Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Movie Review - Lady Jane

Lady Jane
PG-13, 141 minutes

For nine politically charged days in 1553, protestant martyr Lady Jane Grey (Helena Bonham Carter) rules England against her will, thanks to a conspiracy concocted by a band of men bent on keeping the crown away from the Church of Rome. But when Princess Mary, the daughter of King Henry, assumes the throne, Lady Jane and her husband, Guilford Dudley (Cary Elwes), are imprisoned and sentenced to die.

As my fascination with the Tudor dynasty continues, I was finally curious enough about this particular part of history that I decided to Netflix this movie that I've passed up many times.  Actually, I first became aware of this brief scandal in that horrible Tudor Secret book I was reading last year.  (Click here to see that book review.)  Now that I'm more familiar with all the people and events of the times, I thought this would be interesting.  Seems like we don't hear much about little Jane's part in it all.

I knew this was an older movie but didn't realize it was from way back in 1986.  Helena Bonham Carter was 20 years old but looked so young, and this was one of her first movies.  Cary Elwes was 24, also looking extremely young, and before his Princess Bride fame.  (Can you believe I have never seen that movie??)

The look of this movie, the music, the feel, was almost like a TV movie.  Not that it was bad, but it made me chuckle a few times.  I've read reviews that rant because this movie was far from accurate.  I guess I don't really know enough about these specific events to know how accurate it was or wasn't, but I suspected there was a lot of Hollywood drama and romance added because this really was a sweet love story played against the stark evil greediness of the adults all around.  The commands and actions of Jane during those few days she was queen seemed very childlike and fictional, but really, did she do anything in those nine days worth noting?  I don't know yet because this is all I know about her so far.

Jane's story is sad whether referring to it factually or from this movie.  For this review I will go by the movie.  She didn't ask to marry Guilford Dudley, and he certainly didn't want to marry her.  No, it was political maneuvering by their power hungry parents that set this match up.  Still it was sweet the way they eventually got to know each other and fell in love.  It was sad how they felt they only had each other to rely on  and how they dreamed of going away.  Jane certainly didn't ask to be queen.  As far as this movie, I don't think she was even aware of what was being plotted.  And how would it feel to be 16 years old and be told you are now the Queen of England, especially in those troubled times?  Crazy.  Did she even understand all the political bull going on around her??  To be thrown in prison only days later, sentenced to death, and executed months later . . . all for something she never asked for, never wanted, never had a hand in?  Heartbreaking, and disgusting to think that their parents put them in this spot.

Whether accurate or not, this was quite a good movie, very sweet and very sad.  And as with all movies of this type, it makes me want to learn more about the real Lady Jane story.  I'm glad I finally gave this movie a chance.  And young Cary Elwes was quite a cutie!

Have you seen this movie?  What did you think of it, or of the Lady Jane scandal in general?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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  1. I watched this movie for the first time last night on netflix and like you I passed it by many times for Catherine Cookson films. I found it wonderful. The next day the story was stuck in my head the whole day. It was so sad and tragic and yet enduringly romantic. It may not be historically accurate but we have all heard of Mary of Scots and Queen Elizabeth, it was quite nice to see a story that has been overlooked brought to light. Most historical movies of this time period focus on the political masterminds of that day and age which seem to burst from the womb with the knowledge to rule a kingdom. To see someone try to run a country from the innocence of the heart and with values most people wish that could in store into a country with the flick of a command. It made me remind myself of when I was younger and was instilled with the same passion for love, religious beliefs and the hope for a better country yet ignorant at the time that life does not work that way. I miss those times of innocent empowerment. The movie did have the harsh realistic historical portyal correct at the end. Based on knowledge of the past, they were doomed to be executed regardless of their age and innocence in the matter. Executions were common and the minute the crown was placed on her head she would never be free to live life. That was historically accurate, her way to the crown was already doomed by the line of session and the previous sucessors still be alive. The Princess Bride is said the be Cary Elwes best movie as well as SAW. This movie has no reason to be overlooked due to it being before the Princess Bride. I think both his and Helena's acting was superb and worthy to be mentioned along with the Princess Bride. Personally I prefer his acting in this movie to the Princess Bride and I believe it should be mentioned in a highly respected manner.

  2. Hello, Jessica.

    Everyone says Cary Elwes was so good in Saw, but I just don't get into those gorefest type movies and have no interest in seeing that. Princess Bride was on TV yesterday and I paused on it for a moment while flipping through channels but then moved on because it was somewhere in the middle. Someday I'll see it! LOL

    As for the Lady Jane movie, I'm glad I'm not the only who liked it even if it isn't accurate. I think I'll probably buy this one and add it to my newly started 'Royals' collection. I just recently bought Young Victoria, and both Elizabeth movies that Cate Blanchett was in. I'm so hooked!

    Thanks for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment. :)


  3. I've seen the Princess Bride but it was a long time ago and I can't remember it well at all. But for years and years now I have been shocked at how many people absolutely LOOOOOOVE them some Princess Bride. I feel like I need to watch it again to confirm to myself that I don't think it's nearly that great.

    I think there is another movie on this topic that has the same name. On the England trip, we were outside the theater in Stratford where the play we were going to see that day/night was going to be, and we ran into a couple of the actors. One or two of the girls on the trip flipped out because one of the guys had been in what I could swear was called "Lady Jane." I think this one would have been from the nineties. She/they got their pic taken with the guy--it was quite cool. :D

  4. It might have actually been a PBS thing? I'm not sure. But some movie on her and I swear it was called Lady Jane.

  5. Don't know what to tell you about the other Lady Jane. Nothing else comes up on Netflix or in my general Google search.

    When was your trip? Geez, I don't even remember anymore. Wish you'd taken some pics while you were there.



  6. It would be really funny if it were actually this movie.

    1997. I know! Too bad there were no cameras then.