Full of fiery locks, icy glares and plenty of “yaaas, Queen” moments, the newest Mary Queen of Scots trailer sees rivalries deepen between the two distant cousins vying for power.
Saoirse Ronan plays the eponymous royal, who reigned in Scotland from when her father died (she was just six days old) in 1542 until 1567. After a childhood spent in France and a marriage to the King there, the film begins as Mary returns to Scotland in 1561 as a widow.
As expected, it’s not long before Catholic Mary and Protestant Elizabeth are at each other’s throats, and the film focuses on the Rising of the North in 1569, where Catholic nobles unsuccessfully try to depose Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.
Margot Robbie is nearly unrecognizable as Queen Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. It was an interesting casting choice, hiring one of Hollywood’s most beautiful actresses to play a Queen who was, well, notoriously not. Queen Elizabeth I’s skin was scarred by smallpox in 1562, which also left her half bald and heavily reliant on wigs and make-up. She also apparently had a sweet tooth and fear of dentists, leading to extreme tooth decay – one Ambassador noted that “her teeth are very yellow and unequal … many of them are missing, so that one cannot understand her easily when she speaks quickly.” Delicious. Margot Robbie definitely isn’t looking her best in the trailer, but they still seem to have ‘prettified’ the Queen a little.
Queen Elizabeth I notoriously depended heavily on her trusted advisers, which is something that will be addressed in the film if the trailer is anything to go by: “Your heart has more within it than the men who counsel you,” a teary Ronan says to a white-faced and stern Robbie. A tale of power dynamics, fear, and intimidation is set to be explored, and director Josie Rourke does not seem afraid of employing a little extra drama to get there.
Some have already pointed out the strangeness of Ronan speaking in a Scottish accent when the royal spent the first twenty years of her life in France. Historians have also stated that the two Queens never actually met in real life, going against the facedown that happens in the trailer. Whether artistic license has been liberally employed or not, it’ll be interesting to see if the two Oscar-nominated stars will be able to rise to the challenge, and live up to their lofty reputations as the crème de la crème of actresses in the industry.
In cinemas January 18, 2019
Words by Steph Green