“We solve crimes, I blog about it, and he forgets his pants.”

Season Two

A Scandal in Belgravia picks up right where The Great Game left off, in the pool, with Sherlock pointing a gun at a collection of bombs. Then Staying Alive echoes through the room from Moriarty’s phone. He asks to take the call and starts congenial, then becomes angry at what the mysterious caller is telling him; “and know that if you are lying, I will skin you,” he drags out. Turns out for Sherlock and John, “Sorry, wrong day to die,” but warns them he will be in touch. On his way out, still on the phone, he tells his friend, if they’re right, they will be rich, and if they’re wrong, they will become shoes. We see a woman end the call, then ask another mysterious person, “Have you been wicked, your highness?”

John’s blogs bring in clients, advancing the duo, particularly Sherlock, to the status of Internet phenomenon. The press start showing up at crime scenes and Sherlock has to don the infamous deerstalker hat to hide his face. Sherlock attempts to solve a case from home, wrapped in a sheet, while John does the legwork on location. Then they’re both taken to Buckingham Palace. And…Sherlock still can’t bother to put on pants. Mycroft comes in to tell Sherlock he has a new case, but the client must remain anonymous. Sherlock refuses at first, even threatening to walk away while Mycroft holds the sheet (there’s a hilarious blooper of Benedict falling over in one take). He does take the case; the royal family is being threatened with scandal due to a dominatrix, Irene Adler holding compromising photos on her phone. This is the woman from the start of the episode. Irene receives photos of Sherlock and prepares for his arrival while Sherlock prepares to meet her. He has John punch him in the face (which John always hears when Sherlock is speaking, “but it’s usually subtext”) so he’ll appear suitably distraught to gain entrance to Irene’s residence.

Irene shocks Sherlock by entering the room stark naked. He stumbles a bit and can’t read her like he normally does. She further turns the table and asks Sherlock about his latest case; “brainy is the new sexy” (I totally agree). She eventually dons Sherlock’s coat to make John more comfortable, but they’re ploy to find the phone is interrupted by American CIA agents. They threaten John to make Sherlock open the case (the combination is Irene’s measurements) and with a hint from Irene, Sherlock warns his sidekick “Vatican cameos!” so they all duck as a gun takes out their opponents. Sherlock almost gets away with the phone, but Irene drugs him and escapes. She does return the coat while Sherlock sleeps (and reveals the solution to the case, where a backfiring car covers up a boomerang accidentally killing its owner), and also has now programmed his phone to moan sensually whenever she texts. Which hilariously interrupts Sherlock telling Mycroft off for yelling at Mrs. Hudson to shut up.

This transitions into a Christmas party at Baker Street. Sherlock actually apologizes when he embarrasses Molly Hooper, then his mood turns when he discovers that Irene Adler has left her phone, her insurance policy, for him. He warns Mycroft that they will find the woman dead that evening. He and Mycroft identify the body later that evening. Mycroft even offers Sherlock a cigarette which signals that Sherlock is suffering emotional pain. Sherlock tries to unlock Irene’s phone, but only has four attempts and discovers that if the case is forced, measures are in place to destroy the information. John is picked up while he’s out; he assumes it’s Mycroft again, but really it’s Irene. She’s not dead and she needs her phone back. And…Sherlock is listening. he’s in a bit of a daze as he makes his way back to Baker Street, but then he’s frighteningly focused when he discovers that Mrs. Hudson is in danger. The CIA agents are back. The leader is taken away in an ambulance, after falling out the window, several times. Sherlock declares England would fall is Mrs. Hudson ever left Baker Street.

sherlock and irene

Then he discovers Irene in his bedroom. She has a case for Sherlock. She has an important e-mail she got a hold of that needs decoding. Sherlock manages to crack it in less than a minute. Irene is impressed: “I would have you right here on this desk until you begged for mercy, twice.” Sadly, if we recall, she’s in the league with Moriarty and sends damaging information out. Moriarty contacts Mycroft and Sherlock has just set back a joint operation that could lead to a dangerous group, just to impress a woman. Irene attempts to blackmail Mycroft into her demands, but Sherlock has finally figured out her code to unlock her phone: I AM SHERLOCKED.

This puts Irene in danger. Mycroft visits John later so the man can inform his flatmate that the woman is in witness protection when really she’s dead. However…when we see her send her final text, a phone moans nearby. Sherlock is on hand to save her.

Hounds of Baskerville brings a familiar BBC face to play, Russell Tovey has appeared in Doctor Who and plays George the werewolf in Being Human (I only watched that show because Aidan Turner [Poldark, Kili from the Hobbit, and ironically Luke the werewolf from The Mortal Instruments movie] played Mitchell the vampire). One of the bar owners was Little John in BBC’s Robin Hood series as well. In this episode Russell is the client Henry Knight who witnessed his father murdered as a boy on the moors outside the Baskerville Army installation. He believes he saw a gigantic hound with red eyes tear his father apart. Sherlock is desperate for a case (so desperate, he begs for drugs) and almost doesn’t take it, until Henry specifically says, “it was a gigantic hound.” Hound is a more archaic term, why does he use it?

We get some gorgeous shots of Dartmoor. The consulting detective and his blogger sneak onto the base using Mycroft’s keycard and find a connection to an e-mail a child sent; her mother works for Baskerville, which explains the glowing bunny that shortly afterwards disappeared. So there is something strange going on at Baskerville. Sherlock convinces Henry to take them to Dewer’s Hollow (where the devil supposedly pops up). It’s foggy, they hear rustling. Then Sherlock sees a hound. He denies it to Henry, but John finds him later freaking out. “Once you rule out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be true.” John in turns call Sherlock “Spock” (There is Star Trek trivia that in the fourth movie [not the new ones], Spock quotes that line, claiming one of his ancestors said it, thus connecting Sherlock Holmes and Spock. NuSpock also quotes this line). Sherlock insults John, who goes for a walk.

Come morning, Sherlock apologizes in the way that he does. And another familiar face for him, Lestrade has come, on orders from Mycroft. John muses that it helps with Sherlock’s Asperger’s (I have no way of knowing one way or another if that is a true statement). Sherlock sends John to search the labs and freaks his friend out. Then discovers that the sugar he thought contained the drug does not. He must consult his Mind Palace. Henry had started to remember two words associated with the night his father was killed, “Liberty, In.” Sherlock also realizes that “hound” may actually be an acronym. It is. There was a CIA project years ago codenamed “H.O.U.N.D.” that took place in Liberty, Indiana. It was supposed to be part of chemical warfare and drive the enemy to terror and fear. But it adversely affected the subject and the project was scrapped. But a doctor from that time has started it up again.

Henry, with a gun because he’s starting to see the hound at his place, heads to the Hollow. Sherlock, Lestrade, and John race after him and run into his old family friend, Doctor Franklin, who has worked on the American project. Turns out, what young Henry had seen was Doctor Franklin wearing a gas mask and killing his father. The drug is aerosol form and is hidden in the fog of the hollow. Oh, and there is an actual dog; the pub owners had one that they hoped to capitalize on the tourist craze, but it grew too wild. They claimed to have had it put down; no, they just let it loose in the hollow to terrorize people. Franklin runs to escape prison…into a minefield.

At the very end, Mycroft lets Jim Moriarty leave interrogation, after having written “Sherlock” around his cell.

This leads right into The Reichenbach Fall. Sherlock’s popularity is on the rise, not that he really cares. He’s started solving high profile cases, even receiving the insufferable deerstalker hat as a gag gift from Scotland Yard. Then Moriarty simultaneously breaks into the three most secure places in London, including the Crown Jewels. He goes on trial and Sherlock is called in as a witness. In the loo beforehand, he’s cornered by a “fan,” actually a journalist who wants “the real story” on Sherlock Holmes. He dismisses her. Sherlock deduces afterwards, that Moriarty wanted caught. And he manages to be found not guilty. Jim visits Sherlock at Baker Street and informs his nemesis that the final problem is approaching. Every fairytale needs its villain. Sherlock needs Jim. Mycroft warns John briefly of an upcoming exposé on Sherlock, but more concerning is four assassins moving in nearby.

There is a kidnapping case. Sherlock solves it. But when he goes to visit the girl, she screams at the sight of him. Donovan, alongside Anderson, who have never liked Sherlock, start to believe that he staged the whole thing, just so he could solve it. John knows Sherlock is not a fraud, but Lestrade gets in trouble from his superior and has to come arrest Sherlock. John is offended by the superior and punches him, Sherlock uses it as an opportunity for the two of them to escape. Sherlock tracks down the journalist, who startlingly has a clear history of Sherlock’s childhood and a mysterious source, Jim Moriarty, who claims to be an actor named Richard Brook that Sherlock hired to play his nemesis. I hate this part; I dislike this woman. She got turned down by Sherlock but is so desperate to prove her career that she eagerly laps up a story to explain that he’s an ordinary man. As Sherlock tells John, it’s a lie wrapped up in a truth, so people will believe it.

Sherlock retreats to St. Bart’s and quietly enlists Molly Hooper’s help. She is a kind hearted person and has offered to Sherlock, even after he’s mean to her, that if he ever needs help, she’s there. He trusts her and tells her, she has always counted. “I think I’m going to die,” he tells her. “What do you need?” she simply asks. “You.”

