Saturday, January 23, 2016

Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World (2003)

This is one of those films that has been on my "to review" list for quite awhile now and I'm finally getting around to finishing this review as part of the 2016 Period Drama Challenge.

Before viewing Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World for the first time, I had debated watching it. I'm not a huge fan of "war films" and wasn't sure weather the content was appropriate. After reading a brief snipet on one of my favorite Jane Austen blogs that likened the hero Captain Jack Aubrey to Captain Wentworth of Persuasion I knew that I had to watch this film for myself.

What I found was a lovely tale, simply told, that takes place all at sea (with a brief jaunt across a deserted island). A film that swells the heart with fervor for the British navy and left me repeating Louisa Musgrove's words from Persuasion (1995): "I do admire the navy. These men have more worth than any other set of men in England!"

Story: During the Napoleonic War the navy represented England in the seas. Captain Jack Aubrey runs a tight ship, but when they meet up with the French ship The Acheron in the fog they are beaten badly. Captain Aubrey decides to follow chase, but the longer they sail the more his ship and crew fall apart physically and emotionally. Will they survive as heroes or die with no one to mourn?

Music: In the dramatic opening, scenes that show what life on board shop is like, music is used sparingly and this is very well done because you also get to hear the sounds of the ship. As the film progresses more music is heard, simple and fitting the Regency era. Captain Aubrey and Doctor Maturin play the violin and cello together in the evenings, mostly classical pieces like Mozart and Bach, but they sometimes break into more folk-like music. The crew often sings sea-shanties to raise their spirits and those are such good fun and show off the actors voices. Overall the music is wonderfully period appropriate and suits each scene perfectly.

Scenes: Shows the closeness of the ship but without seeming overly crowded. Horizons at sea are gorgeous. As they sail through South America they land on a small island with rocky terrain but the views are still remarkable.

Costumes: No fine Regency costumes are needed here since most all of the film is about sailors out to sea. The sailors' uniforms are well made and fit well, down to the youngest midshipman. No spotless sailors here, their uniforms and other clothing articles get wet, sweaty, dirty, bloody and all the rest like real clothing would have.

Language: Even for sailors their language is mostly clean and there is little swearing. The worst I hear was by a sailor they picked in a rowboat he does use the F word once briefly and I probably caught it because I had the subtitles on. There might have been a couple sh--s and da--s but I can't recall. Speech is mostly Regency era appropriate and fun to hear orders and such being given and sounding in every day use.

Inappropriate Content: Sailors might have a bad reputation when on land, but even pirates of their era were expected to behave with honor and under certain rules on board ship. No women are ever on board The Surprise and no sexual content is in this film. There is some drinking shown and spirits are high due to that but nothing lewd is shown or mentioned.

Violence: Scenes of war aboard ship are shown. Exploding cannons that destroy ship and wood, attacks from enemy ship, charging another ship, fighting with swords and clubs, a sailor receives lashes, sailors are injured, one young man has to have a limb removed, other men die through injury or being lost at sea, some vomit during rough seas and one man removes a bullet from his own gut but nothing too gross is shown. Overall not a lot of blood is shown and the Captain and crew are not brutal.

Familiar Actors: Many familiar actors from BBC period dramas do a fantastic job in their roles. Several actors have played sailors in other films or portrayed other Regency era characters. These are a few I recognized:
  • Russell Crowe as Captain "Lucky" Jack Aubrey - Also in Robin Hood (2010), Les Miserables (2012).
  • Paul Bettany as Dr. Stephen Maturin, Surgeon - Also in David Copperfield (2000),  A Knight's Tale, The Young Victoria
  • James D'Arcy as 1st Lt. Tom Pullings - Also in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (2001), Poirot: The Mystery of the Blue Train, Marple: The Moving Finger, Mansfield Park (2007), The Making of a Lady.
  • Lee Ingleby as Hollom, Midshipman - Also in Ever After, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (2001), Marple: Nemesis.
  • Robert Pugh as Mr. Allen, Master - The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Marple: A Murder Is Announced, Bleak House, Poirot Cards On the Table, Lark Rise To Candleford, Robin Hood (TV series), Robin Hood (2010), Doctor Who, The Hollow Crown.
  • Richard McCabe as Mr. Higgins, Surgeon's Mate - Persuasion (1995), Foyle's War (TV series), Vanity Fair (2004), Jane Eyre (2006), Cinderella (2015).
  • Billy Boyd  as Barrett Bonden, Coxswain - The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

