Podcast: Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

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OMFG. Here comes the incoherent screaming from resident MQoS fan Trystan, who was forced to watch this shitshow in a theater, in public, by Kendra and Sarah. The visual trainwreck by costume designer Alexandra Byrne is matched by director Josie Rourke’s reductive take on 16th-century history.

You can listen to us critique Mary Queen of Scots costumes online below, or on iTunes.

38 Responses

  1. Northcountry Gal

    Thanks for the podcast – very interesting. However history may not be white, but in reality 16th century aristocrats were in fact white. There were some POC in Elizabethan Britain, but they would certainly not have been as shown in this film. Trying to pretend that they were is just a lie. It does work on stage of course because a stage play is by its nature removed from reality. But a movie tries to catch you up in the illusion that you are viewing reality – one of the reasons that accurate costumes and hair are so important. Nonetheless historical accuracy was obviously of minor importance to the filmmakers – hence the denim clothes etc. Why not just make up a fantasy story like Game of Thrones if you have no interest in accuracy? Then you could have rival queens meeting and people of all ancestries and even denim gowns.

    Reply
    • Kendra

      “in reality 16th century aristocrats were in fact white” — sure, our point here was that since there were a number of color-blind-cast characters in this film, it didn’t bother us.

      Reply
      • Northcountry Gal

        I understand. Just mentioning that it did bother me. It just seemed forced. There seemed to be no reason for it other than to show off how color-blind the filmmakers were.

        Reply
  2. Sam Marchiony

    FINALLY. I had a friend gushing on facebook about how this movie “did my girl (MQOS) right,” and I was just like… “oh, honey, no.”
    Then her other friends twisted the knife by suggesting she watch Reign.

    Reply
  3. picasso Manu

    Oh my… I have some very boring ironing to do tomorrow, so I’m going to download that and save it for later. Have a hunch it’s gonna be epic!

    Reply
  4. Lynne Connolly

    I knew there was something lurking at the back of my mind! In Tudor times in Britain, servants wore blue. The aristocracy pretty much avoided it for that reason. Go on, find me a portrait of a British aristocrat in blue.

    Reply
    • Patrick Keogh

      Behold, Mary Queen of Scots 1559 in deuil blanc white mourning with a blue dress:
      https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Queen_of_Scots_in_mourning.jpg
      Feast your eyes upon Anne of Denmark in 1605 with a blue collar:
      https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anne_of_Denmark-1605.jpg
      And marvel at this gilt armour commissioned 1587 by Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset then 1st Baron Buchurst, from the Royal Greenwich workshops with blue dye:
      https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dorsetarmour.jpg
      Blue was not the common colour for the upper classes but it would be made with indigo, which was actually one of the most expensive dye, rather than the cheap and less effective woad the lower classes used. Indigo would be have been richer, like the the sumptous royal blue MQS wears in this movie multiple times.
      I dislike the grey blue thing as much as you do but blue is not innacurate. Even pink, which was made with diluted red dyes and thus cheap, could be work like Anne of Denmark in that 1605 portrait. it really comes down to whether it can be made to look sumptous and less rich colours could still be used in contrast with brighter ones, albeit usually black and white and they weren’t very cheap either.

      Reply
      • HB

        The mourning portrait of MQoS, she is wearing black, it appears gray/blue behind the white veil.

        Reply
          • Patrick Keogh

            Why would the collar behind’s Anne standaing ruff look blue? Unless you’re suggesting it’s part of paint fade which can occur but I’ve seen no such suggestion with black especially which always seem to retain it’s colour on the faded portraits. The Darnley Portrait has gold-looking patterns on white that were likely actually red and purple but the black there is intact.
            And given the good condition the Dorset Armour is in I’m skeptical it’s oxidisation, you can see the gold is quite clean and polished and the black chain-like pattern is also unfaded and clearly seperate from the patches of blue. Isn’t rust red anyway? Again, can you actually support any of these claims? And can you really do so with all the blue portraits I can find? That seems like an unlikely suggestion. Especially seeing as again indigo was one of the most expensive dyes and royal blue, made with indigo, was a royal colour from France; and England by extension, and therefore prestigous in a similar way red was the most popular colour in England other than white and black. Surely Mary, who grew up from 5 to 17 in the French Royal Family and loved everything French might well wear a fine indigo Royal Blue? Other than overusing it at the expense of other brighter colours like red, white and yellow the movie seems justified in using it.

            Reply
          • HB

            I am reminded of the blue/black or white/gold dress debate of some years ago. Gold does not tarnish. Mary wore black with white veils in mourning, she did this when Francis died, and again in captivity. Anne of Denmark is wearing a heavily trimmed white silk gown, the “blue” reads as a reflection of light on the white satin. If you wanted to use an example of a royal wearing blue, I would have chosen the one of Elizabeth, late in her reign, where her gown is a very, very dark blue, to imply that she is a ‘servant’ to her people and nation.

            Reply
            • Patrick Keogh

              But again, why should I believe you? Can you in anyway explain more convincing reasoning, or provide sources? You also seem to be supporting with the Elizabeth as servant of the nation thing the original person I responded to. Given the existence of expensive indigo dye and Royal Blue in England and France, why would blue just be a servant colour? If it was cheap woad-made, sure. And maybe in that individual case the darker was considered less prestigous? Which portrait are you referring to?

