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Reaction: Mary Queen of Scots Trailer
July 12, 2018

You may want to avoid this post if you’re the type to avoid watching movie trailers because of spoilers. Because I’ve got FEELINGS ABOUT IT.

Man, I really gotta stop getting my hopes up when it comes to historical accuracy in films.

Y’all know I’m a Tudor girl. I adore Saoirse Ronan and I really liked Margot Robbie in I, Tonya so I was excited, if a little hesitant, when I heard about Mary Queen of Scots. Sure, Mary Stuart had brown hair and sure, Margot Robbie is probably too stunning to play Elizabeth, but I could get over that.

No one is trying to deny that Ronan’s Scottish accent is good. She’s great. But… Mary Stuart was raised in France. She was more French than Scottish when she arrived there as an adult to rule. But she would have arrived having a French accent. In most movies featuring Mary Stuart, she is portrayed as having a Scottish accent for the sake of not confusing the audience. The only portrayal I have seen where she was French was BBC’s 2004 two-part mini-series, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot where Mary was played by French actress Clémence Poésy.

Another major historical mess-up featured in the Mary Queen of Scots trailer was a meeting between Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth I of England. The two had a tumultuous relationship (at best) and never met in person. Not once. I think the fact that the two queens never met adds to their complicated, dramatic dynamic and should have been used to the movie’s advantage, instead of disregarding it completely.

Both women believed the other was a threat. Mary’s life was definitely exciting and fascinating but I’ve always found her attempts to get at the English throne extremely foolhardy. She could have easily had her Scottish throne and been a powerful monarch, but she made one devastating mistake after another and greatly underestimated Elizabeth’s spymasters.

Will I still see this movie? Oh, probably. But I wouldn’t want to see this movie with me because I’m probably going to be picking it apart as the inaccuracies unfurl on the screen before me.

 

Jillianne Hamilton is a history enthusiast and the author of The Spirited Mrs. Pringle (historical fiction), The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street (historical romance), and The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII (non-fiction). Jill launched The Lazy Historian in 2015. She lives in Charlottetown on Canada’s beautiful east coast. Learn more.

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3 Comments

  1. Every time I see the trailer and hear Ronan’s Mary, Queen of Scots speak with that Scottish brogue, I want to scream!!! Also, depicting the falsehood that these two Queens met is heresy!

    Reply
  2. Mary went to France aged 6. She was accompanied by 4 daughters of the Scottish Landed Classes. She also had a retinue of Scottish Servants. Mary and her household did speak Scots whilst they were in France. It is therefore incorrect to depict Mary as being only a French speaker that was immersed only in French for every moment of her 12 years away from Scotland.

    Mary is described as being softly spoken. I doubt Mary would have sounded broad Scottish. However it is not impossible for her to have had some form of Scottish accent when speaking Scots/English. Dr John Guy and Antonia Fraser discuss this in their respective books.

    From my own perspective I have retained a Scottish accent despite living outwith Scotland since the age of 5 some 37 years ago. I lived with Scottish Parents until my early 20’s. I also was able to speak regularly with other relatives. For my own part my accent has shifted coast. I am now more often taken for being from south-east Scotland as opposed to south-west Scotland.

    Reply
  3. Mary Queen of Scots is an exemplary example of how a historical drama can feel modern and have modern themes without sacrificing the story its based on.

    Reply

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Hi, I'm Jillianne.

I'm a historical fiction writer, a lover of history, and a hoarder of books. I'm the author of The Spirited Mrs. Pringle, The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII.

The Lazy Historian is a history blog featuring stories from the past with sass. With a focus on Western European and women's history, I delve into anything fascinating. Learn more.

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