Rhaglen ddogfen sy'n olrhain hanes straeon enwocaf Cymru, Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi. To coincide with the Wales Year of Legends, another chance to see this 2003 documentary on the...
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-The Welsh have
-an unique collection of stories.
-Stories which are rooted deep in
-our nation's imagination and memory.
-Stories about places
-we are familiar with today.
-But they deal with characters
-from a long time ago.
-In these stories,
-the other world meets this world.
-There is revenge, warfare
-and terrible violence...
-..and events that seem almost
-beyond imagination today.
-People are transformed
-into birds and animals.
-These stories have been passed down
-orally through the ages...
-..and recorded in manuscripts.
-They are still told today.
-They have inspired poets,
-playwrights and film makers.
-This is the world of the
-Four Branches of the Mabinogi.
-The First Branch of the Mabinogi
-concerns Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed.
-It tells of Pwyll's
-..of a bridge between this world
-and the Underworld...
-..of dishonour and making amends,
-..and the relationship
-between Pwyll and Rhiannon.
-Pwyll is the Prince of Dyfed.
-Locations mentioned in the tale
-have a strong element of mystery.
-But where are these locations?
-This is Narberth Castle
-Could this have been the site
-of Pwyll's court?
-The court is central to the events
-in the First and Third Branches.
-Did the feasting, carousing
-and discoursing take place here?
-The Throne of Narberth is mentioned
-in the First Branch.
-Whoever sits on this Throne...
-..will either see wonders,
-or receive an injury or a wound.
-Was Pwyll sitting
-somewhere around here...
-..when he saw Rhiannon galloping
-down the valley on her white horse?
-His manservant failed
-to catch up with her...
-..so Pwyll himself called on her
-to stop, which she did.
-There's a strong element
-of enchantment in all the Branches.
-Very strange things happen.
-But people didn't say
-that such things were impossible...
-..for the simple reason...
-..that enchantment in ages past, and
-in the Middle Ages to some extent...
-..was a way of influencing
-the course of events.
-Today, most of us believe
-such things can't happen...
-..and that magical powers are, to
-us, basically, a matter of science.
-Science is the thing
-that can change the world.
-Narberth Castle may indeed have been
-the location of Pwyll's court.
-But what about this place, Caerau
-Gaer, two miles outside Narberth?
-There are remains
-of an old fortress here.
-Who knows? Perhaps this was
-where Pwyll stood...
-..when he suddenly saw Rhiannon
-galloping across the landscape...
-..on her white horse.
-Glyn Cuch is one of the
-first locations we encounter...
-..in the Four Branches.
-Glyn Cuch lies south
-of Newcastle Emlyn...
-..on the boundary between
-Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.
-It also serves as a boundary between
-this world and the Underworld.
-HOUNDS BARK, A HUNTING HORN SOUNDS
-Pwyll hunts deer here
-with his hounds...
-..when he meets Arawn,
-King of the Underworld.
-He insults Arawn, and so he must
-change places with him for a year.
-The hunting theme is very important
-in the Mabinogi.
-A white boar is hunted
-in the Third Branch.
-Rhiannon herself is 'stalked'
-when Pwyll follows her.
-The Four Branches of the Mabinogi,
-more than any other legends...
-..are based on Celtic mythology.
-There are strong echoes
-of Celtic mythology.
-There's a very strong link
-between Rhiannon and horses.
-Rhiannon is forced
-to act like a horse.
-She is punished by being forced
-to carry people on her back.
-She first appears
-on a magical white horse.
-Her son is discovered in a stable
-where a foal has just been born.
-He is also linked with horses.
-Some say she is an echo of Epona,
-the Celtic horse goddess.
-There's no doubt
-that there are strong links...
-and that particular animal.
-The Second Branch
-Bendigeidfran, son of Llyr,
-is the crowned king of this island.
-Matholwch, King of Ireland,
-comes to Wales...
-..to ask for the hand in marriage
-of Branwen, Bendigeidfran's sister.
-But her half-brother, Efnisien,
-is not happy.
-And so begins a series
-of terrible and violent events.
-Horses are mutilated
-and a young child is killed.
-Once again, very familiar locations
-has a court in Harlech.
-It's one of his important courts.
-The name Harlech means 'fair rock'.
-A castle was later
-built on the site.
-A lot of these places have
-extremely ancient associations.
