Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cinema Royals: Vanessa Redgrave

Vanessa Redgrave as Mary Queen of Scots in the 1971 film Mary Queen of Scots. Vanessa Redgrave certainly has illustrious Tudor film credentials. Aside from Queen Mary she appeared as Anne Boleyn in the 1966 film A Man for All Seasons (which she did voluntarily without salary) and she was Alice More in the made for TV version of the same film alongside Charleton Heston. This film version of the story of the last Catholic Queen of Scots is not the most sympathetic and it forced her to share screen time and story importance with Queen Elizabeth I of England. However, Vanessa Redgrave gives an excellent performance of the Scottish queen as a well meaning woman, a woman of strength and one plagued by misfortune. It is the emphasis of the film though that Mary was more woman than Queen, however, she convincingly portrays Mary as a woman not naive in politics, though certainly so in romance at least concerns Lord Henry Darnley. My favorite scene by far is her triumphal ride into recently conquered Dunbar, riding side saddle, breastplate fastened on, royal banner and crosses of St Andrew fluttering around her and bagpipes skirling. She enjoyed few such happy occasions in her life or in this film.


  1. I quite like the scene with Queen Catherine de Médicis following the death of Francios II.

    Catherine de Médicis needs a movie of her own !!

  2. It's amazing that way one can get something out of even lesser portrayals of these historical figures. There is usually at least some aspect of their personality or the events and atmosphere of the time that comes through.

  3. I am rather surprised such a movie hasn't been done yet. With bashing royalty and organized religion being so in style these days it would seem that Catherine de Medici and the St Bartholomew's Day massacre would be just what today's Hollywood would love to make a movie about. Of course when it comes to Mary Queen of Scots my favorite film portrayal was Katherine Hepburn's. Pretty historically innacurate but very sympathetic to the Queen but in this case it's easy for me to overlook since I'm such a big fan of her myself.

  4. Virna Lisi played a very Machiavellian Queen Regent Catherine in the 1994 movie 'La Reine Margot'


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