Period Pieces: A Fan’s List of Favorites

By Ellie Fredricksen

Word Count: 1134

Rating: G

Summary: A list of the author’s favorite period drama films

Wilhelm_Gause_Hofball_in_Wien
Image Credit: Wilhelm Gause

Period Pieces.  They come in various forms.  The great ones are done and redone again and again, even though some of them would have been better if left alone.  There are the old-fashioned books and electronic books, the movies and, possibly my favorite, audio books.  Here I have compiled a list of the period dramas our family has enjoyed over the past several years.  It is an introduction to period pieces, not an exhaustive list.  As a hopeless romantic I obviously have my favorites, but to be fair, I’ve also included here those pieces that don’t fall into that ‘romantic’ category. All descriptions, unless otherwise noted, have been taken from IMDb.

Amazing Grace (2006 movie): In 1797, the idealist William Wilberforce maneuvers his way through Parliament, endeavoring to end the British transatlantic slave trade.

Anna and the King (1999 movie): The story of the romance between the King of Siam and widowed British schoolteacher, Anna Leonowens, during the 1860s.

Becoming Jane (2007 movie): A biographical portrait of a pre-fame Jane Austen and her romance with a young Irishman.

Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit (2008 Mini Series): The series tells the story of Amy Dorrit, who spends her days earning money for the family and looking after her proud father, who is a long term inmate of Marshalsea debtors’ prison in London. Amy and her family’s world is transformed when her boss’s son, Arthur Clennam, returns from overseas to solve his family’s mysterious legacy and discovers that their lives are interlinked.

Cranford (2007 TV series): In the 1840s, Cranford is ruled by the ladies. They adore good gossip and romance and change is in the air, as the unwelcome grasp of the Industrial Revolution rapidly approaches their beloved rural English market town.

Dances with Wolves (1990 movie): Lt. John Dunbar, exiled to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.

Jane Eyre (2011 movie) audio book by Charlotte Bronte: A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he’s hiding a terrible secret.

Larkrise to Candleford (2008 TV series): An adaptation of Flora Thompson’s autobiographical novel Lark Rise To Candleford, set in 19 century Oxfordshire, in which a young girl moves to the local market town to begin an apprenticeship as a postmistress.

Les Miserables (audio book by Victor Hugo, various film versions): In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker’s daughter. The decision changes their lives forever.

Little House on the Prairie (1974 TV series): The life and adventures of the Ingalls family in the 19th century American Midwest.

Love Comes Softly series (Book series by Janette Oke, 2003 movie): A young woman on her way to a new life in the American West in the 1800’s suddenly finds herself a widow. Now she must live with a recently widowed young man and his daughter. Can any of them find love again?

Master and Commander (2003 movie): During the Napoleonic Wars, a brash British captain pushes his ship and crew to their limits in pursuit of a formidable French war vessel around South America.

Midshipman Quinn (Book series by Showell Styles): Sixteen-year-old Septimus Quinn serves in His Majesty’s Navy in the Napoleonic Wars and has many close shaves.

Mrs. Brown (1998 movie): Queen Victoria is deeply depressed after the death of her husband, disappearing from public. Her servant Brown, who adores her, through caress and admiration brings her back to life, but that relationship creates scandalous situation and is likely to lead to monarchy crisis.

North and South (Book by Elizabeth Gaskell, 2004 miniseries): The love story of Margaret Hale, a middle class English southerner who is forced to move to the northern town of Milton.

Persuasion (Book by Jane Austen, 2007 movie): Royal Navy captain Wentworth was haughtily turned down eight years ago as suitor of pompous baronet Sir Walter Elliot’s daughter Anne, despite true love. Now he visits their former seaside country estate, rented by his brother-in-law, admiral Croft, so the financially stressed baronet can afford a fashionable, cheaper residence in trendy Bath. First the former lovers meet again on the estate, where they feel vibes again, but neither dares admit them until it seems too late. Yet the truth becomes clear, both have moved, but meet again in Bath.

Poldark (2015 TV series): Ross Poldark returns home to England after the American Revolutionary War and rebuilds his life with a new business venture, making new enemies and finding a new love where he least expects it.

Pride and Prejudice (Book by Jane Austen, 1995 movie, 2005 movie): Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

Sense and Sensibility (Book by Jane Austen, 2008 Mini Series): Widow Dashwood and her three unmarried daughters, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, inherit only a tiny allowance. So they move out of their grand Sussex home to a more modest cottage in Devonshire. There, the prevailing ambition is to find suitable husbands for the girls. With help from wealthy neighbor Sir John Middleton, suitors for Elinor and Marianne are soon found, but not landed. They include dashing Willoughby, future vicar Edward Ferrars and retired colonial gentleman Colonel Brandon.

A Tale of Two Cities (Book by Charles Dickens): A pair of lookalikes, one a former French aristocrat and the other an alcoholic English lawyer, fall in love with the same woman amongst the turmoil of the French Revolution.

The Flying Ensign (Book duo by Showell Styles): Sixteen-year-old Peter Byrd serves in His Majesty’s infantry in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars and has many close shaves

The Miracle Worker (1979 movie): Devoted teacher Anne Sullivan leads deaf and blind Helen Keller into the light of learnedness.

The Paradise (2012 TV series): The story of a young English woman who works in a department store and gets caught up in the charms of the modern world.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (Book by Baroness Orczy): During the turmoil of the French Revolution, English aristocrat Percy Blakeney, often aided by his League of friends, secretly undertakes various daring missions as the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Treasure Island (Audio book by Robert Lewis Stevenson): Young Jim Hawkins has an unforgettable encounter with pirate Captain Long John Silver and his murderous mates.

Wives and Daughters (1999 miniseries): The daughter of a English country doctor copes with an unwanted stepmother, an impetuous stepsister, burdensome secrets, the town gossips, and the tug on her own heartstrings for a man who thinks of her only as a friend.

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