-They are involved with rule,
-they are castles.
-Or they are ruins
-that people saw around them...
-..and brought into their legends...
-..because there were ancient
-memories associated with them.
-Bendigeidfran walks through the sea.
-Here, the story may be hinting
-at something very, very old...
-..that the sea between Wales and
-Ireland was smaller at one time.
-And of course, a proverb
-is formulated in this tale...
-.."He who would be a leader,
-let him be a bridge."
-Bendigeidfran is a giant.
-When the Irish destroy a bridge...
-..he stretches his body
-from bank to bank...
-..and allows his soldiers
-to walk over him...
-..saying, "He who would be a leader,
-let him be a bridge."
-There are many ancient Celtic
-elements in this legend...
-..as there are in the others.
-One of them concerns a king's
-special position in Celtic society.
-The Cauldron of Rebirth which brings
-the dead to life is another element.
-This is the Cauldron of Rebirth.
-If dead men are placed
-in the cauldron, they rise again...
-..but they are dumb.
-This cauldron is a boon to the Irish
-when they fight the Welsh.
-A great many cauldrons from the
-Celtic period have survived.
-One of the most prominent
-is the Gundestrup Cauldron...
-..which was discovered
-It's extremely interesting...
-..because there are figures
-on the cauldron...
-..and one scene depicts men
-being immersed in a cauldron.
-It recalls the description of the
-cauldron in the Second Branch.
-that the Gundestrup Cauldron...
-..illustrates the story of Branwen.
-In one of the strangest events
-in this tale...
-..Bendigeidfran's head is cut off
-but it does not die.
-That reflects a very ancient belief
-..that the soul resides
-in the head, not the heart.
-The Celts cut off
-their enemies' heads and kept them.
-They drew pictures of heads
-and carved heads from stone.
-The human head
-had great significance...
-..in the Celtic imagination.
-This mythology lived on
-into the Middle Ages in Wales.
-Bendigeidfran's head played
-an important part in the legend.
-Bendigeidfran's head is cut off...
-..but it continues
-to behave like a king.
-Seven men bring it back to Wales
-after the great battle in Ireland.
-They feast in Harlech
-for seven years...
-..and then they travel to an island
-off the Pembrokeshire coast.
-But their journey
-does not end there.
-It's always been my ambition
-to come here...
-..to the island of Gwales
-was brought here...
-..after the great battle in Ireland.
-Seven men brought the head here
-and spent 80 years feasting.
-Today, as you can see,
-only birds feast here.
-While they were here...
-..they forgot all the terrible
-things that had happened.
-But one day, Heilyn, son of Gwyn,
-opens the door that faced Cornwall.
-Memories come flooding back and they
-set out to bury the head in London.
-The head is buried
-on the White Mount in London...
-..looking out towards France.
-Bendigeidfran defends Britain
-from external enemies...
-..so he looks to the Continent...
-the English originally came.
-King Arthur is blamed for moving
-..according to the Welsh Triads.
-They say he was arrogant...
-..and did not want to share the
-credit for defending the island...
-..so he moved Bendigeidfran's head
-and took all the credit himself.
-There are many islands
-off the Welsh coast.
-Anglesey, where Branwen was buried.
-Her heart broke, and she was buried
-on the banks of the River Alaw.
-Puffin Island, Holy Island.
-off the Pembrokeshire coast...
-..are associated with enchantment.
-Some say that, not far from here,
-an island swims beneath the surface.
-Every once in a while, the island
-rises and we may touch it.
-The Third Branch of the Mabinogi,
-Manawydan son of Llyr...
-..follows on from the Second Branch.
-Pwyll's son, Pryderi...
-..gives his mother, Rhiannon,
-to Manawydan as a wife.
-All goes well, until, one day, an
-enchanted mist descends over Dyfed.
-The mist covers the land
-and everything disappears.
-Houses disappear, animals disappear,
-the courtiers disappear.
-Everywhere becomes deserted.
-The Third Branch may be
-the least familiar to people today.
-It begins with Manawydan...
-..and other characters who survive
-from the Second Branch.
-Manawydan is the hero
-of this Branch.
-He defeats the wizard, Llwyd,
-who cast a spell on Dyfed.
-He does so after realising...
-..that one of the mice that plague
-Manawydan's land and crops...
-..is Llwyd's wife.
-He forces Llwyd's hand,
-and tricks him...
