What’s Up With Britannia?


In more “upcoming movie news,” I noticed some photos for the Amazon TV series Britannia — no premiere date other than 2017 so far. The original description for the series we had was: “8-part TV series that charts the Roman invasion of what would become Great Britain in 43 AD and the rise of iconic female warrior Boudicca.”

Britannia (2017)

Well, they’ve filmed 10 episodes for the first season, and nobody on the cast list is playing Boudicca … yet. The description is currently:

Britannia is an epic drama set in 43 AD as the Roman Imperial Army — determined and terrified in equal measure — returns to crush the Celtic heart of Britannia — a mysterious land ruled by warrior women and powerful druids who can channel the powerful forces of the underworld. Or so they say.

Maybe we get a surprise Boudicca later? Dunno. With filming apparently in the middle of nowhere in the Czech Republic and Wales, all we have is the official photos, but let’s review.

Britannia (2017)

Britannia’s star looks to be Kelly Reilly as Kerra. She previously played Caroline Bingley in the 2005 Pride & Prejudice.

Britannia (2017)

The other big character is Aulus, played by David Morrissey. He’s been in The Hollow Crown (2012) and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), plus Doctor Who (2008).

Britannia (2017)

Nikolaj Lie Kaas is a Danish actor who I don’t recognize as having been in any major frock flicks.

OK, so the costumes aren’t going to give us much to talk about other than — like Vikings (2013-) — some possible WTFrock makeup and hair choices. I sense a lot of burlap sack styling, mud, and bog people fashion. The Last Kingdom (2015-) also took on early Britain, but in the 800s, so post-Roman and about Saxons vs. Danish invaders from the POV of a kidnapped boy. I guess the most I can hope for with Britannia is a female POV. As long as the series doesn’t go crazy with the witchy woman stereotype (series writer Jez Butterworth talks about “deep, heavy magic” in interviews), this might be interesting.


Britannia, yay or nay?


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

25 Responses

  1. Susan Pola

    Could be good or Roman Britain version of Reign & Tudors. We’ll have to wait and see.

  2. Julie

    I really hope they do a good job, if only beacause it is an interesting time period and shaped medieval Celtic history. I can’t tell much about the costumes from the stills, and truth be told the clothing record of this area before the Roman Invasion is a little sketchy at best. Now we have lots of information on what the Romans themselves wore during this time period. It will be interesting to see either way.

    • Susan Pola

      You are so right. There are pics from the Boadicea with Alex Kingston and probably (not) in the obscure texts from the period.

  3. Shirley

    I’ve been interested in this for awhile, mainly because I really like Nikolaj Lie Kaas and try to keep up with his work, but the delay has me concerned.

  4. Jill

    I predict a great big mud flinging rapefest a la Game [OVER] of Thrones. There’s so little of anything in the historical record and most of what we know about this comes from Roman historians and Shakespeare. I’ll watch and grit my teeth. P.S. – not a lot of blue cloth in pre-Roman Britain.

    • Bea

      I thought there was quite a bit of woad goin’ on in early Britain, being as the Celts/Picts were called out for painting their bodies with it?
      All you need is the plant and stale urine….

  5. Kathleen Norvell

    Arrgh! Bangs and modern men’s haircuts. Like they had stylists back then. And those poor foxes that gave their lives to be decorative. I’ll give it a pass.

  6. Charity

    David Morrissey was Brandon in the most recent version of Sense & Sensibility. I usually love it, except when friends tell me he’s a better Brandon than Alan Rickman. That’s when I kick them in the shins and tell them their precious miniseries sucks. ;)

    • Kristina

      That seems reasonable to me. I have no interest in defending Ang Lee’s S&S as an adaptation (it’s a nice enough movie, but far too gooey and saccharine compared to the Jane Austen novel), but I agree that David Morrissey’s Colonel Brandon is inferior to Rickman’s. Although a lot of the problems are not Morrissey’s fault, but that of the screenwriter, Andrew Davies, that doesn’t make me feel any better about them. For the record:
      – There is a deeply uncomfortable “taming” theme in the relationship between Morrissey’s Brandon and Marianne. Marianne is compared (by her sister) to a wild horse who will learn to “follow” her tamer, and later likened (through a montage) to a trained falcon returning to its master’s hand.
      – Brandon inserts himself into things that are none of his business. In the second episode, he takes Willoughby aside at Sir John’s party and demands to know what his intentions are towards Marianne. Yes, Willoughby is a really bad guy, but Brandon shouldn’t know that yet, and his confrontation here just makes him look even more controlling and patriarchal than the usual Regency good guy from an Austen novel.
      – Brandon starts to remove Marianne’s clothing, stopping himself only when he sees Marianne’s somewhat concerned look. Yes, I realize that, in the film, he was not trying to strip her for sexual reasons, but I think it’s obvious that [i]Andrew Davies[/i] wanted the audience to be titillated.

