57 thoughts on “SNARK WEEK: Even More About That New Mary Queen of Scots Movie

  1. Totally agree with this post- so much eye watering nonsense going on! Those partlets!? What the f*ck is going on with them! And they are all too flipping young, what’s wrong with casting actresses of the right age?! Going to go lie down now…

  2. FWIW this looks like a travesty all around. Even from a Reign standpoint, it’s a effing mess. And that’s just off the top of my head from these pics.
    The historical MOS was raised at the French Court – she was the Dowager Queen as the widow of Francis II- And clothes were French not pseudo English or WTF – The designer seems stuck in an Elizabethan rut.
    And Margo looks like Queenie from Blackadder.

    1. Actually, I’d say Queenie from Blackadder was way more accurate in dress than this Queen Elizabeth. It really comes to something when a comedy is more accurate historically (costume and even in the history except for the comedy situations) than a so called historical film but it seems to be the fashion for actual historical films and TV to not be accurate and pretend they are.

  3. No comments come to mind (brain bleach, ya know), but I have a question: Am I seeing things or in the Unknown English lady portrait by Hans Whatsisname, her boobs are in the middle of her torso? Or am I seeing things?

  4. I think the braids picture(Not shown here) offends me the most because its just so…unnecessary! They Could’ve at least tucked it behind her ears! Oh well. now I have more to bitch about!

  5. So, I know it’s snake week, but I’m sincerely grateful to learn all this stuff! I doubt I would notice the mistakes because my knowledge of 16th century clothes is just broad strokes. I find it so interesting and really have learned a lot from you all and other great historical costume/sewing bloggers. :-) Vocab for today: partlet (which is not a bolero).

    Also, is it just me or did they go to a lot of effort to make these mistakes. Also, sleeves are my nemesis in sewing. So adding them to a partlet makes even less sense to me.

  6. Speaking as a Scot related to the House of Stuart, could we just NOT make any more films about MQoS until they can get the actual details of her life right? I mean, she had chestnut/ auburn hair (there are portraits and WRITTEN ACCOUNTS of this), was nearly 6ft tall, and the very dour and Puritanical Scots were outraged when she arrived with her lavish French clothes.

    This looks like a right bodge and I am annoyed already.

  7. Ok – I am not trying to be offensive, but if we want so much to get the actual details of Mary Queen of Scots’ appearance and life right (down to height and hair color) then why is it not curious (at least) that Bess of Hardwick who we know was English and another redhead (who wasn’t in those days?) is to be played by someone who looks Chinese? She may be a fine actress and on stage it would not matter, but one tends to expect more realism from film, I mean people quite understandably get upset at Flora Robson playing Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi in 55 Days at Peking. Isn’t this much the same?

    1. Bec. race / ethnicity isn’t essential to telling this story. That’s the difference. In your argument, Saoirse Ronan is American-Irish, so why is she playing a Scottish queen? Again, it doesn’t matter here, that’s not essential to the story. (From how I see it, the ages of the characters, combined w/the shitty costuming, as inferred by these stills, makes it look like they’re all just gal-pal contemporaries, so that’s more relevant.)

      ’55 Days at Peking’ is a story about colonialism told from, by what I can tell, a colonialist POV, so having a British actress play a major Chinese character would be offensive. Race / ethnicity is a crucial part of the story there. Big difference.

      1. I totally get what you’re saying and am typically a fan of colour-blind casting, and am not bothered by it here, either. However, I think perhaps the point being made above is that issue was taken here with the inaccurate hair colour on MQoS but ignored in the case of Bess of Hardwick. We have pictorial evidence of BoH that shows she had light/reddish hair while the actor cast has black hair, so is that not also technically a mis-representation of that historical person?

        On a side note, seeing an asian actor in historical western dress (or some gross approximation thereof) did make me think it would be really cool to see some stories of /around early modern global trade between Europe and Asia and the cross-cultural influences that resulted – there were high-status Asian women in early modern Europe as the wives and children of high-ranking trading company officials, etc. And European women in Asia, etc. I just think it would be really great to see some of that cultural blending since we don’t typically associate it with that period and we also see so little of the dynamic interactions between Europe and east Asia during that time.

        1. Addendum: My second paragraph would, of course, refer more to the 17th than 16th century.

        2. I’m not the one who gets hung up on MQoS’s hair color — that’s Sarah (as noted above). And I pointed out that it’s not a big deal either. Honestly, getting actors that look identical to historical figures is both impossible & problematic, so I’m not hung up on it.

