I've developed a sudden interest in medieval England.
It started with a musty old book about mazes and labyrinths. I didn't care for most of it, but when the author started exploring the strange mysteries of the "Troy Town" turf mazes, I found myself strangely intrigued...but my total lack of knowledge about English monarchs, political development, and county locations made me eager to learn more.
I once had a University professor who told us that we should all read the Bible...not for religious reasons necessarily, but so we'd understand the countless references to it in literature.
Well, I tried to read the Bible once and I never made it past Genesis, but I still appreciate his point. For the same reason I'll never really "get" Shakespeare, or Dickens, or even the development of my own beloved language unless I do a bit of research.
So I bought some Middle English literature. I got a few pages into "Pearl" and two chapters into "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" before I realized that 14th century alliterative poetry annoys me. It SOUNDS nice, but damned if I'm going to spend more time deciphering it.
Next I bought a Francis Pryor book about Anglo-Saxon archeology, which is terribly written and largely tangential to my interests, but has at least given me insight into the joys of pot shards and sheep rearing.
While I was buying these books I was also picking the brains of various booksellers, asking them for the best introductory sources they had in stock. Mandy at Words Worth Books said "Why don't you rent a movie?" and I was like, "Hey, that's BRILLIANT!"
Now I'm working my way through Monarchy, which raced too quickly through the early kings but has settled down nicely around Henry VIII. I know who Oliver Cromwell was! I understand why the Protestants and Catholics hated each other so much! I know that Normandy was in FRANCE, and not in Norway as I'd always suspected!
Then I re-read "Murder in the Cathedral," which actually makes sense to me now, and re-watched "Becket" just to hammer home the plot. Beautiful movie, really, and a gripping story all around. They don't make them like that anymore, and they certainly don't ACT like that anymore, at least not offstage.
I'm filled with a desire to actually TOUCH one of those ancient buildings, to actually WALK THROUGH something that was built 1300 years ago! Lacking travel funds, however, I'm resorting to "Plan B": watching adaptations of Shakespear's plays, and then reading them to find out if now -- after all this research -- I'll finally be able to finish one.
Anybody have any film recommendations? No modern interpretations please...I don't want to see Macbeth on rollerskates or anything.