Canterbury Tales (TV Mini-Series 2003) Poster

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"Miller's Tale" the best
Psyche-815 October 2004
All the adaptations of the tales in this series are good, but for me it was the Miller's Tale that was the best. A saucy, sexy story about a smooth-talking conman who breezes into town one day and turns everyone's lives upside down. James Nesbitt positively sizzles in this sexy role as the intelligent and charismatic Nick Zakian who wastes no time at all in setting about seducing the beautiful Alison Crosby (Billie Piper). Nesbitt turns in an utterly convincing performance as Nick, a man who'll stop at nothing and is prepared to stoop to any level to get what he wants - the scene where he corners Alison in the hall or the scene where he stalks across the village square towards Alison with such determination in his eyes when he knows her husband is out of the way for an hour, is enough to drive any woman wild, believe me!

What the audience are supposed to construe from this tale of love, lust, sex, jealousy, deceit and ultimate betrayal is certainly open to debate. There are some who are prepared to claim that Nick is the devil incarnate or the personification of fate in this story. However, I for one refuse to believe that the character of Nick is some kind of tempting devil or fate. Rather that he is an opportunist, a conman, slippery and deceitful.

Yet, watching the Miller's Tale you can't help finding yourself empathising not with poor old John, but with Nick - virtually rooting for him, considering the effort that he is going to in order to secure a few precious minutes alone with Alison.

A sexy, sleazy, bawdy story that is much in keeping with the original tale. I loved it!
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James blew me away!
star198121 September 2003
The recent adaptation of The Canterbury Tales featured a sly,slick and utterly sexy James Nesbitt.He was compelling as the con artist hellbent on seducing a glamorous Billie Piper.

I was not familar with Chaucer before seeing this adaptation but really enjoyed it.I get the feeling however there will be a moral with each tale and few,if none will end particuarly happily.

The actor James Nesbitt,known previously for his role in popular ITV drama Cold Feet has never ever struck me as sexy before!Yet everything about his performance in the Canterbury Tales was spot on,his delivery ,his admittedly pervy glances(shudder),and even his clothing.I felt his haircut was effective too,would he have managed quite such a slick performance with that curly mop he usually sports?

The arrogant expression on his face whilst smoking a cigarette after his finally obtaining his goal has given me shivers ever since!
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8/10
The Knight's Tale extremely powerful
siriusblackescaped13 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
OK, I bought the DVD, but I didn't see all of the parts yet. I saw the Wife of Bath, the Sea Captain's Tale, The Miller's Tale and The Knight's Tale. And until now, I find them all good. There's always great acting, interesting relationships and plot twists. I have to admit that I bought the DVD because James Nesbitt was in it. But when I started watching I began to realize that not only the Miller's Tale with Nesbitt would be good. The stories of Chaucer or cleverly adapted to the screen, in a modern way and every piece has something different to tell. Yesterday I saw The Knight's Tale, and to me it's the most powerful tale. I never saw such a great story, tension, great acting, and cinematographic style pressed together in 50 minutes! I personally felt like one of the guys chasing after the same woman. While she didn't say a lot, she had something on screen, that's a strong thing to realize I think. I will show this tale to the person I love, that's for sure. See this tale, or better all of them, I think there will be more than one to have a liking for...
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1/10
Chaucer for chimps
cheesehoven15 October 2004
This BBC adaptation of Chaucer's exquisitely bawdy Miller's tale is a truly dispiriting experience. I doubt that Chaucer's name would even be remembered let alone revered as the father of English literature if this shoddy updating is the only evidence that most people had to go on.

Chaucer's original is one of the great stories of the middle-ages; bawdy, irreverent, but ultimate life-affirming. The adaptation has converted this timeless work into contemporary banality. One cannot even call it hackwork, so badly is it done. One of the most important aspects of Chaucer's story was that the cuckolded husband has a bizarre notion that the world is nearing its end (and we don't know many people like that, DO WE, gentle reader?), and in anticipation of the coming flood, has gerry-built a boat in his attic which he has taken to sleeping in on the advise of Nicholas who is tupping his wife. Thus, when Nicholas' arse it burnt by Absolon, and he cries out 'water, water' the tale reaches a great comic climax with the husband waking up and, believing this to be a cry that the flood is coming, cutting the boat loose and falling down the stairs and bashing his head. This is a part of Chaucer's beautifully crafted story (ie one of the main points of it) that is absent from this version. I wonder why, since we hardly lack muttonheaded messianic figures and Nostradamian nincompoops in our own times any more than in Chaucer's. Perhaps the makers worried about offending a religious minority (the minority here being not christians, who are an easy aunt sally for them, but new-agers). Actually, I think that the literarily-lobotomised adapter removed it because it was not realistic (in a soap opera sense) and therefore not relevant to its target audience. It is a strange decision. The real lowpoint of this abysmal work, however, was the dialogue; some of the flattest I've heard. It was like Chaucer re-written for the batwatchviewer, every other line being a reference to some aspect of contemporary pop culture. The actors do what they can with this dreary stuff, but it has been drained of all the life that Chaucer, good man that he was, had taken the trouble to put in there.
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10/10
Experience and Auctoritee Played Sublimely
jenukiah6 December 2013
First off, one should be suspicious of a reviewer who refers to the Middle Ages as the "middle-ages." That's never a good sign. Fortunately, that person's "1" won't drag down the top scores for a solid series of adaptations of Chaucer's most famous work. (Yeah, he wrote other stuff. But I'm guessing that his "Treatise on the Astrolabe" won't be adapted anytime soon, even by someone named Lewis.) Admittedly, the 6 short films aren't all of equal quality. The Shipman and Man of Law aren't great. But the Knight and Miller are good (the Knight, especially). And The Wife of Bath more than makes up for the weaknesses of the others. It forthrightly takes up the tensions between "auctoritee" and "experience"; smuggles in the Wife's potty mouth references to the Greek gods; sublimely accounts for her gap- toothed smile; and plays straight her love for Jankyn, who is coyly renamed Jerome. (If you get that joke, you either had a great Chaucer teacher or are, in fact, a Chaucer teacher.) Read the original. Then watch Julie Walters run with it. You won't be disappointed.
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