Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

23 March 2008

Mary, Queen of Scots

I probably shouldn't have watched a movie this afternoon, but I'm done with a lot of my work and I felt like a break.

So I watched the Charles Jarrott film Mary, Queen of Scots. Jarrott had a huge hit previously with his film Anne of the Thousand Days, the story of Henry VIII of England and his lover (and later wife) Anne Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth I of England. Anne of the Thousand Days starred Richard Burton and Geneviève Bujold. Now, it may be that I'm misremembering, but I recall it as a really great movie.

The reason I think I might be misremembering is that Mary, Queen of Scots is a sixteenth century soap opera that treats its lead women (Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I) as scheming, catty bitches. There is a lot of good acting in the movie: Glenda Jackson is Elizabeth and Vanessa Redgrave is Mary, but Mary jumps from bed to bed and is consistently outwitted. She comes off as a bit of an idiot and completely inept at ruling a country.

Even the film's tagline is reductive and sensational: They used every passion in their incredible duel... and every man in their deadly game of intrigue!
It's laughable.

I didn't completely dislike it, but this film is about as silly as Elizabeth: the Golden Age with Cate Blanchett. Still Redgrave and Jackson are good in Mary, Queen of Scots. I hadn't seen a Glenda Jackson movie in a long while, so that was nice. Redgrave was nominated for an Oscar for this performance, and Jackson was nominated in the same year for her performance in Sunday Bloody Sunday.