John races off to Baker Street, thinking Mrs. Hudson is in trouble. But she’s fine (aside from an assassin is standing next to her). John then races back to St. Bart’s figuring that Sherlock is planning to face Moriarty alone. The opposing players meet on the roof. Staying Alive plays again and the final problem is that Moriarty has grown bored of Sherlock. Claims he’s ordinary; he’s beaten him. Sherlock retorts to the criminal, “Oh, I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them” [and he sounds so much like Kahn at that moment.] There was no magic key. He paid off guards, just like he blackmailed the jury. And now, to end his story, Sherlock must die. Sherlock must commit suicide; if he doesn’t, three gunmen are set up to kill John Watson, Greg Lestrade, and Mrs. Hudson. Sherlock thinks for a minute he would be able to get the information out of Moriarty, he figured out that in German, Richard Brook translates to Reichenbach, Sherlock’s fame-making case and he can prove that Jim created a falsesherlock call identity, but the insane man shoots himself in the head. Now Sherlock has no choice. John has arrived on scene; Sherlock makes him stay back. John calls his phone. Sherlock claims he has lied to John the whole time; John does not believe him. Sherlock jumps. John rushes to him, but is first hit by a bicyclist, and then the people won’t let him near Sherlock.

I still tear up at the end when John begs Sherlock for one more miracle, “just, don’t be dead.” John tells Sherlock’s tombstone that he was the best man, the most human person he had ever known and he will never believe that Sherlock was lying. He owes Sherlock so much. The camera follows John as he leaves the cemetery and pans to Sherlock watching.

I enjoy this season more than the first. I like the hour and a half long episodes because it allows the writers time to fully develop a story and delve into nuances.  There’s humor and action mixed in with the mystery and drama.  Sherlock still shows us that he is human and experiences human emotions, as much as he may deny them.  He trusts Molly more than John at the end to help him pull off his suicide.  He recognizes on his own that he hurt John’s feelings at Baskerville.  I wish we had a more satisfying end to Moriarty, and more public, after what he put Sherlock through.  And as Season Two ends, I desperately want to start watching Season Three.

Next Time: Season Three

“Because Sherlock Holmes is a great man, and I think one day, if we’re very, very lucky, he may even be a good one.”

Sherlock – Season One

One of BBC’s incredibly popular shows, despite the fact that there are only three episodes per season and we’ve only had four seasons and one movie in seven years. Made Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman household names (they would team up again as the dragon Smaug, and titular hobbit, Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, and as already stated, both appear in the MCU. We’ve seen Benedict briefly in The Other Boleyn Girl and Amazing Grace.) We have become “The Fandom that Waited.” Oh, there’s lots to discuss about the fandom and theories…we’ll cover that in the last post. Created by Mark Gatiss (who also plays Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft and has appeared in Doctor Who and written a few episodes) and Steven Moffat (an integral writer to Doctor Who since 2005), both of whom are professed Sherlock Holmes fanboys. It’s BBC, so many actors pop up in the show who have been on others.

In A Study in Pink, we’re first introduced to John Watson, a war veteran attending a session with his psychologist, who suggests he keep a blog describing his day. John (they go by first names in this rendition since it’s modern times, compared to Victorian when it was more common to be referred to by surnames) comments, “nothing happens to me.” Going on at the same time, Scotland Yard is investigating a string of suicides that are connected, but they’re unsure how, since they’re suicides. Detective Inspector Lestrade heads the case and gets texts during a press conference, the last one saying “you know where to find me. SH.” John runs into an old friend, who remarks who knows someone else in need of a flatmate. Then we’re introduced to Molly Hooper, who plainly has a crush on Sherlock and does favors for him in the mortuary, like, letting him whip a corpse for a science experiment. Stamford brings about John to meet Sherlock, Sherlock easily deduces John’s purpose, and finally introduces himself on camera: “the name is Sherlock Holms and the address is 221B Backer Street.”

sherlock intro

John follows Sherlock on his case, telling his potential flatmate that yes, he would like to see more trouble. “The game, Mrs. Hudson, is on!” Sherlock pronounces as they sweep out of the flat. We discover that most of the police force dislike Sherlock, some even calling him a freak to his face. One officer, Donovan, warns John that Sherlock is a psychopath and one day, the body they discover will have been put there by Sherlock. Sherlock has already raced off for more clues and John starts to make his way back to the center of town, though pay phones keep ringing as he goes by. He eventually answers and is picked up by a car and meets a mysterious man, well dressed in a suit and carrying an umbrella. The man claims to be Sherlock’s arch enemy, the closest thing a man like Sherlock has to friends. He worries about him and offers to pay John to pass along information. The man deduces that John is not traumatized by the war, like his psychologist suggests; he misses it. His hand does not shake when in stressful situations. John receives a text from Sherlock: “come at once if convenient, if inconvenient, come all the same. Could be dangerous.” John turns down the offer and gets dropped off at 221B.

Sherlock has found the missing pink suitcase so he can carry on with the case; there is also an absolutely hilarious conversation between the two men on dating. John asserts he is not gay and the subject doesn’t seem to interest Sherlock (oh boy, fans play around with this a lot). They do grab some dinner (well, not really. Sherlock doesn’t eat and they’re off chasing a cab before John can eat. He does leave his cane) and ultimately arrive back at Baker Street to find a drugs’ bust going on in their flat, conducted by Lestrade. Lestrade needs Sherlock to cooperate (and we, along with John, find out that Sherlock may have illicit drugs in his possession, though he seems to use cases as a way to get high instead). Sherlock corrects Anderson of forensics “I am not a psychopath, Anderson, I’m a high-functioning sociopath, do your research.” Then later yells at Anderson while he’s trying to unlock clues: “Anderson, don’t talk out loud, you lower the IQ of the whole street,” and tells everyone to shut up and has Anderson turn his back. He silently leaves with a waiting cabbie, who is apparently the serial killer. John tracks him but ends up in the building next to where Sherlock is engaged with the killer. The killer simply gives what he considers a 50-50 chance to his victims, two bottles, with identical pills, they just have to figure out if he’s placed the good or bad bottle in front of them. Sherlock is ready to play the game, particularly intrigued when the killer mentions he has a sponsor who is very interested in Sherlock. He pries a name out of the man after John shoots him: Moriarty.

The wrap-up is a bit funny, the police keep putting a shock blanket on Sherlock and he starts to rattle off his deductions on who shot the serial killer, until he realizes it was John. Then he tells Lestrade to ignore everything he’s just said, “I’m in shock, look, I’ve got a blanket.” Sherlock meets up with his new flatmate and thanks him. They giggle a bit, which they really shouldn’t do, but are stopped by the well dressed man John met earlier. Nope, not Moriarty like we might have first guessed, it’s his elder brother, Mycroft. He really does worry about his brother. He remarks to his P.A. that John Watson could be the making of his brother, or make him worse.

The second episode, Blind Banker manages to tie a Chinese crime syndicate to mysterious graffiti in an international bank and the murder of a stock tradesman. Turns out the tradesman, along with a journalist and I’m sure many others, acted as couriers to smuggle stolen artifacts out of China to sell at auction for huge profit. All involved with the Black Lotus syndicate are tattooed on the bottom of their foot and communicate with an ancient Chinese cipher involving a book, which turned out to be London A to Z. John and Sherlock get some help from a young woman who works at the museum. John starts to see a young woman when he gets a side job as a physician; Sherlock tags along on their date to the Chinese circus, which acts as a cover for the syndicate. John’s girlfriend, Sarah, is kidnapped alongside John because he was mistaken for Sherlock (he had been mocking his friend earlier and was overheard). Sherlock rescues them, though the leader gets away. Not for long; she’s tied into the organization with Moriarty.

In The Great Game, Sherlock is given a series of cases to solve, with an innocent life at stake with each one. It’s all kicked off with a bombing across the street from 221B. And Mycroft needs a case solved involving missile plans. When Lestrade calls Sherlock in, he remarks “I’d be lost without my blogger,” and encourages John to come. The first case calls upon the pink phone from their first case (John’s blog is more highly read than they realized) and has pictures from the other flat at 221 Baker and shoes from the first case Sherlock tried to solve. He ultimately solves the case so a innocent person won’t be blown up.

The second case involves a bloody car and ultimately a cover-up for someone to disappear. The third case is about a celebrity’s death. Sadly, the old woman who was the in-between for Sherlock and the mastermind is killed; she was blind and wouldn’t be able to read a text and so she started to describe the mystery man’s voice and was killed in an explosion. John works Mycroft’s case while Sherlock is busy. The fourth case involves a new painting that a gallery has procured which is actually a fake. It’s down to the wire and a kid’s life is on the line before Sherlock realizes the painting included an astrological event that hadn’t occurred at that time.

sherlock meets jim

There’s still one case left: Mycroft’s. The brother to the fiancé of the man who was killed did it on accident and hoped to cover it up. Sherlock intends to meet the bomber at a local pool; then John steps out. He’s wired up and there’s a sniper to keep things on track. (Sherlock dear, please do not scratch your head while holding a loaded gun!) Then Molly’s boyfriend Jim, whom Sherlock commented was gay, steps out. His surname is Moriarty and he’s a specialist, just like Sherlock. While Sherlock is a consulting detective, Moriarty is a consulting criminal. And he doesn’t want to kill Sherlock yet, that wouldn’t be fun. He’s saving that for something special. No, if Sherlock doesn’t stop prying, Jim will “burn you. I will burn the heart out of you.” Jim strolls off. “Catch you later,” Sherlock says in farewell. “No you won’t!” Jim calls back. But Jim does come back, “I’m so changeable,” it’s his only weakness. He cannot let Sherlock and John live. Red sniper dots hover on Sherlock and John and Sherlock aims at the bomb vest as the music crescendos, Sherlock and Jim face off, building tension…and…black. Cliff hanger!

The acting is superb in this show. At the end, oh, we hate Moriarty, but we want to know what he does next…the cliffhanger only encourages us more. He’s all laid back and la-la-la, then shouts “that’s what people do!” when Sherlock mentions people have died as a result of the game Jim Moriarty has played with Sherlock.

