starring Jonathan Pryce, Ian Bannen, Griff Rhys Jones, Geraldine James
screenplay by Maureen Tilyou, based on the book The Testimony of Taliesin Jones by Rhidian Brook
directed by Martin Duffy
"Excessive sorrow gains nothing,
Nor will doubting God's miracles.
Although I am small, I am skilful"
--6th century, Taliesin
by Walter Chaw Chief Bard of Britain and a Celtic shaman, the historical Taliesin lived in Wales in the sixth century, his poems the direct precursor to the Arthur legend as well as his own as a druidic shape-shifter and spiritual healer. (He's thought to be the inspiration for the Merlin character.) Rhidian Brook's well-regarded children's tome The Testimony of Taliesin Jones concerns a quiet child who, stricken by the divorce of his parents, turns to faith-healing to deal with the arbitrary turmoil of his life. With its heart so clearly in the right place, it's hard to come down too hard on Martin Duffy's same-named cinematic adaptation of Brook's text, but the film is so intent on capturing the spiritual aspects of its title character and its namesake that it gives short shrift to the tragedy of its familial disintegration, discarding subtlety, too, in its proselytizing wake.