Thursday, July 5, 2012

In A World of Fantasy

Romances, espionage thrillers, war epics and, increasingly, sitcoms are all genres that often find themselves intertwined with the business of this blog but perhaps the genre most closely related to the period drama is fantasy. Following swiftly on the designer heels of Charlize Theron playing Snow White's evil stepmother as a sort of demented trophy wife refusing to yield to the passage of time in Rupert Sanders's disappointingly haphazard yet moderately inventive version of the classic fairytale, a villainous Angelina Jolie will star in Maleficient. Telling the legend of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the sorceress who curses the young princess with a debilitating dose of narcolepsy, the live-action movie from Oscar-winning production designer Richard Stromberg and Walt Disney Pictures will feature Elle Fanning as Aurora alongside Miranda Richardson as Queen Ulla, Maleficient's aunt with a strong dislike for her niece. Will this version suggest that her hostile relations are the reason for Maleficient's fondness for malice? What about personal responsibility, Disney? Harry Potter's hateful aunt kept him in a cupboard for ten years and he didn't go to the bad!! Anywho, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple will play Sleeping Beauty's fairy guardians Flittle, Knotgrass and Thistletwit in the film which is due for release in spring 2014.

Miss Temple is a young lady from London whose name you may not recognise but who has starred in many movies since her debut as Cate Blanchett's daughter in 2006's Notes on a Scandal. Since then, she has been seen in an eclectic mix of British period dramas like Atonement and Glorious 39, small-scale American indie films Greenberg and Kaboom and major blockbusters The Three Musketeers and, this summer, The Dark Knight Rises. Her performance in the forthcoming Batman movie coupled with her much-publicised role as trailer-trash innocent Dottie in the controversy magnet Killer Joe will do wonders for her profile and be music to the ears of the producers of Girls' Night Out, in which Temple will appear as Princess Margaret. From a screenplay by Trevor de Silva, the period drama is set on VE Day in 1945 and will imagine that Margaret and her big sister left the palace to celebrate their country's victory with ordinary Londoners on that historic night and encountered danger and romance along the way. When one considers that that particular family's lives have decidedly not been short on exciting incident as they stand, it does seem somewhat pointless to present this embroidered fantasy to cinemagoers although the Period Drama King blog will reserve judgement.

Coincidentally, although probably not that coincidentally considering the phenomenal success of The King's Speech eighteen months ago, the current British monarch's parents will feature prominently in another imminent period drama release. Hyde Park on Hudson tells of a weekend that Bertie and Elizabeth spent in 1939 with the American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor at the country retreat in upstage New York which gives the film its title. The historically and politically significant visit is hampered by clashes of culture but FDR, given the looming threat of war, is determined to form an alliance between the two nations. The comedy drama, directed by Roger Michell of 1995's Persuasion, is told from the perspective of the president's devoted cousin Margaret Stuckley and stars Laura Linney as Margaret, Bill Murray and Olivia Williams as the Roosevelts and Samuel West and Olivia Colman as the Windsors. Also in the film are Blake Ritson, who interestingly played Bertie's brother the Dule of Kent in the ill-fated Upstairs Downstairs revival, and the one-and-only Eleanor Bron. Another 1960s icon who is rarely seen on screen nowadays is Dame Diana Rigg, although pictures emerged this week (one of which is above) of the Dame on the set of Doctor Who with series regulars Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman. In another period drama-fantasy crossover. she is filming a guest role in an episode written by Mark Gatiss, set in Victorian times and also starring her daughter Rachael Stirling. BBC, how I love thee!

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