While Sherlock flaps about showing off his intelligence and spouting that he is a sociopath and doesn’t have friends, he clearly has come to care quickly for John Watson. There’s a brief look of horror on his face when it’s John who steps out at the pool. For a moment, we and Sherlock wonder, was John only playing at being Sherlock’s friend? Was it all a set up? And then, Sherlock is anxious to get the bomb vest off his friend and save his life. He calls John an idiot only so much that everyone who is not Sherlock is an idiot. Yes, he doesn’t understand all the social niceties, but we still want to see him succeed. He comments to Jim at the pool, “I have been reliably informed that I don’t have one [a heart].” “Oh, we both know that’s not true,” Jim replies.

John is the audience, quite impressed by Sherlock and willing to take him under his wing and try to acclimatize him to proper society, because he finds the cases thrilling as well. He’s only just met the strange man, but refuses to take bribe money to spy on him. (Of course, Sherlock remarks that John should have accepted the offer and they could have split the money; because Sherlock knows it’s Mycroft.)

Personally, I highly recommend the show. I like the inclusion of modern technology to keep with the times. It makes me think, because I’m trying to solve the case and the twist, but I also know that Sherlock will solve it in the end.

Next Time: Season Two

There’s a Fish…For Some Reason

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

The sequel to the previous movie (and there is news of a third movie in the works) bringing back Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams (briefly). Stephen Fry (veteran British TV actor and he pops up in The Hobbit trilogy) joins the cast as Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft. Jared Harris (Hodge in The Mortal Instruments movie, the father in Pompeii, and King George VI in The Crown) plays the conniving Professor James Moriarty. The soundtrack is once again entertaining.

The film opens with Watson typing, informing us that it is 1891 and the world is on the brink of war. Bombs have been set off in big cities and countries blame each other. Sherlock meets up with Irene once again, attempting to intercept a package. He warns her of men following her, turns out, they’re her escort. Sherlock beats off the four of them and races after Irene. She’s delivering the package during an auction and receives a note in return. Sherlock manages to stop the bomb from taking out its target, but Irene gets away. The victim is ultimately killed and Sherlock is on his next case. Sadly, Irene misses her dinner date, due to having lunch with Moriarty (whom Sherlock refers to as the Napoleon of crime…[I thought that was Macavity…we’ll get to that with the musical Cats down the road]). He chides her for succumbing to her feelings for Holmes and poisons her with a form of tuberculosis. We witness her pass out.

Watson visits Sherlock and discovers his map work of crimes tied to Moriarty, a shadowy game of cat and mouse. But before he can delve too deeply into the madness of Sherlock’s mind, they have plans for the evening, Watson’s stag party. He’s getting married in the morning and Sherlock Holmes is his best man. Sherlock uses it as an opportunity to work more on his case, so Watson goes off to the gambling tables. Congress Reel plays as Sherlock fights off a Cossack from killing a gypsy, whose brother is involved in Moriarty’s scheme. The gypsy, Sims, helps in fact; I always like it when they let a woman fight her own battles. Both Watson and Sherlock are worse for wear when they arrive for Watson’s wedding, but it goes off without a hitch. At the end, Sherlock is called to meet Moriarty. The mathematics professor reveals that Irene Adler is indeed dead, giving Sherlock her bloody handkerchief. And the only reason Moriarty has left Sherlock live so long is professional respect. And Moriarty intends to go after Watson, even though he no longer works with Sherlock.

Which means that Sherlock has to crash the newlyweds’ honeymoon. He gets Mary off the train (don’t worry, Mycroft picks her up) and he and Watson take care of the regiment of soldiers….It’s rather entertaining. Sherlock is in a dress. Then they’re off to Paris, to meet up with Sims. They try to ruin Moriarty’s plans at Don Giovanni, but that was a decoy from the bombing that covers up an assassination. (To the Opera is my favorite track on the soundtrack, because I don’t mind a little opera music in my life.) Watson and Sherlock deduce that Sebastian Moran is working for Moriarty (the middle man we keep seeing); an expert shot and once served with Watson. The mastermind’s plan is ramping up and next stop is Germany, which they have to sneak across the border. A moment of humor; Sherlock dislikes horses: they’re a danger at either end and crafty in the middle. Why would he want something with a mind of its own between his legs? (That could be taken another way…both movies are full of innuendos).

gos hookIn Germany, Sherlock is captured and interrogated by Moriarty, which involves having a large fish hook stabbed into his shoulder, raised up, and Moriarty spins him about. The Napoleon of crime broadcasts Sherlock’s screams over a loud speaker. Watson faces off against Moran, ultimately using a bigger gun: “Come at once if convenient, if inconvenient, come all the same.” They meet back up with their gypsy friends and make a run for a train involving some excellent use of slow-motion. Once safe, Sherlock stops breathing. Watson thinks to use his wedding gift, a vial of adrenaline. They then meet up with Mycroft at the peace summit in Reichenbach, Switzerland. Morarity’s plan is to create a world war now that he has ties to everything from bullets to bandages. The final push will be an assassination of an ambassador at the peace meeting.

Sherlock leaves Watson and Sims to deduce which ambassador, determining that her brother’s face was changed surgically and he’ll take the fall. The genius moves Moriarty outside to play chess. He reveals he got Moriarty’s little red notebook which tracks all of his fortune and has sent it safely to Mary Watson and Scotland Yard. The two brilliant men are about to face off, each planning out their opponents moves and counter-moves, when Sherlock realizes that with his injury, his demise is inevitable, but he can take Moriarty out with him. Watson and Sims stop the assassination and Watson opens the door just as Sherlock pushes off.

Watson ends with Sherlock’s funeral. Mary checks on his progress and reminds him they need t leave soon for their second attempt at a honeymoon. But there’s a package first. Inside is Mycroft Holmes’ oxygen supply, which Sherlock had been toying with. When Watson runs out of the room, Sherlock reveals himself to have been catalogued as his armchair. Is this truly “The End?”

I enjoyed seeing Sherlock face Moriarty; they were well matched. Sherlock deserves, or requires a brilliant opponent, or else life is dull…and then he causes problems for Watson. The criminal mastermind did have a point; this is very similar to how the first World War began: tensions between nations rising before as assassination kicks it off. Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. once again play well off of each other, Watson always being right where Sherlock needs him. A good sequel, an equal to the first.

Up Next: BBC’s Sherlock

Discombobulate

Sherlock Holmes

One of the most famous literary characters ever created. I am once again a horrible English major and have not read the tales. They’re sitting on my bookcase; I’ll get to them…eventually. There have been many incarnations of Sherlock and his faithful sidekick Watson throughout the years. Basil Rathbone from the Golden Age of Hollywood is iconic. Christopher Lee was involved as well. Peter Cushing (Grand Moff Tarkin from the original Star Wars), Christopher Plummer, John Cleese, Ian McKellen, and of course, BBC’s smash hit Sherlock made starts out of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. And I love that show, though along with new fans everywhere I was confused when the episodes ran long and at the end of the third one; “where’s the rest of the season?”

This iteration features Robert Downey Jr (this movie came out a year after the first Iron Man) as Sherlock Holmes, Jude Law (now part of the MCU with a role in Captain Marvel, he’s also recently portrayed a younger Albus Dumbledore in Grimes of Grindewald [which I still have not seen], and I adore him in The Holiday) is his partner John Watson. Irene Adler, “the woman” is played by Rachel McAdams (again, now part of the MCU as Christine from Doctor Strange [made even more ironic since Strange is played by Cumberbatch, she has now starred opposite two Sherlock’s. Oh, there are a bunch of fans who want the line “No shit, Sherlock,” to show up and Downey and Cumberbatch just look at each other], also famous from Mean Girls and The Notebook [that movie will not appear in this blog]). Mark Strong (we just saw him in Young Victoria, and know him from Robin Hood) made his mark as Lord Henry Blackwood, accompanied by Hans Matheson (Mordred in Mists of Avalon and Thomas Cranmer in The Tudors) as Lord Coward. And if the palm reader looks familiar, she was Isolde’s maid in Tristan and Isolde. The soundtrack is composed by Hans Zimmer.

We jump right into the middle of a case. Sherlock enters first and begins taking down the guards. I like how this movie frames some of his analytical thoughts, when he imagines how an opponent will react and plans his own defense. He finds a man practicing dark arts, ready to sacrifice a woman on an altar. Watson joins Sherlock and they capture their adversary, Lord Blackwood. Quick time jump, we’re at 221 Baker Street where Watson is preparing to move once he marries. First, he has to rescue his roommate from his own mind; Sherlock’s mind rebels at stagnation, he requires work. Taking down Blackwood was their last case, but they’ll attend his hanging together. Watson wants Sherlock to meet Mary.

Dinner…could have gone better. Mary insists that Sherlock make deductions about her, even though he and Watson protest at first. Sherlock, concerned for his friend, deduces that Mary has been engaged before, but assumes that she broke the engagement for better prospects. Actually, the man died, and Watson was aware. Sherlock finds his way to a boxing match (Rocky Road to Dublin is played underneath) and expertly takes his opponent down, despite a brief distraction from a woman. Come morning, Sherlock is Blackwood’s last request. Blackwood warns Sherlock there will be more deaths. The criminal is hung and Watson pronounces him dead.

rdj sherlock

Back at Baker Street, Sherlock has a visitor, Irene Adler. She has a case for Sherlock. When she leaves, Sherlock demonstrates he is a master of disguise and follows her, glimpsing her mysterious employer. His day is ruined when word arrives that Lord Blackwood has risen from the dead. Watson accompanies him, just until he has to meet Mary’s parents, and find a ring. Buried in Blackwood’s coffin is the man that Irene is looking for, which leads them to a lab that combines sorcery and science. A few thugs show up to tie up loose ends and there is a smashing fight between Watson, Sherlock, and the three men (one of whom is large). This carries on to a shipyard and results in a partially completed ship sailing into the water and promptly sinking. Watson and Sherlock are arrested.

