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"The Law is What Powerful Men Say It Shall Be...."

Posted on the 27 May 2018 by Jamesswezey
The War of the Roses was a British civil war that lasted approximately from 1455 A.D. to 1485 A.D. between the houses of Lancaster and York ending with the death of Richard III. Shakespeare documented this in a number of his works, as well as many British monarchs, but The White Queen takes a different look at the historical events. It is based off a series of books written by Phillipa Gregory, and tells the historical events primarily through the eyes of the women in the saga. It is heavily fictional, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Also, it is where George R. Martin acquired his inspiration for Game of Thrones (the actual historical events, not the books), so while waiting for the final season to come out, this is a really good time filler. The show begins with Edward IV being triumphant over the Lancaster forces of King Henry VI and now king; the land is divided between those who follow York and those that still harbor good feelings towards Lancaster. Elizabeth Rivers, who's husband fought and died for House Lancaster, now does what she can to woo the young king and get him to be merciful and bountiful to her and her family. Eventually the two develop a close relationship and become married thus setting up a fiery match of tug of war between those in the royal court, their new queen and the young king Edward with the country still on the edge of continued bloodshed. Rebecca Ferguson plays Elizabeth Rivers does so masterfully. I do not know much about the actual historical figure, but her performance is strong, emotional, and unyielding. Through everything this character experiences it is amazing how she is able to survive, and this is done fantastically with Ms. Ferguson. Her performance is definitely a highlight. Max Irons plays King Edward IV and does an able job; the chemistry between him and Ms. Ferguson is nigh perfect up to the very end. Of all the characters in the series, he is perhaps the most static and uninteresting though. Janet McTeer played Elizabeth Waters' mother Jacquetta Woodville, and her character and performance was the one that I found the most enjoyable and interesting of all. She is brilliant actress that brought a brilliant character to life. As Elizabeth was going through life and all of her struggles it was her mother that was the rock that helped her through it. She was plainspoken, practical, intelligent, kind, elegant yet fearless; traits one has difficulty finding all within a singular individual these days. Another standout character was played by Aneurin Barnard (Richard Duke of Gloucester) who changed so much from the beginning as Edward's youngest idealistic brother to become Richard III eventually. It was perhaps the most tragic part of the entire story, and Mr. Barnard does such a splendid and powerful job with the role. Last but not least, Amanda Hale played Lady Margaret Beaufort who essentially becomes King Henry the VII mother and thereby King Henry VIII grandmother. She starts out as fierce Lancastrian loyalist, but then as the tides turn she sees another path and believes her son will one day sit on the throne. She is a single-minded woman with extraordinary grit and determination, and Ms. Hale brought so much to this character and added so much depth to her. There are many more great performances, but it would take too much time to write them out, but those that I mentioned are the big names.
Now, I did mention that the series is heavily fictionalized and this can be both a good and bad thing depending on your perspective. I thought that the fictional elements didn't detract from the historical events. One of those elements is magic. Now, there were rumors that Elizabeth Rivers and her family were witches and used magic, but those were most likely targeted rumors to cast dispersion upon the family members to discredit and destroy them. Calling people witches back at that period of time was an easy way to eliminate or discredit rivals; people still use the same idea today, they simply aren't accused of witchcraft but other things. All of the technical elements were good, although the battle sequences were pretty lame honestly, but fortunately there were not a lot of them; this is a character and dialog driven series. I thoroughly enjoyed this series, and it was unfortunate that it only received one season, but what they did was quite good. It was fascinating to me to see the parallels between the historical events, the show, and then what happened on Game of Thrones. This show is an excellent depiction of human behavior and the human condition; our nature which is so terribly warped. What will people do to hold on to power, their wealth, prestige and legacy; what are people really, truly like when the chips are down. So if you like historical dramas, then this is for you, but it is pretty graphic and intense, so this is not for the faint of heart. It isn't fluffy like a fairy tale, but gritty like reality. If that isn't your distinct cup of tea, and I'd move on. The odd are though, if you enjoy Game of Thrones then you'll enjoy this series. Well take care everyone, and may the Force continue to be with us all.
The White Queen clip
The White Queen trailer

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