Tag Archives: White Queen

Review: The White Queen / SEASON FINALE

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The White Queen has ended and I must confess I am extremely sadden by this tragic situation. Is it the best show ever? Probably not, but still it was a great production. I shall always defend the show and any other historical drama that is able to bring my attention to history and the women behind the great historical events. Dr. Philippa Gregory is often criticised for taking many liberties in portraying history in a very particular way, playing with facts and characters, serving the purpose of affirming or denying a hypothesis she has about a particular moment of english history..This criticism is accurate, there is no denying about that. However this criticism is in fact what makes Philippa so great..Her unique portrayal of the War of the Roses, gives an insightful look to some of the most emblematic and mysterious characters of the period: Women. On times ruled by men, women are either part of the setting (an accessory of sorts) or are regarded as mortal enemies fuelled by dark forces. I studied the War of the Roses back in High School and it was somehow exciting to comeback to what I think I knew of those turbulent times…And it was wonderful to make the connection with one of my favourite shows ever: The Tudors. Henry the VIII reign is better understood with this background, understanding  his family’s precarious claim to the throne and the need of a male heir…His hatred for the last members of the Plantagenets and the reason for their later execution. The White Queen has a single most important premise: The road to power is bloody and in order to hold the crown everything is at stake.. In conclusion, this was a great show and I have to say I would rather have a different ending, showing a clearer outlook to the characters life under the new monarch Henry Tudor.  Lets take a look to the final turn of the wheel of fortune, the most drastic turn since the arrival of out beloved Elizabeth Woodvile to Court….

 
Who got screwed?
Queen Anne
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Anne had perhaps the most interesting and volatile journey of the characters in the show (from the second irrelevant girl of the Kingmaker to Queen of England). I never really disliked Anne, but her importance in the whole setting of the story was way to forced. Philippa tried to make her important but not in the right way. Despite the fact she was able to climb the maximum stage of the social ladder, her role in the rise of power wasn’t very clear. There are two possible portrayals of Anne. One as victim of her husband’s actions, which has already been seen in the amazing acting of Kristin Scott Thomas in the film version of Richard III. The other possible representation of Anne would be as an active member of her husband’s court, using her influence to fulfil her struggle for power in her favour.. But that was not the case..Queen Anne has been portrayed as mixture of Lady Macbeth and a very passive Catherine of Aragon…Very bitter and very feeble…She could not take Elizabeth down, nor could she send away her hot niece…Anne’s down fall is quite sad. She feels guilty for the disappearance of the princes and then she faces the death of her only son… And so she becomes extremely sick, leading to her death. With no heir or security of her husband’s reign…The end of the Kingmaker’s daughter, the end of influence of the Neville family, a house that once hold  power in England.
King Richard III
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 From all the characters in the show, this was perhaps the most underwhelming portrayal of the historical, legendary villain of all times: Richard III. But still it was a fairer portrayal of this man. The Tudor historians (mainly Sir Thomas More) and even Shakespeare have stained the history of the Duke of Gloucester, even making him guilty for the mysterious disappearance of the princes in the Tower. Richard III was in this show a pawn of Margaret Beaufort’s efforts to make her son King. Richard’s image is constantly damaged and diminished by several scandals, including his closeness to his niece Princess Elizabeth. This season finale, was all about loss (his son, his queen) and Richard  faced his final battle at Bosworth, where he is betrayed by Lord Stanley. Richard is butchered and left naked in the woods, losing the crown to the last Lancaster claimant.
 
The House of York
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After years of holding to the crown, the internal battles between the sons of York lead to the downfall of their house. Their ambition and  their inability to accept a lesser evil (The Woodvilles) opened  a door for their enemies to  take the throne. The White Rose got lost in time and their male heirs were mostly eradicated …(Richard Elizabeth’s second son is safe and George’s son is still alive).
Who’s fortunes rose? 

