Movie Review – ‘Mary Queen of Scots’

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

I saw the movie ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ at the cinema this week. This is a historical drama film set during the Tudor period of England in the 1500s. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots and Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth the First. Both actresses deliver good performances in the film.

I saw this at the cinema because my Dad wanted to see it. My parents and I went to see it in our local cinema in Nantgarw, Cardiff. I knew some aspects of the Tudor period of England’s history to get an idea of what was going on in the film, but I didn’t know much about Mary, Queen of Scots beforehand.

The film is based on the biography ‘Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart’. So what did I make of this film overall? Um…it’s okay. It’s not really my type of film to be honest. But I enjoyed it for its historical period drama. Mind you, I’m not entirely sure the movie is historically accurate in the details.

I suppose the main issues I have with the film are the clarity of what was going on in terms of the story structure and the character development. I know this is a historical drama film, but I struggled to understand some of the characters’ motivations and why the Scots were turning against Queen Mary.

The film chronicles the 1569 conflict between the two countries of Scotland and England. There’s a lot of political and religious friction between Queen Mary’s country of Scotland where she represents the Protestants and Queen Elizabeth’s country of England where she represented the Catholics in the film.

I don’t fully understand the political and religious situation that happened in those days because…well, politics isn’t really my thing. It’s my understanding that politics and religion intermixed a lot during the Tudor days. That’s something that doesn’t happen often nowadays, but it was interesting to see here.

There was also a lot of deceit and treachery going on between certain parties, particularly in the Scotland area where the Scottish politicians were opposed to Queen Mary’s rule. Queen Mary also has a sex life that’s completely messed up. Seriously, sex during those Tudor times was pretty absurd!

You see, in the film, Queen Mary marries Jack Lowden as Lord Darnley so that she can have sex with him in order to have her baby, James the First. When Lord Darnley asks if she loves him, Queen Mary answers that love in the marriage is of low priority. Pardon me saying this, but Queen Mary was a cow!

Lord Darnley was no better either since he turned out to be a stupid husband for Queen Mary as well as getting drunk and killed following an explosion. Queen Mary also gets accused for being a ‘harlot’ and a ‘whore’ when she re-marries and has most of the Scottish country turning against her in this.

It was also interesting to discover that Queen Mary was half French as well as Scottish in the film. The film depicts her having four attendants that she brought over from France and she communicates with them in French at times whilst reigning Scotland. Her four attendants seem very loyal to Queen Mary!

There wasn’t much interaction between Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth the First in the film which I was expecting from looking at the movie poster. 😀 There is one scene where Queen Mary sees Queen Elizabeth in secret and she asks for her help. But she gets refused as well as executed at the film’s end.

The highlight of this movie was seeing David Tennant, who plays the Tenth Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’, as John Knox, the Protestant cleric who is against Queen Mary’s rule. I can’t get away from ‘Doctor Who’, can I? 😀 I wish David Tennant had more screen time in the film since he didn’t play a major part in it.

I was also pleased to see Martin Compston, who played Ewan in ‘Monarch of the Glen’, as the Earl of Bothwell, who forced Queen Mary to become his wife and have sex with him. I also saw Brendan Coyle, who was in the 2006 TV production of ‘North & South’ as well as in the TV drama shows ‘Lark Rise To Candleford’ and ‘Downton Abbey’, as Matthew Stewart, the 4th Earl of Lennox as well as the father of Lord Darnley.

The film also features Joe Alwyn as Robert Dudley, Queen Elizabeth’s counsellor and lover and Guy Pearce as William Cecil, the advisor to Queen Elizabeth. I can’t claim to knowing who most of the characters in the historical film are, as it was hard to distinguish them with many plot points going on.

The film also lacked action with it being a lot of talking scenes throughout. There is a battle scene between Mary, Queen of Scots’ army and…another army that was in Scotland opposed to her rule (I believe it was). But that’s about it. If you are expecting a lot of battles, you will be disappointed here.

I can’t deny ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ has been interesting and it’s raised my awareness about a historical figure I knew little about. This film should also be interesting for the historians as well as for the schools/colleges learning about Mary, Queen of Scots in history lessons. But…this isn’t my type of film.

The performances of the cast are great but I found it a struggle to understand the characters and the political-religious situation that was going on. I think the film was struggling to tell it as well in its output. I’m glad I saw it on the big screen with my parents, but I doubt this is a film I’ll come back to in the future.

By the way, despite the sex scenes featured, the 15 rating on the movie isn’t too severe.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

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