They bicker like a married couple. “Get that out of my face.” “It’s not in your face, it’s in my hand.” “Get what’s in your hand out of my face.” Mary kindly bails Watson out. Sherlock has to wait until Lestrade comes with orders from friends in high places. They blindfold Sherlock, but that doesn’t prevent him from deducing where he is and who he is dealing with. They are a secret society with the intention to steer the world to their liking. Blackwood has grown too powerful and is a threat. Sherlock will stop him, but not for the society and not for a price.

Sherlock tries to warn Irene about the dangerous man she is now dealing with, but she drugs the wine. A bit hilarious later when a maid enters the room to find a naked Sherlock (modesty covered by a pillow) handcuffed to the bed. There has been another death, Blackwood’s father in his bathtub. Sherlock discovers a secret room. At a meeting of the secret order, another member dies, who opposes Blackwood. This leads him, and Watson, to a factory where they find and rescue Irene, only to be caught in an explosion, Watson more so than Sherlock. A friend on the police force finds Sherlock and warns him that there is a warrant out for his arrest, and assures him Watson is still alive. Sherlock briefly visits his friend, in disguise, and is encouraged by Mary to find the man responsible, Watson would say it’s worth the wounds.

Irene tries to leave her employment, but the professor will not allow it. She was supposed to manipulate Sherlock’s feelings for her, not succumb to them herself. He wants what Blackwood is working on. Sherlock descends down the rabbit hole (reference to Alice in Wonderland) and deciphers Blackwood’s spell. Then fills is in to Irene and Watson the next morning. It involves the sphinx and the four elements. Sherlock sends his two companions away so he can be arrested by Lestrade so he can see Lord Coward. The final puzzle piece fall into place and the trio prevent Blackwood from unleashing a chemical weapon upon Parliament. Irene gets away with the radio control feature and Sherlock faces off against Blackwood on the Tower Bridge, which is under construction. Blackwood does hang this time, permanently.

Mary and Watson stop by for a visit, Mary sporting a large engagement ring; a present from Sherlock, featuring a stone Irene stole. And Sherlock is on to a new case, involving Professor Moriarty.

This was my first true exposure to Sherlock Holmes and I was hesitant going in to it. But I love it. Robert Downey Jr. (this was also one of the first roles I watched him in, I didn’t get into Iron Man until afterwards) is excellent; the fight scenes are superb. Watson is serious and suffering. Sherlock is quirky and eccentric; Jude Law and Robert play off each other well. The music almost has a steampunk vibe to it, with the persistent tempo underneath and making use of some rather unconventional instruments. The story line keeps me intrigued. Overall, a very good film.

Next Time: A Game of Shadows

Before the Jubilee

Young Victoria

This was the movie that got me interested in Queen Victoria, one of the most famous British monarchs. We tend to remember her as the widow who dressed in black and was supposedly “not amused.” This film shows the start of her reign and the start of her marriage to Prince Albert Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Their story is told more fully in the British serial Victoria and Albert, which features Victoria Hamilton as the queen. Hamilton has recently played the Queen Mother in Netflix’s The Crown. Masterpiece has also begun a series on Victoria, starring Jenna Coleman (and others who are very recognizable from BBC, including our old friend Rufus Sewell as Melbourne). Victoria’s reign brought the monarchy to be viewed with respect and an essential British institution, “the queen had become a proud symbol of the stability and power of Britain…the greatest empire known to history (Royal Britain, pg. 213).”

This film also boasts an all-star cast. Emily Blunt (Devil Wears Prada) is Victoria, Paul Bettany (Chaucer in Knight’s Tale and Vision in the MCU) is Lord Melbourne. Miranda Richardson (Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter, Madame Giry in the film Phantom of the Opera, Queen Rosalind in The Prince and Me, and Queen Mab from the mini-series Merlin which starred Sam Neill) is Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent. Another Harry Potter cast member, Jim Broadbent (Professor Slughorn, also Professor Kirke in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Harold Zidler in Moulin Rouge, and he pops up in Game of Thrones) is King William. And baddie Sir Jon Conroy is played by Mark Strong (Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood, Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes). And fun fact that I did not realize until now, the screenplay was written by Julian Fellowes, the same man who wrote Downton Abbey.

The film’s opening sets the stage: “In 1819, a child is born in a London palace. Caught between two Royal Uncles – the King of England and the King of the Belgians, she is destined to be a Queen and to rule a great empire. Unless she is forced to relinquish her powers and sign a ‘regency order.’ A Regents is appointed to govern in place of a monarch who is absent, disabled…or too young.” Victoria herself feels she was born more fortunate than others, but a palace can still be a prison. She lived a solitary childhood; slept in the same bedroom as her mother, could not go down the stairs alone, having to hold the hand of an adult. Her time was severely censored. Her mother’s advisor, John Conroy, hoped that there would be a regency enacted when her uncle died, allowing Victoria’s mother to rule, and thus John to rule her. Victoria knew what sort of man he was and prayed for the strength to meet her destiny.

We briefly glimpse the coronation in 1838, then jump back a year. Conroy is attempting to force an ill Victoria to sign the regency document, but she still refuses. Meanwhile, her uncle in Belgium hopes for English aid to keep him on the throne, so he and his advisor come up with the plan for his nephews Ernst and Albert to visit Victoria. Albert is tutored on what Victoria likes and dislikes, clearly setting the stage to entice Victoria to marry him. Albert’s not terribly keen on the notion, but attempts it nonetheless. When he finally mentions one of his own likes, Victoria gives him a smile. She confesses to him that she feels like a chess piece. Albert understands what it is like living inside your head, never showing your true emotion to the outside world.
Victoria’s mother and John Conroy have kept Victoria from court; the king is not fond of either adult, but loves Victoria. Victoria insists on attending the king’s birthday and meets Lord Melbourne who starts winning her over. The king declares his dying wish is to live long enough for Victoria to turn eighteen, so there can be no regency. John still insists and goes as far as to lay hands on Victoria (in actuality, he wasn’t quite that stupid).

Victoria does indeed turn eighteen before the king dies and she becomes the new queen. Her first order of business, separate her from her mother. She will sleep in her own room from now on. Victoria admits that she is young, but she is willing to learn and intends to devote her life to serving her people. Albert had to return home, but they continue to write letters to each other. Victoria informs him she is the first monarch to live in the recently completed Buckingham Palace (the current monarchy still lives there primarily).

young victoriaShe also glows about Melbourne. Albert decides to return to England to spend time with Victoria (by now, he has fallen in love with her. She has admitted to Melbourne she has made no promise to Albert, but she still feels alone). Albert counsels Victoria to play the chess game better than the others, and that others will expect Victoria to fail and taken advantage of her inexperience. He believes in her. And truly cares about the working people. Melbourne doesn’t want to upset the status quo, though he does tell Conroy “you have played the game and lost.” We witness the coronation again, in the context of what we have just learned. Victoria wants to rule on her own for a while and thus, even though she danced with Albert at the coronation ball, he must return home again. They continue to write letters and Albert worries for Victoria.

Melbourne loses power and Peel becomes Prime Minister, but Victoria does not like Peel and Melbourne ends up back on the job, but that bypasses what the people want and creates a constitutional crisis. Rioters turn up at Buckingham. There is an assassination attempt. Albert continues to write to Victoria that he believes she can rule her country. Victoria decides to invite Albert back, and proposes. We catch a glimpse of their wedding (yes, Victoria was the one who made famous wearing white at your wedding).

Sadly, Victoria being queen means they cannot go on an extended honeymoon like most upper class people. (Albert makes a comment about visiting Scotland, that it would most be like Germany. It is true that they enjoyed visiting Scotland and bought Balmoral Castle, making it a royal residence that the current queen still enjoys visiting.) Then comes the difficulty of Albert fitting in to England and finding a way to support his wife while she is queen, but also still able to act like a husband, though they do end up expecting a child. Victoria disliked Albert getting involved with politics and they have an argument. The next day, they go on a carriage ride and there is another assassination attempt. In the film, Albert is injured, real life, no. But Victoria does put their desks next to each other. Afterwards, history would prove that “he played an increasingly central role in affairs of state and meeting with ministers (Royal Britain, pg. 220).”

The film summarizes that Victoria and Albert had nine children. “Among their descendants are the Royal Families of Britain, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Yugoslavia, Russia, Greece, Romania, and Germany [this is how World War I was an overgrown family squabble].” They reigned together for twenty years until Prince Albert died in 1861 from typhoid fever at the age of 42. “In memory of her husband, Victoria had his clothes laid out every day until her death at the age of 81. Among their accomplishments, Victoria and Albert championed reforms in education, welfare, and industry. Their unflagging support of the arts and sciences was most famously celebrated in Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition of 1851.” The last statement the movie makes is that Victoria remains the longest reigning British Sovereign. To date. This film was made in 2008. It is no longer true. Her descendent, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest ruling British Sovereign in 2015 (Victoria reigned 63 years, her great-great-granddaughter has now reigned 65 years. Personally, I think it’s awesome that the two longest reigning British monarchs are women).

Historically, “Victoria and Albert’s marriage, stable life and large family did much to restore the dignity and standing of the monarchy after the excesses and public disgraces of the early Hanoverian kings (Royal Britain, pg. 220).” The film does show and more so in the longer serial and television series, it was not smooth sailing. They had difficulty with their eldest son, Edward, the Prince of Wales. When Albert died, Victoria did indeed go into black and withdrew from society for at least ten years. What I liked about this film is that is shows that Victoria and Albert truly loved each other. I liked the way they tried to support each other. As I stated earlier, it showed a different side to a monarch I knew was important, but haven’t studied in depth.

