Debate Magazine

Nanny McPhee: The Prequel

Posted on the 19 March 2017 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

Although the first-made film in the series is sugar-coated child-friendly nonsense, I imagine that the prequel is a much darker film, highlighting the pretty brutal attitudes that well-to-do Victorians had towards their servants; that men had towards women; and fathers towards children.
The film propably opens with the birth of Mrs Brown's sixth child, which she adores while Mr Brown (Colin Firth) mumbles some rather unenthusiastic congratulations in the background. The doctor tells the parents solemnly that Mrs Brown is not in the best of health and having another child would kill her.
With little knowledge of contraceptive methods, Mrs Brown then refuses to have sex with her husband any more. In his indignant frustration, he forces himself on his under-age scullery maid Evangeline (Kelly Macdonald) every time his wife is busy with the children, which is often.
Seeing this as a possible way out of her lowly station in life, Evangeline eventually learns to accept his advances. It is unclear to the viewer whether perhaps she actually starts to rather enjoy the submissive and borderline violent sex (you have to have a bit of controversy in a film, a bit of feminist outrage is always good publicity, history professors can hit back that this is just what it was like etc).
Mr Brown eventually loses interest in his wife and becomes infatuated with Evangeline who does all sorts of pervy stuff to him. Mr Brown is an undertaker by profession (he actually is in the first-made film), so has a suppressed kinky side as well as access to poisonous chemicals.
Together, the lovers hatch a plot to be rid of Mrs Brown. In public, Mr Brown misses no opportunity to mention the doctor's warning, while privately he persuades his wife to "try for one more child". As an undertaker, he knows just which poisons to use on his wife and how to disguise the cause of death afterwards.
Having established an alibi in advance, sure enough, Mrs Brown becomes pregnant and duly dies in childbirth - largely because of the large doses of poison which he and Evangline have been administering in the final trimester.
Evangeline is keen to be married to her master as soon as possible, but she and Mr Brown agree that it would be rather unseemly and possibly raise suspicions if they are married too soon after his first wife's death. Privately he worries about what marrying a scullery maid who is not yet of age will do to his social standing.
They agree therefore that it would look best if Evangeline goes away for a while, perhaps entering service for another family until she is old enough to marry.
The End.
Those who have seen the first-made film will know that the opportunity presents itself when Mrs Brown's wealthy aunt offers to take in Evangeline to "make a lady of her", so this all ties in nicely.


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