There is a direct line to the stars in The Englishthe new revisionist western series from Paramount+ written and directed by the award-winning Hugo Blick (The Honorable Woman, Black Earth Rising, The Shadow Line) with protagonists Emily Blunt And Chaske Spencer. The television show set in the wild North American frontier of the late nineteenth century focuses on a stormy journey across America undertaken by the two protagonists, whose stories will prove to be inextricably linked. Thanks to the duration of the miniseries – only six episodes – it was possible to call in the cast even stars of the caliber of Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds,Rafe Spall and the handsome Tom Hughes. The English is available to watch on the streaming platform from March 8, 2023.
The English – “The difference between what is wanted and what is needed was something they both had yet to learn“
“The difference between what is wanted and what is needed was something they both had yet to learn“. The opening scene is very visual and anticipates a poetic atmosphere that pervades the entire first cycle of episodes told with a direction that expands into long and very long shots. Lady Cornelia Locke’s voice over (Emily Blunt) lets us know the background. We are in 1890, the future of the United States begins to be built in the last days of settlement of the old west, in a continent where the natives have seen themselves invaded by “white faces”“. The protagonist/heroine is Lady Cornelia Locke, an English aristocrat desperately searching for the man responsible for her son’s death, who is in America. She arrives at a remote Kansas inn, and finds Mr Watts (Ciaran Hinds in the most horrendous of his characters) about to torture Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer): a Pawnee native and former scout for the U.S. Army Cavalry. Eli is the true silent hero, he’s headed to Nebraska to reclaim the acres owed to him for his military service, despite warnings that “white men in office will never honor their debt“. Hugo Blick stages a semi-mutual rescue operation: Eli and Cornelia are mainly two heartbreaking and lost souls who meet. Not surprisingly, their journey together begins on the notes of Some Say (I Got Devil).
The English – A rare combination of Old West poetry and ruthlessness in the majestic serial with Emily Blunt
As they travel across the plains of the continent, the bond between the two protagonists acquires depth and tenderness in a way that transcends romanticism. We meet characters who evoke an Old West ruthlessness and reflect the director’s consideration of how many would remain lucid and morally upright in a lawless land. The importance of not forgetting the barbarization and massacres of the Native Americans on whose suffering the New World was built, underlined through not only Eli’s personal story and the inhuman actions of the old soldiers they meet, but also in the charred remains of the camps and in the eyes of those seeking refuge. NoA splendid light has entered Blick’s script, like the one that has come to radiate the landscape which maintains its same qualities throughout the truly surprising story thanks to a multifaceted cast: Chaske Spencer (known for his performance in Twilight) is the real revelation, he plays a crested character, seething with wisdom, with pain with rage: a good man brought to terrible compromises. Blunt instead grows together with his Cornelia masterfully brought to the small screen, gives us a woman – a mother – courageous and undaunted. It’s still, Rafe Spall as the diabolical villain David Melmont with a crazy over the top performance: the villain who can reach the open plains to dominate the “lesser demons”, the willing victims and the good guys with no alternatives. After That Dirty Black Bag, 1883, 1923 and with The English, Paramount Plus confirms itself as the home of the western. The serial with Emily Blunt is a surprising combination of poetry (the sky remains full of stars) and Old West ruthlessness that does not spare itself in terms of raw and bloody scenes. Blick renews respecting the models of the genre: from the sets reconstructed by Chris Roope to the audio column curated by Federico Jusid passing through the photograph of Arnau Valls Colomer which often contrasts the shadowy silhouettes of the actors and the light (with a horizon that remains inscrutable) of the infinite expanse of the landscapes.
Directing – 4.5
Screenplay – 4.5
Photography – 4.5
Acting – 4.5
Sound – 4.5
Emotion – 4