A Red-Headed Rivalry Reemerges in the Star-Studded ‘Mary Queen of Scots’

Which Hollywood queen — Saoirse Ronan or Margot Robbie — will win the Oscar?
July 16, 2018
4 mins read

Anyone who is a big history buff (like myself) knows the story of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. To say that the feud of all feuds is far in the past is an understatement — the battle of the two cousins is more than 500 years old. However, in December, it will be getting fresh faces and a new life.

The female-directed “Mary Queen of Scots” just released its first trailer, and to say it looks epic doesn’t even do it justice. Starring Academy Award-nominated actresses Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie (as Mary and Elizabeth, respectively), “Mary Queen of Scots” is based on a biography of the Scottish queen by notable historian John Guy. It also features David Tennant, Guy Pearce and Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, in supporting roles.

The trailer opens with Ronan, her plaited red hair flowing in the Scottish wind. She looks across the sea to England. “England does not look so different from Scotland,” she remarks. The trailer shows the progression of the relationship between the two cousins: from friends, to rivals, to enemies. Within the course of the two minute, 28 second preview, we see Mary begin by saying that the two queens must rule in harmony, and end by saying “If you murder me, you murder your sister. And you murder your queen.”

However, the trailer is set against the backdrop of something more sinister than the sour relationship between the two queens: the way that their male advisors have pitted them against each other. “How did the world come to this?” one advisor is shown asking, “Wise men servicing the whims of women?”

A feminist spin on what is probably the most famous catfight ever comes at a great time in film, and when you add in historical accuracy, beautiful costumes and makeup that makes two of the Academy’s most beloved actresses almost unrecognizable, you have an almost guaranteed smash. Both Ronan and Robbie are critics’ darlings.

Ronan came to prominence after being nominated for the best supporting actress award at the mere age of 13 for her role in “Atonement.” Since, she has been in the “The Lovely Bones,” “Brooklyn” and most famously, Greta Gerwig’s beloved “Lady Bird.”

Robbie became a household name and internationally recognized sex symbol after co-starring in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Since, she has been Harley Quinn in the hated “Suicide Squad,” but got herself an Oscar nomination for her role as hard-talking figure skater Tonya Harding in “I, Tonya.”

“Mary Queen of Scots” comes right after the CW’s take on the story, “Reign,” which just finished up its fourth and final season a year ago. “Reign” was classically CW — a lot of young, attractive people having sex, with very little historical accuracy involved. However, maybe it will lend itself to “Mary Queen of Scots”’s advantage, and perhaps we will see an uptick in well-done historical drama (or maybe I’m just thinking wishfully).

Katie Sheets, University of Vermont

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Katie Sheets

University of Vermont

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