Posts tagged “Queen Anne”.

UNDEREMPLOYMENT CINEMA — The Favourite (2018)

I knew absolutely nothing about The Favourite before seeing it. Frankly, all I saw was a poster with three women in period costume and I thought, I AM SO THERE.

After an unpleasant incident with another audience member who has no idea what designated seating means, the movie began and I was delighted to see that I was seeing a menage a trois of power involving an ailing Queen Anne, her lifelong friend Lady Sarah, and Sarah’s poor relation, Abigail. And while not everything depicted happens, these were three real women and we mostly see them on screen and it totally must pass the Bechdel test! [I didn’t see it listed.]

It is sometime in the early 1700s and Queen Anne is the last of the Stuarts on the throne, and she’s ailing. Gout and other mobility issues leave her in a lot of pain. Her longtime friend Sarah has much influence over the Queen despite Anne being a Tory and Sarah a Whig. Often at issue is whether to keep attacking France (Whig position) or not (Tory) and Sarah is there to plead the Whig’s position. She is also close enough to the Queen to tell her when her makeup makes her look like a badger.

Speaking of wigs… the men here are often done up in lots of make up and powdered wigs and seem to be parodies of themselves.

Abigail (Emma Stone) is unceremoniously assigned to the kitchen staff but she is shrewd and takes to the woods to concoct a natural herbal plaster to help ease the Queen’s pain. She is a bit presumptuous, going into the Queen’s bedroom and applying the potion on her person without asking, but this is enough to give Abigail an opening and a be the wedge that causes a rift between Sarah and the Queen. Plus, Abigail is NICE to Queen Anne. Never calls her a badger, for example.

Much of this is reminiscent of All About Eve, one of the bitchiest films ever made, plus a great example of social climbing and hangers on.

The writers and director¬†Yorgos Lanthimos take some liberties. For example, Anne has one rabbit for each child she has lost (seventeen lost to miscarriages, stillbirths, smallpox and the most difficult, losing a son who lived to see his tenth birthday). In real life, Anne did not keep rabbits as pets… they were more likely dinner fare. But Lanthimos does a great job of humanizing a monarch who is supposed to be remote and the head of the Church of England. There’s a great “Don’t look at me!” scene between Anne and a footman.

Queen Anne was ¬†the last of her line. The Glorious Revolution that put her sister (Mary II) and brother-in-law (William III) on the throne after deposing their Catholic father (James II) also mandated no non-Protestants on the British Throne. So Anne’s passing was an end of an era, as 50 Catholic heirs in the line of succession were passed over in favor of George of Hannover, whose descendant is on the throne today. It’s sort of incredible that this woman was at the head of an empire in two continents, the head of a church, but made quite malleable by her physical pains and whomever was nicest to her.

There is no real evidence of any lesbian aspects to the relationships of Queen Anne with Sarah or with Abigail, but there was a strong rumor at the time to that possibility. Also, men don’t really get the friendships of women.

The problem with “based on a true story” is that movies just do what they want to do to make an entertaining movie, and this is no exception, but the point of the movie seems very true to the power triangle here as Abigail (a Tory) gained more and more power at court. Also, the lives of women of that era were often not recorded or cared about, and it’s always great to see the lives of women of other eras faithfully portrayed on screen.