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Queen Mary I in TV & Movies
MOVIE & TV Portrayals
Queen Mary I of England
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History has not been kind to Mary I. Not since Richard III of England has a monarch been so consistently vilified in popular media; especially when compared to her Protestant half-siblings, her father King Henry VIII, and even her grandmother Isabella I of Castile who exiled the Jews from Spain.
Jeanne Delvair in Marie Tudor, a film adaptation of a Victor Hugo story in 1917.
Yvette Pienne in Pearls of the Crown - 1937.
Glen Close as Lady Mary in Theatre.
Mary in Starkey's documentary The Unknown Tudors: Edward and Mary.
Françoise Christophe as Mary I in Marie Tudor from 1966.
Kathy Burke as Queen Mary in Elizabeth (1998). Mary is portrayed as a hunch backed, ugly, fat, and bitter old woman.
Gwen Davies as Mary in Tudor Rose (1936) Again Mary is an old and frightening woman compared to Lady Jane Grey who is lovely by comparison. Mary is portrayed as self-righteous and unsympathetic in her decision to execute her cousin (historically she was as well).
Illustration from Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper" where Tom Candy (Edward VI's pauper) tells "the grimly holy Lady Mary" that she is banished to her closet and "beseech God to take away that stone that was in her breast and give her a human heart"
Comments: Even to this day new ideas and illustrations in the "renaissance fashion" are always the fashion, the Protestants were GOOD and the Catholics like Mary were the BAD. Despite her half-siblings injustices to the Catholic faction and people in general, there is never a mention of it. Mary is deemed the villain and the mean half-sister who did everything to make people suffer. We tend to forget her father's reign and that of other Kings who came before her. Even her aunt, to this day, is painted as a lunatic without people knowing the story behind how she became known as "Juana, the mad."
Queen Mary, as played by Jane Lapotaire, in Lady Jane (1986) is depicted as one of the villains of the story because of her role in sentencing the execution of Lady Jane Grey (Helena Bonham Carter) and Guilford Dudley (Cary Elwes) who are celebrated as ill-fated, young lovers. In reality they were not happily married as the movie tries to romanticize. This version of Mary presents her as evil; she threatens Lady Jane when meeting with her. Mary's rise to power is depicted in the film as the beginning of a dark time for England.
Joanne Whalley as Mary I
The Virgin Queen (2005)
a bit more even handed, but still casts Mary as an unsuccessful queen compared to Elizabeth. Some of the more educated public feel that it is unfair to portray Mary as always black and white; there is no grey area when it came to their relationship in most portrayals.
Surprisingly, Mary was not always 100% set in her religious ways. During the reign of Queen Catherine Parr she was persuaded to translate Erasmus's Gospel of St. John into English. Catherine and Mary were good friend's and Mary was not prejudice towards Catherine's beliefs, just as Catherine was with her. Mary is always portrayed as the staunch Catholic who burned 300 people, but how did she get to that point? Like the beginning of The Tudors, "You think you know a story, but you only know how it ends. To get to the heart of the story, you have to go back to the beginning."
Mary was in the end a Queen who was influenced by those around her. She was the first queen regnant and had no experience when it came to ruling a country. One of her biggest mistakes was marrying her cousin, Philip II of Spain and naming him consort. This angered the English people. Philip influenced Mary immensely and her view of "obey your husband" backfired. Her decisions were based off of Philip and the Catholic faction around her, but the people were not aware of this. She was the Regnant so therefore she got blamed for her final decisions which she thought in the end were what the people wanted according to her counsel and clergy. These people were staunch Catholics who cared more about power than religion, unlike Mary who didn't care about power, but rather her duty to her husband and God, much like her mother had done with her father.
The Twisted Tale of Bloody (2008)
An independant docu-drama of the life of Mary. While some parts are over sensationalized, it gives equal time to Mary's childhood and adult years in an attempt to explain the Queen she became. Miranda French, Elizabeth Rees, and Natalia Plenlazek (right to left) all play Mary.
More Positive Portrayals of Mary:
Alison Frazer in The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Alison portrays Mary from 1536 to 1547. From the time Mary was returned to court after signing The Oath of Supremacy to the death of her father.
Nicola Pagett in Anne of a Thousands Day
Mary's role was minimal in the film. Mary was also wrongly portrayed as being at her mother beside when Katherine died.
Marion Day in The Royal Diaries: Elizabeth
This program is geared for young readers of the Royal Diaries book series by Scholastic Books. In it, Mary is portrayed as a wicked step-sister and erroneously is shown plotting the downfall of Catherine Parr (in actuality, though they did not share the same religion, they did get along).
Constance Stride in The Other Boleyn Girl
Mary's role short, appearing in the beginning of the movie. The movie inaccurately shows Mary at her mother's side after she delivers a stillborn infant.
Daphne Slater in Elizabeth R
Mary is portayed from Edward's death to her own. Daphne's portayal is historically accurate from accounts from her time.
Lisa as Princess Mary in the Simpsons episode.
Princess Mary Tudor in The Tudors, portrayed by Bláthnaid McKeown; Season 1.
| Operas about Mary Tudor: |
Maria, regina d'Inghilterra by Giovanni Pacini(Italy)1843
The brazilian soprano Eliane Coelho in the opera Maria Tudor.
Mary I in the series The secrets of the Virgin Queen
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