Reviews on Period Dramas in 2013

Period Dramas 2013Good morning everyone!
There were many intriguing and entertaining period dramas that came out last year (2013), all – or most – of which you can find in my Period Dramas 2013 list. The question is, which one should you watch? Here are my thoughts on the 17 period movies and TV series that I’ve seen so far. I’m still catching up on a few others, so you’ll have to check back for the new ones, which I will add to the bottom of the list. 🙂 The current list is listed alphabetically.
  1. 12 Years a Slave (movie) – Drama. Set in 1840-50’s (pre-Civil War) USA. This was the most painful movie to watch. Nothing prepared me for this. My blood was curdling throughout the film. The worst part? Knowing that modern slavery still exists today. Disgusting. (But it’s still a must see. Only… it will haunt you for the rest of your life.) [rating=5]
  2. Blandings (TV) – Comedy. Set in 1929 at Blandings Castle in England. I watched 1 episode and was very confused. I still have the Pig-hoo-ey in my head. The series was renewed for a second series and aired on 16 Feb 2014. [rating=1]
  3. Bomb Girls S2 (TV) – Drama. Set in WWII in Canada. This series is very addictive! Not only does this series focus on the women on the home front, it also deals with homosexuality, racism, POWs, feminism, and class inequality. Sadly, this series was not renewed but there is a Bomb Girls TV movie (Bomb Girls – Facing the Enemy) coming out soon on Thursday, 27 March at 8PM ET/PT in Canada and 26 May 2014 in USA! [rating=5]
  4. The Book Thief (movie) – Drama. Set in a fictional town called Molching in Bavaria, Germany pre- and during WWII. This is perhaps my favourite movie that came out in 2013. It was heartbreaking to watch but beautiful, nevertheless. I highly recommend it and I plan on reading the novel now too! [rating=5]
  5. The Borgias S3 (TV) – Drama. Set in 16th Century Rome. If I had to summarise S3, it would be incest. We had already seen that Lucrezia and Cesare are very close but S3 confirms that their relationship is incestuous. You have to remind yourself that Francois Arnaud and Holliday Grainger are playing siblings. On the other hand, I loved the strength of Caterina Sforza. This series was cancelled after S3, though the ending clearly indicated that a fourth series would be needed. If you are new to The Borgias, I have to warn you about the graphic torture scenes in all three series. Almost as bad as Game of Thrones. [rating=4]
  6. Death Comes to Pemberley (TV) – Drama. Set in Georgian England. This 3-part miniseries is the adaptation to the novel by the same name. It’s the ‘epilogue’ to Pride & Prejudice. I have not read the book yet but the miniseries is cinematically stunning. I don’t think the 2005 P&P movie showed how grand Pemberley really is. Personally didn’t think Mr. and Mrs. Darcy were cast right – the characters are supposed to be much younger. Also, was not happy with the sex scene between our beloved couple. I think it was unnecessary and I prefer to not think of it. [rating=4]
  7. Downton Abbey S4 (TV) – Drama. Set in 1920’s England. So, how did Downton Abbey fare after the death of Matthew Crawley? I feel like Mary got over Matthew fairly quickly though it wouldn’t have been very interesting to see her in mourning throughout the series, I suppose. We also had our first shocking episode. My view on period dramas is that there has to be at least a bit of unpleasant reality to reflect the times. We can’t pretend life was all about pretty costumes and that everyone was friends with one another. It’s awful it had to happen to a beloved character but it’s a reminder that it can happen to anyone, past and present. The Christmas special was thankfully much happier than the one before. [rating=4.5]
  8. Dracula (TV) – Drama. Set in ‘Victorian’ London (though based on the modernised costumes, it seemed more like Edwardian London). I didn’t really care for this version of Dracula but I did like Mina’s character and Dracula’s too (though not his American persona). It was interesting though and the ending clearly hinted that a second series should follow, though I have not heard if it’s been renewed yet. Warning: lots of gore. [rating=3.5]
  9. Gangster Squad (movie) –  Drama. Set in post-war America. Goodness, if I knew how violent this movie could be at times, I wouldn’t have watched it at the cinema. I admit I watched it mostly for Ryan Gosling in his dapper suit and hat. [rating=3]
  10. Generation War (TV) – The film turned out quite differently than I’d expected. The film could have ended with all 4 friends (one of whom is a Jew) dying or all 4 surviving. Of course I would have liked a happy ending but that would not have been realistic. The miniseries had negative reviews because of some controversial storylines (e.g. making the Polish resistance fighters antisemitic) and because the protagonists were anti-war or simply ‘too good’. I would say this film can be an example of some people but certainly can’t speak for all Germans. However, I do have to ask viewers – do people prefer films where the Germans are always bad and the Allies always good? [rating=4]
  11. A Grand Affair (movie) – Drama. Set in pre-WWII Switzerland and Italy. Based on the novel, Belle du Seigneur, about a a Jew working at the League of Nations and his affair with a married aristocrat. Beautiful 1930’s costumes, stunning exterior and interior scenes of historic buildings in Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy, and a pleasant score. Otherwise, I didn’t really understand the complicated affair. I watched it mainly for Jonathan Rhys Meyers. [rating=3]
  12. The Great Gatsby (movie) – Drama. Set in 1920’s NY. I need to defend this movie because so many were disappointed by it and I nearly didn’t want to see it either. It’s not meant to be a costume-accurate period drama. [I think] it’s meant to draw parallels between the 1920’s and the present day. If you can tell yourself that you’re not watching a period drama, maybe you’ll be able to enjoy the movie more. [rating=5]
