Sunday, July 05, 2009
Over the long weekend, I got to indulge my weakness for period films and I watched again for the first time Mary, Queen of Scots, one of my all-time favorites and one of the first period dramas that I saw as a kid. It has been over thirty years since I first saw this movie, but it still holds up beautifully for me.
Despite Cate Blanchett and Helen Mirren, Glenda Jackson will always be Elizabeth I for me, which is interesting because despite the title of the movie, I came away from watching this as a pre-teen with an Elizabeth-over-Mary bias that still holds true to this day. Like Elizabeth, I can't help despising Mary for her weak head and wayward heart. Vanessa Redgrave plays up this side of Mary beautifully, and I couldn't help but remember the beautiful Natasha Richardson as I watched her mother as a young woman.
It was also a surprise for me to see Timothy Dalton as Henry Lord Darnley. When I saw this movie eons ago, I remember that Darnley made my skin crawl, as he is suppposed to, but I don't know that it ever entered my consciousness in the intervening years that Dalton played this role and did it so well.
Having visiting Holyroodhouse and Edinburgh Castle less than a month ago, I was particularly aware of how well they reproduced the scenes that took place in these locations.
Rizzio's murder burned in my brain when I witnessed it when I first watched the movie, and I was surprised to find that this time around Rizzio himself was a far more likeable character than I remembered. I had always categorized him as a Rasputin type, but that's not how he was portrayed in this movie.
Another scene that I remember vividly from my youth was the scene at the beginning when Mary and Francis II of France are boating and he is struck by a seizure. That terrified me then, and it still does.
Back to portrayals of Elizabeth and Mary, I credit my early viewing of this movie as placing me firmly in the Elizabeth camp, and much as I love Austen, I never could wrap my head around her allegiance to Mary. Maybe she really is more of a Romantic than I have given her credit for.
Maybe I'll get A Man for All Seasons (Special Edition)
next. I remember seeing that movie shortly after Mary, Queen of Scots as a kid, and it also made a deep impression.