Most TV and streaming fail to hold my attention if I can get my hands on a good book. The series Medici: Masters of Florence on Netflix is proving to be the exception. It’s drama-packed, with a very charismatic male lead and also a key role played by Dustin Hoffman. That the politics in the narrative speak directly hundreds of years later to the political class in our world today is icing on the cake.
The Medici had a direct hand in shaping the world as we know it. The series offers a good look at the influence of the Catholic pope as world-shaper, and also at corruption endemic in the same. The series opens in 1429, and in the first episode, the death of the family’s patriarch Giovanni establishes the storyline for what is to come. Dustin Hoffman has the role of Giovanni, and as always, Hoffman does not disappoint. Although he dies early on, he appears in flashbacks within future episodes.
Richard Madden is cast as Cosimo, and naturally, I was thrilled to see this Scotsman who did so well as Robb Stark in Game of Thrones. Cosimo is a most engaging character, full of passion for art while at the same time resigned to the role his father expects of him—heading up the family bank.
Coincidentally as we discovered this series, I’ve been engrossed in a book about popes and Catholicism. Both figure in my father’s ancestral history in links to the reformers the popes of that day often in league with princes in various localities persecuted. I’ll review the book later, and I’ll just say it was a real find I didn’t even know existed until I was wandering around a bookstore early this year before the latest imported virus impacted our country’s health and politics so drastically.
I highly recommend the series, for what my opinion is worth. I have a minor quibble. Whoever did the sound production appears to love horses. When a character gets on a horse, the volume ramps up to ear-splitting level. This also happens at certain dramatic moments. So if you see a character mount a horse or a major scene coming, you might want to temporarily lower the volume.
I’m enjoying the series very much. That’s unusual for me, so I take it as a blessing that I can sit still long enough to watch something on a screen. Other than that, I will say again as I often do, thank God for Martin Luther who didn’t so much set out to found a new faith as he did to reform his Catholic faith. While Luther is judged negatively for some of his views unacceptable,judged in hindsight today, he did my ancestors a favor by paving the road for the Lutheran faith.
If you enjoy history, politics, and intrigue, give Medici: Masters of Florence a go. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. History does repeat itself, and it’s eerie how politics so long ago bears such strong resemblance to politics today.
(Kay B. Day/April 22, 2020)
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