-that he cast the spell on Dyfed.
-Manawydan forces him
-to lift the spell...
-that he will not seek revenge.
-The Fourth Branch
-The Fourth Branch
-is a branch and a half.
-Math son of Mathonwy
-is the Lord of Gwynedd.
-When he isn't at war...
-..he must rest his feet on the lap
-of a maiden called Goewin.
-His nephew, Gilfaethwy,
-falls in love with Goewin.
-Gilfaethwy's brother, Gwydion,
-organises a war...
-..so that Math must leave Goewin.
-Gwydion deceives Pryderi
-into giving him his pigs.
-He travels through Wales with
-the pigs and gives them to Math.
-realises the deception...
-..war breaks out
-between south and north.
-Math is the Lord of Gwynedd.
-Gwydion and Gilfaethwy travel south
-to the court of Pryderi.
-So there is communication between
-south and north in this Branch.
-As they drive the pigs
-from the south to the north...
-..the places where they stop...
-..are given a name that includes
-the word 'moch', such as Mochdre...
-..in memory of their passage.
-In the Mabinogi,
-there is a strong association...
-..between the stories
-and the actual geography of Wales.
-You can follow the stories on a map.
-The stories explain
-the origin of place-names...
-..and this itself
-bolsters the stories' status.
-It can be seen as independent
-evidence of the story's truth.
-We call them onomastic stories.
-Onomastic stories explain
-the origins of proper names.
-The Mabinogi is full of them.
-When Math returns from battle...
-..he discovers that his nephews,
-Gilfaethwy and Gwydion...
-..were responsible for the strife...
-..the rape of the maiden, the death
-of soldiers including Pryderi.
-They cannot make amends
-for this dishonour...
-..except through punishment
-Math's punishment is bestial.
-In the Fourth Branch,
-Gwydion and Gilfaethwy
-have raped Goewin.
-So Math strikes them
-with his magic wand...
-..and three times he changes them
-into different animals.
-One is male, the other is female.
-and give birth to offspring.
-It's the ultimate humiliation.
-In Christian thought, which derives
-from Judaic concepts...
-..there are levels of existence...
-..and man is above
-the level of animals.
-So if you are turned into an animal,
-you are degraded, brought down.
-First, they're turned into a stag
-and a hind.
-Deer are very important
-in the Mabinogi.
-They provide food and materials
-So it's quite significant...
-..that they're transformed
-into a stag and a hind first of all.
-Then, they're turned
-into a boar and a sow...
-into male and female wolves.
-All these animals - deer,
-wild boar, wolves...
-..are animals that people
-in the Middle Ages respected...
-..because they were dangerous
-It was a terrible punishment.
-But it was appropriate.
-They were punished
-because they had raped a maiden.
-The two brothers
-had to make amends for that...
-..by having their own sexuality
-and sexual identities transformed...
-..back and forth, year after year.
-Math needs another maiden,
-because Goewin is now a wife.
-He forgives Gilfaethwy and Gwydion.
-Gwydion suggests his sister
-Arianrhod, as the new maiden.
-Thus begins another series
-of marvellous events.
-Arianrhod must prove
-..by stepping over
-Math's magic wand.
-But a small child drops from her,
-and something else.
-Gwydion picks up this other thing...
-..hides it in a chest
-and looks after it.
-Arianrhod places a number of curses
-on her child.
-He may not have a name, weapons,
-or a wife of this world.
-Through magic, Gwydion
-manages to overcome every curse.
-For the final curse, he and Math
-combine their magical skills...
-..to create a wife out of flowers
-for Lleu, Arianrhod's son.
-This is Blodeuwedd.
-This is one of the settings for the
-Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi.
-It's a castle called Mur Castell,
-After Math and Gwydion created
-Blodeuwedd as a wife for Lleu...
-..the king gave them this castle
-as a home.
-Mur Castell, or Tomen y Mur,
-as it's now called.
-Lleu goes away, leaving Blodeuwedd
-here with the servants.
-She is restless.
-Then suddenly she hears a hunting
-horn and the sounds of a hunt.
-Over this ridge behind me
-appears Gronw Pebyr from Lleyn.
-She invites him into the castle,
-and they fall in love.
-Ultimately, they conspire
-to kill Lleu.
-Many people have tried to interpret
-There are novels,
-recent animations, plays.
