Occasionally, when I’m not watching my standard blokey films like Fight Club and Inglourious Basterds, I like to swoon my face off to some Jane Austen and a bit of Colin Firth in the lake. I believe it is called “equilibrium.”
When the swooning had ceased and it came to actually sitting down and writing this list, I found “period dramas” hard to define. It turns out that this genre that I knew very little of was not just limited to adaptations of feminist literature, the Yorkshire Moors, petticoats and so on. Period dramas are films that are set in a time period other than contemporary and setting and costume play a greater role than usual.
Moreover, period dramas could literally be from any period. Citizen Kane counts. I, Claudius counts. Schindler’s List counts. You see my problem? So, it is important for me to be clear on narrowing a focus for this list, and therefore, I have chosen to look at period dramas that are set from the 18thcentury onwards. The reason for this is because I felt that the films set even earlier were more concerned with playing out particular events from history, hence filling the genre mold as “historical films.”
For me, period dramas set towards the end of the millennium use history as more of a backdrop, and so our characters are more-often-than-not fictional. The authors and screenwriters of the films on this list do not just present history to us; they rework them and create new worlds, new plots and new heroes and heroines. They also include themes that are important to a modern day audience. So, let us begin…