20 thoughts on “TBT: The Advocate (1993)

  1. Why does Samira look so terribly modern to my eyes?Maybe her hair,which I confess is gorgeous.
    Those burgundian/ish gowns are so pretty-pretty princessy(despite the fact that interpreting the contrasting overturned lapels and collars and cuffs as wide satin trim is not a theatrical,but a rather lazy choice).Those luscious locks could have been tucked into her dainty truncated hennin.The film had surprisingly good costuming,with some questionable choices for Firth.
    I find it rather amusing that British are stereotyped as stiff upper lipped aristocrats and Americans laid back millennials,but the censoring doesn’t quite agree with the aforementioned perception of the two nations.

    1. Samira does look very modern, it’s not just you. I think it’s in large part due to the fact that the costuming choices for her character are 1) not very well researched for this era, so a lot of more modern concessions were used, and 2) her hair and makeup are very much more in line with what we think of as a modern look.

      In the film, it really sets her apart because the rest of the white cast is costumed to look as close to the 15th century ideal for fashion/beauty as possible. What ends up happening is that all the white characters start to look like aliens, and Samira looks the most normal to modern eyes, which works well within the context of the plot because Samira’s voice is often used to point out the artifice, ridiculousness, and hypocrisy of the white culture surrounding her.

      She even calls Richard on it when he confesses his love for her and begs her to marry him and run away to the city, where presumably it would be less weird for a successful advocate to take an “Egyptian” wife (the film uses the terms “Egyptian” and “Moorish” kind of interchangeably, while the people in question are really neither. Samira at one point tells Richard she was born right up the road from Abbeville and her family had been in France for generations). She points out that she knows he’s only attracted to her “otherness”, and that taking her as his brown-skinned wife, to bear him brown-skinned children, would do him not favors in society and eventually cause him to resent her.

      Gah, I could go on and on about Samira. She’s one of the best characters in this film.

      1. I just watched the film,and I get how the costuming choices helped her stand out.Even though I would have appreciated it more if they used actual,authentic “moorish” influences rather than just different,I can totally see that the liberties worked well within the context of the film.

  2. Thanks, Sarah! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this. Now I must track it down! :)

  3. Can anyone explain to me the sex appeal of Colin Firth? My orientation runs in rather different directions.

    1. For me, he carries himself well. He has great posture. It’s hard for me to describe what I find so attractive about him, but he’s gorgeous.

    2. I used to find Firth kind of boring: competent but passive, as if he didn’t really want to be there. (In other words, perfect for “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”) I think P&P brought out a little smolder in him–and perhaps his self-confidence as a performer grew. No charm in an actor who doesn’t like performing.

  4. I’m glad you reviewed this.

    Either version of the film is kind of hard to track down (although I think it used to show up on HBO/Cinemax), so I figured that was the reason for its absence, despite: a) Colin Firth b) incredible costumes and hairstyles.

    The medieval makeover on Lysette Anthony and Joanna Dunham (playing Filette’s mother) was covered on the website The Makeup Gallery, which focuses on effects makeups on actresses– and has a section on historical makeup jobs by era that should be checked out:

    site address

    period makeups

    Hour of the Pig makeups

    According to a quote from Anthony on the website:

    “I wouldn’t let them shave my head, but we bleached all of this [her hairline] white blonde then they plucked all my eyebrows, and I had brown contact lenses.”

    1. Lyssette Anthony deserved a WCW I’m quite sure I’ve seen her in a handful of period films
      Let me make an Off topic comment could one of the girls from FF review the 1977 Anna Karenina I think it’s well dressed and is a nice adaptation or then maybe a comparison of what is the best dressed version I would recommend:
      The 1935 1948 1961 1967 1974 Italian series 1974 ballet 1977 mini series, 1985 film, 1997, 2000, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2017
      Believe me most of them have very nice costumes

  5. The people in that first crowd scene look quite medieval, particularly the woman who seems to be the focus of others’ stares. She looks like she stepped right out of a 15thc painting!

    1. I’m glad I was not the only one who noticed @Gina P!

      This film looks interesting (me needs some Colin Firth), wish me luck in finding a copy to watch…..

  6. So glad you decided to review this film! It’s long been my go-to recommendation for “eh… close as it gets for Medieval”. I think the story highlights something interesting: while most institutions, like the military, don’t work at all today like they did in the Middle Ages (something filmmakers can’t seem to understand), one institution that’s eerily similar is the public defender – or “advocate” – system.

    As far as period details go, I’d say it’s superior to the otherwise studious Jeanne la pucelle (1994), which had to make budgetary compromises, the otherwise brilliant Marketa Lazarová (1967), and ones like Anchoress (1993) and Beatrice (1987). To my mind one of the few films that comes close is Le Miracle des loups (1924) – likewise far from perfect but a better effort than most.

  7. I’ve got to add this one to my list! As soon as I saw the picture, I remember that it had been favorably reviewed way back when. Everything from your post looks amazing–cast, costumes, and plot.
    Your description of the plot reminds me of a movie I saw way back when (2002) called The Reckoning. It stars Willem Defoe, Paul Bettany, Vincent Cassel, a young Tom Hardy, and it’s very much worth watching. I suspect you haven’t seen it, because it wasn’t included on Tom Hardy’s Man Candy Monday post. It is excellent.
    Re Colin Firth’s appeal: I don’t know what it is either. All I know is, some days I think objectively with no overwhelming desire, “Yes, I see it. He’s an attractive man.” Other days, I just start drooling at the sight of him. Go figure! Whether or not he makes me drool, he’s always a compelling actor.

    1. Darn, yet another film I have not seen, want to see, but not on Netflix (including Lily’s suggestion above). I guess I need to re-think and expand my viewing options.

  8. Heather, if you’re in the US and have a library card you might have access to Hoopla and Kanopy. Those are streaming services specifically for libraries. I’ve found a few of the recommended FrockFlicks between these services like The Slipper and The Rose and Elizabeth R. I haven’t checked either of them yet for The Advocate or The Reckoning. But, they are FREE which is lovely, considering that all the various streaming services and even one-time digital rentals can really rack up. And of course, there’s always the option of looking for a good-ol’ unauthorized version on YouTube (but I prefer to go through “proper” channels when I can).

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