THE FAVOURITE
2018, Fox Searchlight, 119 min, Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos

Early 18th-century England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots. As the politics of war become quite time-consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the queen’s companion. Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way.


THE LION IN WINTER
1968, Rialto Pictures, 134 min, UK/USA, Dir: Anthony Harvey

At Christmas court in 1183, King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) argues with his estranged wife, Eleanor (Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn) over whether Prince John (Nigel Terry) or Richard the Lionheart (Anthony Hopkins in his film debut) shall inherit the throne. Complicating matters is King Philip II of France (Timothy Dalton, also his debut) who seeks his own fortune by demanding his half-sister Alais (Jane Merrow), currently Henry’s mistress, be betrothed to Richard. The most royal of the cycle of '60s films dealing with the history and palace intrigues of medieval England.


MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
2018, Focus Features, 125 min, Dir: Josie Rourke

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan). Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. But Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth 1 (Margot Robbie). Each young queen beholds her “sister” in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and in love, female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence. Determined to rule as much more than a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth’s sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion and conspiracies within court imperil both thrones – and change the course of history.


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