My 5 Favourite Period Dramas
It is no secret that I love period dramas and have seen and love many of them. The costumes, the sets, just the general atmosphere of period dramas… they are wonderful. If I could, I’d travel back in time to the early 1830s just to be able to experience life in that time for a day. I’m sure it wouldn’t be quite as dreamy as the films make it out to be, what with the social inequality, lead poisoning, lack of proper toilets, et cetera. Still, it would be an incredibly interesting experience and I’d love to wear an 1830s dress and, perhaps, attend a ball.
Period dramas paint a beautiful picture of the past and, next to actually building a time machine and travelling back in time, watching them is the best way to experience the past for a bit. In this post I’ll be sharing my 5 favourite period dramas. I hope this list helps you out if you’re looking for some fun films to watch!
5. Persuasion (2007)
This film is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which is my favourite Austen novel. At the start of the story we learn that eight years ago the main character, Anne Elliot, rejected Frederick Wentworth’s marriage proposal and has regretted doing this ever since. At 27, Anne is still unmarried (which was evidently more shocking in the early 1800s than it is now) and once again encounters Wentworth, now Captain Wentworth. Naturally, this creates some tension and a whole lot of drama.
This film is such a comfort film for me. It’s not super high-budget, as it’s a made-for-TV film, but it’s lovely nonetheless. I adore the plot and the atmosphere of the film and Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth is a dream. If you’re looking for a sweet love story with a good amount of suspense, pretty costumes and some rather funny moments, this film is the one for you.
4. Downton Abbey (2019)
Ordinarily the period this story is set in, is not one I’m very interested in. However, Downton Abbey is so wonderful, I can’t help but put this film in my top 5. In the film the King and Queen of England are staying at Downton for one night, which creates a lot of problems for both the Crawley family and the downstairs staff. This film features, among other things, a queer storyline and a sassy French chef. What more could you ask for?
The plot, cast, costumes, sets, soundtrack… every part of this film is quite perfect. My two favourite Downton characters, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) get really interesting storylines and the film has all the happy endings I could have hoped for. Also, Dame Maggie Smith is iconic and her character, Lady Violet, and Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle) provided some of my favourite moments in the film. Even if you’ve never watched a single episode of Downton Abbey, I’m sure you’ll still really enjoy this film; it is captivating, touching and possibly the best film I’ve seen this year.
For a more elaborate review of this film (though, beware, it’s one with spoilers), check out my Downton Abbey film review!
3. A Royal Affair (2012)
This Danish film is set in the 1700s and inspired by a true story. The film shows Princess Caroline Matilda of Great Britain’s struggles at the Danish court. The Princess becomes Queen of Denmark, but her husband is a cold, at times even cruel, man and the two quickly become estranged. The Princess then meets Johann Friedrich Struensee, the Royal Physician, and initially dislikes him. As time goes by, however, her feelings for Struensee change and the two have an affair. This affair is the main theme of the film, though the film also depicts the political struggles of Denmark at the time. All in all, it’s a very intriguing and dramatic story.
Alicia Vikander, who plays Princess Caroline Matilda, is stunning and she and Mads Mikkelsen (the Royal Physician) have great chemistry together. The sets and costumes in the film are lovely as well. Before watching this film, I didn’t know about this shocking part of the Danish history, so it was interesting to learn more about it, even if this film was only an interpretation of real events. Also, this film made me fall in love with the Danish language, which is simply beautiful. A Royal Affair is one of my favourite period dramas and if you’re looking for a fun film to watch, you should definitely check this one out!
2. Jane Eyre (2011)
This film is an adaptation of one of my favourite books, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. The story follows Jane Eyre (surprise, surprise) who, after a difficult childhood, is employed as governess at Thornfield Hall, working for the mysterious and moody Mr. Edward Rochester. The two quickly grow close but Edward has many secrets, and they are pretty dark…
This film is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. The cinematography is gorgeous; every second is magical and absolutely breathtaking. The costumes are beyond beautiful, Jane’s wedding dress and bonnet are possibly the most incredible film costume I’ve ever seen. Seriously, Google it, it’s exquisite. The sets, too, are lovely, Thornfield Hall is honestly my dream house. As for the cast, Michael Fassbender is an excellent Mr. Rochester and Mia Wasikowska is perfect for the role of Jane. One of my favourite parts of this film, though, is its soundtrack, which I listen to at least once a month. It’s dark, emotional and beautiful and every track makes you imagine yourself running through the moors in an 1860s-style dress. In short, this film is absolutely brilliant and you should definitely check it out!
1. Pride and Prejudice (2005)
This film is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The story follows Elizabeth Bennet, who meets Mr. Darcy and instantly dislikes him. Elizabeth’s mother, however, is desperate for her daughters to get married and throughout the film tries to find Elizabeth a suitable husband. In addition to this problem, Elizabeth keeps running into the arrogant Mr. Darcy. The drama, the suspense, it’s wonderful.
Keira Knightley, who plays Elizabeth Bennet, is a perfect human being, she is incredibly talented and gorgeous. Matthew Macfayden is a wonderful Mr. Darcy, very awkward and very handsome. I’ve seen this film probably about 10-15 times at this point. The opening scene is an absolute dream. Like Jane Eyre, this film features beautiful sets and costumes and gorgeous cinematography. The P&P and Jane Eyre soundtracks are my favourite film soundtracks of all time. Unlike the Jane Eyre soundtrack, the P&P soundtrack is light and cheerful. I cannot stress this enough, the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack is a gift to this world.
I first watched this film with my grandma back in 2012 and instantly fell in love with it. I adored the story, so I decided to read the book and from there my love for classics started. After reading Pride and Prejudice, I started reading other classics and watching more and more period dramas. It may sound dramatic, but this film really did change my life in a way.
I love every single second of this film and, therefore, it could only be number one on this list.
I hope this post has introduced you to some fun period dramas that you haven’t watched before. Do let me know what you’re favourite period dramas are –because I’m always looking for more to watch- in the comments or by sending me a message on Instagram (@florentineviolet)!