19/08/2013

THE WHITE QUEEN AND A GREAT KING, RICHARD III.

The Three York Brothers: Richard, George and Edward
Regular readers of FLY HIGH! know how much I've come to love King Richard III and that I have started a personal quest in search for the real man and ruler - as opposed to Shakespeare's villain - in the latest years. After several readings and trips and journeys to England, I've become a convinced Ricardian. 
For instance, my interest in the last Plantagenet king has taken me to Leicester last month, to visit the place where his remains had been found few months earlier and even made me watch BBC The White Queen


Aneurin Barnard and Pixie Davies as Richard and his niece Elizabeth
I wasn't so enthusiastic about Ms Gregory's books and the fact that they had decided to adapt them for the small screen instead of my beloved "The Sunne in Splendour" by Sharon Kay Penman. Anyhow,  I started watching the series, I didn't like the first episodes so much but went on,  and finally,  when Richard and Anne's moment came,  I was totally glued in order to see how the screenwriters had decided to portray them.

I liked what they did,  actually. Honestly, I also feared Aneurin Barnard and Faye Marsay would be too young for such intense, tragic roles, but they didn't disappoint me, not at all. I was in awe, instead, at their talent. They were both intense and gripping in their performances and I appreciated them both greatly. 

Aneurin Barnard as Richard III
History can't be changed and what I have watched tonight in the last episode of The White Queen makes me deeply sad each time I happen to read about those events or to see them in a movie or documentary: Bosworth 22 August 1485, the last Plantagenet king, Richard III, was the last king to die on a battlefield. Betrayed by the men he trusted, he was defeated and brutally slaughtered by Henry Tudor and his army. 

By the way, as usual in the last years, I'll blog about Richard III on the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth, it means in three days.  I'll wait for you back on the 22nd. 

But let's go back to the series, The White Queen, for a while. I think I need to re-watch it properly to evaluate it in a more detached manner.

I couldn't on first watching, I was totally biased. I can't stand Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort and I suffered each time they were on screen, I mean I got angry (if not furious) or annoyed. 
That's not the right way to evaluate the quality of a film or a series. I get totally involved in my emotions and forget the details.This is why my reviews are never technical, professional or objective. 
They are usually rather instinctive and subjective, instead. 

Faye Marsay as Anne Neville

Max Irons and Rebecca Ferguson as Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville 
What about historical accuracy? I've read more than one negative comment based on the fact that Ms Gregory's novels, hence this new BBC series, are not at all accurate when it comes to historical facts. What's my opinion on that? 
I have already written about this somewhere on this blog, but I'm going to state it again: what I look for in historical fiction, more than authenticity is emotions and passions. I can't bear it  if writers totally distort history or if they fill their plots with anacronistic, improbable facts. But I'm not there to criticize any little imprecision or any interpretation. If they give me a convincing story, realistic relatable characters and lots of emotions in exchange of little accuracy, I can even bear it.  Think that I still think Shakespeare's Richard III is a masterpiece! Joking of course. But Shakespeare's tragedy is seriously an incredible masterpiece, a powerful historical drama, though it is based on a series of terrible lies.

To check out historical facts and events, I usually prefer research based on academic books,  based on  historical documents,  in hope their  authors were not biased or intellectually dishonest in their assertions. 

David Oakes as George of Clarence
Would I recommend this series to historical fiction lovers? I would. It is on the whole a good attempt at telling the story of the War of the Roses from a female perspective. I can't agree with all the choices, but having read two of the three books they adapted, I can assure you,  they did a good job with what they had.

The cast was pretty awesome, their acting remarkable, the locations and the costumes stunning. The idea of following the same events from different perspectives - Margaret Beaufort's, Elizabeth Woodville's, Anne Neville's and Elizabeth of York's points of view - may seem confusing at first, but it comes out as an excellent choice in the end,  once you get used to it. 

I promise I'll find the time to re-watch this series and I'm sure I'll have a different approach to it.  Meanwhile, I'm glad I've seen it. It is the first time, at least, they don't blame King Richard for his nephews' murder or for poisoning his own wife in a piece I'm watching.  Though Henry Tudor wins the crown at the end of the series, his real anti-Ricardian propaganda back at that time couldn't do much:  Richard III comes out as the strongest, most loyal and most deserving among the three York brothers. 

The White Queen is currently being broadcast on Starz in the USA.




6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lovely sum-up and comments, MG. Although the historical inaccuracies were too many for my taste, I actually sobbed when Richard was betrayed and butchered. We all know how it ends but seeing it really hurts! Ciao. A.xx

Maria Grazia said...

Thanks A. for sharing your thoughts. I too was rather moved for this series finale, though I was totally prepared and aware. What a waste of a good ruler and a great man!
Inaccuracies, yes, you are right. But let's try to see the positive point in this series, the representation of a different Richard III for the first time in a popularized version of his story.
Let's hope it is just the beginning.
Hugs
MG

Prue Batten said...

i've seen so much negative commentary about this series, that I almost felt i couldn't watch it.

But Thankfully MG, you have given me reasons to reverse my decision. Purely for the emotion, the spectacle and the RIII component. Of course it hasn't even broached the far off horizons of Australian TV yet. Heavens knows how long we shall have to wait. But perhaps it gives me time to re-read Gregory!

Maria Grazia said...

I can imagine that, Prue. I was also very negative when i reviewed "The White Queen" as a book. I really didn't like it. But I liked The Kingmaker's daughter" much more. I didn't even try to read the other books in the series because I was sure I would hate them.
Now, those were the books chosen to be adapted in this series, so the little I liked it comes from the only book I came to appreciate.
Looking forward to anoother film or series focused on Richard's story this time. The Sunne in Splendour? That would be awesome!

Alice said...

I really enjoyed The White Queen, but I must admit my knowledge of that period is quite minimal. I'm definitely going to read further into it now, and your post here helps.

Eileen Anglin said...

Wonderful post. I am very happy to see the slow tide turning for Richard some 500 years later. He deserves no less.

I have been watching this series and had some trepidation on how he would be portrayed. Would it be the old beating of his reputation or the true Richard? I was glad to see the latter.

However, I have not been able to bring myself to watch the last episode. Even though I know what will happen and we can't go back and stop what happened, it's going to be very, very hard to watch what happens to him.