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The Pillars of the Earth 

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Set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles which tears lives and families apart.
1,317 ( 42)




Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 5 wins & 32 nominations. See more awards »





Series cast summary:
Ian McShane ...  Waleran Bigod 8 episodes, 2010
Matthew Macfadyen ...  Philip 8 episodes, 2010
Eddie Redmayne ...  Jack 8 episodes, 2010
Hayley Atwell ...  Aliena 8 episodes, 2010
Sarah Parish ...  Regan Hamleigh 8 episodes, 2010
Natalia Wörner ...  Ellen 8 episodes, 2010
Anatole Taubman ...  Remigius 8 episodes, 2010
John Pielmeier John Pielmeier ...  Cuthbert 8 episodes, 2010
Robert Bathurst ...  Percy Hamleigh 8 episodes, 2010
Clive Wood ...  King Henry I 8 episodes, 2010
Sam Claflin ...  Richard 8 episodes, 2010
Liam Garrigan ...  Alfred 8 episodes, 2010
David Oakes ...  William Hamleigh 8 episodes, 2010
Tony Curran ...  Stephen 8 episodes, 2010
Donald Sutherland ...  Bartholomew 8 episodes, 2010
Alison Pill ...  Maud 8 episodes, 2010
Gordon Pinsent ...  Archbishop 8 episodes, 2010
László Áron ...  Architect 8 episodes, 2010
Féodor Atkine ...  Abbot Suger 8 episodes, 2010
Kelly Banlaki ...  Princess 8 episodes, 2010
Virág Bárány ...  Young Woman Whore 8 episodes, 2010
David Bark-Jones David Bark-Jones ...  Francis 8 episodes, 2010
Tamás Baross Tamás Baross ...  Gabriel 8 episodes, 2010
Oliver Bauer Oliver Bauer ...  Medieval Child 8 episodes, 2010
Skye Bennett ...  Martha - young 8 episodes, 2010
Freddie Boath ...  Henry - 15 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Douglas Booth ...  Eustace - 15 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Ottilia Borbáth Ottilia Borbáth ...  Townfolk #3 8 episodes, 2010
Jonathan Coy ...  Father Ralph 8 episodes, 2010
Scott Curtis Scott Curtis ...  Peasant 8 episodes, 2010
Antal Czapkó Antal Czapkó ...  General 8 episodes, 2010
Brooke Dean Brooke Dean ...  Maud - 6 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Matt Devere ...  Gloucester 8 episodes, 2010
Kate Dickie ...  Agnes 8 episodes, 2010
Lara Dzikowski Lara Dzikowski ...  Townfolk #5 8 episodes, 2010
Gabi Fon ...  Townfolk #1 8 episodes, 2010
Stu Gamble Stu Gamble ...  Lad 8 episodes, 2010
Kevin Griffiths ...  Lord #1 8 episodes, 2010
David Haderer David Haderer ...  Robin Goodfellow 8 episodes, 2010
Jody Halse ...  Johnny Eightpence 8 episodes, 2010
Máté Haumann ...  Messenger #3 8 episodes, 2010
Jeremy Haward-Grau Jeremy Haward-Grau ...  Little Henry 8 episodes, 2010
Emily Holt Emily Holt ...  Martha - older 8 episodes, 2010
Péter Horkay Péter Horkay ...  Steward 8 episodes, 2010
Ákos Horváth Ákos Horváth ...  Simon Goodfellow 8 episodes, 2010
Barna Illyés Barna Illyés ...  Labourer 8 episodes, 2010
Csaba Jakab Csaba Jakab ...  French Mason 8 episodes, 2010
Sidney Johnston ...  Jonathan - 4-5 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Mike Kelly ...  Messenger #2 8 episodes, 2010
Péter Kertész Péter Kertész ...  Stephen's Physician 8 episodes, 2010
Bernadett Kis Bernadett Kis ...  Midwife 8 episodes, 2010
László Konter László Konter ...  Bishop 8 episodes, 2010
Alexis Latham ...  One-armed Wool Man 8 episodes, 2010
Antal Leisen ...  Townfolk #4 8 episodes, 2010
Peter Linka ...  Townsman 8 episodes, 2010
Skye Lourie ...  Elizabeth 8 episodes, 2010
Pál Makrai Pál Makrai ...  French Master Builder 8 episodes, 2010
Michael Mehlmann ...  Prior James 8 episodes, 2010
George Mendel George Mendel ...  Lord #2 8 episodes, 2010
Lisa Millett ...  Kate 8 episodes, 2010
Piroska Molnár ...  Grandmama 8 episodes, 2010
Ben O'Brien ...  Winchester Clerk 8 episodes, 2010
Kende Orbán Kende Orbán ...  Eustace - 4-5 years old / ... 8 episodes, 2010
Miklos Pavel Miklos Pavel ...  Sentry Edgar 8 episodes, 2010
Mark C. Phelan Mark C. Phelan ...  Otto 8 episodes, 2010
Tibor Pintér Tibor Pintér ...  Shareburg 8 episodes, 2010
John Rado ...  Sentry 8 episodes, 2010
Kevin Rees Kevin Rees ...  Jonathan - 30 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Barnabás Réti ...  Brother Paul 8 episodes, 2010
Richard Rifkin Richard Rifkin ...  Matthew 8 episodes, 2010
András Sándor András Sándor ...  Page 8 episodes, 2010
Nicolas Sipek Nicolas Sipek ...  Stephen's Fake Son - 4 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Tibor Süle Tibor Süle ...  Antoine 8 episodes, 2010
Margaréta Szabó ...  Young Woman 8 episodes, 2010
Tatiana Turner ...  Gabriel's Mother 8 episodes, 2010
Sándor Téri ...  Physician 8 episodes, 2010
Dorian Thomas Dorian Thomas ...  Teenage Boy 8 episodes, 2010
Geoffrey Thomas Geoffrey Thomas ...  Earl of Weymouth 8 episodes, 2010
Zoltan Toth Zoltan Toth ...  Prince 8 episodes, 2010
Zsófi Trecskó Zsófi Trecskó ...  French Peasant Woman 8 episodes, 2010
Tamás Varga Tamás Varga ...  Townfolk #2 8 episodes, 2010
András Várkonyi András Várkonyi ...  Captain 8 episodes, 2010
Zsolt Zágoni ...  Shiring Messenger #1 8 episodes, 2010
Marcell Závodi Marcell Závodi ...  Tommy - 9 years old 8 episodes, 2010
Bianca Bauer Bianca Bauer ...  Medieval Child 8 episodes, 2010
Rufus Sewell ...  Tom Builder 7 episodes, 2010
Götz Otto ...  Walter 7 episodes, 2010
Ken Follett Ken Follett ...  Merchant 3 episodes, 2010