-'Blodeuwedd' by Saunders Lewis must
-be the most well-known of them all.
-I would argue that he's changed
-quite a lot of the story...
-..though he says in the introduction
-that he hasn't.
-He changes the emphasis.
-He was a Catholic...
-..and a man with patriarchal
-attitudes towards life.
-Oh, heir to my fate,
-listen to my secret.
-I have for you now an heir.
-Do you know for sure?
-Do you know for sure?
-As every wife knows.
-As every wife knows.
-Oh, my queen!
-Let fate decree it shall be a son.
-Let fate decree it shall be a son.
-It is a son.
-Let fate decree it shall be a son.
-I swear it.
-To him, family and succession
-He uses this - he adds this
-to the original tale.
-When Lleu returns,
-he finds Blodeuwedd full of joy.
-Of course, she's been sleeping
-with Gronw Pebyr!
-But she suggests
-that she has an heir for him.
-He's delighted, because his mother's
-curses sought to deny him an heir.
-But her 'heir' is Gronw Pebyr,
-not a baby at all.
-I can picture him now,
-placing his lips upon my lips.
-He shall be a hunter.
-His horn shall stir the deer.
-I shall teach him
-his father's accomplishments.
-How to throw a spear and a needle?
-How to throw a spear and a needle?
-And row a boat...
-And row a boat...
-..and make shoes for his mother...
-..so that she shall not walk
-barefooted through the dew.
-The name 'Lleu' in itself
-'Lleu' means 'light' -
-he's a sun god.
-He still retains elements
-of his former divinity.
-He's not easy to kill.
-He must be placed in an extremely
-He must stand on a river bank -
-between water and land...
-..that 'between' element.
-He must place one foot on a trough,
-or bath - cleanliness.
-And his other foot must rest on a
-billy goat's back - uncleanliness.
-He wears trousers but no shirt.
-He's not within a building
-but there's a roof above him.
-There's a series
-of 'in-between' situations.
-And when all's said and done,
-he doesn't get killed.
-He turns into an eagle.
-What happens there?
-He turns into another aspect
-The eagle was a creature
-sacred to the sun god.
-The eagle shelters
-in an old oak tree.
-Trees had special significance
-for the Celts.
-They had their own magical
-and sacred qualities.
-It's not by accident
-that the eagle shelters in an oak.
-He is in a sacred space
-until he is taken from there.
-Llech Gronw - 'Gronw's Stone'.
-Lleu and Gronw
-stand on the river bank.
-Lleu holds a spear,
-and Gronw stands here.
-And Gronw says, "Because I was
-deceived by Blodeuwedd's wiles...
-"..let me place this stone
-that we see beside the river...
-"..between me and the spear."
-Lleu agrees. He throws his spear,
-which goes through the stone...
-..and breaks Gronw's spine.
-He's killed instantly.
-There's lots of conjecture
-concerning locations and so on.
-But here, there's a stone with
-a hole through it, beside a river.
-What more could you expect?
-As film makers...
-..we sometimes have to change or
-adapt aspects of the original text.
-Perhaps those who told these stories
-did the same.
-I like to believe we're simply
-perpetuating that tradition.
-One prominent example
-is when Lleu, at the end...
-..gets his chance
-to take revenge on Gronw.
-In the original text, he throws
-the spear and that's that.
-But in our story,
-he lifts the spear to throw it...
-..and then he decides
-to be merciful to Gronw.
-He turns away, but Gronw
-throws a knife at him.
-Lleu has to defend himself,
-and that's how he kills Gronw.
-At the end...
-..Blodeuwedd is transformed
-into an owl by Gwydion.
-That's very interesting.
-The author says it's in an owl's
-nature to avoid daylight...
-..and that other birds
-instinctively attack owls.
-The punishment is appropriate...
-..because Blodeuwedd is originally
-a creature of the sun...
-..created from flowers.
-She was created to be beautiful,
-but she's turned into an owl...
-..a bird of the night,
-which doesn't show its face...
-..and which has no beauty.
-Blodeuwedd loses everything she has.
-Again, the owl happens to have
-..in the Celtic imagination.
-The Celts regarded the owl
-as a bird of the night...
-..associated with darkness
-There are a great many superstitions
-..harbingers of death, and so on.
-The final Branch finishes unhappily.
-There is no future.
-Lleu is all alone.
