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Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

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Mary Queen of Scots

 

I didn't see a topic for this one, so I thought I'd start one.  I'm not sure how widely it's being shown yet, though it has made to my little corner of the world.  I saw it last night and I have to say I'm a little disappointed.  The performances are generally good.  Margot Robbie as Elizabeth is especially good, but overall I found the movie lacking.  

Most of the problems are with the script and the pacing.  I also don't think it did a particularly good job setting up who was who and how they related to one another and their motivations.  I honestly think people who aren't familiar with the time period or Mary's history will have a hard time following what's going on.  There is also no sense of the passage of time either.  Until Elizabeth comments that it's been 25 years at the end there is little evidence that everything hadn't occurred over the course of a few months.  Soairse Ronan doesn't age at all as Mary over the film.  Certainly, all historical biopics compress time and combine events, but this movie didn't seem to do in a particularly deft fashion.  There are other smaller timeline problems including Robert Dudley looking like he's twelve through most of the film when he was about the same age as Elizabeth.  The movie also glosses over how Darnley gets permission to travel to Scotland and when in reality Elizabeth's advisors sent him there and Dudley (who really didn't want to marry Mary) help position him as a suitor to Mary's hand. 

The movie also seriously shortchanges Darnley's fall.  I'm not sure why showing him slowly grasping for more power and being jealous of Mary's relationship with Rizzio wouldn't have worked.  I think it would have been far more interesting than what we got, which is one moment a charming courtier and the next an easily swayed buffoon.  The movie also makes him gay and in a relationship with David Rizzio (Mary's personal secretary) for some reason.  The murder of Rizzio was fairly accurate to historical accounts, but the lead up to it is rushed and a little nonsensical.  

The biggest sin of the movie I thought, however, is despite being the title character we don't really get a look inside Mary's head.  Ronan gives a good performance (as always) but the script really only has her reacting to events, never planning.  Hell, she doesn't really even reflect on them very much.  Elizabeth, on the other hand, is given an entire inner world so you understand and sympathize with her motivations.  I felt like I could never connect with Mary though.  Mary's characterization gets very much shortchanged in this, which is a pity.  

I was very interested to see this as I'm a big fan of Ronan, Robbie and this time period, so perhaps I went in with too high expectations.  But for a movie called "Mary Queen of Scots," I found not enough about Mary.  I think much of this is caused by the poor pacing of the movie.  It's a real pity too because I think Ronan could have been great as Mary if she had been given something to work with.

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On 12/24/2018 at 1:13 PM, Constant Viewer said:

How does this compare to the other Mary Queen of Scots movie with Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson? Is it more or less historically accurate?

I actually haven't seen the one with Redgrave, so I can't comment on how it compares to this one.  I'd say this film is about average in terms of historical accuracy.  There is a meeting towards the end between Mary and Elizabeth that certainly didn't happen, but I can't really blame the filmmakers for having the two come together from a storytelling perspective.  Like I said time is compressed in the movie, and there are some historical inaccuracies.  My biggest problem is that the film moves from one event to another and even while each event might be historically accurate, the film doesn't do a good job of giving build-up to them or explaining their context.

One of the earliest (and most minor) is Darnley arriving in Scotland.  The beginning of the film has his father asking Elizabeth permission to travel to Scotland and she brushes him off.  Then suddenly they're there with no explanation about how or why Elizabeth changed her mind.  The film also implies Darnley and Mary had never met when in truth they had while Mary was mourning Francis.  The fact that they had met before could have been used by the filmmakers to show why Mary is so immediately taken with him, but they instead give us this rather silly scene of Darnley guessing correctly which women is Mary (she's sitting with her ladies) when his father could not.  In real life I imagine it would have been hard to mistake Mary from any other woman in court, she was 5'11".  That's tall by today's standards for a woman, she would have been practically a giant by Elizabethian ones.  So the idea that Darnley or his father might not have recognized her seems beyond silly.

