This was definitely not a good time period in which to be a woman, but this lot of valiant females certainly made the best of it. Britain’s famous War of the Roses, a long struggle between houses York and Lancaster for the throne of England, reads somewhat like a football game with a crown substituted for the ball. But this reboot, based on the spectacular books by Philippa Gregory, eschews most of the bits known to the modern audience courtesy of Shakespeare’s plays and instead focuses on the women rather than the men, and also spiking the story with shades of the supernatural involving the Woodville ladies. This puts a whole different spin on everything and is probably a good deal more accurate (well, except for the clandestine witchery). After all, history is largely written by the winners and Shakespeare was writing under a Tudor monarch, so it follows that perhaps his version of events might be a trifle suspect. The timing of this mini-series coincides with the the archaeological find of Richard III’s remains at Greyfriars Church, lending further relevance to the modern audience. They say truth is stranger than fiction and this complicated story about a tumultuous time period in England’s history certainly backs that up.
The production values for this series are staggeringly extravagant, filmed largely in Belgium where lots of authentic architecture from the period still stands. Gorgeous costumes, elaborate sets, intricate jewelry and stunning locations make the whole thing come to life in lavish detail. The casting is top notch and my personal favorite is Aneurin Barnard playing Richard of York (The Duke of Gloucester) as handsome and thoughtful, a far cry from the villainous hunchback of Shakespearean legend. Because this series focuses on women, their marriages and children, it does include a fair amount of sex, so be prepared for lots of bared bosoms and backsides. True, there was very little suspense (at least for me) as history classes inadvertently provided spoilers, but it was still richly entertaining. Enthralling and gripping, I binge watched the whole thing in two days and would love to see more of Gregory’s books adapted for television. – BETHANY
For more specific information on The White Queen visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2372220/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Aneurin Barnard playing Richard, the Duke of Gloucester – hardly the evil hunchback!
The three key women in the story – Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville and Margaret Beaufort.
The three key men – brothers of the house of York
Edward IV of England (Max Irons) wooing Elizabeth Woodville
Lord and Lady Rivers, parents of Elizabeth Woodville. Nice, er, headdress.
You can’t have a costume drama without James Frain! Here he’s playing the Earl of Warwick, known as the Kingmaker.
Anne Neville, daughter of the Kingmaker
On IMDB, the top five key words for The White Queen are: sex scene, bare breasts, female nudity, throne and England. Just so you know what you’re getting into.
Photos courtesy of Company Pictures, Czar Television, Playground Entertainment, BNP Paribas Fortis Film Fund and BBC Drama Productions