The only thing that might compare to a great book is a great movie (or television show) set in the past. Who doesn’t love action, adventure, and sigh worthy heroes all bundled in lavish historical settings? For many viewers, the term period drama signifies the film is not only historical in nature but is also based on classic literature. For my purposes, I’m using the phrase to refer to the broad genre of historical films.
Pride and Prejudice–You knew this one was coming. Don’t even talk to me about the Keira Knightley version. It is stunningly inferior to the 1995 A&E adaptation with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. I don’t even think I really need to argue this point. You know I’m right.
Victoria & Albert–Wonderfully lavish production retelling the passionate love between Queen Victoria & Prince Albert as they both settle into life ruling the British empire.
Love Comes Softly–While I absolutely adore this movie and Dale Midkiff’s portrayal of Clark, this made-for-television film takes EXTREME liberties with Janette Oke’s book. The film wonderfully captures the essence of her characters, if not her plot.
Persuasion–Another Jane Austen classic! This story follows our heroine Anne as she learns to assert herself as she fights for a second chance at love with a man she had been persuaded to refuse. One of my all-time favorite swoon-worthy lines is spoken by Ciaran Hinds as the patient and honorable Captain Wentworth, “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope…I have loved none but you.” Melt…my…heart!
Sarah, Plain & Tall–A single New England woman responds to an advertisement by a Midwestern widower in which he asks for a bride to help him raise his two children. If you know me, you know I love, love, love mail order bride stories! Great adaptation of the classic! Skylark and Winter’s End, the sequels, are also worthy of your time!
The Last of the Mohicans–Three frontier trappers protect a British Colonel’s daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War. Perhaps the grittiest film on the list, this tale is based on James Fennimore Cooper’s classic piece of literature.
Sense & Sensibility–Were you surprised to find yet another Jane Austen Classic on my list? You shouldn’t be because it’s not the last! This tale is the story of two penniless sisters, with very different views of romantic conduct and true love, struggling to find their place in society following the death of their father. Great sister dialogue here when Marianne is rescued from a storm by her wildflower toting would-be hero, Willoughby: “What care I for colds when there is such a man?” To which the pragmatic Elinor replies, “You will care very much when your nose swells up.” Such fun!
Emma–Emma Woodhouse is sophisticated, rich and beautiful. Determined not to marry herself, she embarks on a journey of matchmaking that turns the lives of the local genteel society upside down. I know I’m a snob, but this version with Kate Beckinsale is much better than the one with Gwyneth Paltrow (just sayin’).
Gone with the Wind–You can yell at me all you want for picking this movie with African American stereotypes but my list would not be complete if I didn’t include this sweeping epic during America’s civil war. And what Scarlet O’Hara sees in that sniveling Ashley Wilkes I’ll never know when she has Rhett Butler at her beck-and-call! I never get tired of seeing Rhett sweep Scarlet off her feet and carry her up that gorgeous staircase! Sigh…