“Mary, Queen of Scots,” the controversial queen rules the screen

By Brooke Weisbecker

Director Josie Rourke made a stunning debut into the realm of feature films with the period drama “Mary, Queen of Scots,” starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.

“Mary, Queen of Scots,” is the profoundly epic and gut-wrenching story of Queen Mary Stuart of Scotland and her struggle to reclaim her rightful throne after becoming a widow at 18 years old. Although the film has been criticized for its historical inaccuracy, it ignited a wonder in many of us as to who this strong and independent queen really was.

Queen Mary returned to Scotland to find her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, ruling both Scotland and England. Both threatened by each other’s mere existence, the queens  struggle to defend their power and hide their attachment to one another. They fear each other despite being drawn to one another.

The characters at the forefront of this film demonstrate the real-life struggle of being a woman in power. That has a familiar ring in modern day, despite being set in the 1500s. Mary is relentlessly accused of being a “whore” despite being a married woman, she is questioned by her counsel of men for making strong, progressive decisions and she is accused of planning her husband’s murder, and her son of 13 months, James, is ultimately favored for the throne over her. Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth are both counseled by power-hungry men that ultimately lead to some very rash decisions.  

In addition to a theme of toxic masculinity, the use of color in this film is significant in revealing Queen Mary’s strong personality in relation to those around her. Throughout the film, Mary graces the screen in a blue gown against an array of gray, black and dark green. This shows how her personality stood out amongst men, and how her confidence and wisdom aided her through her struggles. In the final scene, Mary wears a striking red gown, associated with the power and passion she still possessed.  

Though critics may say that “Mary, Queen of Scots” is just a typical period drama, it serves our curiosity and need to connect with our past and to understand themes of intolerance that are still prevalent today.

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