          Re: global trade between Europe and Asia — there’s a new book out ‘The Sultan and the Queen: The Untold Story of Elizabeth and Islam’ by Jerry Brotton that I’m starting about QEI’s trade w/the Ottoman Empire. Yes! There’s so much fascinating history between Europe & Asia, India, the Middle East, & Africa that is not explored by the mainstream media.

          1. Ooh, that sounds like it could be a really interesting book! I feel like there’s so much potential in that area of history and am getting tired of the unending focus on “the New World”, especially since it’s always the same kind of narrative. There was so much more going on in the world than this! I admit, I’m particularly intrigued by the idea of Chinese/Japanese women coming to live in Europe as the wives of Dutch east India company officials. I think a story like how a woman from east Asia negotiates a new life in early modern Europe has a lot of potential for being both really interesting and visually gorgeous – going from the surroundings. aesthetics and dress of her homeland to those of Northern Europe during the Dutch golden age – ooh, maybe sort of contrasting a portrait taken of her before she left and one taken of her in her new home. Ooh! Or Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s time spent at the Ottoman court! So many possibilities!

            1. Exactly – there ARE interesting stories about non-white people in 16th Century England that could be told, but those movies are never made, I assume partly because it requires a lot more work and research than a movie like this, about a story that’s very well documented, and partly because it’s easier to find the money for a film about a story that has been known to draw audiences before.

              So, instead of actually telling the stories of non-white people in Renaissance England, they serve us the 79th film about QE1 and MQoS, only with people of color playing people who in reality were white. Not only is this annoying because it is distracting in a film that otherwise tries to give an impression of historical realism, but also because it feels like it enables “Hollywood” to pat itself on the back and go “see? look how liberal and inclusive we are”, while in reality, it’s still only the experiences of white people being shown.

              1. The ease with which this thread (and article) mixes imagined ‘stories’ with History as if it’s some Drama to be ramped up for the societal expectations of today is really disturbing!

      2. Actually, those of American-Irish heritage and those of Scots heritage have pretty much the same features, hence the Ireland/Scotland/Wales mish mash in that heritage DNA testing we American mutts built as an industry, so the point works and is one with which I agree. The whole purpose in getting the costuming right in a biopic or period piece movie is because the visual impact is critical to characters who are inextricably bound with an era. Color-conscious casting is a more refined version of thoughtfully providing more access to roles and coordinating artistic vision, and that’s why something like Hamilton can work. Just clumsily collecting talented actors and stuffing them into vaguely old-looking clothes somebody in the past would have worn so that they can strut around introducing themselves to one another with the names of real people that lived once upon a time produces exactly the snark fodder on which we’re feasting!!!

    2. I wouldn’t have a problem if the Asian actress played a background character, but her playing a character who was white isn’t historically accurate. It just comes off as forced diversity (and no I don’t mind diversity, just not having it shoved in my face) by the casting directors and such. If a white person played an Asian person, I’d be seen as racist and offensive, yet this isn’t because the actress isn’t white and according to some people, white people are the only ones who can be racist bigots who insult other cultures, which they aren’t. Overall, the film has poorly constructed costumes sadly. Why does almost every MQoS film or TV show lately always have inaccurate costumes while the films about Elizabeth have mostly accurate period gowns? Like I don’t get it.

      1. You’re basically saying, “I don’t mind diversity as long as it doesn’t happen.” Actors here and now in the 21st century are diverse, and they don’t deserve to be sacrificed on the altar of “historical accuracy,” especially, as pointed out above, when the character’s ethnicity doesn’t matter to the story.
        “according to some people, white people are the only ones who can be racist bigots” That is not the argument at all. Rather, white people are the ones in a position of power in the global entertainment industry, and their choices as to who gets or doesn’t get represented in media have repercussions around the world. If a Japanese film company decides to film a European story with Japanese actors, guess how many people outside Japan are gonna see it? Very few. When big-budget productions released globally whitewash certain characters or choose to tell only stories where you “have to” keep the cast white for “historical accuracy” (suuuuure, as if), that’s gonna have an effect all around the world.

        1. “Actors here and now in the 21st century are diverse, and they don’t deserve to be sacrificed on the altar of “historical accuracy,” especially, as pointed out above, when the character’s ethnicity doesn’t matter to the story.”

          So you’d have no problem with white actors portraying court officials or concubines in the historically accurate film, “The Last Emperor”? Of course you would. The Imperial court was Chinese, located in China, but somehow the European courts of 16th century Scotland and England have to be “integrated”?

