My Favourite Period Dramas

This post is long overdue. I have two lists of period dramas – movies and TV series – and I post about upcoming period dramas, but no one knows which period drama I enjoy watching. The following post is listed by periods and will be given one of two ratings:

  1.  = LOVE. This is my favourite that I enjoy watching again and again.
  2. ♡ = LIKE. I enjoy watching the movie or series but don’t feel the need to watch it again or as often.

Please note that there are some movies and TV series that I have not seen but as I start watching more, I will come back to this post to add them to the list. I have also excluded the costumed dramas that do not belong in a particular period or have a fairytale/fantasy theme. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about each title. 🙂

MEDIEVAL (500-1500)

  • The Borgias (TV: 2011-2013) ♡ – Beautiful costumes. A bit too gory at times. Too bad the series was not renewed because the S3 finale ended with a cliffhanger.
  • Braveheart (Movie: 1995) ♡
  • Camelot (TV: 2011-2012) ♡ – Eva Green’s Morgan Le Fay was the only reason I watched the series and hoped for a second series.
  • Kingdom of Heaven (Movie: 2005) ♡ – I admit I watched it mainly for Orlando Bloom and Eva Green.
  • The Mists of Avalon (TV Miniseries: 2001) ♡ – Julianna Margulies’ Morgaine is a Morgan Le Fay with whom you can sympathise.
  • The Pillars of the Earth (TV: 2010-11)  – Great cast and story. You’ll never look at a cathedral the same way again.
  • Romeo and Juliet (Movie: 1968) – This is still the best R&J adaption with beautiful OST.
  • Romeo and Juliet (Movie: 2013) ♡ – This has the best OST and setting.
  • World Without End (2012) ♡ – After watching PotE, I felt that this was not as interesting but still good.

RENAISSANCE & ELIZABETHAN (1400-1600)

  • Dangerous Beauty (Movie: 1998) – A bittersweet love story based on the life of a real courtesan, Veronica Franco, with a happy ending.
  • Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula (TV Movie: 2000) – This is one of my darker favourites simply because I liked the couple, Dracula & Lidia
  • Elizabeth (Movie: 1998) ♡ – I think Cate & Joseph made the best Elizabeth & Robert couple.
  • Elizabeth: Golden Age (Movie: 2007) ♡ – Cate Blanchett makes an excellent Queen Elizabeth.
  • Ever After (Movie: 1998) – One of my favourite versions of Cinderella. The soundtrack is one of my favourites too.
  • The Hollow Crown (TV Miniseries: 2012) ♡ – Best adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays in film.
    •  Richard II
    • Henry IV Pt 1
    • Henry IV Pt 2
    • Henry V
  • The Merchant of Venice (Movie: 2004) ♡
  • La Reine Margot (French Movie: 1994) ♡ – The film is mostly bloody. I liked Isabelle Adjani’s Queen Margot.
  • Shakespeare in Love (Movie: 1998) ♡
  • The Tudors (2006-2009) – The first two series with Natalie Dormer are the best.
  • BBC’s The White Queen (2013) ♡ – This series should have been named The Cousins War instead. As it’s based on Phillipa Gregory’s The Cousins War series, don’t take it as pure history. I liked Aneurin’s portrayal of King Richard III.

BAROQUE (1600-1750)

  • Cyrano de Bergerac (French Movie: 1990) ♥ – The touching story about the big-nosed Cyrano. A must see.
  • Molière (French Movie: 2007) ♡ – Features many scenes from Molière’s works.
  • The New World (2005) ♡ – Story of Pocahontas that’s not Disney.
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Black Pearl (Movie: 2003) – This has to be the best POTC movie.
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest (Movie: 2006) ♥ – Pretty funny too but can’t beat the first one.
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End (Movie: 2007) ♡ – I consider this the end of the first 3-part POTC movie. The next two movies can be considered simply as Captn Jack Sparrow’s separate adventures.
  • The Red Violin (Movie: 1998) ♡ – Follow the journey of a red violin through the Baroque, Georgian, Victorian, Modern eras. Fascinating.
  • Le Roi Danse (French Movie: 2000) ♡ – Watch ballet as it had been during the time of Louis XIV and listen to some beautiful musical sections by Jean-Baptiste Lully.
  • The Three Musketeers (Movie – 1992) – This is the Disney feel-good version of The Three Musketeers. I like happy endings, however inaccurate. 🙂
  • The Triumph of Love (Movie: 2001) ♡ – Basedon Marivaux’s romantic comedy, Le Triomphe de L’Amour. You think you’re watching a movie until they all come out at the very end to bow.