-He has no hope of getting a wife
-because of his mother's curse...
-..and no hope of an heir.
-It's not like the other Branches.
-It shows what can happen...
-..if people, especially the sexes,
-fail to respect each other.
-Every year in Wales, people gather
-for a special pilgrimage.
-It's an attempt...
-..to keep the mediaeval oral
-storytelling tradition alive.
-But where did these legends
-originate? Who was their author?
-We don't know who wrote
-the Four Branches of the Mabinogi.
-It's problematic when you're dealing
-with an oral tradition.
-Stories are passed on and everyone
-makes little changes to them.
-Many people have tried to suggest
-authors for the Four Branches.
-If we could discover an author,
-it would seem to confer status.
-Some have suggested Sulien,
-Bishop of St David's.
-Sulien and his son
-were literary people.
-Sulien spent time in Ireland...
-..and of course, Ireland is involved
-in the Second Branch.
-His son, Rhygyfarch, wrote the
-Latin version of 'Buchedd Dewi'...
-..about the life of St David.
-We know he wrote.
-But that doesn't mean
-they wrote the Four Branches.
-When you start talking
-..you run into
-a very difficult problem.
-Say, for example,
-that a storyteller tells a story...
-..and someone tries
-to write down this story.
-He'd have to stop the storyteller
-in order to catch up.
-That would destroy the story.
-Did the author have to learn
-the story and then write it down?
-Or had a storyteller
-learned how to write?
-I would think there'd be differences
-between the story told orally...
-..and the written version.
-Writing is a very slow
-and laborious process.
-Ultimately, it would interfere
-with the words being spoken.
-I believe that it was only
-in the written form...
-..that all these episodes
-were brought together.
-I feel, with regard to models
-in other countries...
-..that it was the episodes
-that were important, orally.
-The story of Pwyll
-visiting the Underworld...
-..the story of Pwyll wooing
-and marrying Rhiannon.
-I feel the author was the first
-to bring them all together.
-The Branches have been recorded
-Thus they have been handed down
-and interpreted throughout the ages.
-Now begins another important episode
-in our story.
-The manuscripts are a vital part
-of the Branches' history.
-The earliest volume containing
-all Four Branches of the Mabinogi...
-..is the White Book of Rhydderch...
-..which is kept in the
-National Library in Aberystwyth.
-It dates back
-to the mid 14th century.
-This manuscript was copied
-for a man called Rhydderch...
-..who lived in Llangeitho.
-It was probably copied...
-..at the Cistercian abbey
-of Strata Florida...
-..15 to 18 miles
-east of Aberystwyth.
-The second volume
-containing the complete version...
-..is the Red Book of Hergest...
-..which is owned
-by Jesus College, Oxford.
-It's kept at the Bodleian Library
-The White Book
-is a very important volume...
-..but it's not the earliest record
-of the Four Branches.
-A manuscript dating
-from the late 13th century...
-..contains two small fragments...
-..concerning the story of Branwen
-and the story of Manawydan.
-Just a page each remain of these.
-But they demonstrate a written
-tradition for the Mabinogi...
-..that is much earlier
-than the White Book.
-Today, we have Four Branches
-of the Mabinogi...
-..but was it three branches,
-The boundary between the Second
-and Third Branches is indistinct.
-The author seems to have difficulty
-separating these two Branches...
-..and, of course, three
-was an important, magical number...
-..in the mediaeval period.
-The Three Branches
-of the Mabinogi, perhaps?
-Or there may be branches missing.
-In both the White Book
-and the Red Book...
-..the copyist doesn't say,
-"And so ends the Mabinogi."
-With other stories...
-..you get, "And so ends the tale
-of the Lady of the Fountain."
-But there is no, "And so end
-the Four Branches of the Mabinogi."
-So I sometimes wonder whether there
-are fifth, sixth, seventh branches.
-Festivals throughout Wales...
-..perpetuate one of the nation's
-most precious traditions...
-A short story to begin with.
-You have a choice - a story about
-a giant, or one about an old woman.
-This is the second Dyffryn Conwy
-It's a chance for everyone...
-..to hear all kinds of stories.
-"Oi! I want beer! I want wine!
-"I want bread! I want meat!"
-The people of Pontypridd looked out
-of their windows and saw this giant.
-"No! Go away, you great, big,
-hairy, ugly giant!
