The Devil’s Whore (2008) and New Worlds (2014)

The Devil’s Whore and New Worlds are two different Channel 4 (UK) miniseries set in the 17th century. The Devil’s Whore came out back in 2008, and New Worlds has recently become available in the US (and I just finished watching it), so you’re getting a two-for-one, as I review both!

 

The Devil’s Whore (2008)

Here’s the review I wrote for my own blog, back when I watched The Devil’s Whore a few years ago:

I totally missed this British miniseries when it came out, and I confess, the title conversely made me think of cranky Puritans and boring giant-white-collar butter-churny dresses … I was wrong! This was GREAT, and the costumes were gorgeous! Andrea Riseborough stars as the fictional English aristocrat who is a part of Charles I’s court and then is caught up with Oliver Cromwell and Co. during the English Civil War.

Andrea Riseborough as Angelica Fanshawe

Andrea Riseborough as Angelica Fanshawe

Sure, it’s awfully convenient that Angelica happens to be involved with all of these key people, as well as different events and movements of the period, but hey, that’s the fun of good historical fiction. She starts off young and somewhat unsure and, over the course of many trials and tribulations, finds (A) love and (B) herself … and Michael Fassbender plays her love interest, which: RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Michael Fassbender as Thomas Rainsborough

Michael Fassbender as Thomas Rainsborough

Dominic West plays Cromwell, and while West can be attractive, he’s definitely not in this!

Dominic West as Oliver Cromwell

Dominic West as Oliver Cromwell

The costumes were gorgeous, with Riseborough in various beautiful 1650s-60s-esque dresses.

Angelica's FABULOUS wedding gown.

Angelica’s FABULOUS wedding gown.

They did stick with basically the same dress cut throughout the film, which ignores the developments of women’s styles over time, and they definitely needed more petticoats under the gowns.

Clearly I missed the METAL GROMMETS when I watched this.

Clearly I missed the METAL GROMMETS when I watched this.

Okay, and sometimes the off-the-shoulder was WAY too off-the-shoulder.

I don’t know enough about men’s costume of this era to be able to say whether it was accurate or not — it certainly looked good to my eye, but maybe you can tell me more!

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Peter Capaldi as King Charles I

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More King Charles I

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John Simm as Edward Sexby

If you like historical fiction (and I do), you’ll like this.

 

New Worlds (2014)

New Worlds tells the story of people trying to create “new worlds” on both sides of the Atlantic. The main characters are Beth (daughter of Angelica, the lead character of The Devil’s Whore, who is now a utopian aristocrat), Abe (son of a English Civil War general), Hope (tomboy-ish, independent Massachusettsan), and Ned (son of a wealthy Massachusetts landowner). Supposedly I should remember Ned and Hope from The Devil’s Whore, but I don’t.

 

Good Things About New Worlds:

1. Jeremy Northam as Charles II. Yes, cartoony evil villain Charles II, but whatever!

New Worlds (2014)

 

2. Some surprisingly good dresses, mainly on Beth (costumes designed by Lucinda Wright).

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Don’t worry, we’ll talk about the hair in a minute.

 

3. At one point, Beth ends up meeting Masca, who is HOT HOT HOT.

Alex Meraz as Masca and Freya Mavor as Beth in New Worlds. Photograph: Mark Johnson/Channel 4

Alex Meraz as Masca. HELLO SAILOR.

 

4. Some surprisingly good full-bottomed wigs. A few of them were a little off, but by and large, I liked them!

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The Duke of Monmoth, rocking the full-bottomed wig.

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More nice wigs!

 

4. Eve Best, who played Angelica (the main character in The Devil’s Whore and Beth’s mother) was really quite good, AND I liked seeing a slightly older woman who looked very elegant. Sadly, I can’t find any pictures of her dressed up elegantly.

New Worlds

Angelica, here inelegant.

 

5. The story actually took into account the perspectives of Native Americans and had white characters who came to understand and argue for their rights. Now, they may have gone a little TOO overboard in terms of whether the English would have actually been open to the indigenous perspectives, but at the same time, too few costume movies ever take into account the perspectives of the people who were getting the shaft (indigenous populations, slaves, etc.) — usually those people are just whitewashed out of the story.

Actual cross-cultural contact occurs!

Actual cross-cultural contact occurs!

 

Preposterous Things About New Worlds:

1. I am concerned that the hairdressers of the film/TV industry are on strike. Why else is hair like this such a trend in most historical movies/TV shows?

THIS IS DRESSED UP, THE DUKE IS VISITING HAIR. I'm not kidding.

THIS IS DRESSED UP, THE DUKE IS VISITING HAIR. I’m not kidding.

New Worlds (2014)

Another view. I think they may have used two whole bobby pins.

 

2. In the same vein, Jamie Dornan as Abe had the WORLD’S WORST SEMI-MULLET EVER.

New Worlds (2014)

Who thought this was attractive?

 

3. Apparently you can get from England to Massachusetts in about a day.

Ned zips back and forth across the Atlantic in a heartbeat.

Ned zips back and forth across the Atlantic in a heartbeat.

 

4. Apparently ladies in utopian societies ran around in their shifts/chemises and nothing else. Also, if someone kills a deer in front of you, apparently you are likely to have blood sprayed ALL over you, and you are unlikely to notice.

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Hopefully a fake deer. Beth is about to get covered in its (fake) blood.

 

5. Get kidnapped by a hot outlaw? It apparently takes about 2.5 seconds before you’re in boy-drag fighting the power with him:

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6. If you’re trying to pass as a boy, make sure to leave your long blonde locks flowing. Nobody will notice.

New Worlds (2014)

They’re too busy being horrified by Jamie Dornan’s hair.

 

In the end, it’s relatively entertaining, and you can join me in the eye-rolling and general scoffing!

Here’s how you can watch New Worlds:

  • US viewers can stream it on Acorn TV.
  • US viewers can watch it on DVD, releasing June 30, 2015.
  • UK viewers can stream it on Channel 4‘s website.

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

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