      There’s a lot more that I could mention, but that’s plenty to start with.

      • Charity

        Andrew Davies is a bit of a perv; he tries to smut things up wherever he can (I wanted to slap him over the recent “War and Peace” adaptation, which involved a round of table sex). He seems to insert his modern sensibilities into everything, often at the cost of the original characterization (again, I reference W&P, in which the most noble character in the book is visiting brothels because… Davies wanted titillation? I guess?). I think his characterization is spot on with Eleanor and Edward, and I appreciated how serious his take was on the material (I love the shorter version for being hilarious, but the miniseries had a greater tone of satirical straightness, for the lack of a better word), but you’re not wrong about his Brandon. Marianne also seems to reach a point of resignation to Brandon, rather than genuine affection; she seems to have decided love isn’t as important as security, and while there are implications that she has come to see him as a superior man to Willoughby, the fact that he IS so domineering and self-inserting is problematic.

        Rickman did have a better script to work with, but he also brought a gentleness to the role that stayed within the bounds of propriety, and made Brandon into much more of a background hero; Morrissey is such a strong, dominating presence that his acting decisions (aggression) make Brandon less of an overlooked choice, and more of a man just waiting in the wings for his chance. (Of course, it doesn’t help that I first saw him as Bradley Headstone in “Our Mutual Friend,” where he was — guess what, a controlling, abusive figure! That led to me, when I heard he’d been cast as Brandon, moaning and saying, “Oh, no… not Headstone!” He did win me over, but I’ll never really SEE HIM as Brandon.)

        (I should mention here, as a funny aside, that when I was fourteen or so, I showed the Ang Lee version to my aunt, who was HORRIFIED that Marianne married “the old guy” at the end. I was so irked, I didn’t speak to her for the rest of the day. NOBODY DISSES BRANDON. ;)

        • Kristina

          Honestly, I have always thought that Alan Rickman was far, far too old for the role, especially given the fact that Kate Winslet was so young at that time, so you’d think that I would be happy that the filmmakers of the more recent adaptation cast a more age-appropriate person as Brandon. Nope! Unfortunately, the weird and slightly disturbing writing and acting (but mainly writing) choices managed to ruin what could have been a really great portrayal. There are still some highly effective scenes with Brandon in the 2008 S&S — just not enough to redeem the character. I do agree with you that most of the other characters are portrayed very well, though. I don’t understand why Andrew Davies felt it necessary to make Brandon more macho.

          • Charity

            I do like that Brandon challenges Willoughby to a duel (presumably over Anne) and they go through with it; I think he did so in the novel but Willoughby chickened out. So THAT is one place where I appreciate what Davies did.

            • Kristina

              I agree. I wasn’t complaining about the elements in the 2008 miniseries that are from the novel. What I object to are the inappropriate additions to Brandon’s character.

              I do want to point out that there is no indication that Willoughby “chickens out” of the duel in the novel. Granted, he doesn’t always behave honorably, but I highly doubt that he would want to be labeled a coward by all of society.

              • Charity

                Sorry, it’s been five years since I’ve read the novel; all I remember is that the duel never took place (I think? My memory resembles a sieve ;)?

        • janette

          I am watching (re) Our Mutual Friend at the moment and MOrrissey is so creepy and aggressive as Headstone. Like you it took me a long time to warm to him at all in other roles though I think it was his ‘alt” Doctor in Doctor Who that won me over. (I can’t comment on Brandon. I skipped that version of S&S. I can only take so much Andrew Davies.)

          • Charity

            I’m afraid Headstone set me against him for awhile; I was relieved when he wasn’t the real Doctor in that episode!

            That S&S does have Dan Stephens in an early role — I quite like its Eleanor and Edward. (Never warmed to Hugh Grant in the part. He should stick to modern romantic comedies.)

    • Sonya Heaney

      “I usually love it, except when friends tell me he’s a better Brandon than Alan Rickman.”

      But… I preferred him. :/ The Rickman/ Winslet version looked far too much like paedophilia to me (even though there’s meant to be an age difference, he’s not meant to be her daddy!).

      • Kristina

        The actual age gap of nearly 30 years between Rickman and Winslet was too much — no arguments there. But I just looked up Morrissey’s age, and it seems he would have been around 42 to 43 during filming in 2007, compared to Rickman’s being 49 years old in 1995. IMO, this is not a particularly significant difference. The real issue is that Winslet was younger than Wakefield (19 to Winslet’s approximately 26), so the age gap is worse. Rickman was simply too old for the role. That being said, I stand by my comments about Brandon’s odd possessiveness and inappropriate actions in the 2008 version.

  7. Adam Lid

    Looks like a complete trainwreck. Looks more like a set-up for a Stevie Nicks or Medieval Baebes music video.