Mary Queen of Scots – the film

In recent years we’ve been lucky if there is one film on at the flicks within the whole year but this year already we’ve been to see two films – two weeks ago we went to see The Favourite and last week we saw Mary Queen of Scots and I enjoyed it although it is a bit cavalier with the historic details. The Irish actress Saoirse Ronan plays Mary Stuart and she did a good job of it although she must have put a lot of effort into learning a Scots accent, for no good reason as Mary had lived at the French court since the age of five and her mother was French so she would have had a French accent as she lived in France for well over ten years waiting to marry the Dauphin. It was never expected she would return to Scotland but after her husband died the French wanted rid of her.

The film is beautifully shot and I’m glad to say that all the locations are in Scotland. I was puzzled as to why the Scottish castles looked so grim, I swear that at the beginning one of them looked like a cave on the inside with really rough walls that looked like you could have climbed up them. I’ve never seen anything but smooth stone walls inside and outside of castles and of course the walls would have been covered with tapestries.

The murder of Rizzio was much more dramatic than I had ever imagined it to be. Darnley is portrayed as being gay, I’m a bit cynical and so assume that that’s a bid for the pink pound/dollar. And of course Mary and Elizabeth meet despite all of the historians agreeing that they never did meet. Elizabeth’s skin is skillfully made up to show how badly her skin was damaged by pockmarks. I doubt if she ever let anyone see those, hence the thick and poisonous lead based make-up that she wore.

There’s also no sense of all the years that Mary was kept in captivity by Elizabeth – or of her many escape attempts.

Thankfully the film stops short of her actual execution as that was famously very nasty, who knows whether the axeman was deliberately incompetent when he hacked at her neck or if it was just nerves or bad luck.

David Tennant being cast as John Knox was a great touch, I thought he was brilliant in the role.

If ever anyone was in need of good advisors it was Mary Stuart, but either she didn’t have anyone to advise her or she chose to ignore them. She would have been better emulating her royal cousin Elizabeth and eschewing men and marriage, but then we would never have had King James V of Scotland / I of England. I wonder what would have happened if he had never been born.

4 thoughts on “Mary Queen of Scots – the film

  1. Katrina,
    There’s a great novel in that idea. What if James had never been born??? How interesting to contemplate the possibilities. War? Turmoil? Pretenders? What do you think? My imagination goes wild at times.
    I’m glad you found the movie entertaining. Now I would like to see it. When I heard there was a new Mary Queen of Scots movie, I’m afraid I did at first mutter under my breath, “Not another one.”
    There was another Mary Queen of Scots movie I saw (pretty sure it was a movie) decades ago, that cast Darnley as gay as well, or at least bisexual, but the movie definitely cast him as a lover of men first and foremost and Mary second.
    I’ve read some interesting historical novels, of course, but I never had the sense that the writers really had all the hard-core facts about her life. I’d like to see the movie now.
    Although we are hard pressed to find places to view new films, even within 60 miles. Usually we have to wait for Dish Satellite Pay-Per-View, or later, Netflix or Amazon Prime.
    The Favourite…I will look that one up. It sounds very familiar.

    • Judith,
      I suppose that the ‘nobles’ in England would have fought each other for the top job. It would have been nasty with people taking sides.
      I imagine that the Scottish aristocracy were not at all happy about Mary marrying an Englishman so they would definitely have been saying things such as – he’s more interested in men – and that would have been the least of it. I’m surprised he wasn’t bumped off faster!

  2. I’ll probably have to catch this one on DVD or streaming as we rarely get period films nearby (unless they’re war-related). Did not know David Tennant was in it, he’s one of my favorites so I might watch it just for him. I did manage to see The Favourite which I loved, it’s rather surreal but wonderful. Of course there are historical liberties but I don’t think it’s meant to be taken to literally. The script is really funny, so it’s worth seeing just for that and for the excellent acting.

    • Karen K.
      For me The Favourite was more sad than funny although it was amusing in parts. It’s tragic that after 17 pregnancies she had not one surviving child and had a rabbit named after each one of them, although knowing what rabbits are like she would soon have had 117 rabbits. Olivia Colman is great in anything that she does.

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