The Tudors and Margaret Beaufort

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The new King of England is hardly known for us viewers, we know more of Jasper and of his mother (the annoying lady of the show). And to be very real, the Tudor line is even lower than the one of the Rivers family. And the Beaufort family comes from a bastard Lancastrian line, which were forbidden to ever take the crown. But the point behind this brief introduction also empowers their rode to power. Despite Lady Margaret’s annoying ways of approaching her scenes, this woman had to endure to so many horrible situations to put her son in the Throne. She is a fierce woman, who conspired against the realm and even help to bring the House of York against each other. But the road to power is not honourable, nor is it a path protected by the hand of God…This is for me the most important fact presented by Philippa Gregory and it relies on the great chance that the Tudors and Lady Beaufort were actually responsible for the deaths of the Princes in the Tower.  They had the greater part to win from the demise of the heirs of the throne…And Richard was the perfect target to become the Villain. What I despise of Margaret is that she is unwilling to accept the guilt and the consequences of her ambition. It was not God who won the Crown for the Tudors, it was blood and death… In the end, her strategical alliance with Lord Stanley made her son victorious, becoming the  new King and her the Lady Mother of the King…

The White Princess 

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Princess Elizabeth the eldest daughter of the White Queen had a very secure position. On one side she had won the affection of her uncle, who was infatuated by her. The sudden death of Anne, lead her close to the Crown. Richard needed her to join the Yorkist efforts.  And on the other side, her marriage had already been arranged to Henry Tudor. So either way she would be Queen. The best scene of Elizabeth is when she confronts Lady Margaret and tells her that she is not taking her crap.. It was a very well taken character…A little bit to much of potential incest..But still it was enjoyable. In conclusion the White Princes left us all wanting for more…How would her marriage be? How would be her relationship with her mother in law?

Where does Elizabeth stand in this final turning point of the  Wheel of Fortune?

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Elizabeth was the main character of the story, but her final episodes took  focus out of her.  My problem with this season finale is that it doesn’t  feel like closure for our main character Elizabeth Woodville. ..She has lost and gained so much during the War of the Roses…But what must be remembered, is that she is a survivor. She outlived her adversaries and was able to mix her family with the english nobility.  A witch or not..Elizabeth changed the history of the Realm and her legacy goes beyond many of the coming Queens and Kings of both England and Scotland.

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Review: The White Queen

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The heir to the English throne  is due to be born during the next few days.  An event that has become a trending topic online and will become one of the top moments of 2013. However I don’t see why people are so excited?? Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and royalty will always be a topic of discussion in this blog. But when it comes  down to a royal birth, its quite boring actually. If its a boy or a girl, either way they will get the crown.  Where is the thrill in that? Forgive me for going all medieval in this sense, but it was a hell more exciting  back in the old days, where the birth of a little prince or a little princess would determine the success or utter failure of a noble family (don’t forget the Boleyn Family). This leads me to the new BBC One’s historical drama of the War of the Roses: The White Queen.

When you make a show that mixes drama and history,  you have got into  risky business. It can either come out as a great success or an embarrassing failure. I personally love historical dramas (Huge fan of Rome and The Tudors) and english history is perhaps one of the subjects which I have most researched for several academic purposes. So when I heard of The White Queen I was nervous and excited.

Lets get something straight: The White Queen is an adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s book series The Cousins War. Accuracy and being strictly attached to history are not traits that are outstanding in Gregory´s books. Gregory’s success and popularity are in my opinion, the result of the unique way of bringing intrigue, passion, history, love and tragedy into the narrative of a well known historical event.  So I recommend viewers of The White Queen, not to expect a show like Rome or The Tudors (although King Edward IV is as hot and handsome as King Henry VIII). On the contrary, expect a historical drama that will use certain elements that are present in Game of Thrones, such as Witchcraft…

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The White Queen has already given us 4 episodes  in order for viewers to  decide if its good or bad.  I am not going to refer to each episode, but I’ll rather give an insight of the story and characters.

The Story so far….

The story is set up at the very climax of the War of the Roses (an ongoing conflict between the House of York and the House of Lancaster).  At the beginning of the show,  the House of  Lancaster is defeated by Edward of York (played by the hot Max Irons) who  becomes the new King. He has two brothers George (Juan Borgia) and Richard (played by an increasingly devilish handsome Aneurin Barnard).  During the war,  Edward is driven to the states of  a young beautiful widow named Elizabet Woodville (played by the ever beautiful Rebecca Ferguson). She is the daughter of the Earl of Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg (played by the amazing Janet McTeer),  who  are sworn to defend the House of Lancaster. However as fortunes change, Jacquetta is driven to wage an alliance with the House of York. And that is how the love story begins between Elizabeth and Edward. Leading her to become the new Queen…And thus beginning a war at the very insight of the House of York.

