History and Hollywood.

Quick — which British monarchs have had the most movies and tv series made about them?

  • Henry VIII and his wives?
  • Elizabeth I ? (Note: be sure to include the upcoming Mary Queen of Scots movie, in which Elizabeth is a major player.)
  • Increasingly, Victoria ?

For sure, it wasn’t Queen Anne, which makes The Favourite such a wonderful anomaly. I have wondered for years why no one made a movie about Anne, who may have not been the brightest bulb in the box but who nonetheless had a fascinating and melodramatic (and potentially scandalous) life. Even if the movie is sensationalized and only partially true, her life was unusual enough that the movie is not completely fake.

It’s fun when Hollywood turns elsewhere than to the usual suspects for its period pieces. According to IMDb.com, a movie about Russia’s Catherine the Great is in the works. But what about Charles I of England? Or James II? Or Alexander II of Russia? Isabella of France? Marie Theresa of Austria?

Have there been any movies about Guy Fawkes? Why not? What about Alice Paul?

Even if dealng with well-trod ground, as it were, shifting the focus can freshen an otherwise stale subject. Exhibit 1 is Wolf Hall, the miniseries based on Hilary Mantel’s bestsellers, which view Henry VIII through the eyes of the heretofore enigmatic counselor Thomas Cromwell. Henry and his wives are ancillary to his story, rather than he being a bit player in theirs.

So, this history major begs Hollywood, please find some new stories. God knows that there are enough of them out there.

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