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A magnificent & engrossing historical drama.
le 11 février 2013
Put away your preconceptions about the notorious Borgias; you will find little to reinforce their salacious reputation here. What we're presented with in the first two seasons of this superb drama is the rise to power of Rodrigo Borgia to becoming Pope Alexander VI and his subsequent trials and tribulations mostly as a consequence of Vatican in-fighting and family misdemeanours. Jeremy Irons is brilliant as the ruthless and power hungry Rodrigo but, once elected pope he really does his very best to square the circle of papal piety and human nature while always trying to do the right thing for his family.
Although the political machinations of 15th Century Italy may seem obscure, the timeless themes provide the narrative backbone to the plot while the family provides the drama. Rodrigo's blind devotion to his wastrel son Huan(Davis Oakes) over the faithful and reliable Cesare (Francois Arnaud) establishes a vivid sibling rivalry and while Lucrezia (Holiday Grainger) seeks for love over her father's planned politically advantageous matches there is often a hint of an incestuous relationship with Cesare. Sean Harris' performance as Cesare's black-ops assassin Micheletto deserves special mention; capable and faithful yet ruthless with a frisson of homo-erotic sleaze. As befitting a runtime of over sixteen hours, it is impossible to do justice to the full complexity of the plot in a short review but suffice to say it is totally engrossing viewing. The cast are superb, the Hungarian locations & costumes are sumptuous and the whole show has a glossy and extravagant feel; the production compares favourably with HBO's excellent `Rome'.
The ending comes far too soon and is a little disappointing until you discover that the third series will be airing in America in April this year. From the trailer it looks like we'll be encountering the Borgias at the full height of their corruption and decadence; poisonings, murders and much beside will ensue. Hoorah!