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Article – Now Showing History’s Neglected


Posted September 13, 2018 by

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Now Showing History’s Neglected

If you are at all into historical dramas, you would have sensed a hovering repetition by now. Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Louis XIV of France- it is like their lives are not enough to suffice for the constantly expanding realm of cinematic similarity.

The arrival of Mary Queen of Scots (2018) and The Favourite (2018) is a much welcomed breath of diversity for a genre, long dwelling on monumentally significant but heavily overused personalities. For a woman who managed to make her mark with Elizabeth I next door, it is hoped that the movie will blaze a trail for similarly resilient yet oddly forgotten historic figures. It is after all, the exact refreshing injection this genre needs.

Elizabeth I has the rather unfortunate but surely very convenient ability to dramatically overshadow any attempts to diversify the historical material of and around her reign. That is indeed particularly unfortunate considering that one of the most turbulent periods of her life is intertwined with the fate of her cousin and neighbour, Mary Queen of Scots.

Historical Drama - Mary Queen Of Scotts (2018)

Mary’s life is a cinematic goldmine. Love, lust, intrigue, power and death as spectacle are all part of the era as are all part of her. Mary Queen of Scots (2018) has promised an alluring perspective on the poisonous rivalry between two women, too determined, brave and capable to be living so close. Let’s hope, in the spirit of Mary’s unflinching belief, that the movie will deliver a dignified rejuvenation of a remarkable if feisty woman.

The Elizabethan era has taken more than one casualty. Her long suffering half sister Mary has been literally buried underneath The Virgin Queen’s achievements. But being the daughter of The Warrior Queen, Catherin of Aragon, she was never meant to fade into oblivion.

The fact alone that she was the first woman to successfully claim the throne of England should be reason enough to spark continuous interest in a cinematic reproduction. And yet, it would appear like Mary I is still too scandalous or unconventional to work with. For all the bloodshed and turmoil, rather like Mary Queen of Scots, she acted decisively in a wholehearted belief in her own rightness. And that, for an age of kings, is quite something.

There is hardly a more renowned ‘gilded cage’ story than that of Elisabeth of Bavaria or Sisi. Or indeed more tragic. The future Empress of Austria, although exceptionally beautiful, inquisitive and gifted, is most synonymous with an unfulfilled existence, lacking a considerable challenge for her many talents.

An elaborately produced if heavily romanticised reproduction of Sisi’s life exists in the form of director Ernst Marischka’s trilogy Sissi (1955-57). Where we have failed to adequately appreciate the complexity and value of her character is to simplify her life to a beautiful bird in a gilded cage trapped within a tragic love story. But Elisabeth is and deserves to be seen as so much more: an inquisitive and open-minded personality with a soaring spirit and an extraordinary political astuteness to match her looks.


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Written by:

Asya Gadzheva
Digital Portfolio
Freelance Contributor

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