  13. The Lady Vanishes (TV movie) – Crime. Set in the 1930s in the Balkans and mainly on the train to Trieste. This is the third film remake and the only one out of the three that I’ve seen. If you’ve ever been called delusional even though you know you’re not, you’ll know exactly how the heroine Iris feels. The TV movie had me on my toes from beginning to end! [rating=5]
  14. Lone Ranger (movie) – Drama/Comedy. Set in 1869 Texas (and San Francisco in 1933). I think the movie becomes more interesting and entertaining towards the end. Once again, Johnny Depp was brilliant. [rating=3.5]
  15. Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries S2 (TV) – Drama. Set in 1920’s Australia. Miss Fisher is a funny and clever lady detective. Stylish too. I think all the women want to be her. She’s fearless. I keep hoping that she and Detective Inspector John Robinson will get together, but I’m told it didn’t happen in the books, so we shouldn’t hope for it to happen in the series. What a downer. 🙁 Nevertheless, I’m hoping for a S3 but that will depend on the younger audience and if all goes well, we’ll have to wait until 2015. [rating=5]
  16. Mr Selfridge S1 (TV) – Drama. Set in Edwardian London. This is a shopping period drama, like BBC’s The Paradise. At first, I couldn’t stand Mr Selfridge’s character. He was too loud and ‘careless’ in my opinion. I think I had a hard time accepting him just as some of his employees or acquaintances did. In the meantime, I liked Agnes and I desperately wanted her to be with the Frenchman. The series becomes more interesting towards the end and S2 (2014) is even better! [rating=4.5]
  17. Murdoch Mysteries S6-7 (TV) – Drama. Set in Victorian and Edwardian Toronto. I hope this series will never end. This is Canada’s Sherlock! Like Bomb Girls, Murdoch Mysteries tackles many issues that most period dramas would ignore: racism, gender inequality, homosexuality, etc. Also have to love Constable George Crabtree for the comic relief, especially in tense episodes. [rating=5]
  18. The Paradise S2 (TV) –  Drama. Set in Victorian England. This shopping period drama’s department store is far more enchanting than Mr Selfridge’s glamourous department store. Denise and John Moray finally are together (engaged) but they must survive The Paradise in the hands of Katherine Glendenning’s ex-soldier husband. S2 focuses more on Denise becoming more and more independent. Shame the series was axed by BBC. I blame it on bad timing – having Mr Selfridge and The Paradise debut around the same time. :/ [rating=4.5]
  19. Peaky Blinders S1 (TV) – I started this series because of Cillian Murphy. It can be rather brutal to watch so I try to fast forward scenes that look too violent. There’s a love story and the ending leaves you craving for more! [rating=4.5]
  20. A Promise (Movie) – Drama. Set in early 20th Century Germany. I watched this mainly for Rebecca Hall and Richard Madden and while I didn’t entirely dislike it, I found the zooming in in almost every screen shot quite annoying. Otherwise, I found it alright. [rating=3.5]
  21. Reign (TV) – Drama. Set in 16th C France. Yes, I knew this was for teenagers. I didn’t realise how historically inaccurate – plot and costumes – this series would be until I watched the first episode. This is not about Mary, Queen of Scots… at all! I don’t even know if I watched the end of that episode, actually. That’s how disappointed and uninterested I was. Now, if you don’t know the history or if you can separate fact from fiction, then maybe you’d enjoy the series, as some of my friends did. [rating=0]
  22. Ripper Street S2 (TV) – Drama. Set in Victorian London. Based on the first episode so far, I didn’t find S2 as good as S1. For one, anytime a film introduces foreign characters, particularly Chinese-speakers, it’s always rather confusing or funny. I found the Chinese-speakers to be switching between Mandarin and Cantonese (the latter is foreign to me). It’s confusing because I’m not sure where the characters are supposed to be from or why they’re speaking different languages. (Updated: The rest of the series was depressing.)
  23. Romeo and Juliet (Movie) – Drama. Set in Renaissance Verona. The only disappointing part of this film was that it does not use Shakespeare’s traditional dialogue. Threw me off. Otherwise, the costumes and sets are stunning. The characters were well cast (though I think Juliet’s and Romeo’s mothers should have been younger). The score was the best part, expressing the emotions where the dialogue failed. That’s why I cried. Music moved me to tears. [rating=4]
  24. Saving Mr. Banks (Movie) – I confess I’ve never read Mary Poppins (just watched the Disney movie) but I did read about the author after the movie. I felt both sorry for her and yet not (the film doesn’t mention her adoption of a twin boy, who was separated from his twin brother). I cried during the closing scene. [rating=4]
  25. Spies of Warsaw (TV) – My only comment is that I hate it when films end a film without some sort of conclusion. Granted, there was an epilogue but I wouldn’t have minded an extra however many minutes it would have needed to conclude the scene. [rating=3]
  26. Velvet S1 – I’ve just started this new Spanish series, which seems like Spain’s Mr Selfridge set in the 1950’s. I still prefer Gran Hotel, Spain’s Downton Abbey, but I must say, Velvet is not bad! Already, however, I’m bracing myself for a heartbreak.
  27. The White Queen (TV) – Drama. Set in Medieval England. Viewers must be warned that this is based on Philippa Gregory’s The Cousins’ War series. In fact, I think the trilogy title would have suited the series. I thought that there would be a TV series for each novel, only to find out later that all three novels (except for The White Princess) were combined into one series. It was well cast but the series covered far too many years in 10 episodes. King Edward IV and Katherine Woodville didn’t age until much later and still looked younger than characters who were younger than they. Seemed strange to me. I wasn’t entirely hooked on the series until episode 5 or 6. I’m a RichAnne fan. [rating=4]

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