Costume drama/Period film/tv recommendations?
February 3, 2009 3:47 AM   Subscribe

Help me make a list of must see costume dramas/period films/tv. I love costume dramas and period films/tv and I'd like to see more of them. Recommendations please?

I like things with lavish costumes and elaborate sets that are set in any time period before say, 1920. I love the BBC and Masterpiece theater.

I tend to prefer movies/tv that have been made fairly recently, after 1985 or so, but if there's good ones made before that and aren't "dated", please recommend it. When I say "dated", I mean that when I'm watching the film I want to feel like I'm watching something from the time period it's set in, not watching a 70's movie set in 1870. For example, I watched a version of Jane Eyre that was made in the 1970's and I was really distracted by the 70's-ish hair of the actors and actresses.

On the other hand, I'm not that freaked out about historical inaccuracy or a movie differing from a book (if it's done with skill). So if it's a medieval piece and they're using forks I'm not going to care.

I like anything from historical dramas, to romances, adventure, even horror as long as it's set in the past and has awesome costumes for me to look at.

Some things I've enjoyed:

Pride and Prejudice (both the 1995 BBC version and the Keira Knightley version)
Sense and Sensibility (both the Ang Lee and the 2008 BBC version)
Merlin (BBC TV Series)
Lark Rise To Candleford
Jane Eyre
Little Women
The House of Mirth
Shakespeare In Love
posted by katyggls to Media & Arts (50 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, or any other Shakespeare movie by/with Branagh might be worth seeing.
Her Majesty, Mrs Brown
Perhaps The Prestige
posted by bjrn at 3:55 AM on February 3, 2009

Dangerous Liaisons
posted by DWRoelands at 3:58 AM on February 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Persuasion. This production specifically.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:02 AM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Lion in Winter a little older, but a classic
The Tudors Fantastic costumes, when they're wearing them and not having sex
posted by saffry at 4:19 AM on February 3, 2009

Netflix does a pretty good job of rounding up period pieces for you as recommendations, if you're into that.

I liked "Wives and Daughters," a 4-part miniseries about a family in 19th century England. A little slow at times, but the characters were pretty enjoyable and it was made pretty recently.

The Other Boleyn Girl, the movie that came out recently based on the book, is decent (though honestly I recommend most of Philippa Gregory's books instead of the movie, if you like reading about this stuff too)

Did you see The Duchess that came out recently? How about the Sophia Coppola Marie Antoinette movie that was out a few years ago? (That one was... weird, but the costumes were awesome)
posted by olinerd at 4:28 AM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just started John Adams last night and it's pretty great, so far.
posted by The Michael The at 4:43 AM on February 3, 2009

Oh, and you should absolutely check out Deadwood.
posted by The Michael The at 4:45 AM on February 3, 2009

Brideshead Revisited. Marginally beyond your time limit (1923) but you'll enjoy it.


Lady Chatterly
posted by fire&wings at 5:23 AM on February 3, 2009

I, Claudius. It was made in 1976 but does not look old or dated to me. Also Rome. Both are absolutely spectacular.
posted by crapmatic at 5:28 AM on February 3, 2009

Oh... also Upstairs, Downstairs, from the early 1970s but has aged very well, though I seem to recall the first couple of episodes are black and white (the ones afterward you would swear were made in 1990).
posted by crapmatic at 5:30 AM on February 3, 2009

It takes place in 1939, but you might like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

I also enjoy Princess Caraboo, which you should almost certainly find entertaining.
posted by zizzle at 5:39 AM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Check out Vatel. It didn't do too well when it came out, but the costumes, sets and food are absolutely amazing.
posted by Atom12 at 5:43 AM on February 3, 2009

Seconding Upstairs, Downstairs, if you like Gosford Park. It's very well done.
posted by starman at 5:55 AM on February 3, 2009

The BBC's Bleak House and the more recent Little Dorrit are excellent.
posted by hatmandu at 6:01 AM on February 3, 2009

A leeeetle off, but in the Huzzah! Adventure! mold, I was re-watching The Man Who Would Be King last weekend and reflecting on the fact that it's a criminally underrecognized movie. I was actually going to post an AskMe this week about jolly adventureseom films in that mold, but this thread may well suffice.
posted by Shepherd at 6:20 AM on February 3, 2009

Two words: Merchant and Ivory.. Particularly; A Room with a View, Maurice, Remains of the Day, Howard's End.

