Two most enticing European period dramas

Period drama movies are for me the most addictive kind of movies. You watch one or two period dramas on Netflix and then you only look for more options like them on your OTT. The appeal of historic recreations is unmatched in any other kind of movie. Dramatization of historic events and their romantic presentation has for some reason been my favourite genre of content. I’ve been binging on some movies of the sort lately and two of them – The Other Boleyan Girl and Mary, Queen of Scots truly caught my attention.

Both of them are period dramas connected to the monarchy of Europe during different times. What make them parallels are the female centric approach and a very, very similar ending. Both of the movies have two female characters playing the lead and subtly battling each other one time and supporting each other at another; and one of them ends up paying a high price. Their stories run similar to each other in many ways during different timelines and yet remain distinct in purpose and intensity; but all four characters are the twisted yet important parts of history that deserve their own tales. Both movies are true stories presented with some creative freedom that makes European history all the more interesting.

The Other Boleyan Girl is the story of two sisters played by Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johannson who passively battle each other for the attention of the infamous King Henry VIII. The sisters were responsible for the break of the monarchy from the Catholic Church in England and the many changes in marriage laws that followed. But their stories are anything but triumphant. Both of them end up at places they initially assumed they enjoyed but was in actuality a trapdoor to a shaming hell. We do not know what happened in reality during their time but the characters developed and presented brilliantly keep us on our edge, shifting sides from one character to another from moment to moment.

Mary, Queen of Scots is distinct from The Other Boleyan Girl in terms of treatment of the story because this one is about two radically powerful women who rule two different parts of Europe at the same time. Their wars have nothing to do with the love and attention of a man but it’s about lineage and authority. Regardless of their radical personalities, both fall prey to the unyielding system of patriarchy during their times in two very different ways and the movie ends in a way we would not like to see it. The ending is very similar to the former movie, drawing (perhaps unintentional) parallels to exhibit the treatment of women that can be termed as witch hunt during pre-modern times in Europe.

Period dramas are amongst the most challenging things to do. Political correctness, character justification, casting, locations, costumes, dialogues, props – all of it takes more effort than a movie set in a contemporary setting. Which is why perhaps they’re the most enticing genre for me and I cannot get enough of them. And those movies truly have been the reason I’ve also been obsessed with European history. I just hope there are plenty more of period dramas created to last my lifetime!


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