      2. I saw a preview at the movies when waiting for Happytime Murders to begin.
        !. Bess of Hardwick was an older white woman, NOT ASIAN.
        2.Rizzo was an Italian, not a mix of black and hispanic, like the actor who plays him in the movie. Now if Rizzo was from the south of italy, maybe i could see it since below a certain parall, think from a little above Naples on downward, those italians are considered blacks by most italians, especially in the north.
        3. The costumes for the women are gawd awful. The mens appear to be decent, but the womens are horrible. How hard is it to do historical research by going to the national Portrait Gallery in London, looking at historical portraits posted on Pinterest and getting books on historical costume from the library. I could design better costumes that would be way more accurate.
        4. In the movie the two main characters, Elizabeth and Mary meet. THEY DID NO SUCH THING IN REAL LIFE.
        I’ll watch it maybe when they put it on tv, but i’m not wasting money on this. And th ecostumes for the ladies are poorly sewn too.

    3. White actors have played non-white characters in the past with the use of makeup, wigs, etc. to make them LOOK like the non-white people they were portraying. People today say that’s wrong, but even MORE wrong in my book is to have nonwhite actors portraying white, historical figures while continuing to LOOK non-white, and I would say the same about white actors portraying non-white historical figures as being white. Film and stage are in part about illusion. Illusion succeeds when sets, props, costumes, speech, and ACTORS look proper to the story, time and situation. I saw a production of the Sound of music once, in which a black woman played the part of Maria von Trapp, who was a real person, and white. The actress sang and acted admirably, but the audience was still left with the conundrum of seeing a black woman married to a white Austrian naval captain with seven children in Nazi Austria in the 1930’s, which would not have happened. Think we’ll ever see a white actress portray Winnie Mandela in a film about Nelson Mandela, with people saying that it opens up a whole new world of opportunities for white actors? Don’t hold your breath.

      1. I could not get watch more than ten minutes of this movie…it seemed to be hyped so was excited and then it was just so bad. I will watch any period drama, as a rule but this was just awful in every way for me…

  8. This all reeks of directorial/producer interference. Alexandra Byrne has better taste than this (though she would have had nothing to do with these hair… choices). And I agree, the still of Elizabeth and her ladies looks right out of Elizabeth: The Golden Age. She probably used the same costumers to make the gowns.

  9. I’d like to point out the fact that the actresses do have a 13 year spread in terms of age, with Ronan at 23 and Chan at 35. This in no way excuses the lack of visual age differentiation, but at least they were close with the age gaps? Ish?
    But the costumes look like utter crap, so what do their ages matter anyways… ;)
    Also, can we for once have a non-tudor-centric 16th century movie? There was a lot of other stuff going on in the world at this point. Thanks, Hollywood.

  10. I actually think that picture of Chan looks super cute(the one with the bad partlet). Between the fabric choice and the jacket, it’d be great for a steampunk take on the Renaissance….just….not the actual Renaissance.

  11. Am I loosing it or are half these gowns in blue denim? Because the wealthy upper class and nobility would totally wear rough sail cloth?!

      1. It’s all just so….sad. I mean, if this is what the super-rich people are wearing what are the poorer people wearing!?

  12. Physical casting can seem/be so arbitrary, and I grow more annoyed with this as I age. To me, Ronan looks far more like Elizabeth Tudor than she does MQoS. And get that bloody hair up!

  13. So disappointing and so much weirdness. I’m currently reading the bio of MQoS by John Guy and this is not at all how I imagined it would end up looking even just from his descriptions and the portraits of her and others. In regards to the horseback riding though he does reference that it was known that Mary did rid astride in breeches of Florentine serge under her skirts, a fashion introduced by Catherine de Medici (sadly no specific footnote.)

  14. I’ve been portraying Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury at a Renaissance Faire for going on 5 years now…I was actually pretty excited that it was looking like Shrewbs was finally going to get some decent face-time on film.


  15. I kept looking at the photo with the hairpins, and there are a bunch of white diagonal slashes all over the picture, which I’m guessing are raindrops. I think the hairpins might just be raindrops that happened to be caught at the right time in the photo.
    Which makes it all worse.

    1. Did you happen to notice that in the same photo, she is wearing a rain coat/cape with a zipper and there is a very modern umbrella in the shot? Which means clearly this is not a shot FROM the film, but rather from the film SHOOT, (“behind the scenes” so to speak) before camera was actually rolling. So if they ARE hairpins rather than raindrops, I’m sure they were removed (along with the modern raincoat) before the camera actually rolled.