Another example, the Earl of Bothwell did essentially force Mary to marry him and probably did rape her which is depicted on screen.  However, the film doesn't give Bothwell any motivation for this other than wanting power...which I suppose would work if he hadn't been depicted as devoted and completely loyal to Mary up until moments before he tells her she has to marry him and rapes her.  His betrayal of her could have really been built up with her having a real trusted relationship him prior to his betrayal, but instead, he's mostly just there in the film standing around until his turn to screw over Mary comes up.  The film skips over her ridding to his side days after giving birth because he's grievously wounded, which helped feed the rumors that she had him kill Darnley.  He and Mary obviously had some sort of relationship (romantic or otherwise), but the film glosses over it.

I also still have no idea what the movie was trying to say about Mary.  Was she smart capable ruler who got screwed by fate and the men around her?  Was she too young and idealistic?  I don't know.  I think that they want me to think the former, but there's really no evidence for it on screen.  Like I said Mary only reacts to events in the film.  She doesn't plan or even reflect on them, so she doesn't come across as particularly smart.  Her relationship with Darnley does her no favors in this regard as the film makes it completely transparent that he's using Mary to get a crown.  She doesn't come out looking very bright for swallowing his lies.  

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I saw this today, I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would given the mixed reviews, but I think the thing that bothered me the most was the fact the casting choices made it look like England and Scotland were diverse places in the 16the century *rolls eyes*

 

Don't get me wrong, I think there should be way more diversity on film but in period pieces?

 

14 hours ago, Proclone said:

One of the earliest (and most minor) is Darnley arriving in Scotland.  The beginning of the film has his father asking Elizabeth permission to travel to Scotland and she brushes him off.  Then suddenly they're there with no explanation about how or why Elizabeth changed her mind.

Yes-I agree with this, I just figured the Father and Son just went without permission.

 

14 hours ago, Proclone said:

I also still have no idea what the movie was trying to say about Mary.  Was she smart capable ruler who got screwed by fate and the men around her?  Was she too young and idealistic?  I don't know.  I think that they want me to think the former, but there's really no evidence for it on screen.  Like I said Mary only reacts to events in the film.  She doesn't plan or even reflect on them, so she doesn't come across as particularly smart.  Her relationship with Darnley does her no favors in this regard as the film makes it completely transparent that he's using Mary to get a crown.  She doesn't come out looking very bright for swallowing his lies.  

What I took away from the movie was that Mary really felt like she was the true heir to the throne of Scotland AND England.  I think she was stubborn, and didn't get good council like Elizabeth did.  I think she really did think she could co rule I guess with Elizabeth (if that is even historically accurate, I'm going to guess not LOL), and I think overall she just didn't have any guidance because no one was looking out for her interests, unlike Elizabeth who had that one guy (the Guy Pearce character).

 

If I were Elizabeth though, no way I would have named her and Darnley true heirs, I would have thought they would have conspired to kill me.

I really found Elizabeth's character in the movie more fascinating....she had that relationship with Dudley, could have married him and choose not to.  She tried to pass him off to Mary, but then when she accepted the offer in that letter back she got all ticked off about it and goes running to Dudley crying in his arms.  I think her words to Mary in the end about how she is more of a man than a woman pretty much summed up why she made her choices.

 

What I think they should have explained more was why Elizabeth chose to kill her in the end, after holding her prisoner for what, 20 years?

 

I thought Margot Robbie did a better job than, S. Ronan but both ladies were very, very good.

 

But overall I enjoyed this-I also saw the Favourite and between the two period pieces, the Favourite wins hands down, but this was still pretty decent, if you can get past some things. 

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An Asian woman as Queen Elizabeth's main handmaid, and one of Elizabeth's main men on the court who was the person going back/forth between England and Scotland was black, and one of Mary's handmaid's appeared of mixed race, and a lot of the people in court and just in shots of the crowd in Scotland were black.

 

Again, I just found that very unrealistic.

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6 hours ago, snickers said:

I really found Elizabeth's character in the movie more fascinating....she had that relationship with Dudley, could have married him and choose not to.  She tried to pass him off to Mary, but then when she accepted the offer in that letter back she got all ticked off about it and goes running to Dudley crying in his arms.  I think her words to Mary in the end about how she is more of a man than a woman pretty much summed up why she made her choices.

 

What I think they should have explained more was why Elizabeth chose to kill her in the end, after holding her prisoner for what, 20 years?

 

I thought Margot Robbie did a better job than, S. Ronan but both ladies were very, very good.