The Pillars of the Earth is set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles which tears lives and families apart. In that time, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against the backdrop, love-stories entwine: Tom, the master builder, Aliena, the noblewoman, the sadistic Lord William, Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, the artist in stone work and Ellen, the woman from the forest who casts a curse. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age. Follett masterfully weaves these stories through political turmoil of 12th century England, creating a relevant and viable world for today's audience and for generations to come. Written by Anonymous

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Building the Monumental Television Event of 2010 See more »


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Did You Know?


Ken Follett: The merchant who tells Jack about his father. See more »


Throughout the series, Stephen and Matilda are both referred to as "Majesty". English kings and queens did not use the title "Majesty" until the middle of the 16th century, nearly 400 years after the setting of this series See more »


Referenced in Richard Roeper & the Movies: The Expendables (2010) See more »

User Reviews

My favorite book of all time was turned into an ambitious, dramatic and emotional miniseries, that could hot have been better!
23 July 2010 | by fred-kolbSee all my reviews

I always wondered why nobody ever thought about turning Ken Follett's brilliant epic "The Pillars of the Earth" into a movie. Without a doubt, it is the greatest book I have ever read, with a cleverly constructed and well-researched story, engaging characters and is full of intrigues, violence and sex. There is so much going on in the book that not a single page seems to be wasted, which is saying a lot about a novel that has over 1000 of them. Now, over two decades after the novel hit the bookshelves, Ridley and Tony Scott bring you an eight-part miniseries that promises to be one of the best ones I have seen in recent years.

