While it’s great to see the iTunes Store regularly updated with exciting new cinematic ventures that have recently attracted acclaim left, right and centre in theaters, it does mean that a great bulk of classics added in years past can continue going unjustly overlooked. Here are some of our favorites from the enduring popular historical romance genre.
Starring Nicole Kidman as an English aristocrat who inherits a cattle station Down Under and Hugh Jackman as a local drover who helps her move the cattle, all to the backdrop of World War II, Australia could have been the eponymous country’s Gone with the Wind. However, it didn’t attract quite the same level of acclaim, despite director Baz Luhrmann having previously wowed the crowds with Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!.
Still, we reckon that it remains fascinating for its insight into Australia’s Aboriginal community during this obviously crucial period of history. The movie’s Australian Aborigine characters Nullah and King George are actually played by actors – Brandon Walters and David Gulpilil, respectively – from that demographic.
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)
The real life relationship between sixteenth century England’s Queen Elizabeth I and one of her favorites, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, is known to have been fractious. A lot of that is certainly reflected in this fictionalization of their relationship, where Bette Davis and Errol Flynn take the lead roles. However, the filmmakers here added a romantic undertone which, however touching, we can imagine historians taking some issue with.
Becoming Jane (2007)
While purportedly telling the story of Jane Austen as a young, pre-Pride and Prejudice spinster contemplating marriage with lawyer Tom Lefroy, with this being a historical drama rather than a documentary, there are – inevitably, many people might insist – a number of liberties taken with what is believed to have actually happened.
For this reason, it’s perhaps best to overlook that Becoming Jane is supposed to be about Austen herself, rather than any of the fictional characters she created, and instead just sit back and enjoy the chemistry between Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy as the lovers.
Amazing Grace (2007)
William Wilberforce, the English politician often credited as primarily responsible for the abolition of the slave trade in most of the British Empire in the 1830s, is depicted here by Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd. Romola Garai also appears as his love interest, Barbara Spooner.
Amazing Grace follows Wilberforce in his campaign against the slave trade, and we can’t help thinking that the man himself would have been delighted with how director Michael Apted has thoughtfully retold his story to a new generation.