Also: A Passage to India.
Lady Jane.
Wings of the Dove.
posted by girlpublisher at 6:42 AM on February 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Ridicule. (features a rather close-up shot of a dude urinating, but you can fast forward through that easily)
posted by mkb at 6:46 AM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

also, La reine Margot.
posted by mkb at 6:55 AM on February 3, 2009

The Beeb has done two serialisations of Sarah Waters books. These are both lesbian themed movies ftr, with that being more of the point in Tipping the Velvet, while the main theme of Fingersmith is the suspense filled Dickensian long con with orphans and pickpockets and urchins and so on.

Tipping the Velvet
posted by Iteki at 9:16 AM on February 3, 2009

The age of innocence
posted by juva at 9:20 AM on February 3, 2009

Seconding Gosford Park, and be sure to watch the DVD extras about the lengths Robert Altman went to in order to accurately portray the time period.
posted by rhizome at 9:26 AM on February 3, 2009

Barry Lyndon. It's long, but worth it. Kubrick went to unbelievable lengths to get it to look perfect.
posted by thebergfather at 9:27 AM on February 3, 2009

Seconding the John Adams series from HBO. That more people didn't see that series is criminal.
posted by PsuDab93 at 9:47 AM on February 3, 2009

I'd thoroughly recommend "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" - by Anne Bronte, the youngest of the three sister-authors.

The BBC did a great version of it a few years ago.
posted by greenish at 9:48 AM on February 3, 2009

Barry Lyndon is just absolutely gorgeous, and I don't even like this kind of stuff.
posted by mullacc at 9:57 AM on February 3, 2009

A lot of the films mentioned have costume designer Jenny Beavan in common.

Tangentially related... there was/is a traveling exhibit called Fashion in Film, and in seeing it awhile back, I was blown away by seeing some of the work we're talking about in person. I'm a particular sucker for the dresses from A Room with a View and Howards End, but everything was beyond gorgeous. Lots of pictures here. That might be a guide to further films as well!
posted by kittyb at 10:01 AM on February 3, 2009

BBC's Casanova mini series. You get Italian, French and English period costumes all in one. The French rock!
posted by ye#ara at 10:03 AM on February 3, 2009

posted by dpcoffin at 10:04 AM on February 3, 2009

Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett. The series is still airing on my PBS station. Best Holmes ever.
posted by kimdog at 10:14 AM on February 3, 2009

Persuasion. This production specifically.

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:26 AM on February 3, 2009

For sure costumery goodness, you cannot beat The Pallisers. I watched this last year, all 12 discs and though it is a bit creaky around the edges, (it was made in the 70s) Susan Hampshire is absolutely gorgeous and wears the most lavish dresses I've ever seen in a TV series.

If you liked Cranford, then Wives and Daughters (as mentioned by olinerd) and North and South are both based on books by the same author, Elizabeth Gaskell.

Aristocrats is a lovely mini-series based on the real lives of 4 aristocratic sisters in the 1700s.

House of Eliot, is about a pair of sisters who open a dress making shop in London in 1920. Of course there are a great many wonderful clothes.

The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes
is a fictional account of Arthur Conan Doyle as a student meeting Doctor Bell, the real life inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:46 AM on February 3, 2009

Yeah, Barry Lyndon should be at the top of the list. It's actually my favorite Kubrick flick.

The 1995 miniseries of "Pride and Prejudice", which I think was a BBC production. At 5 hour-long episodes, I pretty much had to be forced into watching it. I finally, reluctantly agreed to watch 1 tape a week until we got through it.

After the first hour, I said "how about we watch 3 episodes tonight and finish it tomorrow?"