It is 1135 and a dark time in the history of England. 15 years earlier the king's only legitimate heir died during the sinking of a ship, and England's monarch has neglected God and the church during his reign. The priests and bishops are most eager to ensure a religious man ascends the throne after the death of the king, and in return for swearing allegiance to them, they promise Stephen, the nephew of the king, to put him on the throne. A fierce battle of succession ensues between Stephen and King Henry's only legitimate child Maude. In these times, a young and ambitious monk named Philipp is made Prior of Kingsbridge, a fairly large city that has suffered in recent times and that is in dire need to have its church remodeled. Tom Builder travels through England with his son Alfred, his daughter Martha and after his wife Agnes died in childbirth, they are joined by the two outlaws Ellen and Jack. Finally, Tom finds a job in Shiring, but the Lord Bartholomew is conspiring against the new king Stephen and the William Hamleigh, who was rejected by the lord's daughter Aliena, finally sees an opportunity to take revenge. Philipp, Tom and his family and Aliena are faced with several challenges and hardships, but their paths cross in Kingsbridge, and they all will play a vital role in the construction of the brand new cathedral.

Two episodes into the miniseries, I'm quite impressed by how much the atmosphere of the book was kept and although I was prepared to be disappointed, I am really enjoying it so far. It seems that the best and most expensive stuff was just good enough for this series and the medieval cities of the book such as Kingsbridge and Shiring look stunningly real. I am glad that eight episodes were dedicated to tell the story of "The Pillars of Earth" instead of merely a two-hour movie, although it's not nearly as epic as Ridley Scott's big movies such as "Gladiator". The series does have combat scenes, but ultimately it's more of a dark drama, focusing on characters and relationships before anything else.

The miniseries stays very close to the plot in the novel, and only minor details were changed. One of them is that Tom knows that his son is raised in Kingsbridge from the beginning, and in the novel it's only revealed at almost the very end. And then there is the king, who dies at the beginning of the novel, but here lives through almost the entire first episode. Those are merely small deviations though, unnecessary perhaps, but not really something to make a big deal about. The series was mostly shot in Hungary and Austria, although most scenes are actually confined to the insides of a castle or a town. On a side note, there's a lot of blood, obscenity, violence and nudity in the series, and if you have seen HBO's "Rome", you should already know what to expect.

While there are not too many big names in the cast, some of them you have probably heard of and those are the ones standing out acting wise as well. Ian McShane was the perfect choice to play Bishop Waleran, and he is wonderfully slick and cunning as the main antagonist of Prior Philipp, played by Matthew Macfadyen. I actually find Macfadyen to be almost a little dry in the role of Philipp, but since the character is described with exactly that word many times in the book, I guess he should be commended for his performance. Rufus Sewell so far is the best of the actors in the series, and he is very emotional as Tom and exactly how I imagined him from the books. Natalie Woerner, a German actress, really stands out so far as Ellen and it's unbelievable that she is 43 years old already. She and Sewell have an amazing chemistry together and I completely believe the character's passionate, but scorned upon relationship. Hayley Atwell and Eddie Redmayne as Aliena and Jack will have more to do as the series progresses, as will David Oakes who doesn't seem evil enough for William quite yet. Anatole Taubman, whom you might know from the last James Bond film, is also quite good as Remigius, the manipulative sub-prior of Kingsbridge and Donald Sutherland also appears as Bartholomew in a few episodes. The cast is not well-known perhaps, but definitely strong and I really like what I'm seeing of them so far.

I suppose the miniseries won't be quite as epic as the book, but from what I'm seeing so far it will be a big candidate to pick up a couple of Golden Globes and Emmys in the miniseries category next year. "The Pillars of Earth" deserved a fantastic adaptation, and I'm glad to see that the producers and the director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan were seemingly ambitious enough to ensure that this would be a memorable series, worthy of this great book. But watching the series, no matter how good it is now and will be in the weeks to come, will never be an adequate substitute for actually reading the book.

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Germany | Canada | UK | Hungary


English | French

Release Date:

23 July 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Pillars of the Earth See more »

Filming Locations:

Tata, Hungary See more »


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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