The Favourite

Heather Rose Jones is joined by Farah Mendlesohn to discuss the movie The Favourite.

The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast – Episode 30c with Heather Rose Jones

A review of the movie The Favourite, about the rivalry between Sarah Duchess of Marlborough and Abigail Masham for the favour and affections of Anne, Queen of England.

I’m joined in this show by Farah Mendlesohn, historian and both author and publisher of queer historical fiction, and by Trystan Bass, co-founder and editor in chief of the Frock Flicks blog and podcast. We talk about everything from the necessary historical inaccuracies of film making, to the use of costume and setting in conveying the film’s themes, to how much we loved both the story and the performances in this movie.

Listen to the podcast

A proper transcript of this podcast can be found on The Lesbian Historic Motif Project here.

Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online

Links to Heather Online

Links to Farah Mendlesohn

Links to Trystan Bass Online


please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect

[Music] this is Heather Rose Jones with The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast this weekly podcast looks at lesbian themes in history and literature and historic research into gender and sexuality we talk about current historical fiction with queer female characters including fantastic versions of the past and have interviews with authors who write those stories and in months when we have a fifth show we’re proud to present new original lesbian historical fiction for your enjoyment when I saw the trailers for the favorite I knew I wanted to talk about it on this podcast but talking about movies all by yourself isn’t anywhere near as much fun as talking about them with a friend I managed to rope two friends into discussing the favorite with me although not at the same time first I’ll have Farah Mendelsohn to chat about the historical aspects of the story and how they were adapted for the movie then Tristan bass and I will discuss the visual aesthetics among other things and of course we’ll all talk about the treatment of sexuality in the film and our appreciation for it is clear women if you want a refresher on the historic context pause this show for a bit and go back and listen to my podcast on Queen Anne that came out a month ago since we pretty much plunge into the details of the movie I’ll give you a brief synopsis of the plot Queen Anne of England is in the later part of her reign the country is still finding its balance after the upheavals of the mid 17th century which included the English Civil War there are those who question and support for the war in France one strong supporter of the war is Sarah Duchess Marlborough whose husband leads the English armies and who has been an intimate friend of Anne’s since they were both children but Sarah has come to take Anne’s affection and loyalty for granted and when Abigail a cousin of Sarah’s joins the Queen’s household the two find themselves in a struggle for the power and influence that comes with being the Queen’s best friend and lover so that’s the background the last time we talked to Farah Mendelssohn on this podcast it was in connection with her wonderful Regency era lesbian romance spring flowering this time she comes to us as a historian dr. Mendelsohn is in the middle of writing a book about fiction set during the English Civil War and is a visiting fellow at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge England but she has also recently become managing editor of manifold press which is seeking submissions in the field of queer historical fiction check out the show notes for links to her various projects so I got the impression from your review which I did read that we have a similar take on it that the movie totally trashes timelines and compresses things but that it felt like it sort of got the history right yes it felt to me like late 17 very beginning of the 18th century period where politics really is in flux I know we tend to say that about all periods just into the party system I mean my partner complained about the phrase used to the phrase the loyal opposition but actually that’s when that phrase is just emerging because to be your position in the previous 50 years is to align yourself with rebels yeah so you be that phrase well justice yeah but as opposed to the ones who cut people’s hands off exactly I mean people do tend to forget that before we think of the Elizabethan age as the age of the Explorers actually in the Elizabethan age we’re basically Somalia we are the Pirates of the coast by this point England is starting to have influence on the continent we’re doing more than just sending mercenaries we’re actually becoming genuinely involved with overseas Wars and we’re winning whereas other Charles the first we’ve mostly lost hmm so that politics and then the court politics of the period which Lucy Worsley talks about a lot which is intensely personal and very much about who has access to whom that was one of the things that I really tried to emphasize when I did my my podcast on Queen Anne which was being a gatekeeper being able to control who talks to the Queen was nothing to sneeze at for this entire period men don’t have the access that they are used to having there is no groom of the stool there has to be a lady of the stall there is no groom of the bedchamber there is a lady of the bedchamber that changes the dynamic quite dramatically and this may in fact be the beginning of the period of the whole concept of amount of political waves here become terribly important in the 18th and 19th century who marries can make or break his political career actions and her ability to manipulate the cause one of the fascinating things I discovered in my Wikipedia deep dive is that so both Sarah and Abigail had the position of keeper of the Privy Purse the the being in charge of the finances the royal