King Richard Armitage Week: Leading Ladies and That Proposal Scene

To celebrate Richard Armitage’s 40th birthday and to commemorate the anniversary of Richard III’s death, this blog is participating in an extended series of RA blog events for the Richard III for Richard Armitage!/King Richard Armitage project (sign the petitionjoin the Facebook group). Enjoy the fun!

We have extended KRA Week since we still have more posts coming from blog contributors. It’s a super-sized week! 

Servetus has another terrific post, this one focuses on the Richard III + Lady Anne relationship. I was also curious about the romantic possibilities for their courtship and proposal scenes in the RIII project, which would be a welcome shift from the sinister seduction of the Shakespearean version and would certainly not involve spitting.

Here is a quick summary of the historical romance: Anne Neville was the daughter of Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, who used Anne as a pawn to secure his own political power. At a young age, she was betrothed to RIII, but her father switched alliances and arranged for her to marry Edward of Westminster when she was 14. Then both her father and husband abruptly died and she had no allies since her brother-in-law (Richard’s brother) wanted to claim her part of the inheritance. RIII is said to have rescued her from this drama and the pair quickly married.

In Shakespeare’s play, Act 1 Scene 2 is the proposal scene. RIII woos Anne at the king’s funeral, telling her how he killed her husband and the king (her father-in-law) so that he could marry her. She becomes enthralled by his passion for her and implicit offer of protection and submits to becoming his wife.

Laurence Olivier + Claire Bloom

Laurence Olivier works his seductive charm in the worst haircut in the history of cinema, sending Bloom into a swoon. It almost seems romantic.

Kenneth Branagh + Stella Gonet, audio recording

Branagh goes for the crying and tender murmuring tactics. Gonet does the best job of showing Lady Anne’s rage.

Ian McKellen + Kristin Scott Thomas

McKellen does a commanding job of convincing Lady Anne and his energetic asides to the camera work well. Scott Thomas’ Lady Anne is beaten down and withdrawn in her consent. The least romantic proposal. The ring in the his mouth does not help.

Al Pacino + Winona Ryder (starts at 7:44), goes to Pt 4

Ryder seems a little lost here. Pacino hams it up. Yikes at the age difference. Very predatory. DON’T DO IT GIRL.

I mulled over possible actresses to play Anne (Servetus’ post also has an Anne actress poll), but was not coming up with many age-appropriate choices. One actress I did think about was the lovely and talented Claire Foy (b. 1984) from Little Dorrit since she was able to portray strength and vulnerability so movingly in that production. I also would like to see her do some quality work so that she doesn’t have to settle for being a witch in a Nicholas Cage movie.

Or perhaps Australian actress Abbie Cornish (b. 1982) who played one of Queen Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting in Elizabeth: The Golden Age and starred as Fanny Brawne in Bright Star (the video below contains the ending scenes of BS).

John Keats and Fanny Brawne: “Bright Star” Finds Its Path

where are the words to name our love

where are the words to name our love

Just when one starts to lament the lack of English period pieces apart from Masterpiece Classic—there is news of director Jane Campion’s latest film, which chronicles the relationship between John Keats and Fanny Brawne. A U.S. distributor has picked up the film, which is currently competing at Cannes and stars Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish. The film’s title is taken from a poem written by Keats after becoming engaged to Brawne.

Bright Star

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–
No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.