Gunpowder, Treason And Plot [DVD] 
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BAFTA award-winner Jimmy McGovern writes about the lives of Mary, Queen of Scots and her son James I in this BBC historical drama directed by Gillies MacKinnon. Robert Carlyle stars as James I, who battles with the Catholic conspiracy against him and eventually foils a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The Gunpowder Plot was masterminded by the influential Catholic Robert Catesby (Richard Coyle) and planned by Guy Fawkes (Michael Fassbender), who wanted to rid the nation of an oppressive Protestant monarch. Clémence Poésy plays Mary, Queen of Scots, who spends most of her short reign locked in a battle with both her Protestant subjects and the English Queen, Elizabeth I (Catherine McCormack), before conspiring with the Earl of Bothwell (Kevin McKidd) to assassinate her miscreant husband Lord Darnley (Paul Nicholls).
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Part 1 tells the story of Mary Stuart. This story has been told in film before (notably in the classic film with Vanessa Redgrave in the leading role) so there is not much that is new and this rendition could be called "a remake". But Clémence Poésy is so strikingly beautiful but no red-blooded male can but enjoy the film. Her mixed French-Scottish accent is delightful .. and it is not impossible that Mary Stuart, who lived for many years at the French court, might have spoken like this ;-) ... So, great Part 1.
Part 2 deals with James I and The Gunpowder Plot. The Gunpowder Plot is not that central, although it plays an important part ... Instead, the film focuses on how horrible James was as a human being. Physically repulsive, and morally even more so. Fun to watch but a bit too much gore for my liking. Michael Fassbender has a bit part as Guy Fawkes, who is a secondary character and does not speak many lines.
I am not an expert on the period, so cannot judge how historically accurate these two films are, but they are certainly superb entertainment. I think they take a great deal of "artistic liberties" and the characters are black and white: Mary is the perfect heroine, James is the perfect villain. But their intention seems to be to entertain, not to respect historical accuracy.
I take one Star off because the title is misleading. One would expect a film about the Gunpowder Plot. The Gunpowder Plot features only on Part 2 and is only one of its two focuses (the other is Carlyle showing James I as "bad boy, bad boy, bad boy"). And I would not say that Part 1 and Part 2 go together. They are totally separate films, with different casts, and should not have been grouped together as a "series".
All this said, both are great fun.
As for the second half the life of King James 1st, not that good. But I have enjoyed this DVD as a good story.
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One of the things that we disliked was the way the protagonist turned to...Read more