 

But overall I enjoyed this-I also saw the Favourite and between the two period pieces, the Favourite wins hands down, but this was still pretty decent, if you can get past some things. 

2

 

That's my biggest problem with a film called, "Mary Queen of Scots," that Elizabeth was the more interesting, more well-rounded character with the biggest arc.  Mary herself doesn't really have a character arc.  And as much as I liked Robbie in the role, the presence of Elizabeth in the film only highlights how little character development they wrote for Mary.  If the movie had been called "Elizabeth Queen of England" or even "The Two Queens," I would have liked it a lot more.  

I think Ronan would have been excellent if she had something to work with from with the script.

 

6 hours ago, Violet Impulse said:

What was the eye-rolling diversity?

 

That actually didn't bother me. Robbie doesn't particularly look like Elizabeth and it's only a coincidence that Ronan does kind of resemble Mary.  I don't think the film was trying to imply that those characters were actually black or Asian, but rather they just casted actors for parts.  People in movies rarely look like the historical person they are playing, in the grand scheme of things does it matter if the reason they don't resemble them is that they're taller, or blonder or have a different eye color...or that their skin is darker?  I actually think unless race is integral to the plot (it wouldn't work with say a Confederate General being played by a black man), what they did in this film should be done in more period pieces.  Just cast good actors regardless of closely they resemble the characters they're playing.  While I value historical accuracy, I think it's more important to be true to who the people are rather than what they looked like.  So casting a POC for a character who was white IRL doesn't much matter to me as long as they can be true to the spirit of that person.

Edited by Proclone
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9 hours ago, Proclone said:

That actually didn't bother me. Robbie doesn't particularly look like Elizabeth and it's only a coincidence that Ronan does kind of resemble Mary. 

There's "doesn't particularly look like" and then there's implying that high-ranking personages in 16th England and Scotland could ever be persons of color.  Although given the overall historical inaccuracy of the film, it's a minor nit to pick, but I get why it would bother someone.

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4 hours ago, proserpina65 said:

There's "doesn't particularly look like" and then there's implying that high-ranking personages in 16th England and Scotland could ever be persons of color.  Although given the overall historical inaccuracy of the film, it's a minor nit to pick, but I get why it would bother someone.

Right, that's what bothered me about it, and I still really enjoyed this movie a whole lot-I just think it was a disservice to do what they did with the casting, I think some would not take the movie seriously after seeing those casting choices. 

 

And as far as the conversation about casting more diversity, it needs to be done, but I know it the whole Inclusion Rider thing is supposed to be about hiring minorities to work behind the scenes too, if that was done on Mary Queen of Scots I'll give credit where credit is due.

 

13 hours ago, Proclone said:

That's my biggest problem with a film called, "Mary Queen of Scots," that Elizabeth was the more interesting, more well-rounded character with the biggest arc.  Mary herself doesn't really have a character arc.  And as much as I liked Robbie in the role, the presence of Elizabeth in the film only highlights how little character development they wrote for Mary.  If the movie had been called "Elizabeth Queen of England" or even "The Two Queens," I would have liked it a lot more.  

I think Ronan would have been excellent if she had something to work with from with the script.

 

The Two Queens would have been a good title, but since the story is supposed to be about Mary and a certain book, I guess they felt they had to go with that title? I think Ronan was very good, I just give the slight edge over to Robbie, maybe it's because she had better material, or maybe she just did better overall who knows. For me it is like how I gave the edge in the Favourite for Rachel Weisz over Emma Stone, but both were excellent. 

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6 hours ago, snickers said:

Right, that's what bothered me about it, and I still really enjoyed this movie a whole lot-I just think it was a disservice to do what they did with the casting, I think some would not take the movie seriously after seeing those casting choices. 

 

And as far as the conversation about casting more diversity, it needs to be done, but I know it the whole Inclusion Rider thing is supposed to be about hiring minorities to work behind the scenes too, if that was done on Mary Queen of Scots I'll give credit where credit is due.

I've read that the filmmakers casted the movie (at least the smaller parts) similarly to how most Shakespeare's adaptations are casted (now) ignoring the race of the actors. As I said I don't think we are meant to think the people those characters are based on were POC. And this more a rhetorical question,  but something to think about, why is different skin tone more of a historical inaccuracy than a different height,  or eye color or attractiveness? We accept people playing historical figures who look nothing like those historical figures all the time, why is skin color beyond the pale in terms of what we will accept?

