Sunday, September 12, 2021

Mary Queen of Scots (2018 film)

Oh my. I am so deeply sad. The 2018 film 'Mary Queen of Scots' was heart-wrenching. The end-credits music is shredding my soul as I listen and write this. I knew the story. I knew the reluctance with which Queen Elizabeth I executed her cousin. I knew the tragedy. Because in that time period, men and especially women, faced so many tragedies. So much manipulation, so much scheming, so many gambles that succeeded, but more often failed. I first realized how brutal and enormously unfair that era was when I read a novel about Lady Jane Grey when I was a kid. A young woman pushed into vying for the throne by her family despite her wishes, and then when that gamble failed, beheaded at the age of 17. I knew Mary's fate was equally tragic, but my heart hurts thinking about the treacherous sabotage of her reign that her council and brother carried out years before her execution. Her husband's betrayal, her brother's twice, and most especially her protector's.

And then I'm struck again and again, how monarchs like Elizabeth I, despite their seeming power, can exert so little of it sometimes. How they are the mercy of their nobles' goodwill, and the perceptions of their people. She could not help Mary, no matter how much she wished to.

And then thoughts of the patriarchy come to mind. How Elizabeth's voiceover at the end reminds us how high the price is to fit into the patriarchy, to wield power. Her very joy, her love, her self had to be sacrificed.

And then I think how much calculating scheming went on during these eras. Maybe coz there were so few ways to advance your position in life or improve your circumstances, that all you had was marriages, and attempts at the throne or other powerful positions. Lifelong or life-ending ways. I do not believe we have true meritocracy currently. There is too much systemic oppression and control of our lives, but I am grateful for how much meritocracy we do have. There are many ways to get ahead that rest on your skill and determination. And although fortune and powerful connections still play a massive part, at least there is no longer this dangerous gambling with your family's lives.

And finally, although I love watching historical movies about this era, I hadn't been keen to watch this movie. I think I felt Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan were too modern, maybe I was worried the movie would be too stylized and modern too. But it was perfect! Those actresses are magnificent, and they nailed their parts of course! I shouldn't have doubted. ;)