Hugo Blick returns in Revenge Western with Emily Blunt

Whenever we have a conversation about what we mean by ‘Cinematic TV’ or ‘Arthouse TV series’, before we talk game of thronesbefore talking about Netflix or even before chatting breaking Bad, the works of Hugo Blick must be part of this conversation. The writer and director behind The shadow line, The honorable woman and Rising black earth, he made a real storytelling art of eight to six chapters, 55 minutes per episode, deliberately using every minute of execution in stories that were complex in terms of themes and characters instead of simple narrative. Stories that are framed in striking visuals but also maintain a degree of clinical restraint.

His latest limited series is English, and probably his biggest project to date. Set in Oklahoma in 1890, it tells a deceptively simple story, like all classic westerns: an Englishwoman (Emily Blunt) recruits a Pawnee Nation cavalry scout (Chaske Spencer, who seems poised for a role as escape) to track the man she believes is responsible for her son’s death. All in a stunning CinemaScope report.

Blick’s series are essentially about institutional violence and the personality of the oppressed. So don’t expect this story to be just pure revenge. Explicitly set in 1890, the specter of the Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee is guaranteed to play a role. But Blick’s series are also tender, full of broken characters somehow finding humanity and connection amid the brutality. Be sure to keep tissues handy when watching this.

English premieres November 10 on BBC iPlayer and November 11 on Prime Video in the US.

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Image sources (in order of publication): BBC First Video