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8 hours ago, Proclone said:

I've read that the filmmakers casted the movie (at least the smaller parts) similarly to how most Shakespeare's adaptations are casted (now) ignoring the race of the actors. As I said I don't think we are meant to think the people those characters are based on were POC. And this more a rhetorical question,  but something to think about, why is different skin tone more of a historical inaccuracy than a different height,  or eye color or attractiveness? We accept people playing historical figures who look nothing like those historical figures all the time, why is skin color beyond the pale in terms of what we will accept?

If one is going for relative historical accuracy (which clearly this film was not), then hair color and eye color can vary among the nobility of 16th century England and Scotland.  So it can also vary amongst the case, even if it does not match exactly to a specific personage.  Skin color, on the other hand, did not vary as widely back then.  There was some diversity in the lower classes, but not at that level of society.

Like I said, it bothers some people and not others, but it is a legitimate issue if one is that concerned about historical accuracy.

For me, there are so many things wrong with this particular movie, I can't care that much about color-blind casting.  If it had been better at historical accuracy in other respects, then it might bother me more.

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On 12/28/2018 at 3:31 AM, Proclone said:

I've read that the filmmakers casted the movie (at least the smaller parts) similarly to how most Shakespeare's adaptations are casted (now) ignoring the race of the actors. As I said I don't think we are meant to think the people those characters are based on were POC. And this more a rhetorical question,  but something to think about, why is different skin tone more of a historical inaccuracy than a different height,  or eye color or attractiveness? We accept people playing historical figures who look nothing like those historical figures all the time, why is skin color beyond the pale in terms of what we will accept?

 I never did think they were....and I never said skin color beyond pale I wouldn't accept....you totally missed my points completely

 

I try to see Broadway shows as much as I can, they've become quite expensive so I don't see as many as I'd like, and there's way more diversity now on roles that are cast that traditionally had been white roles, I have no problem with that and like to see it.

 

But Mary Queen of Scots at times became almost a non period piece...from the way the handled the Daniel stuff to the casting of the POC in high ranking roles...but I guess if they were going to do that, better to do that than just place POC in the background (which happened to)

 

But I didn't like this movie any less because of it, it didn't change my opinion on my enjoyment of it, I think at times I enjoyed this more than the Favourite but the Favourite is the movie that will crush it in awards (at least I hope so)

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5 hours ago, snickers said:

 I never did think they were....and I never said skin color beyond pale I wouldn't accept....you totally missed my points completely

 

I try to see Broadway shows as much as I can, they've become quite expensive so I don't see as many as I'd like, and there's way more diversity now on roles that are cast that traditionally had been white roles, I have no problem with that and like to see it.

 

But Mary Queen of Scots at times became almost a non period piece...from the way the handled the Daniel stuff to the casting of the POC in high ranking roles...but I guess if they were going to do that, better to do that than just place POC in the background (which happened to)

 

But I didn't like this movie any less because of it, it didn't change my opinion on my enjoyment of it, I think at times I enjoyed this more than the Favourite but the Favourite is the movie that will crush it in awards (at least I hope so)

 

"Beyond the Pale" is an expression that means beyond normal limits or what's generally acceptable. I wasn't using it in reference to the actors' skin tones and the expression has nothing to do with skin color at all.  I wasn't implying you (or anyone else) would only accept pale actors.

The phrase comes from 17th century Ireland when the area controlled by English law was called "The Pale."  Anything outside or beyond "The Pale" was considered uncivilized.

My point was simply to question why skin color is something that is more important than any other physical trait when determining historical accuracy.  And as I said it was more a rhetorical question than anything else.  

Mary's acceptance of David Rizzio as being gay with hardly a shrug, I agree is completely anachronistic.  Also, it's somewhat common to give the heroes of period pieces more modern enlightened views of social issues to make them more palatable to the audience. Now in some cases, I see why filmmakers do this.  But they could have avoided this problem by not including the Darnley/Rizzio subplot. Mary most likely wouldn't be completely cool with Rizzio being openly gay going so far as to imply it was the way he was made, let alone banging her husband.  Even if they had made Rizzio ambiguously gay (I don't think that it would be unrealistic for Mary to simply ignore rumors about one of her favorites) but didn't have him have a sexual relationship with Darnley (at least not one Mary was aware of) I think it could have worked.   Like I said I think it's more important to be historically accurate to the spirit of a character than what they actually looked like.