"Louisa, by whom she found herself walking, burst forth into raptures of admiration and delight on the character of the navy: their friendliness, their brotherliness, their openness, their uprightness; protesting that she was convinced of sailors having more worth and warmth than any other set of men in England; that they only knew how to live, and they only deserved to be respected and loved." - Chapter 11, Persuasion by Jane Austen

My Thoughts: Jane Austen's Persuasion is one of my favorite novels and Persuasion (1995) is one of my favorite period dramas of all time and this film really fits in with that story. Master and Commander show the nobleness and adventures of naval officers during the Napoleonic war, such as those experienced by Captain Wentworth, Admiral Croft, William Price or even Jane Austen's own brothers Francis and Charles Austen. Similar to the Horatio Hornblower films but with even less violence and questionable content. Master and Commander: The Far Side Of The World is definitely a new favorite period film in the Regency era and one that I would watch side by side with Persuasion film adaptations.

Recommendations: Rated PG-13 mostly for some military violence and brief language (most barely audible). I wouldn't recommend this for younger viewers but for teenagers on up it is quite alright. If you like the Horatio Hornblower films, Persuasion adaptations, Poldark (TV series) or military films in general you will probably enjoy this film.

Have you seen Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World?

Was this review helpful?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Period Drama Actor: Alan Rickman

Last week we lost a very talented actor who portrayed a wide variety of characters in his 69 years. Every Janeite or Period Drama fan will easily recognize our own dear Colonel Brandon from Sense & Sensibility (1995). Here's a look at some of those roles and a bit about the actor's life and some quotes.

Interesting Facts:
Full Name: Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman
Height: 6' 1"
Born: 21 February 1946, Hammersmith, London, England, UK
Married To: Rima Horton, who he met in college in 1965. Alan once said: "She's incredibly tolerant. Unbelievably tolerant. Possibly a candidate for sainthood."

Short Bio: Parents are Bernard Rickman and Margaret Doreen Rose. Has English, Irish and Welsh ancestry. Before becoming an actor, he studied graphic design at Chelsea College of Art and Design and at the Royal College of Art, forming a successful graphic design company, Graphiti, with several friends. He didn't start acting until he was twenty-eight year old. During his time at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, he worked as a dresser for actors. Called stage acting his "first love" and often took breaks from film and television to preform in plays. Lost his short but difficult battle with cancer on 14 January 2016.

Personal Quotes:
"I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously."

"I approach every part I'm asked to do and decide to do from exactly the same angle: who is this person, what does he want, how does he attempt to get it, and what happens to him when he doesn't get it, or if he does?"

"I don't play villains, I play very interesting people."


A Few Of His Roles:

Tybalt in Romeo & Juliet (1978 TV Movie)
One of Mr. Rickman's first television roles was as Tybalt in Romeo & Juliet. He looked so young! I tried to find a video clip but alas there are none available on YouTube.


Obadiah Slope in The Barchester Chronicles (1982 TV Mini-Series) 
Besides Sense and Sensibility (1995) this has to be my second favorite of Mr. Rickman's period drama roles. Obadiah is a slick operator with a pious air who at once makes the viewer laugh and cringe! Below is a few funny scenes that a YouTuber put into a video, the last one with Obadiah falling flat on his behind always makes me laugh!


Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
I don't really recommend this film but this rather odd version of the classic Robin Hood story is proof positive that Alan Rickman was excellent at portraying bad guys! An interesting happening in this film sees Alan Rickman acting alongside Geraldine McEwan for the second time, the first time being in The Barchester Chronicles.


