I was ready to be inspired and indulge my feminist spirit in classic “Braveheart” fashion with “Mary, Queen of Scots.” Unfortunately, that chance was spoiled.
Mary Stuart isn’t the first historical figure to be fictionalized and story to be liberally interpreted. The last Russian imperial princess, Anastasia, was just as real, but is only known to my generation as a fiery redheaded character named Anya who rediscovers her family, thanks to a cartoon and the new Broadway musical. Mary has now been the target of excessive creative license with two major productions, first with the CW show “Reign” and now with the film “Mary, Queen of Scots.”
The difference is that Anastasia is charming and romantic; “Mary, Queen of Scots” is depressing and laced with blatant progressive virtue signaling. “Mary, Queen of Scots” is as disappointing for a student of history as Netflix’s “Anne with an E” is to any devoted fan of Sullivan’s true cinematic classic.
Mary historian Autumn Johnson argues, citing from Antonia Fraser’s book on Stuart, that Mary’s significance is unquestionable: “The entire dynamic of the world’s history would be different [had Mary taken the crown]. Mary was a devout Catholic, and her capture of the English throne would have all but placed England and its territories under the substantial influence of the Catholic Church again–as it was before the English Reformation.”
Mary Stuart has earned her place in history. Her legacy shouldn’t be destroyed for the sake of dramatic intrigue, or in this case progressive propaganda and pandering.
LGBT Themes Dumped Into the Storyline
The film portrayed Mary’s second husband, Lord Darnley, as homosexual. Later on in the film, Darnley murders his gay lover, who oddly became friends with the Scottish queen, in front of Mary. The gay lover also admits to feeling more himself in a dress, to which Mary replies, “You can be anyone you want.”
Homosexuality and gender dysphoria are no stranger to this time period in history, but none of this is historically accurate to the story by known record, and both elements are completely unnecessary and uncomfortable to watch.
The Film’s Moral: Don’t Trust Men
Between the infidelity depicted in Mary’s second marriage, and the ulterior motives of both Mary and Elizabeth’s potential suitors, it appears men either seek to usurp your power, or they’re gay and will betray their vows of loyalty for the sake of their newly acquired position.
While women of this time did suffer to rule in their own right, I find it hard to believe all men in both spheres were unworthy. All this storyline does is continue a false narrative that men are the enemy of women’s empowerment. If that were the case, how could you explain Queen Victoria’s successful marriage and reign as sovereign over what is often considered a “glorious period of British history?”
Elizabeth refused to marry below her station (which was limiting, given her immense power) out of pride, causing her to forgo true happiness in marrying the man she loved. Mary married stupidly and suffered.
The Film Showcases the Worst Feminine Qualities
The film highlights ugly pettiness and the cunning ways in which women who are threatened by other women seek to destroy, undermine, or edge out the latter. The film portrays women being jealous of what another has, allowing pride and envy to get in the way of true friendship, alliance, and leadership.
Elizabeth and Mary are pitted against each other in the worst possible way, for the worst possible reasons: being jealous over who is married and who has a baby, and over who has a true claim to the throne and who is the rightful queen.
Johnson explains that their relationship in real life was, “Somewhere between great admiration and crippling fear of one another. Both women were well accomplished, world changers, and of course, family. I don’t think either woman wanted the other dead, but as we have seen throughout history, queens rarely have the same choices that women do.”
This is perhaps an unfortunate reality of the time and a monarchy’s desperate demands.
Depicts Women As Not Interested in Statecraft
Elizabeth is depicted as more concerned with her arts and crafts projects and fighting baby fever than in governing an empire. Her obsession over Mary’s beauty and infectious personality that she feels she must compete with, as well as finding a husband before it’s too late is very relatable for today’s single women in professional spheres, but it’s driven by fear and plays on a woman’s weakness rather than her strengths.
The film actually makes you like Elizabeth—the queen who beheads the other—but mostly out of pity.
It Twists the Gifts of Motherhood
While modern feminism insists children are an obstacle to female career advancement, female sovereigns in ages past saw children as prerequisites as proof of their womanhood, as well as assurance for a successful rule and line.
Despite my disappointment with this film, there was a female character in a recent and similar-styled movie that did inspire with her stomach for courage and unrelenting loyalty. Elizabeth de Burgh, Robert the Bruce’s second wife in “Outlaw King,” was the real hero in that film. She was unrivaled by anyone else in the movie.
What modern Hollywood and the left seems to miss is that strong female characters come in all sorts of roles. The main character may be more of a villain than a virtuous heroine. Sometimes she’s the wife, mother, or supporting character that steals the script and hearts of the audience.
As Megan Garbar points out in her Atlantic article, “Mary, Queen of Scots” comes down to two awful choices for both women: “Marry, and potentially gain an heir—but also risk being usurped by your husband; or remain single, avoiding the risk of usurpation … but ensuring the death of your dynasty.” The whole movie rests on that doomed choice.
My solution: marry a Prince Albert, a most definite non-usurper and faithful, leading husband.