In Mary Queen of Scots Theater director Josie Rourke sets her sights on the life of the monarch of the same name and stages it as a gripping power struggle with Queen Elisabeth I. We reveal more about the strong piece of actress cinema in our review.
The Plot Summary
Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan), who was crowned Queen of Scotland when she was just nine months old, returns from France to Scotland at the age of 18 after the death of her young husband to rightfully claim the throne. As a result, she enters into a power struggle with Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie), who until then has been sole ruler of the English kingdom. Mary Stuart does not recognize Elizabeth as the rightful Queen of England and Scotland. Elisabeth, who also does not accept a rival, is challenged in her claim to power. Rebellions, conspiracies and betrayals threaten the throne of both queens, who are fascinated by each other despite their rivalry. As young, confident rulers, they fight for the crown, for love and for power in a male-dominated world, which will change the fate of their country forever.
Mary Queen of Scots explanation of the ending
How do you manage to create tension and atmosphere throughout a film, even if it is assumed that the audience knows the end of the story being told? Director Josie Rourke, best known for her theater work, openly challenges this assumption when she begins her feature film debut “Mary of Stuart, Queen of Scotland” with the end in which the titular regent is executed at the age of just 44 . Previously, her constant rival Queen Elizabeth I had signed the death warrant herself after her attempt to have Mary Stuart murdered by a prison guard failed. The execution on the scaffold, which was only completed after three blows with an ax, is precisely recorded; In particular, the dark red satin bodice worn by the condemned woman was intended to retroactively make the young ex-Queen of Scotland look like a martyr. There are even stories of a dog that was at Maria’s side during the execution and then left the execution site covered in blood. With this knowledge in mind, the events leading up to this event are of course all the more interesting. What leads someone (in this case Queen Elizabeth) to have the reigning queen killed, even contrary to the ruling class’s opinion at the time? In this respect, it is only legitimate that screenwriter Beau Willimon (“House of Cards”) anticipates the already known ending. What the story leads to is not exciting. But what happens as she heads towards the inevitable tragic end.
Margot Robbie takes on the role of Queen Elizabeth I.
Nowadays, when films focus primarily on female characters, one almost feels compelled to throw in the information that it fits perfectly into the times characterized by the #MeToo debate. And actually they are with Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”) and Saoirse Ronan (“At the beach”) Here, in particular, two actresses who shape the 124 minutes of historical drama cinema with their outstanding, self-sacrificing presence. At the same time, it is not the first time that filmmakers have taken on the fate of Mary Stuart: between 1895 and 2013 there were almost a dozen feature films about the queen, and “Reign” even ran a complete TV series on The from October 2013 to June 2017 CW about the rise and fall of the Scottish woman, who was appointed queen when she was a child. What makes Rourke’s project so exciting is the intensive examination of Queen Elisabeth I, who is of equal importance for the historical course. And so it happens that “Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland” not only illuminates the tragic fate of a woman, but above all how the two lives of the rulers depend on each other. Despite the clear film title, it would be difficult to determine exactly who is the main and who is the supporting character, because what is so interesting about the film adaptation of John Guy’s novel “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart” is that Neither woman can be overshadowed by the other – this fact lays the foundation for a duel on equal terms.
While “Mary Queen of Scots” almost completely ignores the social conditions at the time, Josie Rourke stages the power struggle between the two rulers as a mixture of a hysterical feud between two vain women and a tough political battle. Although both belong together and it is only through this that the characters become the complex characters through which the events can really unfold, the personal quarrels turn out to be a much more interesting aspect. This is partly because Rourke shows more ambition when it comes to showing the impact of events on women as private individuals; As a result of what happens, the two of them see their dignity violated and take the opponent’s attacks personally. On the other hand, the long negotiations on government decisions are more interchangeable, after all, the fate of the two women has often been staged on film and since those responsible – with one exception – are based on reality, “Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland” is lacking at times of tension, which the theatrical production is not entirely innocent of. When the rulers withdraw with their hosts of advisors to make important decisions and there are pompous speech duels because, despite the power struggle between Mary Stuart and Elizabeth, 1. two countries still want to be ruled, Josie Rourke makes little of the fact that she is involved Edinburgh, Scotland, and the town of Glencoe had two impressive filming sets available. She picks these out for formative individual scenes; Otherwise, Rourke’s theatrical origins shine through in the reduced chamber play production.
Saoirse Ronan plays the eponymous Mary Stuart.
The fact that the director has set out to do more with “Mary Queen of Scots” than the umpteenth production of well-known historical events is made clear by one, namely the only historically unprovable scene in the film, in which the two opponents meet leaves. The scene is not only hard to beat in terms of tension (cameraman John Mathieson follows the actresses every step of the way into a – in the truest sense of the word – boiling washhouse and thereby also expresses the symbolic heat between the two women on a visual level), It also underlines once again how much this is about the fact that not only one woman is dependent on the other, but also the other way around. If there have been repeated efforts to cooperate before, this is the ultimate confrontation with the other side – and purely theoretically it would have been possible for the story to end completely differently if two people had not stuck to their positions as opponents, but rather instead cooperate with each other. At the same time, this scene also expresses all the insecurities of both women, which are partly responsible for the fact that this cooperation did not happen. And in advance, many small scenes (including the explicitly shown murder of a secretly homosexual lord) ensured that the main characters’ lives were shaped, so that the state of the countries they ruled at the time can be seen from their actions.
Conclusion: “Mary Queen of Scots” is the superbly acted power struggle between two rulers, which is always particularly exciting when director Josie Rourke focuses on the personalities of the main characters and less on the political surroundings.
“Mary Queen of Scots” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from January 17th.