Colonel Christopher Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (1995)
This is definitely my most favorite role that Mr. Rickman has taken on. In this film he perfectly captured the kind, gentle and passionate nature of the mature army colonel who finds true love with the passionate Marianne Dashwood. When I think of this adaptation some of the loveliest scenes that come to mind include Colonel Brandon showing his true love for Marianne by putting her needs and the needs of her family above his own needs. Below is a clip of my most favorite Colonel Brandon scene where he reads a poem from Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene to Marianne.

My heart melts into a puddle after viewing this scene! Yes, Alan Rickman is definitely my favoritest Colonel Brandon of all time! And I for one don't mind in the least that Emma Thompson made up a first name for this Jane Austen hero, there is something handsome in the sound of Christopher Brandon! Also check out this short interview from the set of the film.


A few other roles:
  • Voice of Blue Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland (2010) & Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)
  • Professor Severus Snape in eight Harry Potter films (I've never seen them myself but it's one of his best known roles)
  • Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest (an oddball sci-fi flick where he plays an alien)
  • Voice of Marvin the depressed robot in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (alongside Martin Freeman and Bill Nighy!)


His Voice
One of the most interesting and lovely things about Alan Rickman was his unique voice. Here's a recording of him reading Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 in his rich smooth voice (or "dark foreboding tones" as Anne Shirley might say).


So here's to the incredible Mr. Alan Rickman. You dear sir will be sadly missed. Below is a video clip that made me tear up when I watched it because while writing this post I felt like Marianne in the scene. Thank you our Colonel Brandon! You were a true gem and will never be forgotten.


What is your favorite Alan Rickman role?

How many of these films have you viewed?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Period Drama Dress Quiz {January 9th} - Answers!

These are the answers to the Period Drama Dress Quiz {January 9th} from two weeks ago. Sorry it's taken me awhile to post this, I've been through a lot recently. Hope you had fun, y'all did a great job guessing these dresses! Scores at the end of this post.

Period Drama Dresses:

Dress #1
Answer: Margaret Brown, Lark Rise To Candleford

Dress #2
Answer: Emma Woodhouse, Emma (2009)

Dress #3
Answer: Jane Austen, Becoming Jane

Dress #4
Answer: Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre (2011)

Dress #5
Answer: Jo March, Little Women (1994)

Dress #6
Answer: Margaret Hale, North & South (2004)

Dress #7
Answer: Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables

Dress #8
Answer: Lady Dedlock, Bleak House (2005)

Dress #9
Answer: Marguerite St. Just, The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

Dress #10
Answer: Gwendolyn Fairfax, The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

Dress #11
Answer: Lady Sybil, Downton Abbey
(I know, it's not a dress! Haha!)

Dress #12
Answer: Molly Gibson, Wives & Daughters


Players Scores:
Miss Dashwood - 24 points
Naomi Bennet - 24 points
Issy - 22 points
Melody - 22 points
Miss Sneyd - 22 points
Cordy - 19 points
Sadie - 17 points
Kelly-Anne - 12 points
Faith - 10 points
Katelyn - 10 points
Kimberly Grace Bowman - 9 points
Rae - 6 points
Evy Cartyr - Thanks for playing!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Period Drama Dress Quiz {January 9th}

We haven't done a dress game in quite awhile so I thought this might be fun. Here's some ladies from period dramas wearing their lovely dress. Can you guess them all?

To Play: Look at the 12 dresses below and leave a comment guessing which period drama each dress is from and the name of the character is wearing the dress. You may guess as many times as you'd like and I'll respond with your score. Answers will be posted next weekend. 

Scoring: One point for each correctly guessed period drama and character. Highest possible score is 24 points.

Period Drama Dresses:

Dress #1

Dress #2

Dress #3

Dress #4

Dress #5

Dress #6

Dress #7

Dress #8

Dress #9

Dress #10

Dress #11

Dress #12


Have fun!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Old-Fashioned Charm's 2016 Period Drama Challenge!