household and as far as I can tell they are the only women up to the current day who have ever held that position distinct sensation could listen if used to man that’s part of actually a general shift in the household one of the consequences of the initial wall is that kitchens and households become female space throughout the male space it’s almost classically the same as the first world war men are pulled out of their traditional roles and replaced by women and because there is a shortage men don’t go back into those roles by the time England had you know a ruling queen again the the gender politics had shifted I mean Victoria had only male keepers of the preview purse yes but something yeah such an intimate role anymore because although Victoria is not completely a constitutional relic she’s certainly a lot more hands-off yes in the sense of trust a second I wondered to some extent whether some of the historic vitriol against Anne was this this man feeling pushed out of the places of power and and it turning into misogyny and a very personal critique of her I think that’s but don’t forget you saucepan blaster the Stewart’s and I think a lot of people huge a huge sigh of relief about that and there’s no question that Lady Sarah Churchill’s memoized reduced her reputation and also I need to read the newest biography but it sounds as if and interests were very similar to Charles the first in that she was a patron of the Arts and the music now on the one hand that’s a good thing but they would have been men around her who remembered Charles first being a patron of Arts and Music for the good it did the country so I think there would also been that tension about which what her ancestors she took after and the signs that she was like Charles was not going to comfort anybody yeah so getting back to the movie in particular how did you feel it handled displaying the politics I know there was a lot of the compression of the whole wigs versus Tori’s things and making it more modern feeling but what do you think most very good although I did get some little confused as to who the wigs notorious compression confused as to where the good old Finn with a Whig or Tory is a Tory need to bring in the court and country division earlier they did it was funny because they made up the the Tories to be very floppy Sh very effeminate and foppish with the white wigs and the makeup and they really visually coded that difference which doesn’t seem to align with the actual historic politics well and to feel this is the same problem with rank heads and Cavaliers everybody puts around heads with short hair when actually they look the same as a company it’s a nice except I think I would have done it the other way round I’ve had the wigs the city chat just fancifully because they’re the ones had access to that money and I think that’s my kind of 19th century in position doesn’t make sense I don’t think either it’s correct but by coding the Tories is much rubbish of course it codes the width yes yeah yeah this the plain gentleman mm-hmm so what are you enough I think they’ve got very well where was the gender politics the sense of women in this period is being very disposable because we still in the period when there’s a man shortage there aren’t enough men and women’s value you can see is going down so the book I would point to a style deferral Flanders which really talks about this the way that women become chena uh-huh and of course he was one of the if I’m remembering correctly he was one of the writers that the Tories brought well so Harley at least brought in to do political propaganda no okay because I know John Swift Swift was the one very obvious assumption and I made it myself because the book is called memoirs of a cavalier and then was of a cavalier is an extremely slight dig about the Royalists Cavalier soldier who fights the Cavaliers because his dad says he should and who spends the entire book talking about how appalling the Kings general sugars it’s actually a pro Parliament book but I made exactly the same mistake mm-hmm it’s a very good book it’s worth reading there’s no criticism on it at all it’s fascinating I mean eclectic but the same with Mullen does it’s advertised as a rump and it’s not just a social novel about the exploitation of women mm-hmm isn’t interesting well worth read but to go back to the movie yeah I think it handled Churchill very well and it handled that sense of aggression on the continent of England wanting to be a continental player hmm and I think also handled that sense that Parliament cannot really do anything without the king’s people at the Queen’s permission yeah yeah did handle well it’s a sense of Whigs and Tories just or not that rigid in this period mm-hmm though quite a lot of on the lines was at the great swathe of radicals for example I mean it’s not it was made to seem very binary in a way it was yet yeah and the other things that I noticed which you know I suppose I can understand dramatically but it really set up Abigail to be passive and manipulative at the same time in terms of the politics that she was being used as opposed to having a political position of her own except I think she begins by being Kings becoming a user okay I think there’s a shift halfway through and the shift is to give us away something in the film when she’s masturbating her new husband she’s making it quickly gonna have sex yeah certainly that yeah he is there to serve her purposes to be her official place you know out other than the Queen’s favor to have a place in court well not so much the Queen’s favor but but Sarah’s favor that moment onwards we see her start to manipulate a political agenda but even then we’ve seen her taking note of the occasions when Lady Sarah has liked uh-huh so she’s building up those moments serve she may not have a political agenda but the nice side of Abigail is kind of horrified that the Queen is being lied to and being lied to by somebody who claims to love her friendship