Saturday, 24 October 2015
Judging by the Twitter feed #The Last Kingdom, the show is a hit.
So this is what the audience of today likes to watch - people stabbed through the back of the neck, nailed to a tree, a young lad blinded. I spent a good deal of the show flinching and closing my eyes, not because I didn't know what was coming but because there's a huge difference in reading about violence and watching it. At least, I think there is.
The ingredients of the stories can all be found in the sagas out of Scandinavia and Iceland. Reading them, I'm safe in the knowledge that it all happened a thousand years ago. The same applies to the Cornwell books which I read because Bamburgh is local for me. (Though I think I never got round to the last in the series.) Maybe it applies to a bit of psychology I heard on television the other night - that we all love to be scared (via films) to prove that we're alive and safe. Maybe like everything else it is a stage we go through, for I can remember paying to go to cinemas in my youth and watching all manner of frightening films from Dracula to Omen and the Exorcist - and loving it. Now I find I don't feel the same. I doubt audiences today would find those films particularly frightening. Which in a way is sad. Does it mean their perceptions of the world are less secure than mine were, or are they just more hardened to violemce than I was?