GEORGIAN/REGENCY (1750-1830)

  • Amadeus (Movie: 1984) ♡ – He’s the funniest W.A. Mozart!
  • Amazing Grace (Movie: 2007) ♡ – It’s about the campaign agains slave trade led by William Wilberforce.
  • Aristocrats (TV Miniseries 1999) ♡ – I just remember beautiful 18th C costumes.
  • Belle (Movie: 2014)  – There aren’t many period films on mixed-race people (Princess Kaiulani is the other one) so this was a gift. It is touching, inspiring, and the costumes are gorgeous!
  • The Brothers Grimm (Movie: 2005) – Imagine if the Grimm brothers found themselves in a real fairytale.
  • Casanova (Movie: 2005) ♡ – I think the soundtrack is mostly (if not all) by 18th C composers, which made the film feel more authentic. Great costumes too.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (Movie: 2002) – I’m told this is the happy-ending version of the novel by Alexandre Dumas.
  • The Duchess (Movie: 2008) – One trailer of this movie compared the Duchess of Devonshire to the late Princess of Wales (‘Princess Diana’ to many). That’s one way to view this film.
  • Emma (with Gwyneth Paltrow – Movie: 1996) – Another great OST. I prefer the casting from this movie.
  • Emma (with Romola Garai – 2009) ♥ – This is a much longer Emma but I enjoyed it as much as the 1996 film.
  • Goethe! (German Movie: 2010) ♡ – It’s like watching Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers.
  • Io, Don Giovanni (2009) – Partly operatic.
  • Lost in Austen (TV Miniseries: 2008) – Funniest version of Pride & Prejudice!
  • Miss Austen Regrets (TV Movie 2008) ♡ – I didn’t care for the film but the soundtrack is worth buying!
  • Northanger Abbey (TV Movie: 2007) – This is my favourite adaptation of Northanger Abbey. I liked the chemistry between Felicity Jones and JJ Feild.
  • BBC’s Pride & Prejudice (TV Miniseries: 1995) ♥♡ – Aside from Lizzy and Mr. Darcy and Mr. Collins, I think the casting could have been better…
  • Pride & Prejudice (Movie: 2005) – I was hoping for an ending with a wedding. It was odd without one.
  • Quills (Movie: 2000) ♡ – It’s depressing just to think of how this film ended…
  • A Royal Affair (Danish Movie: 2012)
  • Sense & Sensibility (1995) ♡ – I thought this was well done. I liked Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood.
  • War & Peace (Movie: 1956) – Audrey Hepburn was a great Natasha. I have not seen the other adaptations nor have I read the book yet (I promise I will read it soon though!) so I can’t say more…
  • Wuthering Heights (1992) – This is my favourite adaptation of Wuthering Heights. Julie Binoche plays the mother and daughter!

VICTORIAN (1837-1901)