-If the audience showed great
-interest in some particular part...
-..they would elaborate
-on that part of the story.
-And if the audience
-showed no interest...
-..the story would be condensed.
-I would think that's what happened.
-The storyteller would react to his
-audience as he told the story.
-He was angry, he was furious,
-he wanted to kill these people.
-We're a group
-of professional storytellers.
-There's a link between us
-and the storytellers of past ages.
-There was just one bird left -
-In this festival,
-we tell stories, of course.
-There are trips along the river
-and through woodlands.
-People can learn the art
-The other birds
-were so cross with the owl...
-..they said, "Owl,
-you are banished to the night!"
-When these tales
-were translated into English...
-..in the 19th century...
-..not just the Four Branches
-but other mediaeval legends too...
-..eleven of them in all,
-they needed a title.
-'-ion' is a plural suffix in Welsh.
-'Dyn' - 'Dynion'.
-'Marchog' - 'Marchogion'.
-So the title 'Mabinogion'
-was adopted as a label.
-In the manuscripts, it's practically
-always written as 'Mabinogi'.
-Only in one instance
-does 'Mabinogion' appear.
-That might have been a misprint.
-In the manuscript, another word
-appears just before 'Mabinogion'...
-..the word 'dyledogion'.
-The misprint may have arisen because
-of confusion between the two words.
-The '-ion' may have jumped down
-But the term 'Mabinogion',
-though it may be incorrect...
-..has become very useful.
-It's used to cover the Four Branches
-and the other legends...
-..'Culhwch and Olwen,' 'The Dream
-of Macsen,' 'The Three Romances'.
-They all come under the title
-Charlotte Guest was the first
-to popularise the term.
-She used it for her own translation
-of the 'Mabinogion'...
-..in the mid 19th century.
-She belonged to that period...
-..when people rediscovered Arthur
-and the Middle Ages.
-She was an Englishwoman...
-..who came to Wales when she married
-John Guest, the Dowlais ironmaster.
-From the 1830s onwards,
-she published her version...
-..of the Four Branches,
-and other translations.
-People have doubted how much of the
-work she actually did herself.
-Did she receive help from people
-like John Jones ('Tegid')?
-people appreciate what she did.
-Her texts are of a high standard.
-Scholarly notes accompany them.
-Her translations became popular
-and improved these texts' status...
-..and the Welsh texts
-consequently became popular.
-Wales rediscovered them
-through Charlotte Guest.
-Very few titles were used
-in the Middle Ages.
-The opening words of a story
-were normally used as a label.
-We call the First Branch
-'Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed'...
-..because they're the first words.
-But the Second Branch
-opens with the words...
-.."Bendigeidfran, son of Llyr, was
-the crowned king of this island."
-But in Lady Charlotte Guest's
-..the Second Branch is entitled
-'Branwen, daughter of Llyr'.
-I wonder whether she sympathised
-Like Branwen, she had left
-her own country.
-There's an entry in her diary...
-..where she mentions a house
-the family owned in Sully.
-He diary records her
-looking out to sea in Sully...
-..and seeing someone
-putting furniture in a boat...
-..and setting sail for England.
-"And I sometimes wish
-I were going with him."
-There's a touch of
-A few years before Charlotte Guest
-started work on the Mabinogi...
-..an important archaeological
-discovery was made in Anglesey.
-A decision was made to excavate a
-place reputed to be Branwen's grave.
-And indeed, traces of cremated bones
-were discovered there.
-This news appeared in the press.
-It's evident from her work that
-Charlotte Guest knew about this.
-The name Branwen
-became quite well-known.
-It must be one more reason...
-..why Charlotte Guest chose the name
-Branwen for the Second Branch.
-Despite their antiquity...
-..the Mabinogi have fired the
-imaginations of people of all ages.
-The are very popular
-among children and young people.
-Bendigeidfran told the boy...
-.."Go and talk to your uncle."
-And Gwern walked towards Efnisien,
-and Efnisien bent down.
-And everyone else thought...
-..that Efnisien was going to whisper
-into the boy's ear.
-But he bent down
-and grabbed the boy's feet...
-..lifted him, whirled him around,
-and threw him into the fire.
-It's one thing for a child
-to read a story himself.
-But a story
-told by a good storyteller...
-..can make it much more vivid
-for a child.
-It's an oral thing.
-The task with the Mabinogi...
