Today on Adventures in Netflix! I’ll be reviewing the 2005 BBC miniseries To the Ends of the Earth, based on a trilogy of books of the same name by William Golding.
Set in the early 1800s, To the Ends of the Earth is an expertly crafted story that goes beyond the usual romanticism typical of such period pieces and delivers one of the most convincingly realistic depictions of life at sea that I’ve ever seen.
The miniseries is divided into three 90 minute episodes, each covering one of the three books. As such, each episode is essentially a self contained story, though the overall progression and ever evolving characters tie the three acts together and make it feel like one continuous, epic story.
To the Ends of the Earth tells the story of Edmond Talbot (Benedict Cumberbatch), a young English gentleman as he and his fellow passengers make the long and uncertain voyage from the British isles to the far coasts of Australia. Along the way he must navigate a series of hardships and unexpected events.
Talbot is a compelling character that takes many of the well known tropes of youth and gives them a much needed coat of paint. In his component parts, Talbot seems like any other character in a coming of age story–arrogant, naive, often tactless–but as portrayed by Cumberbatch young Edmond feels like more than just the sum of his parts: a real, dynamic character whose strengths of character are perfectly balanced against his many relatable flaws.
Equally impressive as the superb acting and story are the special effects. True, you’ll not find any big budget scenes of naval combat, what you will find however is one of the best, most nauseating depictions of just how turbulent the sea, and anything that floats upon it, can be. Especially in the first episode, characters are frequently shown vomiting, staggering, falling, and generally being abused by the motions of the ship. The camerawork, the acting, and whatever other tricks the filmmakers employ make the viewer feel as if they were right there with the characters in a way I haven’t experienced from other movies and television.
If period pieces are your thing, or you just really love a good naval story, To the Ends of the Earth is a must see.