THE WHITE QUEEN
WAR OF THE ROSESHere in Europe we are already watching the first season of new BBC historical show THE WHITE QUEEN, but here's a spotlight and a review of what we've seen so far for all of those who will watch the show on Starz over in USA from August. Depicting the famous War of the Roses in which King Edward IV fought for the throne with his brothers and other candidates, the show throws a focus on a number of women who also took part in the fight either through plots and intrigues or even through use of magic. You can expect a more of a refined, elegant European court show than one of those American epic gorefests.
WHITE QUEEN STORYThe year is 1464 and England has been at war for nine years battling over who is the rightful King of England: it is a war between The House of York and The House of Lancaster. The House of York’s young and devilishly handsome Edward IV (Max Irons) is crowned King of England with the help of the master manipulator Lord Warwick “The Kingmaker” (James Frain). But when Edward falls in love and secretly marries a beautiful young widow, the commoner Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson) Warwick’s plan for control over the English throne comes crashing down around him. Frustrated by the new Queen’s influence he will stop at nothing to maintain his grip on the King. The captivating and beautiful Elizabeth Woodville marries for the love of her King, with the help of her mother Jacquetta (Janet McTeer) a self proclaimed sorceress. Elizabeth’s most fierce adversary is the staunchly loyal Lancastrian Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale) a damaged and highly religious woman who would willingly lay down her life to see her young son Henry Tudor take the throne. And then there is Anne Neville (Faye Marsay), Lord Warwick's daughter – a pawn in her father’s battle for control, who finds her strength and ambition when she takes control of her destiny and marries the King’s younger brother Richard Duke of Gloucester (Aneurin Barnard). David Oakes plays Edward's other brother George, Duke of Clarence, Eleanor Tomlinson is his wife Isabel Neville, and Tom McKay portrays Jasper Tudor, Margaret Beaufort's secret love.
I've noticed around the net that most people agree with my opinion that Max Irons is the weakest link in the cast. His high school acting and absence of expressive depth don't really correspond well with the role of a royal authority. Rebecca Ferguson is rather charismatic, but sometimes maybe too modern. Both her and Amanda Hale (playing the extremely of putting character of Lady Beaufort) often use facial expressions which are maybe a bit too modern for a medieval show. For me, Oscar nominee Janet McTeer steals the show as refined, wise and calm Lady Rivers, queen's mother. She shows a deep understanding of her character without being overly theatrical like her younger cast members.
My general problem is that the events in the plot happen so quickly leaving no space for character development and even after four of five episodes we aren't introduced more closely to the characters and the nuances within them.
WHITE QUEEN COSTUMES
The costumes are sometimes outstanding and exciting, and at some points strangely plane, monotonous and washed out, but since I didn't explore the fashion of the period more closely, I won't criticize too much since it might be true that the outfits of the period weren't so intricate and ornately designed and patterned like those from later eras. There were many historical inaccuracies with costumes (corduroy jackets, almost visible zippers, rubber soles on shoes), but viewers, in general, don't notice such details, so I guess all is well and I wouldn't be overly petty about it.
OUR FAVOURITE SCENE
ELIZABETH VS DUCHESS CICELY
You probably shouldn't miss the scene in the second episode when Elizabeth Woodville is finally brought to the court as the new queen and goes to get introduced to the king's mother Duchess Cicely. Thinking she will humiliate Elizabeth by showing power and her bitter tongue, and by expressing her disapproval of her son's choice of wife and her readiness to disown her own son denying him the throne, Cicely actually unexpectedly faces a mighty storm in both Elizabeth and her outstandingly wise mother Lady Rivers (who is never caught of-guard or unprepared for action) which ends with Cicely being forced to bow and kneel in front of the new queen. Don't miss the hugely entertaining scene!
WHITE QUEEN TIDBITS
The show will bring us three weddings and two coronations! Queen Elizabeth's coronation gown had hundreds of pearls sewn onto it! The Palace of Westminster seen in the series was built and designed sp ecifically for this show. Production designer even had to build a real forest since the shooting took part in winter and they needed summer forest for a masque forest ball celebrating 15 years of Edward's coronation. They even made a frozen river and fake snow!
The true ending of the WHITE QUEEN story was sad: Elizabeth's and Edward's two sons were secretly killed as kids in the Tower by their own uncle Richard who was supposed to be their protector. Elizabeth, who outlived her own sons, later on married her eldest daughter to Henry Tudor, the son of Margaret Beaufort! Her daughter will then become the first queen of the new Tudor dynasty after Henry overthrows Richard. Her daughter was known as The White Princess, the mother of Henry VIII whose life we watched in THE TUDORS show.