Midlands Feature - The Movie Succession to the Throne
Having recently started watching the historical television drama The Tudors (yes, I know it’s not a movie but stick with me on this) I thoroughly enjoyed its mash-up of sex, murder, beheadings and political and religious themes. The fascinating mix of war, melodrama and a splattering of camp, the high production values make this a series well worth catching if you’re interested in Henry VIII and British royal history in general.
But it got me thinking. As a fan of Cate Blanchett, a viewer could easily do a watch of her brilliant turn as Henry’s daughter Elizabeth in both Elizabeth (1998) and its follow up The Golden Age (2007) as a kind of quasi-sequel. The films continue the political machinations from the time and show another reign of an infamous monarch.
So coming back to the Midlands, with its swathes of picturesque countryside and regal-like manors and houses, the region even has connections to movies covering monarchs. Haddon Hall in Bakewell was used as Hatfield House in Elizabeth. Henry’s story is also covered in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) by Justin Chadwick, which starred Scarlett Johansson & Natalie Portman as Mary Boleyn and sister Anne Boleyn. Parts of this film were also shot in the region at Dovedale in Castleton and Haddon Hall, as well as at North Lees Hall. Finally, Belvoir Castle in Leicester is home to the Duke of Rutland & seen in Young Victoria (2009).
But if you could follow one dramatisation of a monarch’s reign with another, could you do them all? By that I mean can we follow the entire line of succession using movies (and a few TV shows)? Well, my self-imposed challenge was accepted and the results are below. There have been 66 monarchs of England and Britain spread over a period of 1500 years. Many of the productions are about succession so there’s a lot of overlap between multiple films, but I gave myself just one 'get out' by starting the list AFTER the Saxon Kings. So we begin the list at the infamous date of 1066.
That said, for the Saxon period you can do worse than checking out the 1969 epic Alfred the Great and we begin our full lineage after the death of Harold II and the beginning of the Norman period.
HENRY II 1154-1189 The Lion in Winter (1968)
RICHARD I (The Lionheart) 1189 – 1199 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
JOHN 1199 -1216 Ironclad (2011)
HENRY III 1216 -1272 Becket (1964)
EDWARD I 1272 – 1307 Braveheart (1995)
EDWARD II 1307 – deposed 1327 Edward II (1991)
EDWARD III 1327 – 1377 The Dark Avenger (1955)
RICHARD II 1377 – deposed 1399 Richard II (2012)
HOUSE OF LANCASTER
HENRY IV 1399 – 1413 Chimes at Midnight (1965)
HENRY V 1413 – 1422 Henry V (1944) & Henry V (1989) - both classic adaptations
HENRY VI 1422 – deposed 1461 Beginning of the Wars of the Roses Tower of London (1939)
HOUSE OF YORK
EDWARD IV 1461- 1483 The White Queen (2013 TV)
EDWARD V 1483 – 1483 Richard III (2008)
RICHARD III 1483 – 1485 End of the Wars of the Roses Richard III (1995)
HENRY VII 1485 – 1509 Looking For Richard (1996)
HENRY VIII 1509 – 1547 Carry on Henry (1971) & The Tudors (2007)
EDWARD VI 1547 – 1553 Well, Edward VI is the basis for the Prince & the Pauper and so the best version of that is clearly Trading Places (1983). For a more traditional take check Tudor Rose (1936)
LADY JANE (9 Days Queen) Lady Jane (1986)
MARY I (Bloody Mary) 1553 – 1558 The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
ELIZABETH I 1558-1603
There are so many films and prodcutions featuring The Virgin Queen but for some of the best check out Elizabeth (1998) and its sequel The Golden Age (2007), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Anonymous (2011).
JAMES I and VI of Scotland 1603 -1625 Gunpowder, Treason & Plot (2004 TV)
CHARLES 1 1625 – 1649 English Civil War The Devil's Whore (2008 TV)
THE COMMONWEALTH - declared May 19th 1649
OLIVER CROMWELL, Lord Protector 1653 – 1658 Cromwell (1970)
RICHARD CROMWELL, Lord Protector 1658 – 1659 To Kill A King (2003)
CHARLES II 1660 – 1685 Restoration
JAMES II and VII of Scotland 1685 – 1688 England My England (1995)
WILLIAM III 1689 – 1702 The League of Gentlemen Apocalypse (2005)
MARY II 1689 – 1694 Orlando (1992)
ANNE 1702 – 1714 The First Churchills (1969 TV)
HOUSE OF SAXE-COBURG AND GOTHA
EDWARD VII 1901 – 1910 Victoria and Abdul (2017)
HOUSE OF WINDSOR Name changed in 1917
GEORGE V 1910 – 1936 W.E. (2011)
EDWARD VIII June 1936 – abdicated December 1936 Chariots of Fire (1981)
GEORGE VI 1936 – 1952 The King's Speech (2010)
ELIZABETH II 1952 – The Queen (2006)
And there we are! With a few close calls the monarchs from 1066 to the modern day each appear in a different film or production. Which is a cinematic universe I'd give props to anyone trying from start to finish!
A special mention as well to British actress Jeannette Charles who once had difficulty obtaining Equity membership due to her resemblance to the Queen. However, she subsequently played the role in numerous films including Secrets of a Superstud (1976), Queen Kong (1976), The Rutles' movie All You Need Is Cash (1978), National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985), The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) and Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
*raises goblet* So, ladies and gentlemen, let's toast all of the talent, both local, national and international, who put their heart and soul into bringing history to the big screen for our pleasure!
Midlands Movies Mike