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So the war for the Throne is back..Who are the main players ? 

The Earl of Warwick (Played by James Frain) 

Lord Warwick

The Kingmaker was the nickname he earned due to his outstanding abilities in making Edward king.  And now he is doing it all again. He hates Elizabeth and Jacquetta and for that he has  betrayed Edward. He first planned to make George king and his daughter Isabel queen by marrying them  and after this plan failed, he now    has given his youngest daughter Anne to  Margaret of Anjou the Lancaster  exiled Queen, for  she is to marry  Margaret’s son (an evil prick of a prince).  James Frain has done a terrific job in bringing this character to life.  I most confess I was uncomfortable to see him go all desperate towards his alliance with the Margaret of Anjou. He holds no love for his daughters and is loosing everything around him just for the sake of power.  An interesting character, but his gambling whit his own family is very dangerous….

The Neville Sisters

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Isabel (Eleanor Tomlinson) and Anne (Faye Marsay) are the daughters of the Kingmaker.  Although so far they have been portrayed as  pieces in a greater game-board,  manipulated by their father’s will and ambition, they are quite enjoyable to watch. And they show a human side of the price people pay in the conflicts of power. These girls have been through very dark and tragic stuff. Isabel looses her child and future heir of George and  Anne is “forced”  while consummating her marriage to a cute crazy boy (he looks deranged seriously). They are victims of their father’s gambling but they have realised that there is always a way to out power their father, and it is only by getting to the throne of England. Isabel has lost her chance and now it all comes down to Anne.

Jacquetta and Elizabeth 

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Hands down these two ladies are my favourite characters of the show. First of all  they bring  a strong balance between ambition and love. No one can deny that Elizabeth  wanted to be Queen and that Jacquetta was playing a very difficult game by changing her family’s long allegiance towards the Lancasters , to the House of  York. But there is a genuine love between Elizabeth and Edward. And that makes it all stronger. Because her roots  in the throne are not based on betrayal , plotting or a  loveless marriage contract, her strength comes from the true love story she has with the King.  Despite the fact that she is a good mother and that she loves her family and husband, she understands that in order to survive the hostile environment of the Court, she most upper her own game. Elizabeth becomes  cunning and ruthless against her enemies, strengthening Edwards rule. And Elizabeth is not alone, she is supported by her mother and most trusted friend. Jacquetta is strategic and will do everything to protect her daughter and family. There is an element which I am not sure I like it and it is the magic thing.. I mean magic brings darkness into these two characters…and I am not sure if that makes their claim legitimate (I know Lord Varys would hate it) ..We’ll have to wait to see what happens..

Margaret Beaufort (Played by Amanda Hale

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I know she is the mother of Henry Tudor but God she is one of the most annoying characters in TV.   A quick introduction to the character: She belongs to a House that is  loyal to the Lancasters. Somehow she believes her son is the heir of the Lancaster line. The show has not cleared that up, because Margaret of  Anjou has still a son which is now married to Anne Neville. Since the victory of the House of York,  she has been mistreated by the crown and her son has been taken  from her. She is also bullied  by her own mother.  So as many other women in the show, she is having a rough time. But she is just too much… I can’t stand her. She is a strong woman but she always has a face of  grief that after a while it  hurts just to watch. She still has not made any move into the war between the Yorkish cousins. However, now she is back in favour due to the new alliance between the Kingmaker and Margaret of Anjou. She hates Elizabeth and all the members of House York. Lets hope there is a change in her character soon..

These are the main players of the game.  If I am missing Margaret of Anjou understand that she is included in Warwick’s game.  In any case, I love this show, its different to other historical dramas and has a strong portrayal of women.  The White Queen succeeds in blending a love story with one of history’s  most infamous struggles for power (the War of the Roses). Plotting, war and death are all elements that are present in this production and that will continue to appear in the episodes to come. I cant wait to see what is next…

Last Sunday, we saw the fall of Edward and the return of the House of Lancaster to the throne. Jacquetta was almost burned by Warwick because of witchcraft. Margaret returned to court and Elizabeth hidden in Westminster Abbey gave birth to a boy…. I am sure that will cause a great deal of trouble for the Lancasters…

What are your thoughts on the White Queen??