Monday, 19 August 2013

The White Queen and my thoughts

A lot of people will have enjoyed the White Queen on tv. I wished I had enjoyed it more. But I'm one of those people who go on about zippers in medieval clothes, and heroines who barely age between 24 and 46 in spite of living in perilous times and bearing 12 children. At the end of the series, Elizabeth's jawline was firm, sculptured and would be the envy of any sixteen year old. True, they made her look pale and sometimes she had a hint of bags under her eyes, but that's all.

Richard was never well cast in my view. There was something strange about Richard as portrayed here, and perhaps the fault lies in the dialogue he was given, but he always seemed wooden, as if that lovely padded jacket he wore was in reality a steel corset that kept him rigid. And the lines themselves - "I am the King! You will breathe for me!" he says to his dead son. No actor could make those lines work. Maybe the actor wanted to give Richard a brooding sense of wickedness held in check, but if he did he ought to have realised it did not blend well with the character's actions and dialogue.

The series never made clear who dealt the Princes in the Tower the final blow. (or if it did I missed it!) Was it Anne Neville? Or Margaret Beaufort? The curse on the boys' killer, made by Elizabeth and her daughter Elizabeth, seems to point to Anne (she died and her son died) but not to Margaret, whose son lived to father sons of his own, but then one son died.  One survived, but all Henry VIII's sons died, of course. Well, make of it what you will, the curse was a stroke of genius on Phillippa Gregory's part. I'm assuming the idea originated with her, and wasn't some folk tale she'd tapped into.

I thought the it was also a stroke of genius on the part of the film-makers to have the actor's breath cloud the air even when they stood in front of a roaring fire, hinting at the coldness of their surroundings. So many of the scenes were set in stone castles or churches, and they would have been cold indeed. But then they went too far. The Battle of Bosworth Field was fought on 22nd August and they filmed it in snowy, winter conditions with leafless trees!

My other gripe was that two actors looked so much like each other that I never got them straightened out. I think one bearded  gent was on Tudor's side and the other was on Richard's side. But have two big burly men with curly brown hair and beards made it so easy to confuse them. I think the acting award for the series goes to the actor who played Stanley. The one who played Margaret Beaufort was good, but by the end I had had enough of her mouth rolling grimaces, and to go to a man and ask him to sacrifice his son for hers was a step too far...the woman was obsessed and borderline mad. But there I go, confusing character and actor, so she must have been good.


margaret blake said...

Jen, I stuck with it until two from the end. It just was too strange and the characterisation of Margaret was off the wall. She was too crafty and cunning a person to be an hysteric.
I did like the chap playing Richard, up to a point. It was just nonsense.

Anita Davison said...

I am always happy to pick apart TV versions of history, but I did enjoy this series - though I wasn't expecting to. I felt Ms Gregory pulled the threads of real and legendary events together very well.
Then again, I agree with some of your bugbears too Jen - my excuse being I'm a Libran and can't help being fair-handed - ie. indecisive and vague - and as for the lack of ageing in the women - yeah, ridiculous, though by the time of her on-screen death, Anne Neville looked wrecked by illness if not her years.
Richard III went from 'Aww he's rather lovely and means well, to a complete character reversal and 'power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely' air about him.
I loved loved loved Margaret Beaufort - that obsessive conviction God would sweep away lives to suit her ambitious megalomania, and it was 'All His will' was exactly right. She suffered self-doubt at times too which made her more human and I didn't want her to lose Henry after all that - sorry Jen but I liked her. I wholeheartedly agree that Rupert Graves as Lord Stanley was perfect - but then he has played amoral villains since he was George, Duke of Buckingham in Power and The Passion-he has it down pat now!

Jen Black said...

It's lovely being picky, isn't it? I must admit I watched the first two and then ignored the next two or three and only tuned in for the last two.
Glad you enjoyed it, Anita, but I think I agree more with Margaret!