politics which I found fascinating and terribly plausible because I mean we do know is grounded in reality but we’ve all seen those friendships that were very dependent friendships yeah the dependent person season insults to see an inconsistency Oh stops being dependent for some reason those friendships shatter with the lead character not quite understanding why they shattered and of course with with this one a part of the time compression is that the the Sarah and friendship was already crumbling at the point when and was crowned yes yeah but but I I accept that part of how they messed with the timeline because they needed to yeah so part of the issue is that an fills out with Mary hugely with her older sister I don’t think they see each other again so yes I’m trying to remember from what I saw they they they met once when Mary was berating and over something and then not again until Mary died and I think it was known as classic sisters I don’t think was particularly political yeah they felt badly and Sarah in some ways had been under walk against Mary yeah so really the pressure one side and things get out of whack on the other side and then of course Adam does become queen or becomes heir because yeah and and it feels to be very very realistic that Sarah had built up this enormous bank account of goodwill because she was and full work she was her loyal supporter and the one who who put put in above everything else and this is a world in which men’s and women’s worlds are very separated yeah in that sense so it’s essential talent and we do know things I can’t see very well that’s true negative Mary as far as we can tell we know that she was very poorly educated she was mostly educated in religion she did not have a full princesses she was authenticated like Elizabeth the first for example uh-huh so in that sense it’s quite vulnerable and we also tend to forget that she’s rather short of relatives that have been executed and the other one is an exile her other grandfather is the Earl of Clarendon Edward Hyde he gets exiled joined charles the second’s right and never comes back hmm so some of the people you might fall back on yeah and then of course there’s the the whole Catholic branch of the family that is it so Rob does she have so much if I make sense which I’d forgotten is that she loses two of her children to smallpox yeah and so many of them either miscarriages or stillbirths grace but I think they accidentally give the impression that all of the children died in infancy and no she loses two little girls when they’re almost about 20 teenage foot in a smallpox and she loses Prince George when he’s about nine hmm so she actually raises three children only to see them die young I think they got the grief part right epidemic she lost all of her other friends reinstall service sir they’re really interesting it well the movie certainly sets her up as the the dashing romantic as it were even though she is clearly shown to be you know later sidesaddle was still quite primitive at this moment but she was a dashing romantic lead with a dashing military husband in many ways she was the nating woman of course and that’s of course one of those tensions one of the things that I was fascinated by in the the movie symbolism aspect is that in many ways Sarah was set up to be the romantic male lead she was presented in terms of a visual masculinity that was more masculine than most of the men around her know how much I agree and pulls her down on to Anne’s life uh-huh I know what you mean Sarah is frequently portrayed as the dominant I was thinking just the visuals that well okay the the riding outfit with the tall boots and all of that it’s simple and elegant in a way that modern people see as more masculine than all of the you know long wigs and and everything but this the thing I liked which is a limit played with things like that it never felt like a salacious male gaze yes at the moment most people I’m saying who don’t like it all men really dislike it whereas I have seen quite a few men really dislike it I want you to say this isn’t for you assumptions because I know they’d argue back can tell me no no no it’s just about moving I think I think it’s interplay makes it so wonderful a complete butch femme stereotype what we get I don’t think a precarious thing if anything these days we might call her a baby Dyke mm-hmm what she’s portraying is youth because Sarah is older than which is hard to remember beyond look so much and that’s right because that’s like a really tough life yeah so it’s more I think the H if that n goes from being the younger subordinate into being the older dominant uh-huh it’s that shift the tech found really interesting because that’s a very realistic shift I think I also liked there was there was one scene when Anne and Sarah get back together again I think after the bath episode and it’s clear that Anne is being very conscious about playing the two off against each other she’s feeling energized that she is finally pulling the strings and I liked it two women whoops yeah well actually it’s being convincingly desirable when she’s I thought that was fascinating but it isn’t it isn’t completely portrayed as a pity hook right I actually rather interesting yeah I also and you know it’s it’s not my place to have an opinion on this but my impression was that it handled the presentation of disability fairly well that you got this very a strong sense of and physical suffering and yet dealing with it it certainly won’t remain she looked to me like somebody in chronic pain having good days and bad days I mean I’d be the one over the shock personally on this one I’ve you had to use a wheelchair I stick my knees are fine today and yesterday but I spent all of last week forcing myself to walk it was absolute agony but knowing that the more I walked the better it would get yes the strain that puts on the face came over quite well the this sense of wanting to be able to move and not being able