  16. Can you give a short review of what Alexandra Byrne do in the movie Elizabeth in terms of historical acuracy ?

  17. I hate that they modernize historcal costumes! I love Elizabeth R and they actually stuck to the costumes from paintings and actually did there research.

  18. Why is everyone here so hung up on historical accuracy? This is a MOVIE, written by the creator of “House of Cards” and directed by a theatre director. I actually saw the movie last night at the world premiere, and I enjoyed it greatly for what it was: a beautiful piece of art based on historical events. Not a documentary (along with metal grommets and certain fabrics, they also didn’t have cameras in the 1500-1600s), not a bio-pic, but rather a drama. Have you ever seen a stage (or film) production of a Shakespeare play set in a different time period or that took some license with certain elements such as casting, production design, or costumes which actually had more impact on a contemporary audience than had it been 100% historically accurate? See the movie when it comes out and judge it as a whole before you start picking apart the details. Otherwise, if all you are interested in is historical accuracies just go to a museum and look at paintings–because I’m sure no painters of this period ever embellished or changed any details in their works of art.

    1. I’m wondering WHY you commented and WHY you even visit this site??? You just don’t get Frock Flicks, do you??? I just saw this movie myself. The hair and costumes were so BAD, it was difficult to even watch. I will stick with productions that care about historical accuracy, and leave the “art” to people who don’t care if the costumes and hair are garish and freaky.

    2. Precisely… these chicks really come off more as a bunch of cosplayers wanting to show off how smart they are. Otherwise they’d recognize the importance of a film that actually shows great respect to the main beats of Mary Stuart’s life- something that hasn’t been done before. This is the wrong blog for me since it clearly places looks above events/characterizations when it comes to historical fiction. Proof? just compare their (several) negative reviews of this film compared to their worship of the Kirsten Dunst Marie-Antoinette monstrosity

      1. Aren’t you cute, lil’ Billy, coming along 2 years late to complain about a perfectly valid historical critique of a movie preview, obviously not having bothered to catch up with our podcast (also nearly 2 years old) of the movie itself! Nor having read the many other posts we’ve specifically written about Mary Queen of Scots on film & in TV, & the inaccuracies about said person’s life events therein. Maybe try to keep up next time, m’kay, boy? Bye!

  19. My historical theatre group went to see Mary Queen of Scots dressed in 16th century English court garb, with our own Queen Mary. Our costumes, hair and hats are authentically period and we looked so much better than the cast of the movie, it was kinda sad. Everyone wanted to take our photos. I will NEVER get over the hair … sun visors with their hair stretched over, and jewels stuck in. The bolero jackets were also quite comical. Our new ‘in joke’ is saying “Mary Queen of Scots” whilst holding our hands up to our heads, imitating the BIG TALL hair. Thank you Frock Flicks for validating my gripes with this movie !!!

  20. Yeah this site sucks. This is art, not a biography. Art is meant to convey beauty and symbolism. These costumes and hairstyles are objectively beautiful and convey important character development. The fashions of the time were ugly and would only get in the way of a modern viewer connecting with the story.

    1. Nope. Listen to our podcast review of the movie, which we saw in the theater. The flick doesn’t work as history or art — it’s boring tripe. The costumes are crap, the acting is weak, the production design is trite, the script is pedestrian, the directing is lackluster. C-

      You may think the fashions of the 16th c. were ugly, but the people of the time didn’t, & that’s the point. History is different. Just as going to a different country has different customs & styles, you have to step into their world to understand their time & connect with their story.

    2. The whole problem with the movie is ultimately that the character development was a complete disaster, with the hodge-podge mistakes in costuming really just part of the mess that made little sense from one scene to the next! It has nothing to do with connecting with a “modern viewer,” who shouldn’t expect a historical biopic to reflect current times rather than the times in which the characters being developed actually lived!!! The movie’s makers couldn’t get together on what they were doing and certainly didn’t have a well-designed plan of how to merge modern sensibilities with biography in a particular way that kept any sense of fidelity to the true character of the people portrayed. Hamilton this is not!!! If the makers just want to do a fun, artsy fantasy with fancy dresses for queens and courts, then fairy tales are the way to go.

  21. Now, now, those jackets do have some basis in historical reality; they’re fairly creditable versions of the Spencer. Maybe they had issues with length and had to cut the scene where the red telephone booth lands and drops off a grab bag of handy period dress items for every era of the royal time traveler’s needs!

  22. It’s not a portrait of an unknown English lady – It’s a portrait of a young Mary Tudor (Mary I)

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