During the 16th Century, the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots engages in over two decades of religious and political conflict with her cousin, the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I of England, amidst political intrigue in her native land.
When Elizabeth Tudor comes to the throne, her (male) advisers know she has to marry. Doesn't she? Thus starts a decades-long political/ matrimonial game, during an age of high passions and high achievement.
While awaiting her unjust execution at the hands of the treacherous Queen Elizabeth I, the tragic Mary Stuart reflects at the series of cruel political machinations that set up her path to the scaffold.
The death of King Henry VIII throws his kingdom into chaos because of succession disputes. His weak son Edward, is on his deathbed. Anxious to keep England true to the Reformation, a ... See full summary »
Helena Bonham Carter,
Mary Stuart, named Queen of Scotland when she was six days old, is the last Roman Catholic ruler of Scotland. Her cousin Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England and her arch adversary, has her imprisoned at age 23. Nineteen years later, Mary is executed, removing the last threat to Elizabeth's throne. The two Queens' contrasting personalities make a dramatic counterpoint to history. Written by
The film was released the same year as the mini-series Elizabeth R (1971) in which Glenda Jackson also played Queen Elizabeth I. In that production, Vanessa Redgrave's mother Rachel Kempson played Kat Ashley, Queen Elizabeth's governess during her childhood and the Lady of the Bedchamber during the early part of her reign. See more »
James I of England (also known as James VI of Scotland) was born in Edinburgh Castle, not the Earl of Bothwell's estate. Mary was born at Linlithgow Palace. See more »
The story of Scotland's last Queen has been told in many versions throughout the history of cinema, and it might be thought that this one would not be that different. This is true: the major characters remain Mary herself (played by Vanessa Redgrave), and Elizabeth I of England (played by Glenda Jackson). The story progresses through her time as Queen to the sickly Francois of France, to her return to a Scotland dominated by Protestantism and regented by her brother Jamie (played by Patrick McGoohan), through her unfortunate marriage to the weak and selfish fop Lord Darnley (Timothy Dalton) and her eventual deposition following marriage to Lord Bothwell (played with charm by Nigel Davenport).
The script is a little clunky in places, and departs from the true historical record considerably in the name of drama: it is a pity that Darnley in particular is presented as rather one-note for the bulk of the time (although portrayed very well within the limitations of the script). However, Redgrave and Jackson are splendid, while Ian Holm gives a short but affecting portrayal of the doomed minstrel Rizzio.
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