BRITTANIA – Review by Susan Granger

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If you’re still suffering Game of Thrones withdrawal, let me recommend this nine-part series from Europe’s Sky Atlantic, owned by Comcast. There’s war, family intrigue and witchcraft – aplenty.

In 55 BC, Julius Caesar invaded Britannia to exploit the island’s legendary tin deposits. But – after facing the wrath of barbaric Druids – he soon departed, noting: “Druids conduct public and private sacrifices and interpret all matters of religion…sacrificing fellow Gauls by burning them alive inside giant wicker cages.”

(That brutal ritual was vividly depicted in Robin Hardy’s folk horror film The Wicker Man.)

Some 90 years later – in 43 AD – Roman legions returned and discovered warring Celtic tribes. There are the Regni, ruled by Queen Antidia (Zoe Wanamaker), and the Canti, governed by King Pellenor (Ian McDiarmid) – plus ruthless Druids, led by shaman-like Veran (Mackenzie Crook).

The marching Roman invaders with “SPQR” on their banners are led by Gen. Aulus Plautius (David Morrissey), who proclaims “Behold, gods of Britannia! I am Rome! And where I walk is Rome!”

Amid the blood feuds, treacherous decapitations and secret alliances, there’s 16 year-old Cait (Eleanor Worthington-Cox), introduced in an interrupted Celtic girlhood-to-womanhood ritual on the Summer Solstice, along with a wandering Druid outcast Divis (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) who exerts strange mind-control over those he encounters.

There’s Antida’s eunuch son Gildas (Joe Armstrong) and regal Amena (Annabel Scholey), a manipulative Canti who plays her two husbands against each other. Perhaps the most compelling character is King Pellenor’s rebellious, red-haired daughter Kerra (Kelly Reilly, familiar as Kevin Costner’s daughter on “Yellowstone”).

Writers Jez Butterworth, Tom Butterworth and James Richardson use the Druids’ murky, nature-worshipping, pagan history as a launching point for this fictional fantasy.

The language the Druids speak is ancient Welsh, which is still used in Wales. And the song during the introductory credits is “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” released in 1968 by singer/songwriter Donovan Leitch.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Britannia” is a blood-soaked, sword ‘n’ sorcery 7 – available on Amazon Prime.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.