Up Next: A popular Victorian literary hero, Sherlock Holmes (Guy Ritchie’s film starring Robert Downey Jr.)

“Through many dangers, toils, and snares”

Amazing Grace

As the opening of the film states, this is based on the true story of William Wilberforce, a man who changed history, ending the slave trade in Britain. Which, being American, we don’t tend to consider slavery elsewhere.

“By the late 18th century, over 11 million African men, women, and children had been taken from Africa to be used as slaves in the West Indies and the American colonies. Great Britain was the mightiest superpower on earth and its empire was built on the backs of claves. The slave trade was considered acceptable by all by a few. Of these, even fewer were brave to enough to speak against it.”

The film features Ioan Gruffudd (he appeared as a minor character in James Cameron’s Titanic, was the titular Horatio Hornblower in the miniseries, Lancelot in the 2004 King Arthur movie, and Reed Richards in the first two Fantastic Four movies) as William Wilberforce, Benedict Cumberbatch, before he landed his hit roles, as William Pitt, Michael Gambon (Dumbledore after Richard Harris passed away) is Lord Charles Fox, Rufus Sewell (Tristan and Isolde and Knight’s Tale) is Thomas Clarkson, Ciarán Hinds (Mance Rayder in Game of Thrones) is Lord Tarleton, and Toby Jones (Dr. Zola in the MCU, the voice of Dobby in Harry Potter, the Dream Lord in an episode of the Eleventh Doctor’s run in Doctor Who, he also appeared in Ever After) is the Duke of Clarence.

The movie jumps back and forth between “present time” while William is trying to rest and heal from colitis, and recounting how he’s gotten to where he is. William’s cousins take him to Bath to take the mineral water; and set him up on a date with Barbara Spooner. She’s intrigued to meet him; she supports his abolitionist work, but he doesn’t want to talk about it. He begins his tale fifteen year prior where he is playing cards at a club after a day in the Parliament. His opponent, the Duke of Clarence tries to offer his slave as payment during a game. Wilberforce [of Wilber as he is referred to during the movie, to avoid confusion with William Pitt] refuses. Wilber and Pitt discuss how, as young politicians they want to change the world. Wilber is reminded of a song his old preacher wrote, a former slave captain, he found God and wrote Amazing Grace. Wilber enters the room again, Pitt silences the men, and Wilber sings [behind the scenes note: that was Ioan actually singing (I am not surprised, he is Welsh, and Wales is filled with wonderful singers)].

Wilber debates at that time whether he should enter the political field, or devote his life to God. Pitt wants him by his side when he plans to become Prime Minister; the youngest in history. “We’re too young to realize certain things are impossible,” and we do them anyway. Pitt arranges for Wilber to meet other abolitionists and Equiano. Wilber even visits his old preacher for advice. The preacher supports Wilber entering politics (as someone at the dinner suggested, Wilber should do both). He has work to do, taken on the other members of Parliament. We jump back to Wilber fighting his illness. He takes opium to counter the symptoms. Barbara returns for a meal and they are sent outside to talk. Wilber feels like he failed his task. Every year, he presented a bill, and every year it failed.

wilberforceHe continues to speak of the early years. He gave a tour of the docks to shock the aristocrats with the horrors of slavery. Equiano published his account. They had a petition signed by 390,000 of the common people, and Lord Charles Fox of Parliament. This is after Lord Tarleton states there is “no evidence the Africans themselves have any objections to the trade.” (Yeah, I doubt that evidence). Wilber shouts back “no matter how loud you shout, you will not drown out the voice of the people!” Tarleton scoffs at the notion of the people. The bill failed the first year. Five years in, there is talk of revolution in Europe, spurred by the American colonies. And opposition, in the form of abolition teeters dangerously close to sedition in those times. Barbara argues that now is the time to regroup, the war with France is being won and when people stop being afraid, they remember their compassion.

Barbara and Wilber find they are both prone to impatience and rash decisions. They get married. Wilber gets his voice back, and his friend. As Wilber’s Prime Minister, Pitt urges caution. He is friend, to hell with caution. Wilber’s preacher has finally published his account of his years slave trading. He urges Wilber to use it, and damn the people with it. Wilber gathers the team back together. A lawyer amongst them suggests they cheat. First, they take away slave ship’s protection of a neutral flag, tying it in with the war effort and it is brought up by someone not part of their inner circle. And the opposition has been given free tickets to the races, so the bill is sure to pass. Pitt, who is gravely ill himself two years later, makes sure his successors will back Wilberforce.

Everyone is in attendance when the final vote is taken. The “Home and Foreign Slave Trade Act, the unamended bill calling for the abolishen of the slave trade throughout the entire British Empire,” 283 to 16, passes. Cheers erupt. The Duke of Clarence tells his friend Lord Tarleton of noblis oblige; his “nobility obliges me to recognize the virtue of an exceptional commoner.” Everyone stands and applauds Wilberforce. “William Wilberforce continued to battle injustice for the rest of his life. He transformed the hearts and minds of his countrymen on education, healthcare, and prison reform to accomplish his second great dream – making a better world.” Bagpipes play the tune Amazing Grace as the film finishes. “William Wilberforce continued campaigning until his death in 1833…he is buried in Westminster Abbey next to his friend, William Pitt.”

I find this film uplifting. I cheer for Wilberforce through all the setbacks. It also reminds me why I hate politics, whatever the form. There are several points I want to cry; when William Pitt dies, as Wilber’s best friend. When the bagpipes play Amazing Grace. When Wilberforce finally wins. It’s a great cast, full of wonderful actors. Ioan was stupendous; I prefer him in this sort of role rather than Mr. Fantastic (though he’s not bad there; we’ll cover that once I get into the superhero movies). Overall, a good movie. Just not one to put on if you’re not in the mood for a little heartache.

Up Next: The American Civil War, starting with Gods and Generals

Fashion and Politics

The Duchess

“When she arrives, all eyes are upon her. When absent, she is the subject of universal conversation. And what we see her wearing tonight, I look forward to seeing on the rest of you tomorrow! The Empress of fashion – the Duchess of Devonshire!”

Keira Knightley continues to play period roles (Pirates of the Caribbean, the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice, 2012 Anna Karenia [that’s three hours of my life I’ll never get back and I still don’t understand what the story was]) stars as Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort from Harry Potter and the new M in James Bond, amongst other roles) is the Duke of Devonshire, Hayley Atwell (she would go on to be Peggy Carter in the MCU, the mother, Evelyn Robin in 2018’s Christopher Robin, a brief role in Testament of Youth and Disney’s live action Cinderella) is Lady Bess [Elizabeth] Foster, and Dominic Cooper (younger Howard Stark in the MCU and Sky in the Mamma Mia movies) is the politician, Charles Grey. I watched the film because of the lead actors; it’s not a time period that I study closely.

The film starts in April of 1774, Georgiana and her friends are outside, watching young men, including Charles Grey race each other, while her mother settles her engagement to the Duke of Devonshire. Georgiana is seventeen and believes that the Duke truly loves her. On their wedding night, the Duke remarks “I never understand why women’s clothes must be do damn complicated.” Georgiana replies that they are one of the few ways women have to express themselves. She’s very nervous for their wedding night, but the Duke gets right to business. Her mother points out that a wife’s duty is to provide her husband with a male heir; she shouldn’t be concerned with talking with her husband.

The Duke is the primary sponsor of the Whig party and thus hosts dinners where the party members give speeches. He’s quickly bored of the speeches and leaves, but Georgiana stays and becomes involved in politics and gains favor of the primary members. But in private, the Duke has many affairs, which shocks Georgiana at first. Then one of his illegitimate daughters is brought to the house when her mother dies and the Duke expects Georgiana to raise young Charlotte without a fuss. “Consider it practice for our son,” he tells his pregnant wife. Later, at a party, Georgiana goes into labor (and modern audiences wince at her drinking wine while pregnant). The Duke expects it to be a boy. It’s a girl. When Georgiana’s mother visits, he barely speaks to her, frustrated that it is not the promised son (sound like some other historical guy we all know?) They jump to six years later, Georgiana content with her three girls, Charlotte, HarryO, and Little G.

duchess

While visiting Bath and taking the waters “for her health,” Georgiana and the Duke both meet Bess Foster. Georgiana quickly befriends the woman. Bess’s husband is enjoying his mistress at home and Bess wished for diversion. Her husband also is keeping her three sons away from her (now we know why the Duke is interested in her) and has a habit of beating her, which is not illegal. Georgiana manages to convince the Duke to invite Bess to stay with them. They attend a play that is a satire of the Devonshire’s marriage. In attendance of the play is Charles Grey. Bess speaks to him and remarks that it is well known the Duke is the only man in England not in love with his wife. Bess later remarks to Georgiana that Charles is clearly in love with G. She demonstrates that intercourse can be pleasurable and instructs Georgiana to close her eyes and imagine it’s Charles Grey.

Georgiana continues to help draw attention for the Whig party and gets to visit Charles Grey who seeks to work his way up the political ladder. She’s delightfully happy, until she returns home to hear moans coming from Bess’s rooms and the servants refuse to answer if it’s the Duke in there. Georgiana confronts the Duke. She has never objected to the Duke’s many affairs, she has accepted whatever arrangements have been made. But Bess is her one single thing of her own; she is her sole comfort in their marriage. Her husband has “robbed me of my only friend!” The Duke comes back with he has upheld his end of the marriage, but his wife has not (by not giving him a son). Georgiana wants Bess out. The Duke refuses. Georgiana runs to her mother’s home. Her mother advises she give up her gambling and politics and set to the duty of providing her husband with a male heir (I’m guessing people of this time have still not figured out that it’s the man who determines the sex of the baby, like the woman has any control).

