Period Drama Challenge: non-Disney version

I realize that I haven't updated my list of movies that I've watched for the PERIOD DRAMA CHALLENGE given by Lights, Camera, History so here are 7 to add to my list! Interestingly enough, I noticed that 3 are biopics (one of my favourite sub-genres) and 4 are based on novels.

I was thinking about how just like the title of my blog, I tend to like my dramas 'enchanted' and 'serene'. But after ongoing chiding from a friend about how I like all my movies to have a fairytale ending, it made me stop and evaluate if I have indeed been too shaped by Walt Disney's 'rose-coloured glasses' expecting only the sweetest plots. Yet when I examined the recent dramas that I've watched and enjoyed, I realized that they all had their share of melodrama with deaths of major characters in all 7 of them! So I guess although I still would call myself a fan of Disney, I realize that I can handle the bigger stuff!!

I don't like to give movie reviews since I've found most reviews tend to have spoilers or affect my expectations if they're too detailed so I'll give make my observations, short and sweet!

First up - three dramas that are biopics...

What DIDN'T I like about this one?
* I loved Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend in their roles. Even if they don't resemble their real-life counterparts, I didn't mind and fell completely under their spell.
* I enjoyed reading interviews with Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) to know how much care he put into telling the story of this young, vibrant monarch that he obviously admires himself.
* Can someone please give an Oscar or BAFTA to Sandy Powell right now? The costumes were divine! I'm thinking of becoming a milliner - loved the hats!
* Supporting cast of such established actors as Mark Strong, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Paul Bettany, Harriet Walter. I would watch this just for them!
* Beautiful musical score by Ilan Eshkeri (won Best New Composer for his score for Stardust )
* I found it interesting how Sarah Ferguson came to research Victoria's story and pushed for the movie to be made. Hear hear!
*Learning about history has never been so fun! I knew some of the details but enjoyed learning more and surprised to find that some scenes which I thought were fabricated turned out to be true.
* And to have a Canadian director - Jean Marc Vallee (C.R.A.Z.Y.) bring his perspective is just the icing on the cake!
>>More info here

Knowing that this was about an ill-fated romance helped me prepare for the inevitable moment. This film had me totally mesmerized! Some have found it to be slow-moving but I was taken in by its beauty.
*Abbie Cornish is captivating as Fanny Brawne. I've not been a fan of hers in the past but she taken in by her portrayal of Fanny.
*Ben Whishaw gave a tender and powerful performance of John Keats. Has me wanting to read poetry!
*Jane Campion did an awesome job of translating their love story from their letters to a "work of art" on the screen.
*Janet Patterson designed such wonderful costumes especially given that Fanny was creative in her own designs. The wardrobe for this film is a feast for the eyes!
*And not to forget a musical score which enhanced the film!
>>More info here

After watching this film, I was wishing I hadn't given away my copies of Beatrix Potter books and wanted to immediately try my hand at illustrating!
It was delightful and enchanting with beautiful countryscapes and yet had a gritty setting for the London city scenes.
*Renee Zellweger was good as Miss Potter. I wasn't quite sold on her performance but loved the character.
*Ewan Macgregor was interesting to watch as always! Loved the spunk and encouragement he gave to Miss Potter.
*Supporting cast of Barbara Flynn, Bill Patterson, Emily Watson, David Bamber. Phyllida Law and Anton Lesser - wonderful! I especially loved the relationship between Watson's Millie and Beatrix.
*Was inspired and surprised to find out just how Beatrix managed to get her books printed and just how many copies have been read worldwide!

Now, for four dramas based on novels...

Based on a novel discovered after Louisa May Alcott's death, this tale of a sweet and noble heroine is well worth watching!
Cari Shayne carries the film with her portrayal of Edith, the orphan who is taken in by the well-to-do Hamiltons.
Thomas Gibson is wonderful as James Percy, the eligible bachelor.
Meredith Baxter Birney impressed me with her role as the lady of the manor, totally forgot that she was Mrs. Keaton on Family Ties
Tom Conti...what is it with these father figures that I love so much? He was perfect!
*Plays like a Hallmark movie but I enjoyed it even more than when I watched it years ago...
>>More info here

Based on a novel by W. Somerset Maugham.
I'd heard about this film from many who had recommended it to me and finally decided to see it for myself. As much as I adore period films set in Britain, I also like to see films set in different countries and cultures. Set in Shanghai, it tells the story of a newly married couple (played by Edward Norton and Naomi Watts) who discover that they're not exactly suited to one another after marrying for different intentions. I don't usually enjoy movies about marital strife but I did enjoy watching the transformation of both characters as they react to their circumstances and to the turmoil around them. This movie stayed in my head for days afterward, a sure sign that it affected me!
>>More info here

Based on novels by Elizabeth Gaskell.
Heidi Thomas was good enough to bring us a sequel so that we can find out what happens to the inhabitants of the quiet little town of Cranford. Judi Dench and the stellar cast of the original series blew me away with the rollercoaster ride of ups and downs that had us laughing one minute and crying the next. Its sequel is more like a quiet but tad rickety trainride through the countryside (a ride that does happen in the film). It was nice to see some familiar faces and to meet some new characters in a town changing with technological advances whether its residents are ready for it or not. I enjoyed the addition of Jonathon Pryce and Celia Imrie but missed Miss Deborah, Mr. Carter, Dr. Harrison and his lovely bride Sophy. It was worth watching (loved seeing Harry Gregson and Miss Galindo) and I hope that with another viewing, I'll appreciate it more but it didn't compare to the original.
>>More info here

Based on a novel by Claude-Henri Grignon.
This French film is set in Quebec in late 19th century. A gritty film about young sweethearts who are torn apart when he has to seek work elsewhere while her father agrees to marry her off to the town miser. Roy Dupuis is charming as always as the young suitor who cannot forget his sweetheart played by the sweet and adorable Karine Vanasse. I loved that this film was set in Canada and thought the cinematography was beautiful.
>>More info here


  1. The Inheritance: A definite case of movie being better than the book!

  2. Really? I haven't read it but I would have imagined from the movie that it would be a great book! Good thing it's not on my TBR list!



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