Today, Anchor Bay Canada releases Philippa Gregory’s lavish and sumptuous interpretation of the War of the Roses comes to life in this Starz/BBC co-production that is a gorgeous rendering of visuals, story and actors.
Based on a trio of novels, The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker’s Daughter, the ten episode miniseries, The White Queen receives a stunning treatment on Blu-Ray, making the images as sumptuous as the story.
Rebecca Ferguson portrays Elizabeth, a common girl, at least in the eyes of the royal court and the elite, who catches the eye of the new king, Edward (Max Irons), a York, who has seized the throne from the Lancaster king, Henry (David Shelley) and exiled his tyrant wife, Margaret of Anjou (Verle Baetens), back to France.
Elizabeth refuses Edward’s advances at first, refusing to be simply another woman he beds, but when we learn that they both care for one another deeply, the two are married in secret with the blessings of Elizabeth’s mother Jacquetta (Janet McTeer), who sees her family upon the throne.
Edward and his two brothers, the sons of York, George (David Oakes), and Richard (Aneurin Barnard) seem to be always at war, trying to quell Lancastrian uprisings, and manipulations and behind the scenes betrayals in their own court. A number of them created by the devious and scheming Lord Warwick (James Frain), as he seeks to gather power to himself, by marring his daughters Isabelle (Elanor Tomlinson) and Anne (Faye Marsay) into royalty.
Warwick is not afraid of turning brother against brother, or bargaining with Margaret of Anjou, while on the sidelines, Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale), remains convinced that her young son, Henry Tudor is destined to be king, and sets herself and her own machinations against the York king and his kin.
After you get the family lines straight, which doesn’t take that long, the story simply wraps you up with its top-notch acting and gorgeous locations.
The series is engaging, and held my attention from the get-go, there is politics, sex and violence aplenty, and I was also delighted to see a couple of familiar faces, Doctor Who’s Arthur Darvill as the Duke of Buckingham, and Sherlock’s Rupert Graves as Lord Thomas Stanley.
The story weaves all the characters together incredibly well, and doesn’t seem to falter once, there are births, deaths, accusations of witchcraft, seeking of sanctuary, and the seemingly endless battle for the throne.
At the story’s center is Elizabeth and Edward, their families and their relationships, not just with those around them, but with themselves as well, and all of it is handled brilliantly.
When one mentions costume drama, you can usually expect a large number of male viewers to roll their eyes and go seek something else, but the historical scheming and politics at play here, driven, behind the scenes by some amazing women, should be more than enough to hold their attention.
Ferguson’s turn as Elizabeth is brilliant, watching her arc from a young exuberant woman to wife, queen and mother is fantastic, as she fights to not only hold onto the man she loves, but the kingdom, even as those she loves, and some she thought she could trust are ripped away from her.
The Blu-Ray transfer is simply stunning, and will look amazing in your home theater, the colors and detail are simply brilliant.
And of course, the things I always tend to enjoy are the extras, and the third disc of this three disc set is packed with them, a behind the scenes look at the series, how the books were transferred to the screen, the costume design (which looks absolutely fantastic) and countless others.
Even if you don’t know Gregory’s books, or that much about 15th century history and the War of the Roses (I certainly didn’t), this is one series that is bound to entertain, and secured three Golden Globe nominations for itself (though sadly it didn’t win any).
These ten episodes stand as one solid, entertaining miniseries, but apparently Starz is seeking to do another series based off one of Gregory’s other books.
Have you read them? Do you have a personal favorite or recommendation?
The White Queen is available from Anchor Bay on Blu-Ray and DVD today! Watch it and let me know what you think!