A little romance is good for us all from time to time, and if it can’t be found in real life a movie is definitely the next best thing to turn to. When it comes to stories of love, the classics unmistakably do it best, from Jane Austen to Elizabeth Gaskell, even if the costumes are a little much for some people’s tastes. But when it’s done well, a period drama can outshine even the most ambitious of modern competitors.
Top 5 Most Romantic Period Dramas
To start at number five, the first film to grace this list will be Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence, based on the 1920 novel by Edith Warton which won the Pulitzer prize. The movie stars Daniel Day Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder, and is set upon the backdrop of 1870’s New York Society. Day Lewis’ character, Newland Archer is set to marry the beautiful but somewhat dull May Welland, Ryder, but things become complicated when Newland begins to fall for May’s exotic cousin Ellen, who has returned to New York recently separated from her Polish husband.
At number four is the 2006 BBC adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Ayre, starring Ruth Wilson as Jane and Toby Stevens as a wonderfully darkly humoured Rochester. Jane is an orphan and grows up in the harsh conditions of Lowood School. When she acquires employment as a governess, she comes to fall in love with her employer, Edward Rocester. Jane is seemingly plain and ordinary, but these qualities are exactly what Rochester falls in love with, for he was tricked into marriage with the beautiful and exotic, but thoroughly insane Bertha. It is Jane’s sanity that Rochester truly loves.
Number three will have to be the 1995 BBC version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a period drama which almost always tops most “best of” lists, however, it is at number three precisely due to this fact, and acclaim is surely deserved to some lesser celebrated films. It is nonetheless engrossing, with Colin Firth as the ultimate, and most would agree, best Mr.Darcy. A character that is definitely the most frequently re-produced in literature and film to this day, where we find the male love interest who loves but is too emotionally inept to properly declare his love, which comes across as hostility.
Coming to number two in the list is the 2004 television drama serial, yet again by the BBC, of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, which details Margaret Hale’s journey of self discovery as her family moves from the south to an industrial town in the north of England. Margaret embarks on a love/hate relationship with the factory owner John Thornton, their difference in views are antagonistic but in the end both learn different things from eachother exactly because their backgrounds are so different.
And finally, number one will have to be the 1993 film The Piano, starring Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel and Sam Neill. Set in New Zealand in the mid- 1800’s, this film tells the story of a mute woman, Ada McGrath who is sold into marriage by her father. She is awkward with her new husband, and longs for her piano which has been left on the strand of a far off beach because it was too heavy to transport. When her husband’s friend Baines (Keitel) asks her to give him piano lessons, but prefers rather to listen to her play, the two begin a secret love affair.