Mary, Queen of Scots
Starring Camilla Rutherford, Sean Biggerstaff and Tony Curran
Written and directed by Thomas Imbach
It’s been tradition to speak ill of the dead, especially if the ones who have passed have been survived by their enemies. Especially if we’re talking about Shakespeare who, as eloquent as he is, has vilified famous kings like Richard III and Macbeth, both of whom, were more complex than caricatures.
The titular Mary Queen of Scots was such a person, accussed of such things as murdering her second husband or plotting to assassinate the Queen Elizabeth I of England. At the least, Queen Mary is seen as someone too incompetent to be ruthless.
In recent decades, however, tradition has swayed to make historical figures nicer. Queen Elizabeth regrets convicting another sovereign ruler for treason. Queen Mary fell victim to another queen. Perhaps Thomas Imbach’s adaptation of the Stefan Zweig biopic was too kind towards Mary, justifying the woman’s attempts to rule three kingdoms under divine right. At least Imbach and Rutherford, who plays Mary, still reminds us that the Catholic Queen’s stubbornness against criticism. And despite of that quality that hinders her from success and happiness, it is easy to empathize with a person who can never please the warring lords of a divided Scotland.
I would also like to pay compliments to the movie’s aesthetic, its colours muted yet rich. The camera quickly runs and buzzes through the stony crags or the calm beaches of the Highlands, these visuals accompanied by Rutherford’s epistolary narration. It’s as if it visualizing the arc of a woman haunting her hostile homeland.