Bess explains to Georgiana that the Duke of Devonshire is the most powerful peer of the realm; he is her only hope of getting to see her sons again. Georgiana orders her out of her room. She understandably feels betrayed by her dear friend. The three boys arrive at their home and Georgiana witnesses the attention that the Duke readily bestows upon the boys (which he has never shown for his daughters). Georgiana visits Charles and gives in to their feelings. Charles points out that Georgiana likes to “please other all the time.” “It’s what I’ve been brought up to do. It’s a difficult lesson to unlearn.” At home, Georgiana tries to make a deal with the Duke. She will give him and Bess her blessing if he will accept her feelings for Charles Grey. Bess tries to rescue her friend and points out that G is only asking for what the Duke and Bess have. The Duke silences her. He will not make a deal; he is not the one to ever make deals, he has everything. He can’t make any of Bess’s sons his heirs. Georgiana leaves the table. The Duke thunders after her and forces himself on her in her rooms. Screams echo through the large house and Bess takes Charlotte away from the door. “Give me a son,” the Duke orders Georgiana, “until then, stay here. And do as I say.” [I hate this man for that.]

During another party, Georgiana is quite drunk. Her Whig friends try to help her, but her wig ends up catching fire. The doctor determines that she is pregnant. Next scene: bells are ringing. The baby is a boy. The Duke pays Georgiana as part of their arrangement. While the Duke is away celebrating his heir, Charles calls upon the house. It was Bess’s idea. After another party, they sneak away. Georgiana decides to go to Bath on her own and gets to spend more time with Charles. Until her husband and mother show up. Here again we see the double standard imposed upon women: it’s fine for the Duke to have his mistress live in the same house as his wife, but it’s not fine for Georgiana to spend time with a man who actually loves her. They leave letters from the children for Georgiana; the Duke has set an ultimatum: give up Charles, or he will destroy the man’s career and never let Georgiana see her children again. Georgiana gives in and reads the letters, then rushes home.

At dinner, Charles shows up shouting for Georgiana. She tries to calm him; she still loves him, but she cannot give up her children. Charles insists he wants to marry her and he doesn’t care if their children are boys or girls. Georgiana goes back to dinner. And tells the Duke that she is carrying Charles’s child. The Duke has Bess tell Georgiana that she is to go to the country to give birth and the child will be given to the Grey family. Bess also stands up to the Duke and informs him that she will accompany her friend. She comforts Georgiana when she breaks down after giving up her daughter, Eliza to the Grey family.

When Georgina returns, the Duke attempts to comfort her; he wishes for their lives to find a calm normalcy. He asks her to show unity by showing up at a party together. The trio arrives and Georgiana reenters society. She has a brief conversation with Charles Grey, who tells her that he is engaged and that he has a new niece, Eliza, that Georgiana should meet someday. The film shows a few statements over the ending scenes of Georgiana playing with all the children: “Georgiana continued to be one of the most celebrated and influential women of her day. Charles Grey became Prime Minister. Georgiana, Bess, and the Duke lived together [for twenty-five years] until Georgiana’s death. With Georgiana’s blessing, Bess went on to marry the Duke and become the next Duchess of Devonshire. Georgiana frequently visited Eliza in secret. Eliza named her daughter Georgiana.”

While not a favorite movie of mine, I find it interesting. The scene of the Duke raping Georgiana is one that has stuck with me since first seeing the movie. I don’t quite drool over these gowns, but I do recognize that they are stunning. The movie also demonstrates that arranged matches rarely go well.

Up Next: We actually go back in time a little to Amazing Grace

The First Queen Henry Beheaded

The Other Boleyn Girl

The title of this blog is taken from the rhyme to remember Henry VIII’s wives: “divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.”  Henry divorced Catherine of Aragon, beheaded Anne Bolyen, Jane Seymour died, he divorced Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard was beheaded as well, and Katherine Parr survived Henry.  Based on the popular 2002 novel (emphasis novel, meaning fictional) by Philippa Gregory. A lot of familiar faces in this film (and ironically, a bunch of them show up in the MCU). Natalie Portman (most famous as Jane in the Thor movies and Padmé in the Star Wars prequels) stars as Anne Boleyn while Scarlett Johansson (now known as Black Widow) is her elder sister, Mary (not younger as they state early in the film). Eric Bana (who we saw as Hector in Troy, also plays the villain Nero in the rebooted Star Trek films, he was Bruce Banner in the 2003 Hulk movie which is not part of the MCU, and I had forgotten he was Uther in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. I forgot because I’ve seen the movie once and dislike it), is Henry VIII. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Hobbit, Amazing Grace, War Horse, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Imitation Game, Richard III in The Hollow Crown, and now Dr. Strange) has a relatively small role as William Carey. Eddie Redmayne (before he was Marius in Les Misérables, Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, and Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts) also had a relatively small role as William Stafford. Jane Parker may look familiar; she’s played by Juno Temple (she’s the queen in the 2011 The Three Musketeers and one of the fairies in the Maleficent movies). The Duke of Norfolk sounded familiar; he’s played by David Morrissey, who was in an episode of Doctor Who. Oh yes, and say hello to Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones) who briefly appears as one of the king’s messengers.

I have read the book (it may have been after I watched the movie), and I had issues with its historical inaccuracy, because Tudor England is a period of history that I have done a fair bit of reading on; and one that my mother (also holds a Bachelor’s in History, like my brother…well, he now has a Master’s) has done even more reading on. Unfortunately, most of those books are packed away somewhere. Already mentioned that Mary was the elder sister, not Anne as stated in the film. Anyways…the movie opens with three small children playing; their futures already being discussed. The father remarks that the family can improve their standings with their daughters, but to truly get ahead, one needs more than a fair look and a kind heart.

Time jump ahead to Mary Boleyn marrying William Carey, as discussed at the beginning. At the castle in London, Catherine of Aragon delivers a stillborn son; she apologizes to her daughter, the princess Mary, that there is no brother to make the country safe. There is a fear that if Henry does not have a legitimate son to pass the throne onto (he does have an illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy), England will descend into civil war, which it already went through when he father took the throne (War of the Roses). A man, the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard, rides away from court and to his sister’s estate (if the surname Howard rings a bell in regard to the Tudor dynasty; Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard was a relation of the Boleyns’). He plans for his family to aid the king in a delicate matter; Henry will be looking for a mistress and Howard plans to put Anne boleyn sistersin his path. Anne accepts the challenge. Preparations are made for a royal visit. But when Anne is too daring on a hunt, the king is injured, so the Duke sends Mary to tend to the king. Once Henry returns to court, he calls for Mary, her husband, and family. Mary and Anne become ladies in waiting to Queen Catherine, and William Carey is made a member of Henry’s privy council (a high honor). Catherine suspects why the Boleyn sisters are now in her household and Anne becomes jealous of Mary’s attention from Henry. She tells her sister “I will make my own way.”

Henry trusts Mary; he understands what it’s like to be the second child. (Okay, on the one hand, yes. Henry was the second son of Henry VII, he had an older brother, Arthur. Catherine of Aragon was originally married to him before he died young. Then Henry was faced with becoming king. And we’ve already covered that Mary was not the second child). In the wee hours of the morning after, Mary has to report to her family; this is no longer a private matter. Their uncle openly states he hopes Mary will give Henry a son. Excuse me, Mr. Duke of Norfolk…Henry isn’t married to Mary, so the son won’t be legitimate, just like Henry Fitzroy (historically, “Fitz” as part of a surname signified that the child was a bastard; thus “Fitzroy” meant “son of the king.” But not legitimate). Henry gives William Carey an assignment away from court. What is not mentioned is that Carey dies at some point. Meanwhile, Anne runs off and secretly marries Henry Percy, the heir to the richest land owner in England. However, as a peer of the realm, Percy’s marriage has to be decided by the king. And he’s already engaged. In the movie, Anne is banished for France for a few months to prevent scandal. In actuality, both Mary and Anne spent several years in France as part of their education. And Mary possibly had a reputation she gained there, which is why Henry may have been interested in her. There is only one historical recording of her by Henry and no actual evidence that she was a long term mistress, nor that she bore any children to Henry. Anne’s mother gives her the advice that women can better achieve what they want by allowing men to believe they are in charge; it is the art of being a woman.

In this movie, Mary does become pregnant by the king and is seen openly walking with him (not likely. Henry was devoutly Catholic at this point. It’s one thing to take a mistress, and expected of royal men [but frowned upon by women…double standard]. It’s another to set aside your lawful wife…whose nephew is the Holy Roman Emperor). Her family becomes highly favored and gains new titles and lands. The mother is quick to point out to the father that this all can disappear as quick as it comes. But when Mary is confined for the health of her child, the king’s head can turn and another family can pull the same stunt that the Howards and Boleyns have and put their daughters’ in the king’s eye. They fear the Seymours. So they recall Anne. She takes the opportunity to flirt with Henry. Mary knows that Anne will not act in Mary’s interests; she will act with her own. And Anne beguiles the king. But she holds out against his sexual advances; she knows she cannot fully trust him. He’s already been unfaithful to his wife and has taken her own sister as mistress. There will be no difference in Anne. I cannot remember from my reading if it was truly Anne’s idea for Henry to break from the Catholic church in order to annul his marriage, or if it was Henry’s idea so he was not bound to Rome. Anne allows Henry to have hope when her sister bears a son, knowing she’ll lose the king if not.