-..is to preserve the glory
-of the oral recitation.
-Ships raising their sails and
-setting out over the sea to Ireland.
-Unfortunately, we know little about
-how these tales were performed.
-After all, everyone told stories.
-In the Second Branch, Matholwch
-accepts the Cauldron of Rebirth...
-And Matholwch tells Bendigeidfran
-..about how he himself received
-the Cauldron in the first place.
-He says, "Once upon a time,
-I was out hunting."
-That's a traditional formula
-for beginning a story.
-Telling tales was commonplace.
-Is it a true story?
-That's a great question.
-Is it a true story?
-There are three possibilities...
-..that it's totally false, totally
-true, or somewhere in between.
-it's somewhere in between?
-There are some terribly violent
-episodes in the Mabinogi.
-But they are not unsuitable
-Some elements of violence
-arouse our curiosity.
-Why does Efnisien
-do these awful things?
-Go to your Uncle Efnisien.
-of a shameful union.
-You shall be the first Irishman
-This will settle your father,
-once and for all!
-SHOUTS AND SCREAMS
-No! Not the fire!
-Efnisien is an interesting character
-with a very dark side to him.
-He's the story's catalyst -
-he mutilates Matholwch's horses.
-He kills his little nephew and
-we can't see much reason for this.
-But he turns out to be a hero
-in the end.
-He shatters the Cauldron
-which is so dangerous to the Welsh.
-For sake of the Isle of the Mighty!
-Efnisien, a half-brother, is half
-in the family and half outside it.
-He's on the boundary, not quite in
-or out, and so he's dangerous.
-In the Four Branches, people try
-to work out the right way to act...
-..while facing terrible calamities
-or wonderful enchantments.
-We can compare the stories
-in the Mabinogi...
-..with the soap operas
-we see on television today.
-The old Celts obviously needed
-a little spice in their lives...
-..during long, cold evenings.
-They wanted to hear stories
-about people behaving abominably.
-Love, hate, unfaithfulness,
-who was sleeping with who...
-..who takes revenge on who.
-That's what people enjoy,
-# SONG IN GAELIC #
-The stories deal with things
-that are strange and wondrous.
-The strange and the wondrous still
-appeal very strongly to people.
-Though they are strange and
-wondrous, they involve real people.
-It's a combination
-that's never out of fashion.
-It has a cohesion
-that belongs to true art.
-# SONG IN GAELIC #
-Animation is an excellent medium
-for presenting the fantastic.
-It's possible to show Bendigeidfran
-as a huge man...
-..and when he gets angry,
-he grows even bigger...
-..he becomes a giant who can walk
-through the sea to Ireland.
-We can create Blodeuwedd.
-We can show the process
-by which Blodeuwedd is created...
-..which isn't possible
-in a stage play.
-The Four Branches receive
-a new lease of life and survival...
-..with this new animated film.
-People will watch it
-and react to it.
-The Four Branches will also survive
-so long as storytelling survives...
-..people tell these tales...
-..and as long as anyone reads them.
-I've been working
-on a new translation...
-..of the 11 tales of the Mabinogion,
-and I'm really enjoying it.
-I compare the way other people
-have translated them...
-..Charlotte Guest, for example.
-I'm trying to bring an oral feel
-to this new translation.
-These stories were originally
-written in order to be read aloud.
-They say that Tolkien
-was inspired by the Mabinogi...
-..when he wrote
-'The Lord of the Rings'.
-This material belongs to the nation
-and it will always inspire.
-to an ancient memory, possibly...
-..that is within us Welsh people.
-Especially if you live in a place
-associated with these legends.
-Something very special
-develops in such places.
-You create a link between the
-present and a wondrous old world.
-Some of that wonder
-comes through from that past...
-..via memory and imagination...
-..into the lives of people today.
-The Four Branches of the Mabinogi...
-..are rooted in our landscape
-and in our history.
-They are an integral part
-of our nation's mythology.
-And what is a nation...
-..but the fruit of its people's
-history and mythology?
-This is what
-secures our existence...
-..as children of the Welsh nation.
-This is our heritage.
-This is the foundation
-for our future.
-S4C subtitles by
Rhaglen ddogfen sy'n olrhain hanes straeon enwocaf Cymru, Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi. To coincide with the Wales Year of Legends, another chance to see this 2003 documentary on the Mabinogion.