I'd also recommend "A Man For All Seasons", which is one of the best screenplays ever.
posted by the bricabrac man at 10:47 AM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Orlando. It might not be a great film but it has great costumes from many periods. And it has Tilda Swinton who was probably born just to be put in great costumes.
posted by chairface at 11:05 AM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding The Wings of the Dove. The story was so-so, but the interiors and costumes were gorgeous and of an era that I hadn't seen a lot of before.

Also Girl with a Pearl Earring.
posted by marsha56 at 11:23 AM on February 3, 2009

Maybe you'd like Curse of the Golden Flower which has really over-the-top set design and costumes. The movie plays out like a Greek tragedy, is definitely not historically accurate, but it is total eye-candy.
posted by hooray at 11:44 AM on February 3, 2009

If you are up for some american period drama it just occurred to me you can check out Deadwood.
posted by Iteki at 12:48 PM on February 3, 2009

Re-recommending the very drool-worthy Marie Antoinette (Sophia Coppola's recent version, with Kirsten Dunst in the lead). She wears approximately 60 different dresses in the film -- and that's only Marie, not counting her fashionable friends.
posted by fantine at 2:14 PM on February 3, 2009

Brotherhood of the Wolf. Really long really good period movie
posted by Redhush at 3:42 PM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

As no one else has mentioned it you may enjoy To the Ends of the Earth which is available on DVD. Not quite standard costume drama fare, but very atmospheric and really gives an idea of the ordeal of long distance passenger sea journeys in the 1800s. Great acting as well IIRC.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 3:52 PM on February 3, 2009

Response by poster: Wow! You all are awesome. Many great suggestions (keep them coming!) here. It'll take me forever to get through them al but I'll definitely enjoy it. Thanks!
posted by katyggls at 4:50 PM on February 3, 2009

The Tom Jones miniseries is awesome and hilarious. Brian Blessed! omg!
posted by nev at 6:44 PM on February 3, 2009

If you like costumes AND good adaptation -- smart, funny, true to the spirit of the book -- Andrew Davies is your man.

I am a big fan of 19th century English lit. Most adaptations of books I liked just piss me off, which makes it rough when I am trying to enjoy the sets and costumes. I have come to see the Andrew Davies name as big flashing seal of quality -- I've now seen many of his period adaptations and they are all fantastic. I guess a lot of people like his non-period work, too.
posted by Methylviolet at 7:25 PM on February 3, 2009

It's been mentioned, but I feel I must add my vote for "A Room With A View" - the 1985 Merchant/Ivory version. As far as I'm concerned, it's the most perfect movie ever made.

(SKIP the 2007 one, which took absurd liberties with the ending and ruined the whole thing.)

Another suggestion - it's post-1920, but I've always enjoyed Tea With Mussolini. It's loosely autobiographical about the life of director Franco Zeffirelli, growing up in pre-WWII Italy amid a bevy of artsy upper class British ladies. Seriously - just look at that cast? How can you go wrong with Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Lily Tomlin... Even Cher turns in an actually excellent performance as a somewhat scandalous American actress.
posted by dnash at 7:30 PM on February 3, 2009

A Very Long Engagement which was lovely and WWI-era French with Audrey Tatou, directed by the same director as Amelie.
posted by santojulieta at 9:21 PM on February 3, 2009

I just popped in to say, yes Marie Antoinette is basically Costumes! Costumes! Costumes! There are something like 300 unique pairs of shoes created just for the movie. It's like the Lord Of the Rings for 18th Century Nerds.

The best part of Tea With Mussolini occurs in the first three minutes, but it's a charming little thing. (Plus, Hats! Huge unfathomable hats!)
posted by The Whelk at 7:03 AM on February 4, 2009

Topsy-Turvy is one of my all-time favorites.
posted by Requiax at 10:04 AM on March 20, 2009

The Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea (aka Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel) movies and the TV series Avonlea (aka Road to Avonlea or Tales from Avonlea) are really wonderful.
posted by xsquared-1 at 7:12 AM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

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