Breaking News Bar
posted: 5/19/2014 5:30 AM

History meets fiction in miniseries 'Labyrinth'

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Alice Tanner (Vanessa Kirby) makes a discovery at an archaeological dig in France that ties her to the past in "Labyrinth," airing on The CW.

      Alice Tanner (Vanessa Kirby) makes a discovery at an archaeological dig in France that ties her to the past in "Labyrinth," airing on The CW.

  • Alais (Jessica Brown Findlay) is entrusted with a special book and engraved ring in "Labyrinth," a miniseries that ties together two women living centuries apart.

      Alais (Jessica Brown Findlay) is entrusted with a special book and engraved ring in "Labyrinth," a miniseries that ties together two women living centuries apart.

  • The CW airs the miniseries "Labyrinth," starring Emun Elliott and Tom Felton, on May 22 and 23.

      The CW airs the miniseries "Labyrinth," starring Emun Elliott and Tom Felton, on May 22 and 23.

 
By Kate O’Hare, Zap2it

Taken in the right spirit, historical fiction can lead readers to dig into history. If that happened with "Labyrinth," author Kate Mosse would be thrilled.

On Thursday and Friday, May 22-23, The CW airs production company Scott Free's 2012 TV miniseries adaptation of Mosse's 2005 novel that happens in one place -- the town of Carcassonne in the southwest of France -- but in two eras separated by centuries but connected by a search for the Holy Grail.

Jessica Brown Findlay ("Downton Abbey") stars as Alais, a 17-year-old in 1209 Carcassonne. Her family belongs to a religious sect known as the Cathars -- which blended elements of Christianity, Gnosticism and Manichean duality -- that became the target of a Crusade.

Her father entrusts her with a book full of strange words and labyrinth symbols, as well as a labyrinth-engraved ring -- and possibly the secrets of the Grail.

Vanessa Kirby plays Alice, a present-day volunteer at an archaeological dig in the French Pyrenees who stumbles across a tomb, carved with labyrinth symbols, that contains two skeletons. That leads her on a quest that unexpectedly links her with Alais' story.

Also starring are John Hurt, Tom Felton, Tony Curran, John Lynch, Mosse (in a cameo as a modern tour guide), Sebastian Stan, Emun Elliott and Janet Suzman. The medieval scenes were built on location near Cape Town, South Africa, and the modern scenes were shot in Carcassonne.

"We bought a house," says Mosse, "in the shadow of the medieval city walls of Carcassonne, a tiny house, way back in 1989. I just fell in love with the place and the history and the dark shadows of history that exist everywhere in the town."

Over the years, Mosse and her husband raised their children both in the U.K. and Carcassonne.

"All of that time," she says, "I was getting to know the medieval history, this extraordinary story about this Crusade ... I realized that a novel was taking shape in my mind."

Also central to the idea is the medieval labyrinth, which could be considered one of the first instances of virtual reality. Since most people would never be able to make an actual pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a walk through the complex paths of a labyrinth built near a church or a monastery offered a spiritual pilgrimage instead.

Says Mosse, "More labyrinths were built in France than in all of the rest of Europe. Isn't that interesting?

"So for me, being a novelist rather than an historian, it's about finding these extraordinary facts of history or theology, of music or literature or whatever, and spinning a story around why they might have happened.

"That's what I really wanted to put into 'Labyrinth,' the complexity of the way that history and mystery and folklore and religion all get mixed up together in some of these stories about France."

As to what she thought of the film adaptation, Mosse says, "I think they've absolutely captured the spirit of the book. It's a very long and complicated book to put on the screen; it's got two different time periods. If it hadn't been for Ridley Scott (of Scott Free) and some of the people involved ... I've said no every time I've been asked before to sell the rights.

"But with this, they did capture the spirit of it, the idea that there are two women 800 years apart who are linked by a common story, and there are men who love them and support them, who are helping them to achieve that story."

Mosse also applauds the authenticity of the production.

"The medieval costumes were hand-sewn and hand-dyed," she says. "The only thing that was freaky was, I'd look at the swords and the shields, and they looked authentic, except when you touched them, and they were so light. If they were real, I couldn't lift them up.

"I admired that because in the end, any of us who write stories inspired by history have a responsibility to get the history right, to not play fast and loose with it, because so many people died.

"To have a film company that was determined to get the details of things right meant an enormous amount to me."

Share

Interested in reusing this article?

Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.

The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.

Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Name * Company Telephone * E-mail *

Message (optional)

Success - Reprint request sent Click to close
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here