Thursday, 18 May 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: The Renaissance (14th to the 17th century)

Don't forget to check out where it all started over at Wandering Through the Shelves

Lady Jane
I think I've used this film before but as it turns out I've not seen that many Renaissance films after all, this was my go to. I have a tender spot for this film, mostly because the cast is brilliant and I especially love Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes (where did this guy go??). Poor Lady Jane Grey, forced into marriage, forced into taking the crown and ends up beheaded.

The New World
To be honest, I watched this film without knowing what Terrance Malik was like. I was also intrigued to see the Pocahontas story play out. The film was disappointingly slow and lacked heart. Although I did enjoy the few scenes with Pocahontus before she 'joins' Jamestown folk. There are some beautiful images and scenary BUT it wasn't an engaging film.

Witchfinder General
This was a film I had to watch in my first of college in Film Studies. Set during the height of the witch trials in England and the English Civil War, the historical figure, Matthew Hopkins appoints himself as Witchfinder General travelling from village to village accusing innocent people and charging the local magistrates for the work. Played to hideous disgusting perfection by Vincent Price, the film is a cult hit! We had to watch this and 'Bullet Boy' and write about one or the other for coursework. I didn't like either film but Witchfinder General has a special something about it. It was the last film made by Michael Reeves who died at aged 25 from drugs. He made three films in his short career and life, all of which are horror and made in the 'swinging' 60s. I returned to him as a subject as I found his work and potential fascinating. I made a pre production pack including a budget for a documentary about Reeves' life and career. I think I still have the documentary research somewhere.


  1. The only one of these I've seen is A New World and I wasn't a fan. I don't like Malick, even though to me that's his least annoying film to watch. lol

  2. Lady Jane recently entered my radar and I'm hoping to watch it soon. A New World was a slow film, but I liked it.

  3. Have yet to see The New World but I love Lady Jane. I think that's where I discovered HBC and you just knew watching it that an important new talent was on the scene. Everyone else was good in the film but she owned it.

    I had to check on Witchfinder General since it sounded familiar but I didn't recognize the name. I know it as The Conqueror Worm, it was no masterpiece but Vincent Price always makes a film worth viewing and it wasn't a dreadful experience.

    Everybody seems to be going other places with their picks but to me I automatically think of Europe when I hear Renaissance so all my picks are situated there.

    The Advocate aka The Hour of the Pig (1993)-Richard Courtois (Colin Firth) a lawyer in 15th century France tired of the chicanery and lawlessness of Paris moves to the small rural town Abbeville along with his clerk Mathieu (Jim Carter) when he’s offered a job as a public defender. This being a period when animals were held accountable for crimes with the same punishments handed out to humans he soon finds himself defending a pig accused of murdering a Jewish boy. Pitted against a determined prosecutor (Donald Pleasance) and Catholic priest (Ian Holm), Richard defends the animal and becomes enamored of its owner, beautiful gypsy Samira (Amina Annabi). Along the way he finds out about the strange goings on behind the doors of the seemingly tame townspeople. The medieval justice system and local superstitions mingle as the case plays out. A strange and quirky film this is based on the journal of an actual barrister of the period.

    Queen Margot (1994)-Dark and dire tale of the 16th century religious battle between the Catholics and the Huguenots for control of France. King Charles IX and his mother the dower queen Catherine de ’Medici (a simply sensational and scary Virna Lisi as a merciless woman whose soul has turned to dust) offer the Princess Margot (Isabelle Adjani-brilliant) to the Protestant King of Navarre in marriage as a political pawn. Trapped and unhappy Margot soon starts an affair with a soldier (Vincent Perez) as her mother orchestrates the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of thousands of Huguenots as well as murderous intrigues to place her other son on the Navarre throne. Blood splattered revenges and double crosses follow.

    Quentin Durward (1955)-Plush version of Sir Walter Scott’s tale of a Scottish knight, the Quentin of the title (Robert Taylor) sent to France by his cash strapped uncle to propose to a wealthy and titled lady, the fair Isabelle (Kay Kendall) who is at the moment at the castle of King Louis XI (the amusing Robert Morley-owner of the stupidest looking crown in any movie ever). Once arrived there is intrigue aplenty with attacks and sword fights including one where the protagonists dangle from bell tower ropes inside a burning church. Entertaining derring-do was one of the few leads that the luminous Kay Kendall had before leukemia claimed her at 33.

  4. The New World is all over the place this week. Man, do I hate that film. Malick doesn't make movies. He makes screen savers.

  5. I think I was something like 12 when I tried to watch The New World for the first time and gave up about 10 minutes later. I watched it a couple of weeks ago and it was quite interesting, but very, very boring as well.

  6. Ah. Witchfinder General...classic (shame you weren't too keen on it but glad you could see it does have something. Vincent Price is so chilling it that film

  7. Lady Jane is a beautiful but such a sad film. I love Cary Elwes and wonder, as well, where he went to. New World is the go to picture for this week. I haven't seen the third film but love Vincent Price and do want to see it. What a shame about the male lead

  8. I really want to watch both Lady Jane and The New World... I do love Malick, contrary to most other people.

  9. Love Lady Jane - Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes were cute together as the two leads.