posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy
Back in my college days (oh so very long ago!), I was a history major and totally enamored of Tudor and Elizabethan England. (Yes, I know I was a geek.) But when several of my friends recently encouraged me to watch the new TV series "The Tudors" I was less than enthusiastic. I felt pretty much as I had about Peter Jackson releasing his "Lord of the Rings" flims. I just didn't believe someone else's version could live up to my own private imagination.
However, since I'd been more than pleasantly surprised with Jackson's films, and I happen to think Jonathan Rhys Meyers is one VERY HOT Irishman (though certainly not my first choice to portray Henry the Eighth), I rented Season 1. I watched the first two episodes with a great deal of skepticism and kept muttering between bites of popcorn, "This isn't very historically accurate." "Give me a break with all this melodrama!" But I kept watching, and I gotta admit that by episode three, I was HOOKED!
For starters, the sets and costumes are sumptuous! There are heaps of gorgeous statues, draperies, jewels, and all the actors look incredible in their satins, velvets and furs. All right, all right, they look good OUT of their costumes too, and there are plenty of those scenes. And even if I do know how this story is going to turn out, I'm still loving all the twisty turns and political intrigue in the storylines (I'm almost finished watching Season 2).
In fact, knowing how it all really turns out is one of the things I like most. I don't have to worry about missing anything in some of various plots and subplots and I can concentrate on the absolute BEST part of the story -- THE CHARACTERS!
Jonathan Rhys Meyers may not look anything like all those museum portraits of King Henry, but he captures his intensity perfectly! Ditto with the two actress who play Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boelyn (who both have way better hair than their historical counterparts, I'm sure). Their emoting may go over-the-top sometimes but it's always real. I felt Anne's anguish and desperation when she suffered that miscarriage. And when the dying Katherine dictates her last letter to Henry and says, "My eyes still desire you above all else." I believed it!
I don't think it is a coincidence that we find Henry, Katherine and Anne compelling, even five hundred years later. These were real people with the same passion and flaws that still resonate with us today. No wonder their story keeps being retold (Ever see Anne of the Thousand Days? RENT IT!) to the delight of generations of audiences. We might not like, or completely understand the things they do, but we can definitely identify with their emotions. Plus, no contrived plot could ever play out as perfectly as real life.
These are the kind of characters I strive to create for my books, heroes, heroines, and supporting characters so compelling that readers become enthralled with them. Characters who are realistically flawed but passionate in their actions and emotions. And I don't have to look any further than my nearest history book to find real people with the traits I need and want to portray!
Who are some of your favorite historical figures? Are there fictional characters you find more compelling?