to another days just thinking I am so done somebody do something to my leg I am done yeah that was rather brilliant but also that sense of Heroes of woman who really isn’t well yeah just nothing anybody can do about this they can ease it a bit but that’s about it and the the only thing that I’m willing to forgive that awful dance scene for I got the impression that it was there to remind and of what she doesn’t have of the physicality that she doesn’t have and to to stimulate an emotional response there uh I it was just sort of like it the the modernist of the dance I mean yes okay the the costumes are very modernist and all that but any 20th century movie recreation you usually get okay tell me about that okay there is this idea sedate dancing we seem to acquired it at the end of the 19th century during the early attempts to recreate older music it gets played too slowly it gets played politely okay remember the Victorians are the ones who invent underwear women don’t have any knickers and I think we see that because we see Abigail peeing yeah these dances are lively they’re energetic involves throwing women up in the air yeah they’re more like modern ice dance than they are like a modern ones okay okay because of how close it helps somebody mm-hmm somebody throwing them and that was completely normal and how do we know hand gestures were parts of dance because they talked about it’s just we have no we’re recreating them but voguing actually I was giving the impression of if that makes sense so equivalent I can think of is as a filler bird edith piaf where she’s speaking cockney hmm okay that works thing because what you would normally there’s somebody speaking received pronunciation which doesn’t give the impression of a French posy and better slap at all uh-huh okay okay I have been convinced the whole revival of how do you play any music are you thinking how do you recapitulate dance and modern productions of Pride and Prejudice for example the more recent movies and this is no longer true I suspect we all grew up with the idea of tea dances but tea dances often being danced by people who actually didn’t know the steps anymore because nobody did well I didn’t grow up with their side but it’s as most people could manage a waltz in the foxtrot as a package but these dances used to be enormous here complicated much more like the 1950s adage of learning a new dance yeah so I thought it was nicely done and I thought the over-exaggeration went with the wigs so the favorite historical movie what’s your overall take I will be getting it out on DVD the second it’s available it’s not massively accurate but that’s fine I loved the design I love I love the Fantasia of it so for me a lot of the anachronism are fine because they were Fantasia a style that Quin isms they in that sense anyway space and place I think it’s fantastic but most of all I loved it because it made space for the female gaze okay that sounds like a really good closing wrap up the lesbian talk show relies on support the support of you our listeners the support of those who like and review our show one their favorite podcast app the support of our patrons on patreon and the support of our sponsors we hope you’ll continue to enjoy and support the lesbian talk-show for the second half of our discussion I’m joined by Tristan bass one of the founders and the editor-in-chief of prop flicks a blog and podcast dedicated to the love and loving critique of historical movies and TV shows the frog flicks site is a hoot and the women who run it are extremely knowledgeable about historic clothing and style and the popular culture of historic costume and it’s reproduction check out the show notes for links to the frock flicks blog and podcast so what were your overall impressions of the movie just first off the top I really liked the favorite I feel like it was definitely an arthouse film hmmm and the kind of the old old sense I guess very indie very kind of arch very meaningful meaning well very self-conscious in a lot of ways very much the director was definitely playing with the art form of film very self-consciously I’m using different kinds of camera techniques and he had a fisheye lens had quick cuts he did did a lot of things that were not naturalistic not trying to be you know in the moment but he was trying to be in film I am in school I’m in film but you know tediously doing a lot of things like the natural lighting there’s so much of the candle lighting yes which I love that as an effect to us it comes across as though it’s a whole very dark a world that only by fire that but visually it’s just delicious that’s true and actually that played really well into the interiors and it’s it’s something that the production designer noted that they really shot their wide budget-wise interiors they really focused on using appropriate interiors and there’s that sense of the historical space both the big rooms also they’re really small clothes darkroom yeah like Abigail’s bedroom just felt really right but but the you know with the hangings and the heavy furniture and and that sense of closeness and the little tunnels in the hallway the back stairs yes yes exactly so while that felt very historical and very accurate these other things felt very filmic and very art filmic so and then the costumes carried that as well because while they are historically accurate in construction and in silhouette and shape and and all that they are very distinctly monochromatic made in materials that are not yeah I mean you look at them and you can say what the hell is that made of and yet the the silhouette the impression yes works yeah I mean that was very purposefully done again it some of it was budget because they spent all the budget on the locations and Sandy Powell the costume designer did note that she was eking out a budget she went down to markets in Brixton and grabbed whatever you know looked good and because the the director wanted to use a very monochromatic