We know that Henry breaks from Rome and establishes his own Church of England and brings about the Reformation. His marriage to Catherine is annulled based upon her being married to his elder brother before him (there is historical contention whether their marriage was actually consummated). Henry marries Anne. She eventually bears him a healthy daughter, Elizabeth. Henry remarks “if we can have a healthy daughter, we can have a healthy son.” The movie shows one miscarriage (historically, she miscarried when Henry was grievously injured in a joust). She also had a stillborn child. Research has come out that Henry had a condition that affected his wives that they had difficulty carrying multiple pregnancies, particularly later in their lives. The film shows Anne, desperate, asks her own brother George for help. His wife, whom he has a strained relationship, witnesses the plea and reports both to the Duke of Norfolk and the king himself. Anne and George are subsequently arrested; Anne charged with adultery and incest. In truth, most of the charges are believed to have been the work of Thomas Cromwell, a former ally until they clashed politically (though not completely proven). (Cromwell is not even shown in this film). And she was charged with adultery with seven men, including some members of court. She was found guilty, even by her own uncle (this was all political for him). Being queen, she was executed by a skilled swordsman. The film shows Mary pleading with Henry on her sister’s behalf and expecting Henry to spare Anne. He does not. She’s shown picking Elizabeth up from her mother and leaving with the child (she was already at Hever Castle with her own household at this point, including the former princess Mary).

The film finishes summing up what happened to several of the characters. Mary did indeed marry William Stafford. But it was done in secret and angered both King Henry and Anne and she was banished from court, mainly due to his inferior prospects. She had four children (though at the closing of the film, they show three, one of them being little Elizabeth). Her first child was actually a girl, then a son, both by William Carey. She may had had two further children by William Stafford. On the bright side, the film is correct in stating “Henry’s fear of leaving England without a strong successor turned out to be unfounded. He did leave an heir, who was to rule over England for forty-five years. It was not the boy he yearned for, but the strong red-haired girl Anne gave him – Elizabeth.”

I will admit, the costumes in the movie are gorgeous, though they seem to dress Eric Bana in wide coats to give the impression of the girth Henry displayed later in life. At that age, Henry was still young and athletic. I don’t think it does a well of a job displaying the intrigues that The Tudors does, but they’re trying to compress a lot of events into a two hour film. It does show that a lot of what occurred were older men using young women as pawns to gain power and wealth. And if you want an author to read who has done a lot of research into the Tudors, read Alison Weir.

Next: Slight change in plans (due to me not being able to find the movies I wanted, but I think it will be okay), we’ll jump to Rob Roy.

But, a quick note on Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth.  I remember reading the Royal Diaries book on her as a girl.  I actually read several of them and the Dear America books, and that’s a contributing factor to me later becoming a history major.  Elizabeth I was my first favorite queen and partly led me to British history (I already liked Robin Hood at that point, but this was a queen, a woman I could admire).  Of course, actually studying history gives a lot more insight to what was simplified for a children’s book.  I remember it painting Mary in very bad light, yet I eventually learned there are parts of her tale that are sympathetic as well.  I believe that Elizabeth I was a great queen, but she had her downfalls as well.  And the Tudors lead into the Stuarts, which became another favorite time period of mine to study.  When I graduated college with my history degree, I considered for a while finding a job near Jamestown and the other early colonies so I could tie in my interest of British history with American history (did not work out, decent paying jobs in the field with the experience that I had are hard to come by; I’ll spare you my rant on the viscous circle that exists.)

Just thought I’d give a little insight.  If you have any further questions, let me know!

The Nine Day Queen

Lady Jane

Stars a very young Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes. Sir Patrick Stewart portrays Jane’s father, Henry Grey, the Duke of Suffolk. Joss Ackland, who is the wise and loveable Hans from The Mighty Ducks (along with the scheming Victor Landbergh in 1994’s Miracle on 34th Street, and was Andrei Lysenko in The Hunt for Red October) briefly appears here as Sir John Bridges. Lady Jane Grey, rarely referred to as Queen Jane, appears as a footnote in English history; she ruled for only nine days.

When Henry VIII died in 1547, his young son, Edward VI, aged nine, ascended to the throne. His uncle, Edward Seymour, ruled as Lord Protector and named himself the Duke of Somerset. But he was replaced in 1552 by John Dudley, the Earl of Warwick, who became the Duke of Northumberland and the new Lord Protector (Duke is a higher rank than Earl). This is where the movie picks up. Dudley, like many others advising the young king, want to keep England Protestant after Henry’s split from the Catholic church. Henry VIII’s will laid out that if Edward died without children, the crown would pass to his eldest daughter Mary, a staunch Catholic, then to his younger daughter, Elizabeth. But, if Dudley and his cronies pass over both Mary and Elizabeth as bastards, as they were declared when Edward was born, they can pick up the Tudor line with Henry’s youngest sister, Mary, who had married Charles, the Duke of Suffolk and had a daughter, Frances, who married Henry Grey and they had Lady Jane. (Henry’s other sister, Margaret, was married to James IV of Scotland, and in this movie is declared not a valid to pass the crown, though not explained why. This familial line will come into play after Elizabeth I passes). Most importantly, Lady Jane was a devout Protestant.

Dudley wonders about marrying Jane to Edward, but it is clear that Edward will not live long enough to bear children. Edward is shown hunting with her father, but when her father rebukes her for her interest in books, rather than things useful to a husband, Edward shows her kindness. Jane is shown visiting the princess Mary in 1553, where Mary warns her to take care. Dudley decides to marry Jane to his youngest son, Guilford. Neither child is pleased about the arrangement. Guilford is shown drinking in taverns and was dragged out of a brothel. Jane fights the engagement, declaring she doesn’t want to marry anyone (though I don’t think she would have opposed a marriage to Edward; they got along very well). Her mother beats her, repeatedly. Still Jane refuses, not believing that the king wishes this for her. Dudley retrieves Edward to talk to Jane. He tells her it is her duty to obey her parents, and her king. Edward trusts Dudley (wise modern adults do not) She finally relents.

Edward collapses after his visits and the doctor tells Dudley the young king has only a week left to live. Dudley commands the doctor to keep Edward alive, using arsenic, to give him more time. I don’t believe this is been completely proven, but it is one theory some historians have. The marriage between Jane and Guilford does not start well. Jane has no desire to live has husband and wife, instead, she wishes to devote herself to her studies. And Guildford gets drunk at their feast and passes out in the marriage bed. They are to live at the old monastery of Hertfordshire, until their parents have need of them. Peasants greet the couple on the road and want their land back. When Henry VIII dissolved the Catholic monasteries, the lands were stripped from the peasants who worked it and the treasures inside were distributed to loyal courtiers. Guildford explains this to Jane, who has studied philosophy and theology, but doesn’t quite understand the world around her. He also explains that a shilling is no longer worth a shilling since it’s not made out of silver (similar to our penny. Used to be made out of copper, now it’s made out of zinc). When Jane demands why doesn’t he do anything if he sees this problem, he shouts back that it never works. He later apologizes to Jane and asks her to explain her beliefs. They start getting to know one another and their passions. Which leads to them consummating their marriage and turns everything around.

jane and guildford

They spend several happy days together, a true honeymoon. They share their wishes; Jane wishes for the country to be true to the Protestant faith. Guildford wishes that men wouldn’t be branded for beggary when they have no land to farm. They wish that children would be loved, for a better world. Meanwhile, Dudley convinces Edward to change the succession and make Jane his heir. Once he has that, he allows Edward to die. The Privy Council argues the new succession; both Mary and Elizabeth are threats. But Dudley has his way and the couple, already fearing their parents’ scheme, plan to run, but are given word of Edward’s death and taken to…possibly Westminster, they never say. Jane is declared Queen and she tries to say it’s not right. She would be aware that Mary would be next in line. But everyone kneels and her mother leads her to the throne. She’s crowned and they urge her to name Guildford king. She cries out for her husband and he breaks away from his brothers to comfort his wife. The people are ordered out so they can speak. Guildford explains that together, they are like a coin, two parts of a whole. They can work together. Guildford wants her to be queen; she lets him crown her.

The people aren’t too keen on Jane being Queen; they want Mary. They want a return to the familiar. Mary sends a letter declaring herself as queen. Jane’s first command is that she wants a real shilling; one actually made of silver. She dismisses the Spanish Ambassador, stating that her people and their suffering comes first. He’s insulted when she mentions “wardrobe” to Guildford, not realizing that she is donating the royal wardrobe to the poor. Jane and Guildford also want a school for the poor children, the monastery land returned to the poor. Jane argues with their fathers on who should lead the army against Mary. Jane wants her father close, though Dudley had arranged for Henry to lead. Guildford suggests Dudley lead. Frances recalls that Dudley claimed he could control his son, and shouts that her daughter is stupid.

Only nine days have passed and her Council is gone. Guildford looks on it that now they are really ruling England. Jane just wants it to be over. Henry comes in; it is. Mary is pronounced queen. Henry tries to apologize and makes amends to Jane, but Frances insist they flee. Guards separate Guildford and Jane and take them to separate cells in the Tower of London. Dudley failed at leading the army and is imprisoned as well. I don’t understand his confrontation with Guildford, though he seems to be switching sides, to save his own skin.

