To The Ends Of The Earth

To The Ends Of The Earth


Reviewed by: Keith Dudhnath

Edmund Talbot (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a 19th century aristocrat, heading to Australia to take up a post there. To The Ends Of The Earth tells the story of his sea voyage, and of his relationship with the crew and other passengers. It is based upon William Golding's Booker Prize winning novel, Rites Of Passage, and its two sequels.

The mini-series is fairly standard period drama. Some minor attempts have been made to make it grittier, but all things considered, it's much the same as has been seen time and time again and is nowhere near as good as the sum of its parts.

Cumberbatch acquits himself very well as a leading man. Jared Harris, as the captain, Brian Pettifer, as Talbot's servant, and, in particular, Jamie Sives, as Lieutenant Summers, provide excellent support. I was a little disappointed by Victoria Hamilton, but only in comparison to a play I had seen, in which she moved me to tears. The two big names, Sam Neill and Charles Dance, have relatively small roles, but are as good as ever. No major complaints with the acting, then.

No major complaints with the overall look of the series, either. The high production values shine through and create a wonderful atmosphere of life on board. The direction is accomplished, but never showy, as is the cinematography.

It would seem that The Ends Of The Earth has everything going for it. Unfortunately, it's interminably boring. The problem is that the mundane nature of a long sea voyage is being shown to the audience. That, in itself, might work, if the interplay between the characters was the driving force. However, it sees fit to have a minor event take place in each episode, while treating it as a major event. You're led to believe there's a large and dangerous conspiracy on board, but that fizzles out. You're led to believe there's going to be a sea battle, but that fizzles out. It could be argued that these minor events would feel like major events when on board, but if you're not, it simply doesn't work and negates all the good work done by the actors and director.

It's a great shame, as To The Ends Of The Earth could have been something very special. Unfortunately, it's very ordinary.

Reviewed on: 21 Sep 2005
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To The Ends Of The Earth packshot
Talking the long route under sail to Australia in the 19th century.
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Director: David Attwood

Writer: Tony Basgallop, Leigh Jackson, based on the novels by William Golding

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Brian Pettifer, Jared Harris, Victoria Hamilton, Jamie Sives, Sam Neill, Charles Dance, Daniel Evans, Robert Hobbs, Theo Landey, Cheryl Campbell, JJ Field

Year: 2005

Runtime: 270 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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