|Richard of Gloucester (Aneurin Barnard) helps his oldest brother Edward IV (Max Irons) at the Battle of Barnet|
First, here are the negative aspects. The costumes are a disappointment. Where are the hennins, and steeple hats and butterfly headdresses? Those high floating headpieces are part of the strangeness and grandeur of the era! And the men's hats are missing, too. It is unfair to such gifted performers and such a powerful story-line to have costumes which lacked authenticity. It leaves me asking, why? Those headdresses would have made a good show into an amazing show.
|Fifteenth-century headgear for ladies|
In The White Queen Margaret is depicted as a fanatic, ever invoking God. Yet the strict religious devotions of Margaret Beaufort's old age were commonplace among noblewomen of her time. They marked an effort to look beyond the ruthless political culture into which they had been born, to understand Christ's example of love.Elizabeth Woodville, her daughters, and Anne Neville, too, were all what we would today consider to be religious woman, giving examples of prayer, by joining confraternities, and of charity, by endowing religious houses and helping the poor. I understand that the witchcraft element comes directly from the novels of Philippa Gregory, upon which the program is based. I must say it is a grand line when Queen Elizabeth is about to put a curse on whoever it was murdered her boys, and Richard III says to her: "Be careful with your curses, they may come back upon someone you love."
Portraying Margaret as a religious nutcase shows an arrogant blindness to the culture of our past. That is worrying in a shrinking world when we need to be able to understand other viewpoints, other beliefs.
|Anne Neville (Faye Marsay) is found by Richard of Gloucester after the Battle of Tewkesbury in a touching scene.|
|Queen Elizabeth (Rebecca Ferguson) does not trust anyone|
|Richard and Anne, happy at last.|
|The real Anne Neville. Headdresses were sorely lacking in the film.|
|Richard takes the crown. His happiness ends.|
|Richard III and his niece Elizabeth of York (Freya Mavor).|
It does appear that some of Richard and Elizabeth’s contemporaries believed in his intention to marry his niece and weren’t happy about it: twelve doctors of divinity were summoned by Parliament in order to put forward their objections and Richard later issued a complete public denial that this had ever been his intention. However, as with all these figures, the gulf between the public persona and the private sentiment can only be guessed at. (Read more.)Anne's death is another truly heartrending scene, and faithful to history. As the Richard III Society website affirms:
Anne died on 16 March 1485, on the same day that England experienced a great eclipse of the sun. She was just three months short of her twenty-ninth birthday. She was buried in Westminster Abbey 'with honours no less than befitted the burial of a queen' (Crowland, p. 175.). She had been in life, according to the Beauchamp family hagiographer John Rows, 'seemly, amiable and beauteous, and in conditions full commendable and right virtuous and, according to the interpretation of her name, Anne, full gracious.'
The final postscript to Anne's story occurred on 30 March, when Richard called the Mayor and citizens of London and the available lords to the great hall of the Hospital of St. John to address the rumor that he had had Anne poisoned in order to marry Elizabeth. Addressing them 'in a loud and distinct voice', he 'showed his grief and displeasure aforesaid and said it never came into his thought or mind to marry in such manner wise, nor willing nor glad of the death of his queen but as sorry and in heart as heavy as man might be …' (Lander, pp. 255-6).
|Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field|
|Henry Tudor (Michael Marcus) at Bosworth with his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale)|
And yet I know not how to get the crown,Share
For many lives stand between me and home:
And I, – like one lost in a thorny wood,…
Torment myself to catch the English crown:
And from that torment will I free myself,
Or hew my way out with a bloody axe.