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I finally got to see this tonight, and I think I would have gotten more out of it had I studied up on that period of history before I saw it.  I kind of knew the bare bones of the story, but this was another case of “dress all the men similarly and give them similar hair”, and I had a hard time keeping up with who was who.  (The worst case I’ve had with that was “Dunkirk”.)  I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed “The Favourite” a lot more.

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On 12/27/2018 at 4:47 AM, Proclone said:

While I value historical accuracy, I think it's more important to be true to who the people are rather than what they looked like. So casting a POC for a character who was white IRL doesn't much matter to me as long as they can be true to the spirit of that person.

But in this case, these were mainly background characters, which are more like set dressing than people, so there was no "spirit" to be true to. 

And I'll confess to massive ignorance about the history of kings and queens in England, and even when I read up on it it flies right out of my head.  I just can't keep those people straight.  So of course I was very confused by the plot, and like @Browncoat had my usual terrible time keeping up with who was who.  And when I saw the black and Asian people on the screen, I wondered if that could really have been the case, which of course took me out of the movie. 

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This period of history fascinates me.

I was bored so thought I’d give it a try. Got as far as 30 minutes in until I started Googling because I could not tell who was who.

The only accuracy in this of what I saw, was that Mary and Elizabeth were cousins.

Look, I love Blanchette’s Elizabeth movies, but even those are inaccurate. But Cate was just so awesome, I could believe it was WHOLLY ACCURATE.

Particularly 🙄🙄🙄🙄 was Mary speaking in a Scots/Irish accent considering she’d lived in France since birth, practically.

BAH!

Edited by GHScorpiosRule
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19 minutes ago, GHScorpiosRule said:

This period of history fascinates me.

I was bored so thought I’d give it a try. Got as far as 30 minutes in until I started Googling because I could not tell who was who.

The only accuracy in this of what I saw, was that Mary and Elizabeth were cousins.

Look, I love Blanchette’s Elizabeth movies, but even those are inaccurate. But Cait was just so awesome, I could believe it was WHOLLY ACCURATE.

Particularly 🙄🙄🙄🙄 was Mary speaking in a Scots/Irish accent considering she’d lived in France since birth, practically.

BAH!

I completely concur! As a Tudor buff, I pride on historical accuracy, but like you, I'll make some exceptions for great performances (like Cate's) or simple guilty pleasures (like The Tudors on Showtime). This movie apparently had neither. And FYI I never liked CW's Reign either.

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7 minutes ago, Spartan Girl said:

I completely concur! As a Tudor buff, I pride on historical accuracy, but like you, I'll make some exceptions for great performances (like Cate's) or simple guilty pleasures (like The Tudors on Showtime). This movie apparently had neither. And FYI I never liked CW's Reign either.

Oh PLEASE! Reign was an insult and nothing but teenagers dressing up in period pieces.🙄🙄

Even Starz’s The White Queen, White Princess, and The Spanish Princess, also inaccurate (do NOT get me started in the “Lizzie” being in twu wuv” with her paternal uncle Car Park Richard), are much better, but the first and last had very good actors that made me believe. I’m still a third in to the second, Catelyn Stark’s Margaret is too much of a character change so I’m taking a break. 
 

Methinks that I shall go hither and rewatch Elizabeth.

Edited by GHScorpiosRule
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I tried watching this on HBO but could not finish. I like both SR and MR as actors but was bored out of my mind. I have a soft spot for The Tudors etc. but this just made my head hurt.

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I tried to watch this one, but it was so historically inaccuate I had to bail.

Spoiler

There is no historical reference to David Rizzio being queer let alone Lord Darnley.  And having James I be a product of rape was completely unnecessary. 

I also hated the pacing of the movie.  I personally find Mary's downfall in Scotland fascinating, and the movie robbed the viewer of that.  She was popular when she first came home.  She tried to be a good ruler even though she was raised to be a consort.  

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