Mary has Jane brought to her. She understands that this was not Jane’s fault. They will be tried and condemned, but Mary has the power of reprieve, which she will use. But Mary also loves Philip of Spain, who is to be her husband. The Spanish Ambassador, on word from Charles V, the King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor (her mother’s nephew, making him Mary’s cousin), insists that all discord must be gone before Philip will marry her. Then Henry joins the rebel forces to put his daughter back on the throne, insisting to his wife “I owe it to my daughter! She has need of me!” The rebellion ultimately fails and forces Mary’s hand. The couple may be saved, if they renounce Protestantism. They are allowed to see each other, but cannot speak. Mary’s confessor, whom Jane met two years prior, tries to convert Jane. But her will is strong and he cannot condemn a belief so pure. He allows them one last night. The couple can keep their ideas untarnished and will be alive together in the afterlife. “We’ll fly, away, beyond their reach. So far that their touch cannot tarnish us. And at last we will be – nothing – nobody – each other’s – only this time, forever.” Guildford is led away first. The confessor describes to Jane what happened to her husband as she is led to the private gallows. The shilling survives all this and Mary shows grief for just a moment, then goes to greet her husband. Lady Suffolk curtsies to Mary and the closing narration echoes a passage from Plato that Jane translated for the confessor at the beginning of the movie: “Soul takes flight to a world that is invisible. But there arriving, she is sure of bliss. And forever dwells in Paradise.”

I feel this is an underappreciated film. While there were dramatic scenes added I’m sure, this did follow history much better than other movies. No, Lady Suffolk most likely would not have been part of Mary’s court that soon after her husband’s failed rebellion (and he most likely would have rebelled more so he could control his daughter on the throne – but we want to believe the best from Patrick Stewart) and on the day of her daughter’s execution. But it does show that parents controlled their children’s destinies and those children didn’t often have a choice. Jane didn’t want to be queen; she was never trained to be queen because the likelihood of her becoming queen had been slim. Jane and Guildford were not instantly in love. It took compromise and swallowing their own pride and a willingness to hear other ideas. But they were so cute together; wonderful performances from Helena and Cary. I appreciate that they made Mary appear human and not completely mad or crazy, as she is often depicted in Tudor stories.

Next Time: We go back to Henry VIII proper with The Other Boleyn Girl

It’s Called a Lance

A Knight’s Tale

A 2001 film set in medieval Europe featuring jousting…and rock music. It’s a fun movie that’s good to throw on when bored with TV. It stars Heath Ledger (later to reinvent the role of Joker in Dark Knight; he also features in Brokeback Mountain, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot [haven’t seen those], Brothers Grimm [saw it once, don’t remember liking it], and Ned Kelly [eh, all star cast, the plot confused me] as peasant squire William Thatcher. This is the first role I saw Rufus Sewell in, playing the antagonist Count Adhemar (he’s an antagonist in Legend of Zorro, good guy Marke in Tristan and Isolde, decent guy in Amazing Grace, bit of a jerk in The Holiday, and lately was Lord Melbourne in the show Victoria). Paul Bettany (voice of Jarvis in the first Marvel movies, then became Vision in Age of Ultron. He was Lord Melbourne in the movie Young Victoria, bit ironic. Also featured in as the albino in The Da Vinci Code, and surgeon Dr. Stephen Maturin, best friend of Russell Crowe’s Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander: Far Side of the World) is Geoffrey Chaucer, yes, that writer. Alan Tudyk (now known for his voice acting abilities in Frozen and Star Wars, but would later play pilot Wash in Firefly) is fellow peasant Wat alongside Roland, played by Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones and Friar Tuck in Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood). And if Sir Ector in the flashback looks familiar, he’s played by Nick Brimble, who was Little John in Prince of Thieves.

The film opens with the death of Sir Ector, master of Wat, Roland, and William. He’s due to joust again in a few minutes, or else they forfeit and the young lads haven’t eaten in three days. William gets the idea to wear Ector’s armor and finish the match, with Queen’s We Will Rock You occurring in the stands. Then, when he wins, this could be their chance to change their stars. He takes the name Sir Ulrich von Lichenstein from Gelderland (and apparently, a real knight and real place; though not as used in the movie). They come across as naked Chaucer trudging the road. Being peasants, no, they have not read any of his works (takes place before The Canterbury Tales), but they do have use of a writer to forge papers of nobility. He also becomes Sir Ulrich’s herald, to announce him at tournaments.

William discovers a beautiful woman, Lady Jocelyn and decides to woo her. He’s…somewhat successful. He starts following her, on horseback, into a church. And doesn’t even get her name. Count Adhemar also discovers Jocelyn and helpfully explains the rules of jousting for the audience while Taking Care of Business plays in the background. William faces Sir Thomas Coleville (another historical character, but not from this time) and mercifully draws on the last pass so they both retain honor.

Will continues to compete and pines after Jocelyn. She sends him a token to wear at the next tourney. William faces Adhemar, who proves why he has never been unhorsed. They break lances on each other on their first pass. The second pass, Will scores and avoids Adhemar’s lance. But on the third pass, Adhemar knocks William’s helm off, causing a flashback to when Will was a child and seeing knights with his father. Adhemar returns Jocleyn’s favor to her and tells “Ulrich” “see me when you’re worthy.” William loses the jousting portion, but wins the sword. He now had enough to pay Kate the blacksmith, who fixed his armor. She wants to join his crew and even offers to make new armor for him. He dismisses her first, until he finds out he needs to attend the ball in order to see Jocelyn. Chaucer, does not do the best job of teaching Will to dance, so Roland makes Will politely ask Kate (since he’s going through the trouble of making a new tunic for his friend). Chaucer and Wat are not boon companions, but they’re funny. And we’re treated to Golden Years, and modern dancing. Knight’s Tale does not try to be wholly accurate (most certainly in their female costumes. Which is disappointing, because some of the gowns from that period can be gorgeous).
knights tale armor

Some of the heralds’ introductions are hilarious; Adhemar’s messes up at one point and declares his master “a shining example of chivalry and champagne” and “defender of his enormous manhood.” Chaucer certainly has a way with words and whips the crowds into a frenzy for Sir Ulrich. When Adhemar is about to face Coleville, he withdraws when he finds out that the other knight is actually Prince Edward in disguise. Chaucer in turns reports this to William, but he still jousts. The royal endangers himself and has obviously disguised himself so he can truly compete. Coleville appreciates the gesture. William wins the tournament, but his victory his hollow since he did not defeat Adhemar.

William goes on to win the next slew of tournaments, aided by Prince Edward sending Adhemar back to the front and the Battle of Poitiers. In the meantime, Will has Chaucer help him write a rather romantic letter to Jocelyn, aided by all his friends. The couple meets for the Paris tournament and William unfortunately cannot produce poetry on demand. Jocelyn insists that if “Ulrich” truly loves her, he will lose the tournament, rather than win it in her name. She’s got a point. But, Will has to take a pounding first (this is also after his friends have made a substantial bet with a group of Frenchmen). Still loves her. Mercifully, she sends word that he is to win the tournament, which he does. Chaucer sees Jocelyn enter William’s tent after the tournament and remarks “as Guinevere comes to Lancelot. Bed him well, m’lady. Bed him well.” (By this age, I knew what he meant). She discovers what exactly Will went through to prove his love, and has noted that his friends slip call him “William” instead of “Ulrich.” His name matters not, only that she can call him hers, and the good that comes with the bad will be of her doing as well.

William and his friends return to England, bring about another flashback of when they left. They enter London for the World Championships to The Boys Are Back in Town (and now I cannot hear that song and not think of that scene). Adhemar will compete; Prince Edward has recalled him for his company’s behavior in France. Will takes the opportunity to visit Cheapside, where he grew up and finds his father still alive, though blind. Unfortunately, Adhemar manages to spy on him and uses the information to prove the lie William has been leading. The next day, Jocelyn and Chaucer bring word that guards will arrest Will if he competes. His friends all urge him to run. He refuses. He is a knight. (Only those of noble birth can become knights; but Will points out in the beginning that many became noble by taking the title at the point of a sword).

Adhemar visits Will in jail, declaring “you have been weighed; you have been measured; and you have been found wanting.” Will is put in the stocks the next day; his friends stand alongside him. The crowd easily turns on their champion; earlier chanting his name, now throwing food. Prince Edward emerges from the crowd and declares that his own research has proven that William is descended from an ancient royal line; and as prince, his word is above contestation. He frees Will and knights him. William will face Adhemar.

Knowing he stands a chance of losing, Adhemar cheats and tips his lance. On the first pass, he embeds it in William’s shoulder. On the second pass, William drops his lance. Adhemar murmurs to his opponent, “in what world can you ever have beaten me? Such a place does not exist.” William can’t breathe and has his friends remove his armor. Neither can he hold a lance, they must strap it to his arm. To buy time, Chaucer has missed his introduction. “Here he is! One of your own! Born a stone’s throw from this very stadium and here before you now. The son, of John Thatcher…Sir William Thatcher!” Will’s father is in the stands; he heard that. He sits near Prince Edward. Revitalized, William unseats Adhemar. We pause, as the group tells Adhemar “you have been weighed; you have been measured; and you absolutely have been found wanting. Welcome to the new world.” The crowd goes nuts as the action picks back up. Edward kisses his wife. Jocelyn races down to see William, who dismounts and removes his gloves and such so they can share an epic kiss. The film closes as Chaucer decides he needs to write this tale down and we go to black on Shook Me All Night Long.

As I stated, it’s a fun movie. I like the music they feature for the most part. I understand some of the costuming choices; I believe one feature states that they were going for a rock ‘n’ roll look with the knights, since they held that sort of status in medieval times; a more modern fit pant, lots of leather. It’s the women’s costumes that drive me nuts. The exotic hair styles that you know could not have been done at that time. Sheer fabric on display, an Audrey Hepburn hat. Now, after being blown away by other films, the romance falls a bit flat. Will sees that Jocelyn is pretty and that’s why he loves her. Not because he sees her do anything particularly good or special. Jocelyn likes Will because he’s not like other nobles who have courted her.

Up Next: Princess Bride