look kind of referencing the Peter Greenaway film draw spins contract which is also in the costumes are in black and white for a particular plot point reason which also if you’ve seen that and then you see this you get this kind of a little film school like in joke kind of reference so again it feels very kind of art film reference referential one of the things that I noticed and I went back and made sure I was seeing it properly the second time around was the way the men’s costumes were used to reinforce your oversimplified understanding of the politics so that you know although it was not Universal but the Tories tended to be in the very artificially white powdered wigs and with makeup whereas the wigs were in the brown wigs and without the makeup I felt that that was part of playing with the representation of masculinity we’re okay there wearing foppish wigs and these and these fancy coats and playing duck races and all that but at least we are not the guys in the powder white makeup with the white wigs who are portrayed as you know as much of a villainous there is in there and they were literally wearing red and blue waistcoats different yes each political party which the the viewing that I saw some people were commenting on that in the lobby afterwards I laugh because I thought it’s it’s like if if you were watching c-span and saw the US Congress and you know the Republicans were were literally wearing red jackets and the Democrats were but it was it was this kind of color coding those were the only colors that were really used the women’s clothing was all black and white the upper class the the servants were in this kind of dusky blue and gray like almost didn’t it seem like it was denim it went then it was old jeans again budget but with that sense of you know livery so both class and gender were played in the colors as well the other gender aspect that I was really struck by in the costuming was when Sarah is wearing her shooting outfit you know the the masculine outfit and although I think in the first shooting scene you never see her legs so it’s not as obvious that she’s wearing breeches and boots but then later you do see it and I really felt like she was being set up as the most masculine character in the entire film and it was not just eye candy with that of course it was definitely but but that she was being set up as more aligned with modern standards of masculinity in in the clean lines the very clean elegant lines and of course the high boots and what I liked about that writing outfit where she’s wearing really modern pants she’s not even wearing historical writing pants like what the men of the period will be wearing I mean she was wearing frankly they looked like you know leggings you could wear today and in tucked into you know thigh high boots you could wear today with the jacket and the waistcoat that were period but from the lower half it was not even menswear of the period it was a great look but it was it was very you know half historical half modern however what I liked about it is that she was wearing that when the in the scene when you see when you see her for the full length she’s seen only by another woman mm-hmm it’s not a male gaze II thing yeah it’s very much she is asserting her dominance over Abigail yes and she does that through men style clothing she’s not wearing it to be sexy for men and she’s not wearing it to be sexy for women she’s wearing it to be a sexualized woman it’s a power-play yeah it’s very much a power play which is unique because usually when you see you know women in men’s clothes in film it’s it’s just a sexualized thing it’s just nice because it’s it’s cute for the man and so that was a very clever point for both the director and and the costume designer to show that only in the scenes where she’s making a point against Abigail mm-hmm another thing that I really noticed and this circuits into the iconography of lesbian relationships is that they made Sarah a brunette and they made Abigail a blonde and I think both of them were blonde historically to the best of my research but this is the classic thing from like the pulp covers is is that the brunette is the aggressive mannish woman and the blonde is the innocent college girl who is being seduced which of course the question of whether abigail was being seduced or being a seducer is really kind of up to interpretation they’re true and especially Abigail as the the young ingenue blonde coming up through the ranks and kind of finding working her Wiles to get what she needs mm-hmm you know very mercenary way yeah that’s a kind of a huge trope yeah blonde like she’s almost a gold digger and yes yes it’s maybe a little more complicated than that but there are times in the film the film wants to kind of go back and forth with that it’s not clear I mean as she’s not painted one way or the other I think that the film did a good job of showing the complexities because although you get a sense that Abigail got her way into the Queen’s graces by being genuinely kind and thoughtful and more subservient than Sarah had any intention of being but then there are the times when you see that Sarah genuinely loves and you know that she has this genuine affection and sympathy for her like the time during one of the attacks of gout when when Sarah is sitting there and like telling her stories of their childhood to this fact and to me it really struck the the complexity of the whole set of relationships that there is not a good guy and a bad guy here no that that is definitely true they were all very complicated relationships I feel like Sarah had the longest relationship with the Queen and so she had the most in common and that definitely came through abigail is the one where it’s a little how much is she using the Queen how much does she really care for I keep coming back to the the worst honeymoon night ever you know she Abigail has has used the Queen to get a man because you need a husband for status and for security