              Reply
            • Patrick Keogh

              I’m willing to probably concede the Dorset Armour because it looks like it was black that broken out in blue patches and other Greenwich Armours I’ve seen have gold and black in that way.

              Reply
  5. Debbie

    This! I agree with everything you guys are saying. Nothing beats Elizabeth R with Glenda Jackson

    Reply
  6. MrsC (Maryanne)

    I’m listening to this – by now I wouldn’t be surprised if you talk about aliens landing, it is so utterly surreal. Funny also how things that just BOMB in this movie work in the Favourite – denim and black, for example. Love how they did that!

    Reply
    • Peacoclaur

      I think since The Favourite was a comedy and (and at least from my POV) a deconstruction of the costume/court intrigue film, the more abstract costumes worked as it highlighted the unreal nature of court life and (the perceived) absurdity monarchy more generally.

      MQS on the other hand, wanted to be a serious political drama and the abstration doesn’t work as for the audience to take it seriously it needs a greater sense of verisimilitude so denim costumes don’t fit here the way it does in The Favourite

      Reply
      • Nzie

        I just saw The Favorite this weekend… the elements that were unusual were not jarring—like, I really didn’t think the use of cut-outs and vinyl looked like that too much (here or there I could tell). I think Sandy Powell knew how to get that look taking into account what the lighting would conceal, etc. I also agree about the humor aspect… it was clearly a somewhat heightened reality, and, done deftly, it worked. Can’t see that with MQoS based on the pics, reviews, and storyline.

        Reply
  7. Susan Pola Staples

    Loved the podcast as it was informative and funny. I don’t think Hollywood can make a MoS movie or miniseries bc they leave out a significant component: Religion.
    1. MoS was a cradle Catholic, raised by cradle Catholics who were intolerant of Protestants.
    2. MoS was looked on by Catholic Europe as England’s rightful queen. ERI was considered a bastard.
    3. Both MoS and Darnley were Tudors, descended from Trump, er, Henry VIII’s sister Margaret who married James IV of Scotland. Ergo it was good politics for the marriage.

    These are a few points that should be covered in any MoS series, movie, etc.

    Reply
    • Peacoclaur

      Could I have the impertinence to add a fourth point?

      4) MoS was a very firm believer in divine right royal autocracy and part of her problems in Scotland was rooted in her efforts to curb the power of the nobles and the Kirk, and increase the power and wealth of the crown viz these two pillars of Scottish politics. If this was taken into account than MoS (and for that matter her fellow divine-righter south of the Tweed, Elizabeth) would probably not look as sympathetic and we would all be rooting for Burleigh, Buchanan, Knox et al… as proto democrats in much the same way the enemies of MoS’s grandson Charles I are often portrayed in pop culture (cough CROMWELL cough)

      Reply
      • Susan Pola Staples

        I didn’t want to ‘nail a thesis’ to the Frock Flicks door like Martin Luther did, and I agree with your assessment of the divine right of kings. But I’m a monarchist at heart, and wonder how better or worse we’d be governed by an enlightened monarch rather than the ‘fat spoiled brat’ we have now.

        Reply
        • Peacoclaur

          I could have gone further and stated that Divine Right in the 16/17 C was not as absurd or sinister as it is often portrayed as being in our era. TL;DR it was an ideological defence against religious terrorism and rebellion – it was about stability not meglomania or despotism. Leanda De Lisle’s Bio of Charles I White King does a really good job of explaining it (now that is a book someone should make a movie/tv series out of).

          Reply
          • Nzie

            Very good points, both! People of course have their own personal convictions, but it’s a major foundational element for many cultures throughout much of history…. which means it’s prudent to learn about world religions, and not just to critique them (although that’s fine) but to understand them. It’s another part of “show people’s lives as they were”—and why I don’t trust streaming services with some of these stories.

            Reply
          • Patrick Keogh

            Burghley was absolutely a monarchist too, just one who believed monarchs should have a strong ministry and bureacracy behind them, which was right and Elizabeth agreed. Which was why he was just a long-running trusted minister, they generally agreed and he was good at his job.

            Reply
  8. Alys Mackyntoich

    Thank you for the podcast. It confirmed my gut feeling that no force on earth will get me to watch this movie!

    Reply
  9. Nzie

    Thanks for biting this bullet… glad to save my money and enjoy mostly coherent screaming about it . :-)

    Reply
  10. Katie O'Donnell

    I’ve been looking forward to this podcast and it didn’t disappoint lol. It was hilarious!

    The sad thing is that last spring when I first heard about this movie I was pretty excited. I like both the main actresses and I thought it would be a more coherent take on Mary, Queen of Scots than Reign. But it was still terrible, just in slightly different ways! At least I got to listen to this and enjoy it instead :)

    Reply
  11. Kate

    Thankyou !! I’ve been pissing and moaning about this movie for a while now. Usually I let these things roll off my back but this one was making me twitch because it’s an inaccurate Mary fan film and I am NOT a fan of Mary.

    Reply
  12. Julia Atkinson

    I had the misfortune to see a trailer for this mess at the cinema last week. Did my eyes deceive me or was the black over-dress Mary wore at her execution whipped off in two halves by people standing behind her? It looked hilarious!

    Reply

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