  • The Age of Innocence (Movie: 1993) ♡ – I remember pretty costumes.
  • Anna Karenina (Vivien Leigh – Movie: 1948) ♥ – Vivien and Kieron make the perfect Anna and Count Vronsky.
  • Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley – Movie: 2012) – Surprisingly, I ended up liking the way this was filmed. The whole story is a play and dance, filled with couture costumes and sparkling diamonds.
  • Around the World in 80 Days (Movie: 2004) ♡ – Jackie Chan was the best part. 🙂
  • Hallmark’s A Christmas Carol: The Musical (TV Movie: 2004)  – A fun way to enjoy A Christmas Carol.
  • The Crown Prince (Austrian TV Movie: 2006) ♡ – I thought the Sisi in this TV Movie was quite odd…
  • Dracula (Movie: 1992)  – A hauntingly beautiful soundtrack and my preferred version of the relationship between Dracula & Mina.
  • Der Ganz Grosse Traum (German Movie: 2011) – Funny movie of how football/soccer came to be introduced to Germany.
  • Geliebte Clara (German Movie: 2008) ♡ – Beautiful piano music. German movie about the talented Clara Schumann.
  • Gold (2013)  ♡ – What the gold rush was like for German immigrants. Pretty depressing.
  • Gone with the Wind (Movie: 1939) – No one can ever play a better Scarlett O’Hara than Vivien Leigh!
  • Great Expectations (TV Miniseries: 2011)   – I think this adaptation was far sadder than the novel, except it has a happy ending which the novel does not.
  • Jane Eyre (TV Movie: 2007) ♡ – I believe this is the happy ending version that I liked.
  • Jane Eyre (Movie: 2011) ♡
  • Hysteria (Movie: 2012) ♡ – This movie was hilarious…and awkwardly so. 😛
  • The Illusionist (Movie: 2006)  – Great soundtrack, fascinating time of the illusionists. I prefer this over The Prestige.
  • Kate & Leopold ♡ – I wish I could meet someone from the past.
  • Klondike (TV Miniseries: 2014) ♡ – At the end of the 3-part series, I concluded that the gold rush was not worth it.
  • Little Women (1933) ♡ – Can’t remember much from this black-and-white movie but Katherine Hepburn was great.
  • Little Women (1949)  – This is my favourite version of Little Women and always makes me cry.
  • Ludwig (1972) ♡ – Truthfully, I only liked the first half of the film with the fictional secret short romance between Ludwig and Sisi, played by Romy Schneider.
  • The Making of a Lady (TV Miniseries: 2012) ♡ – Thank goodness things worked out in the end… I was tense throughout the two-part series!
  • The Mask of Zorro (1998) ♡
  • Moulin Rouge! (Movie: 2001)  – One of my favourite musical films.
  • Murdoch Mysteries (TV Series: 2008-Present)  – The Canadian detective series spanning from the late Victorian era to the Edwardian era. Always entertaining to watch.
  • Nicholas Nickleby (2002) ♡ – Any Dickens story and film adaptation is going to be depressing but some feature happy endings, such as this one.
  • BBC’s The Paradise (TV Series: 2012-Present)  – Shopping during the Victorian era. This series makes you wish you could shop at the Paradise.
  • The Phantom of the Opera (Movie: 2004) ♡ – The singing cast could have been better but it was still good.
  • Princess Ka’iulani (Movie: 2009) ♡ – The mixed and Hawaiian-raised Q’orianka Kilcher was the perfect actress to play Princess Ka’iulani, in my opinion.
  • Ripper Street (2013-Present) ♡ – I haven’t finished S2 but I enjoyed S1.
  • Sisi (TV Movie: 2009)  – If you’re used to the sweet Sisi by Romy Schneider, this version by Cristiana Capotondi portrays a far more depressed Sisi. 🙁
  • Sissi trilogy: I think most of us prefer to remembertheEmpressSisi as the one portrayed by Romy Schneider.
    • Sissi (1955) 
    • Sissi: The Young Empress (Movie: 1956) 
    • Sissi: Fateful Years of an Empress (Movie: 1957) 
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles (TV Miniseries: 2008)  – Well cast and a bittersweet story.
  • Young Victoria (2009)  – Who wouldn’t want a romance like Queen Victoria’s and Prince Albert’s?

EDWARDIAN (1901-1914)

  • Angel (2007)  – I was drawn to Angel’s character, played by Romola Garai.
  • Coco avant Chanel (2009) ♡
  • Downton Abbey S1 (TV Series: 2010) ♡ – Three reasons I found it hard to enjoy DA at first: I did not like Lady Crawley nor Edith nor Mary.
  • Gran Hotel (TV Series: 2013) – Without a doubt, my favourite TV series. I didn’t want it to end. It’s better than Downton Abbey in my opinion (though many will disagree with me).
  • Finding Neverland (Movie: 2004)  – Great soundtrack and cast.
  • A Little Princess (Movie: 1995)  – Very touching and a family classic.
  • ITV’s Mr Selfridge S1 (TV Series: 2013)  – After watching The Paradise, it was hard for me to enjoy the first few episodes of Mr Selfridge but then it gets better. I love the opening video.
  • My Fair Lady (Movie: 1964)  – Delightful to watch Audrey Hepburn switch accents. 😉
  • Peter Pan (Movie: 2003)  – A cute version of Peter Pan.
  • The Secret Garden (Movie: 1997)   – This is my favourite version of The Secret Garden.
  • Titanic (Movie: 1997)  – I started to like this movie much later because I loved the soundtrack and the costumes. Couldn’t care less that Jack died.
  • Titanic: Blood and Steel (TV Series: 2012)  – Learn about what Belfast was like as the Titanic was being built. We know how it ends but we don’t know if our characters survived or not. ;(

The Great War / WWI (1914-1918)

  • Atonement (Movie: 2007)  – Great soundtrack and cast. As good as the book, in my opinion. 🙂
  • Birdsong (TV Miniseries: 2012)  ♡ –  I didn’t realise this was going to have a sad ending.
  • Downton Abbey S2 (TV Series: 2011)  
  • ITV’s Mr Selfridge S2 (TV Series: 2013-Present)  – The change in women’s clothing takes some getting used to but the series is still enjoyable.
  • Out of Africa (Movie: 1985) ♡ – (Clearly I need to watch this again…)
  • Passchendaele (Movie: 2008)  – Canadian movie about the Battle of Passchendaele, inspired by the producer/director/writer’s grandfather’s experiences.
  • A Very Long Engagement (French Movie: 2007) ♡ – At least it was a happy ending. :’)
  • War Horse (Movie: 2011)  – A very touching movie with a majestic horse. It’s in English, French, and German.

