Tip Your Top Hat to the Top 10 Victorian Films
The Victorian Age was an inarguably cinematic time. From brightly intricate dresses to stately top hats and horse-drawn carriages to ornate architecture, this was a time just begging to put in pictures (and, oddly enough, the time in which pictures of the moving kind were invented). There are so many Victorian-centered movies that it’s hard to choose just a few but I’ve done my best to choose a diverse top ten.
With Stephen Fry playing the ever witty, and ultimately tragic Oscar Wilde, this movie already has a lot going for it. But cast Jude Law as Wilde’s lover, the spoiled but beautiful Boise and you really can’t go wrong.
2) "Moulin Rouge"
Baz Luhrman takes on late Victorian Paris in this most spectacular movie. Starring Nicole Kidman as a Parisian courtesan who longs to be an actress and Ewan McGregor as a young English writer in search of love and adventure, this film mixes romantic Victorian detail and contemporary pop culture to create a world uniquely its own.
3) "The Age of Innocence"
Martin Scorcese’s film highlights the sexual repression in Edith Wharton’s novel—who can forget Daniel Day-Lewis tremblingly caressing Michelle Pfeifer’s foot in a carriage? From the strangely pornographic seeming blooming flower montage of the credits to the last shot of an old and regretful Day-Lewis walking out of frame amid flying pigeons, this film is a masterpiece of subtlety and a classic Victorian movie.
4) "Bram Stoker’s Dracula"
Francis Ford Coppola’s take on this Victorian tale captures the story’s blood curdling gothic horrors with a chilling perfection. Starring Winona Ryder and Gary Oldman at his most monstrous, sexy, and pitiable, this classic film explores Victorian repression, sex, violence, and the destructive powers of love.
5) "Corpse Bride"
Tim Burton’s animated tale of a man’s attempt to escape the corpse of a bride who has taken to him on the night before his wedding, this movie is stylish, fun, chilling, and very Burtonesque.
6) "An Ideal Husband"
Based on the play by Oscar Wilde, this hilariously satirical movie stars Cate Blanchett, Minnie Driver, Rupert Everett, Julianne Moore, and Jeremy Northam as members of the English aristocracy enmeshed in the social mores and societal expectations of their class and era.
A hilarious rendering of Gilbert and Sullivan’s creation of The Mikado, directed by Mike Leigh and starring Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner, this movie full of music and mishap was nominated for a number of BAFTA’s (including 'Best Picture') and is certainly not to be missed by the Victorian enthusiast.
8) "The French Lieutenant’s Woman"
Starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons as actor/lovers, this film based off of John Fowles' same-titled novel, explores the dividing line between the imagined and the real as it bops back and forth between scenes from the Victorian movie and contemporary scenes showing the making of it. Oddly enough, in the end, the Victorian “movie” sections seem far more real than the contemporary “real” ones.
9) "Being Julia"
Annette Benning plays a famous Victorian actress beginning to feel her age. It's a great film most notable for Benning’s portrayal of this domineering, stage-y, eccentric and, ultimately, fragile woman.
10) "Far and Away"
Set in Ireland and America, this Ron Howard movie follows the exploits of two young Irish people, one from the Anglo-Irish landowning class (played by Nicole Kidman) and one poor land worker who is about to be evicted (played by Tom Cruise). The two set out for an American adventure that charts the course of Irish immigration and ends with the Oklahoma Land Run of 1893.