It's hard to believe that it's been three years since I posted the first Period Drama Challenge in January of 2013. Now in this new year of 2016 and I want to issue another challenge to watch and review a certain number of period dramas over the next six months! 

A few years ago a period drama website I followed (which has since disappeared) hosted a Period Drama Challenge - watch a certain number of period dramas in a year and review each one. That challenge is what got me started reviewing films. Now I'd like to issue a similar challenge to all of you! 

This Period Drama Challenge is given in the hopes that it will inspire you to not only watch new and interesting period films but also share a love for these films by reviewing them! 

This challenge won't be difficult for many of my readers because you review more films than I do now! Hopefully this challenge will also help me to be more consistent about reviewing film.

To Participate: 
  • Choose a number of period films to watch (see levels below). 
  • Leave me a comment to let me know you are going to participate and post on your blog or website that you're going to join in.
  • Watch the number of films you choose between January 2nd - July 2nd, 2016.
  • When you watch a period film review it on your blog or website. 
  • When you review a film leave a comment here with the link to your review. 
  • Each month I'll be posting links to the reviews posted during that month. 
  • Each month I'm also planning to post some tag questions for participants to answer just for fun. 

How Many Period Dramas Will You Choose To Watch?
Choose a number of films from the list below. You can change the number of films you watch and review as you go along. You don't have to tell me which films you're going to watch and review - part of the fun is finding new things to watch. You can choose to re-watch a film you've seen before, but just make sure it's one you've never reviewed before. Pick however many films you think you can reasonably watch and review in six months.

Choose one of these amounts:
  • 5 Films - Period Film Admirer 
  • 8 Films - Period Film Lover 
  • 10 Films - Period Film Devotee 
  • 12 to 15 Films - Period Film Fanatic  

What Makes A Period Drama?
A television costume drama, big screen film or TV series set in a historical era. They could be adaptations of classic novels, based upon historically set books, stories of historical events or even biographical flicks. For what eras are eligible I'd say anything from Ancient times up to the 1940's (like World War II). Also eligible are films that travel back in time or start in one era and moves to another (such as Lost In Austen, From Time To Time, Somewhere In Time or The Love Letter).

Here's a list of historical eras to help you out:
  • The Ancient Era (Biblical times, 4000 B.C.-476 A.D.) 
  • The Medieval Era (476-1450) 
  • The Renaissance Era (1450-1600) & Elizabethan Era (1558-1603) 
  • The Baroque Era (1600-1750) 
  • The Georgian/Colonial Era  (1714-1811) 
  • The Regency Era (1812-1830, also known as the Jane Austen era) 
  • The Victorian Era (1837-1901) 
  • The Edwardian Era (1901-1919. and World War I)
  • The 1920's 
  • The 1930's
  • The 1940's (World War II films)

Having a hard time choosing something to watch? Check out my Period Films page and also this handy list with synopsis, trailers and links to reviews of each film.

What Should You Include In Your Reviews?
Firstly, the films you choose should preferably be family friendly, but if they do have questionable scenes please note this somewhere in your review. Other than that the style of review is up to you! Your review can be fairly short (one or two paragraphs) or ramble on at length - but, if you usually write very short reviews I encourage you to go into more detail. It's a good idea to talk about things like the music, scenery, story, actors, costumes & hairstyles. And if it's based on a book or historical era, you might mention how accurate it is to the book and time period. And don't forget to tell how much you liked or disliked it the film and whether you'd recommend it. Consider including film clips, quotes, photos or soundtrack clips in your review too. Overall, just have fun with them!

Will you help spread the news about this Period Drama Challenge? Please post on Twitter, Facebook pages, Instagram, Tumblr or on your blog! Feel free to use the image above or use one of these buttons:

Old-Fashioned Charm

Old-Fashioned Charm

Will you join in?

How many period dramas will you be watching and reviewing?

P.S. Because I will be traveling the day this is posted, I may not be able to respond to comments right away. Thanks for your patients!
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