mm-hmm and the the thing to that I thought was a great play a great reversal really of the kind of meet-cute hetero romance that most movies would stick in there and it would be like this oh you know she meets this boy and they have a little flirty thing within the rollin in the forest and and she’s oh but she’s also going to get the Queen to make this marriage for her and then she just their wedding night she she’s jerking him off and she can’t think of anything but her power and status relation yes she’s scheming in regulation she’s planning and scheming Sarah and he’s they’re saying what about me and so for her at least at that moment and kind of at that crucial moment kind of throughout from there and to the end of the film it’s all about power and status mm-hmm whereas before that you’ve been kind of wondering you know well maybe she wants a nice place she just just wants to be you know abuse and of service and and she seems softer and gentler and in that point we like it’s almost like there’s a not a switch or maybe either she was revealed or there was a switch I don’t know but that at that point she becomes the more grasping character I mean the sense I got from how the character was being portrayed is that it became an addiction to security for her that when she realized that Sarah saw her as a rifle just for being who she was and that therefore she needed to engage with the status war in order to have any security at all that was the point at which you know you’re addicted you’re on the merry-go-round you can’t get off again there she’s still riding the horse at the end you know yeah and she had no recourse even it’s it’s the the security so that so speak air quotes security of you know having marriage and a place in in court didn’t it wasn’t security yeah it wasn’t security for Sarah yeah and of course that part although all the timelines were compressed or of like which that’s it was necessary that was the thing going in that I was prepared to be most annoyed by and after I started thinking about it I realized like no in order to focus on the triangle they needed to do that reshuffling of timelines and compressing it down because of course in real life this breakup between Sarah and had happened right around when hand was crowned so all of this you know we’ve conveniently you know killed off ants husband already and it’s clearly you know more towards the end of her reign when she’s very disabled and dealing with all the hard politics but that that was necessary to tell the story they wanted to tell and I I accepted it I bought it that’s something that’s crucial to accept in film or TV versions of history there is going to be a timeline shifting or truncation I mean it’s just you got to tell a story and I feel like the director and and the writers I’m really told an effective story created interesting characters and all and these these actresses oh my god they are all stunning yeah they’re already winning all the awards and I power to them because they were all amazing there’s no historical veracity on film or TV because there can’t be you can’t tell stories effectively in a filmic yeah as they always say you know unlike real life fiction has to make sense yeah and you gotta sit there and want to watch it yes and if they have not done such a good job telling stories then the history would it bother exactly so Queen Anne of England lesbian or not that’s to to find a point to put on it I mean it’s you know it’s hard to label somebody else yeah I was I was joking about it’s a question of course because of course that’s yeah that’s part of you know the whole thrust of my website and podcast is saying it is more complicated than that it’s Nessie yes and particularly in royalty and here’s the thing with royalty you always have the duty to provide an heir the genetic imperative that is a requirement so I mean you you can look at any number of Royals in any country in any time period and doesn’t matter what their personal inclination inclinations or wishes or desires were if they are in the line of succession they have to provide an air so that’s gonna happen lie back and think of oh you know by all accounts and George’s marriage was very affection that for a royal marriage you know for goodness sakes she got pregnant 18 times yeah yeah just you know one of the real tragedies of her life really is that she did not end up with any surviving children yeah although for the time period not entirely uncommon either certainly not uncommon in her family yeah her mother had a similar history right and of course Queen Mary her sister had no surviving children yeah and I think the thing in the movie with the rabbits representing the pregnancies on one part was sort of silly but on the other part you know we again it worked on a symbolic level yeah it was it was a really nice symbolism I don’t know how well the meaning came across to the average watcher right it was maybe a little too subtle yeah and and of course I have to note that as I think everyone I know who’s seen the film has noted the very final scene with the rabbits yeah that’s a little heavy-handed okay I could cut the entire white last 10 minutes of the movie because it wasn’t just the weird rabbit pile at the end the closing credits were the most horrible typographical mess I have ever seen I think I’ve walked out by then though I will say the final scene before the bunnies I thought where basically Anna’s is making Abigail do er I thought that was like the whole power it was another power play I thought that was that was a good way to end on even of reinforcing this is what you blow it into lady yes this is what you get yeah reinforcing that mix of love and power and status and just because that’s what it was all about I looked at it reinforced that Anne was not a passive participant in any of this you know the other scene I really loved was they have just come back from that weird mud bath scene and Anna and Sarah have had a little bit of