Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Bayeux Tapestry is a Swashbuckling Adventure

I went to see the Bayeux tapestry a few days ago. If you are ever in Northern France go see it. It is an amazing experience to see a thousand year old hand made item, particularly one that tells a story. Seeing the individual threads and mistakes of something that old is just breathtaking.

But one thing that struck me about it is how fun the story is. I imagined it either as a dry scolarly repetition of the story or an ancient piece of propaganda. Instead it is more of a swashbuckling adventure. Compare one swashbuckling film 'The Princess Bride' with the tapestry and see the similarity. They both have

Harold gets kidnapped when he lands in France

Harold rescues two men from Quicksand

I really miss quicksand it used to be everywhere "nearly 3 percent of the films in that era (the 60s) showed someone sinking in mud or sand or oozing clay". But you just don't see it anymore. It has sadly gone the way of grappling hooks and that using a knife to slide down a sail trick.

A guy they are trying to catch uses a rope to escape.

Forced Marriage
Williams daughter is married by herself with a priest slapping her.

The princess bride marriage is also forced

God's Hand
Monty Python style God's hand comes from the clouds.

Which is a bit like having a miracle man around

Sword Fights

And the tapestry has all sorts of other stuff you see in matinee adventures like horse chases, giant animals, oaths, dragons and divine heavenly light

In Table form you can see the genre cliches

Obviously the Bayeux Tapestry served many purposes at the time. But I think we might underestimate one of those was entertainment. You could remake this story now as 'Indian Jones and the Norman Conquests', it is already in comic book form.


Coffee Lemon said...

We just don't have that much imagination when telling adventure tales - always comes round to the same old shtuff.
I wish there were dragons. I like dragons. We used to have one ( but some sort of saint drowned it in the river Seille.

red dave said...

Good point the borders of the Tapestry are covered in dragons. I should have mentioned that