalk Empire is another one I like)

As for the "consumer slave" thing, I know we just don't see eye to eye on that. But to me, just because something obviously profitable slips through the cracks enough for 1 corporation (i.e. Netflix) desperate for content (because so many US big media have recently pulled content from them) doesn't mean it's not being subject of immense bias, which this one clearly is*. On it's own merits it would be famous among probably at least half the audience who likes Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, in my opinion. But it obviously doesn't get anywhere near 1% of that kind of hype.

*in that sense it reminds me of Idiocracy, which (due to pissing off a lot of corporations whose logos were ridiculed in the film) recieved zero promotion to the extent of not even having a poster when it came out but I was lucky enough to see in the theaters anyway since I happened to be in one of four cities where it was being shown as part of the contractual obligation.

G
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Re: Borgia show

Postby Galloglaich » Sun May 05, 2013 8:21 pm

But all that said, my energy on this is really much more about promoting the Canal+ version than downing the Showtime one. That Daily Kos article was about the only in-depth review I could find on the Canal+ Borgia, plus I happened to agree with his crazed position as well. But it's a bit of a distraction. You don't have to agree with my dystopian view of US consumer culture to appreciate the show.

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Re: Borgia show

Postby zarlor » Sun May 05, 2013 9:11 pm

Lol. Agreed. I DO intend to get back on the Canal+ version, though, so it may yet grow on me. As for stuff like Dexter, like most shows some seasons are better than others. The first few were pretty good and it seemed to hit a lull, although this last season picked back up again. Still, for the most part I consider myself more easily amused than most of my friends, as I seem to be maybe a bit less critical of my viewing (and even reading) entertainment, although there have been notable exceptions. I'm one of the few people I know who found the Lord of the Rings novels to just be... boring. Maybe one of the few examples where I can honestly say I like the movies a whole lot better than the books!
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"A soldier uses arms merely with skill, whereas a knight uses them with virtuous intention." - Pomponio Torelli, 1596.

- Systeme D'armes, New Orleans, Louisiana
http://www.sdanola.com
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Re: Borgia show

Postby Galloglaich » Sun May 05, 2013 9:41 pm

I actually sort of agree with you on Lord of the Rings; it was written for young adults for the most part I think, as a trilogy of novels it's notoriously ... not terrific, it's main achievement was the genre setting and some of the names and so on, which are derived essentially from Volsunga Saga / Ring of the Nibelungen, plus some Finnish and Scandinavian stories (the names Gandalf and Frodo for example are names of Viking chieftains), but fleshed out in a pretty cool way; i.e. the creation of the whole genre of fantasy setting that DnD among many others was primarily based on. The Silmarilion was sort of his highest achievement, and that is really just a setting and not a story.

But as a story, in LOTR the only characters that were really interesting at all was Gollum I guess, and the ring itself.

So the movie did improve on that to some extent by fleshing out characters like Aragorn, Elrond, Saruman, and bringing in Liv Tylers character and so forth... but they also lost a lot of what made the setting kind of poetic.

I'd say it was about an even swap. I liked the first and third movie, the second not so much. Wasn't very impressed by the Hobbit (though I wanted to be)

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Re: Borgia show

Postby zarlor » Sun May 05, 2013 10:17 pm

I don't think the Lord of the Rings was written for young adults, but the Hobbit was and that book (more novella, really) I did like. I must just be too immature to appreciate the Lord of the Rings in all of its glory. ;) I haven't seen the new Hobbit movie, though, but I haven't heard good things about it.

BTW, drkguy, I forgot to mention it, but I'm also a huge Renaissance enthusiast as well, particularly the time of the Italian wars (early 16th century, Italy). Sometimes I think that ends up being a distraction in some areas, though. Like the costuming thing I mentioned. I saw only the first episode of the Tudors but both the weapons and the clothing were more appropriate to 50 to 80 years later than the time of the show. It was jarring to watch, for me. I couldn't get into the show because the context was so... unrealistic, at least if you have some idea of what to look for. Admittedly the same can be true of watching fight scenes in movies, but if they are outrageous enough (think flying kung-fu movies) then they can be enjoyable again, I guess because they've obviously are taking it into the realm of fantasy when they do that, so all bets are off for what works in the real world anyway. Although their use in that horrible d'Artagnan movie thing from, what was it, a decade ago? Just so, so wrong there. Now I really enjoyed Shakespeare in Love and especially Dangerous Beauty (some of the period touches in that movie were downright phenomenal, things you never see in other movies from quill stripping to the books they used on the set... really great stuff and great, and appropriate, costuming.)
Lenny Zimmermann

"A soldier uses arms merely with skill, whereas a knight uses them with virtuous intention." - Pomponio Torelli, 1596.

- Systeme D'armes, New Orleans, Louisiana
http://www.sdanola.com
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