reconciliation and they’re talking about Abigail and Anna’s basically saying I’m playing the two of you off against each other I enjoy being the center of your squabble yeah and given that it was would have been so easy to keep framing in as you know the pathetic stupid ugly fat queen who’s disabled and everything is happening around her I mean that would have been really easy to be a very not just uncomfortable but nasty caricature and so bringing everything in where Anna’s shown as not just being a player in her own game in her own intrigues but also the scenes where she’s shown as genuinely working at the politics you know doing her best to read the bills and to understand what’s going on and and that redeemed it from from really doing her a disservice and that actually goes back to your simple question I think that both because you know she was queen actually really because she was queen she and she had the obligations she had the obligation of not just the obligations of state but the obligations of providing air where was she getting her love and affection and for most of her life it was from Sarah yeah so she she had to find that somewhere from her Court mm-hmm so she would look to who is who was in my court that I could get the love and affection that I mean because everybody needs that you know you have your consort you have your and obvious uh Chad gender segregated society at the time I mean you know and this is something that you know I keep emphasizing again and again about writing historical fiction with female female relationships and it is for an awful lot of Western history life has been gender segregated and nobody’s going to look cross-eyed at you if you are having these close loving relationships with your female friends because you’re not supposed to talk to men yes exactly and especially at the rarified position yes of queen you are surrounded by women and she was not surrounded enough I noticed that that at the beginning of the movie it felt like she had almost enough servants hanging around but they used the absence of human figures around her to represent her emotional loneliness and so as the movie goes on there are fewer and fewer people in attendance on her and the ones that are there are like standing very stiffly at attention as if they’re statues there’s another one thing where the historical inaccuracy is kind of in your face but on the symbolic level to tell the story it’s saying you know she is alone and another thing I felt that was interestingly treated and actually kind of I liked the treatment of was her disabilities mm-hmm and the fact that she’s portrayed as an older woman who is is not physically capable and she couldn’t choose you know wheelchair and how isolating that is and how isolating physical ailments can be if you have a chronic illness how depressing that is yeah and I thought that was beautifully shown through a lot of the shots a lot of the production design and that I think that was just beautifully shown and not innate oh how pathetic you are but in a I’m distanced from people and I’m isolated it was pathos about being pathetic although I confess the initial scene with her and Abigail with the herbs self on her legs it’s like this is the Tropius thing ever you know the kitchen maid somehow steals a horse what right now convenient wilderness picks the right herbs we’ve got the whole you know herb woman wise woman boat yeah grinds them up and this magically you know is sufficiently healing that she is plucked out of the gutter as it were so let’s get back to the whole overall summing up I really like this and I liked it more than I expected to because at first I was thinking ah well you know lesbian themed historical movie just my thing at least it’s better than nothing and I thought they did a great job yeah I agree I I was going in for primarily just the costumes by Sandy Powell because she is you know oscar-winning costume designer and I knew they were just gonna be fabulous and they were even where I I knew they were not gonna be perfectly historically accurate because of the liberties that were gonna be taken there were still amazing and extremely well so I got what I wanted on that part but also it was an amazingly well-crafted story stunning actors just brilliantly portrayed I watching all three of them like thanks so much a little female centered movie I mean and that is still very unusual is to have a movie that basically says we know who our audience is we are aiming it at you this movie is about women for women and if men want to watch it that’s okay but you know it’s just not for you and it’s about how women use power in history and not in in some anachronistic way of let’s all grab swords and March out somewhere like probably didn’t happen or let’s you know put on pants and march out swords you know it’s not making stuff up for the sake of making stuff up it’s these are actual historical ways women use power and these are things that essentially did happen and these are the ways that women would act with other women and that’s refreshing to see that it’s not making the women powerful by making them more like men yeah it’s making them powerful by looking at how women held power as you say yeah showing how that’s actually interesting on its own right absolutely yeah so everyone should go watch it rightly and if you miss through the theaters in catch it on streaming your cable or wherever able when it comes out because as soon as it wins the Oscars that so totally deserves it will be out for a wider search I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the lesbian historic motif podcast if you want to follow up on anything we’ve covered see the show notes for links and to contact me with questions book announcements or topic suggestions if you enjoyed this podcast please read it and subscribe on itunes stitcher or pod bean and consider supporting our patreon and if you’re on facebook check out the lesbian talk show chat group [Music]