Tuesday, April 2, 2024

The Favourite (2018)


Queen Anne of Great Britain  


From The Easton Gazette:

Abigail: As it turns out, I'm capable of much unpleasantness. ~from The Favourite (2018)  

In a time when we see our past being erased or distorted by the removal of historical monuments, even as the errors of critical race theory are taught in our schools, recent historically-based films and television series play a part in the deconstruction of our culture as well. Films and shows which are built around the rumored sexual peccadilloes of a historical character, usually a long dead monarch, are particularly degrading to the communal understanding of our past.

I am thinking in particular of the unfounded rumors about Queen Marie-Antoinette and Count Axel von Fersen, of which I have written a great deal. While there is no evidence of a sexual affair, plenty of evidence exists that Marie-Antoinette loved her husband Louis XVI and stayed at his side at the cost of her own life. Over and over again we are shown that the old days of Christendom were full of sin, hypocrisy and perversion and so we are brainwashed into thinking that everything our civilization is built upon is a lie. And while most monarchs had sins just like the rest of us they were, like us, more than just their sexual peccadilloes, and should not be reduced to such, for the sake of historical integrity.

   The 2024 Sky/Starz miniseries Mary and George is an example of the gross distortion of the representation of a historical person, that being King James I and VI of England, Scotland and Ireland. While I am not particularly fond of King James because of how he treated the Irish, the Catholics and several supposed witches, he did painstakingly sponsor the making of what is known as the King James translation of the Bible, while keeping his Three Kingdoms out of the ruinous continental wars of the early seventeenth century. Yet I am reliably informed that in the show Mary and George King James is shown partaking in orgies. While it is known that James admired young men, it is debated as to whether he had a physical relationship with any of his favorites. He drank heavily and partied yet he was also very religious. He was a husband and fathered several children. He also passed strict anti-sodomy laws. Yet the rumors of his same-sex attraction were not enough for the television people; he is made into a complete profligate who only finds satisfaction with multiple partners at the same time. Who cares about the authenticity of the costumes when such lewdness becomes the center of the drama? Although I am currently engaged in writing a trilogy about James’ son Charles I and Charles’ wife Henrietta Maria, and therefore should enjoy seeing the era dramatized, I really cannot bring myself to watch Mary and George.      

   However, there is a 2018 film called The Favourite which I had not seen. It is about James’ great granddaughter Queen Anne, for whom Annapolis, Maryland is named, even as Maryland itself is named for Anne’s grandmother Queen Henrietta Maria. I had heard that it portrayed the fourth queen-regnant of England as a lesbian but that the acting was excellent. I was prepared to be annoyed at seeing Anne as a lesbian because it is not historically accurate. While it was known Anne was deeply attached to her friend Sarah Jennings Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, she also adored her husband George of Denmark, to whom she bore seventeen children, all of whom died. And eventually George himself died. The multiplicity of deaths made an already highly moral woman more devout as she fought depression, gout and numerous other debilitating health problems while still in her forties. Yet she actively took a role in managing the government, even when ill, and was known for her extensive charities.

   Olivia Coleman is perfectly cast as Queen Anne, resembling her in both face and figure. Rachel Weisz is too dark for Sarah, who was famous for her delicate blond beauty; Emma Stone is too pretty for Abigail, who by all accounts was homely. Sarah is repeatedly referred to as “Lady Marlborough” when as a Duchess she would have been called “Her Grace.” Yes, the acting is spectacular. However, all the men are shown as buffoons or thugs; Queen Anne’s husband is not shown or mentioned at all, although I assumed he was the reason the court was in mourning. At least, I thought they were in mourning because they were all in black and white. Then I discovered that at the time covered in the film, George would still have been alive. So a devoted husband who was greatly loved by his wife, who shared a bed when most royal couples did not, is sacrificed to the filmmakers’ preference for a gay story-line.  (Read more.)


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