1920-30s

  • The Artist (Movie: 2011)  – A very cute black-and-white movie just like the good ol’ days.
  • Brideshead Revisited (2008) ♡ –  I know I need to rematch this because I can’t remember much from it but I liked the friendship between Charles and Sebastian.
  • Downton Abbey S3-4 (TV Series: 2012-Present)  – I loved S3 but S4 is not the same without Sybil or Matthew.
  • Gosford Park (Movie: 2001) ♡ – This is supposed to be the ‘first Downton Abbey’ and features a crime scene.
  • The Great Gatsby (Movie: 2013)  – Many were disappointed how modernised this version of The Great Gatsby was but after seeing it, I can understand why it was done so. It was drawing parallels between the 1920’s and the current decade we live in.
  • Hugo (Movie: 2011)  – Great soundtrack and great cast.
  • King’s Speech (Movie: 2011) ♡ – Colin Firth did a splendid job as King George VI.
  • Midnight in Paris (Movie: 2011) ♡ – I’m not very familiar with the 1920’s but it would be a dream come true if I could time travel!
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (TV Series: 2012-Present)  – This Australian lady detective is very fascinating and will never cease to surprise you. I’m hoping the series will be renewed.
  • Upstairs, Downstairs S1 (TV Miniseries: 2010) – I preferred UD S1 to Downton Abbey S1. I really liked Sir Hallam Holland.

WWII (1939-1946)

  • On Anne Frank: I’m grouping these together because they were both very well done.
  • Bomb Girls (TV Series: 2012-2013)  – WWII from the Canadian perspective, focusing on the women on the home front. Although this series was axed, there’s a TV movie, Bomb Girls – Facing The Enemy, coming out this Spring 2014 on Thursday, 27 March 2014, at 8PM ET/PT in Canada and 26 May 2014 in the US!
  • The Book Thief (Movie: 2013) – A heartbreaking but touching movie. A wonderful performance from the entire cast.
  • Chronicles of Narnia: These movies belong in the Costume Dramas: Fairytales/Fantasy section but they’re included in WWII for the scenes set in that time.
  • Dresden (German TV Movie: 2006)  – This is personally hard for me to rewatch a TV movie about the Dresden Bombing of Feb 1945, knowing that my relatives lived through it.
  • Downfall (German Movie: 2004) ♡ – Gives you a different perspective from someone who used to work as one of Hitler’s secretaries.
  • The Edge of Love (Movie: 2008) – One of my favourite movies with Keira. For the first time, Cillian Murphy plays a romantic character unlike his other characters. Also, Keira has a lovely singing voice.
  • Into The White (Movie: 2011) ♡ – This reminded me a bit of Joyeux Noel but set in WWII. Based on real events. Hopefully the version you’ll see has subtitles for German and Norwegian when the characters aren’t speaking English.
  • The Notebook (Movie: 2004) ♡ – The parts that made me cry were the scenes on ageing and dementia.
  • Return to the Hiding Place (2011) ♡ – Fans of The Hiding Place will enjoy this Christian movie, focusing on the youth resistance. Would have preferred actual Dutch actors speaking in English rather than American actors putting on ‘Dutch’ accents. I’ll give them the credit anyway.
  • Schindler’s List (Movie: 1993)  – I don’t know how anyone can watch this again after the first time. I still bought the DVD.
  • The Sound of Music (Movie: 1956)  – No other movie or TV series should replace this musical movie. It is a classic and should be watched annually.
  • Sunshine (Movie: 1999)  – I find this one harder to watch than Schindler’s List because it is so painful. It covers WWI to after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
  • Waterloo Bridge (Movie: 1940)  -Another tragedy with Vivien Leigh. Also, Waterloo Bridge in London turned out to look nothing like it did in the movie. ;(

Post-War (1946-1970s)

  • The Help (Movie: 2011) ♡ – I enjoyed the movie as much as I enjoyed the book. Not a fan of the 60’s but this is a must see.
  • The Hour (TV Series: 2011-2012)  – This is a must see. It’s a shame BBC had to axe the series. Still hoping for a third!

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