(I thought Movie Monday sounded snappier than Nineteenth Century Movie Recommendations, so I went with it.)
Here you have my pick for the second decade of the 19th century: 2005 three-part miniseries To The Ends Of The Earth. Based on the book series of the same name by William Golding (author of Lord Of The Flies), To The Ends Of The Earth is a particular favourite of mine because it is Regency but not Jane Austen! (You would not believe how difficult it is to find things that are Regency but not Austen that are any good).
Set in 1812, it is the story of Edmund Talbot, a privileged young aristocrat fresh out of his youth, undertaking a long sea voyage to New South Wales in Australia, where his esteemed godfather is governor, to begin a career in the colonial government. He keeps a journal of the events that take place along the way, as well as of his observations of the ship’s crew and other passengers. Amongst these are almost every type of Regency character you could possibly hope for – sailors, officers, clergy, political radicals, (possible) prostitutes, and men and women from many different stations in life. In being cooped up on a ship with all of these varied characters, and through his unlikely friendship with Lieutenant Summers, the ship’s first officer, Talbot is forced to confront his own privilege and examine his own character for the first time as he struggles with the influence he suddenly finds that he has and is not sure what to do with.
To The Ends Of The Earth features a large cast of perennial costume drama favorites such as JJ Field and Victoria Hamilton, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch in one of his earliest major roles. I don’t know what the general feeling on him is at the moment (people really liked him, but now they’re annoyed that he’s in everything? I don’t know), but this is my favourite thing that he’s in other than Cabin Pressure.
Fair warning, though: To The Ends Of The Earth is not for the faint of heart – it deals pretty frankly with the cramped and unsanitary conditions of life aboard ship, and contains a bit of nudity, blood, terminal illness, mentions of rape, and a good deal of vomit.
But it also has Benedict Cumberbatch’s butt, so.
Tune in next week for the 1820s! Here’s a sneak peak…