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The British monarchy on screen$
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Mandy Merck

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719099564

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719099564.001.0001

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From political power to the power of the image: contemporary ‘British’ cinema and the nation’s monarchs

From political power to the power of the image: contemporary ‘British’ cinema and the nation’s monarchs

Chapter:
(p.339) 15 From political power to the power of the image: contemporary ‘British’ cinema and the nation’s monarchs
Source:
The British monarchy on screen
Author(s):

Andrew Higson

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719099564.003.0016

The quarter century since Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V(1989) has seen numerous representations of English and Scottish monarchs, both legendary and historical, in “British” films. Some of these films function as biopics, some as dramas in which the monarch is the protagonist and some as costume dramas or historical films in which monarchs appear only briefly. At one level these films are more or less conventional products, designed to appeal to particular global markets, and often UK-US co productions. Here the relevant questions are the circumstances of production and circulation, and the extent to which the films rework established genre conventions. At another level, the representation of monarchy in these films plays a key role in the maintenance and renewal of the national institution. In this context, this chapter will examine how these films negotiate the shift from the absolutist power of the pre-modem and early modem monarchy to the “postpolitical” constitutional monarchy of the contemporary period. As they move toward the present day, the monarch becomes both an ordinary person, the private individual in the family and household, and an extraordinary figure, surrounded by all the ceremony and pomp of royal1itual and costume drama, a spectacular image for a global brand.

Keywords:   Branagh, Henry V, Biopic

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