It takes vision to imagine a future that is different from your present. It also requires a backbone, as the inevitable forces against change will do everything in their power to prevent such changes.
The 2015 movie, The Girl King, is the story of Kristina, Queen of Sweden. Queen Kristina (Malin Buska) ascended to the Swedish throne when she was all of six years old. Raised as if she was a boy, Kristina is young, opinionated, and stubborn. She also has ideas that her ministers, who are all male and older than her, disagree with. They also are not happy that not only has she chosen to remain unmarried and childless, but she is also infatuated with Countess Ebba Sparre (Sarah Gadon), a young noblewoman.
Those who resist both Kristina as a person and what she represents quickly realize that the only way to get to Kristina is via Ebba. But they underestimate her will, her drive, and her independence streak.
I liked this movie. The problem with history is that women who have dared to step out of what is considered “acceptable” are often forgotten or only barely mentioned in our chronicles. The narrative is compelling, the actors are perfectly cast, and the LGBTQ element is a nice twist on what could be a traditional and predictable tale.
The accusation of insanity can be vague. Depending on the circumstances, it can be used correctly or an easy excuse when a viable reason cannot be found.
The 2017 Netflix miniseries,Alias Grace is based on the Margaret Atwoodbook of the same name. Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) is a young woman in 19th century Canada who has been found guilty of killing her employer, Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin). After languishing in prison for fifteen years, she is being analyzed by Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft) to determine if the verdict can be removed due to insanity.
First of all, I have a problem with the all too common use of the word “insanity”. We live in a world in which mental health is both real and diminished in importance compared to physical health. By doing so, it lessens the experiences of those who live with it every day.
That being said, I really enjoyed this series. It is never quite clear if Grace had a hand in Nancy’s murder. But like that ambiguousness, it kept me engaged and wanting to know if the truth would ever be revealed. It also spoke to the idea of class and who has certain rights and who doesn’t.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Alias Grace is available for streaming on Netflix.
I’m a girl. I like romances and more specifically I like period romances. I like see men wearing stockings, breeches and neck clothes. I like seeing woman wearing petticoats, corsets and long dresses. But that doesn’t mean I want a mindless, predictable story with an ending that can be seen a mile away. I like an intelligent story that makes me laugh, that makes me think, all while providing the happily ever after that makes me smile at the end of the story.
I am very happy to report that Belle is such a story.
It is based on the true story Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a bi-racial woman raised on her great uncle’s estate in 1780’s England. Her father, Captain Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode) is only able to care for his daughter for a brief time before he passes her to his uncle to raise. His uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) was Lord Chief Justice at the time, was reviewing a case in regards to a slave ship where many of the slaves were drowned.
When Dido reaches the age when marriage is expected, there are road blocks. She is attracted to the son of a local vicar, John Davinier (Sam Reid), but finds herself and her cousin Elizabeth Murray (Sarah Gadon) in the company of James Ashford (Tom Felton), his brother Oliver (James Norton) and their mother, Lady Ashford (Miranda Richardson). Dido’s mother figures, her aunts, Lady Mansfield (Emily Watson) and Lady Mary Murray (Penelope Wilton) do their best, but they are blinded by their own prejudices.
This movie is wonderful. While it has the hallmarks of a BPD (British Period Drama), it also brings up issues that have not been raised in the genre previously. I’ve seen many BPD’s, but 99.9% of them have an all white cast, the issue of racism and people of color in England is rarely addressed. It also addresses the fact that English women, up until approximately WWI, had no rights. They were chattel. Wealthy women and aristocratic women, were especially viewed as chattel. If they were lucky, they had a father or a brother and then eventually a husband who loved them and respected them.