Jan 29, 2010 - film/tv reviews    10 Comments

Top 10 period dramas & why we love thee! ;)

Top 10 Period Drama Films

So over the last few years I’ve really developed a love for period dramas. ‘Why?’, you might ask with raised eyebrows. Just like all those poor guys who ask “WHY??!! Why do girls like Darcy?? I don’t get it!” lol. Well the answer is a little undefinable, but I just find period dramas more interesting than the death and mayhem and slicing of bodies that seem to be what goes for TV these days. I like seeing history come to life and seeing a gentler, more natural time where life was about relationships, dealing with family dilemmas and realizing self-truths. These films also contain a lot less sensationalism, sexual scenes and hey they’re almost as covered up as Muslims :) They also have the same type of social structure (issues about money, family background, community) and gender interactions (courtships, love marriages versus family, weirdo guys etc) that we do as well!

So here’s my top 10 period dramas that I think are really worth watching and that *I* could watch again and again and again…sighs ;)


1. Pride & Prejudice 1995 – Colin Firth version, need I say more? Just the best adaptation there is even after all these years. THIS is what made people fall in love with period dramas and start this genre. There is so much to say about this excellent film. Excellent actors, dialog, scenery, true to book and the times and soooo on. Summary: Crazy mother tries to find husbands for her 5 daughters as they go through their own trials with some interesting guys that move into the neighborhood. (There have been a number of older and newer versions of this film, notably the latest starring Keira Knightley, but this 1995 one is the gold standard!) (5 hrs)


2. North & South 2004 - Just a really lovely drama based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel. Background issues like industrialization, class issues, labor and unions also explored. And it has a gorgeous hero that some like even more than Darcy! Summary: Set in early industrial England, a young woman adjusts to moving to the North and dealing with their very different ways and a very different factory owner. (4 hrs)


3. Sense & Sensibility 1995 – Emma Thompson version in another great Austen classic that always makes me cry no matter what. Summary: Two sisters deal with their sudden change in situation after their father dies. (There is a new version that’s about 4 hours long which is very interesting to watch too but again the Emma version is perfect.) (2 hrs)


4. Northanger Abbey 2006 – ITV version that is really fun to watch. Reminds me a lot of my teenage/college years (without a Mr. Tilney though of course :() Summary: Young girl finally gets the adventure of a lifetime with a visit to Bath where she learns a lot about the ways of the world. (2 hrs)


5. Lost in Austen 2008 – Ever wonder what would happen if you entered the world of a period drama? Wonder no more! This is really funny and quirky series to watch. Summary: Modern girls falls into Pride and Prejudice. (4hrs)


6. Becoming Jane 2007 – A film of her life, really sad I thought, but should definitely be watched. More true to life endings too unfortunately.Summary: A ‘real story’ of Jane Austen’s life which brings up all the issues explored in her novels. (2 hrs)


7. Cranford 2007 – This seems slow at first but soon you’re just caught up in this small town world, crying and laughing with all it’s residents. Summary: A bunch of spinsters in a small town against the world. (5 hrs) (They’ve also added a Return to Cranford continuation.)


8. Emma 2009 – Jane Austen said no one would ever like this heroine but this version makes her a lot more likeable. Summary: A spoiled heiress tries to help those around her until they finally help her. (4 hrs)


9. Ever After 1998 – How can this be from 1998??! What a great story. Drew is amazing and this is a classic of classics. We watch this after every scary movie to cleanse the pallet! Summary: Cinderella. (2hrs)


10. Wuthering Heights 1992 - Anyone who watches any version will be swept away by the dark love/hate that fills this story. Summary: Love that’s never allowed to live by fate through generations. (2hrs)

There are also many, many more well worth watching. I’m just making a list of my favorites :) I don’t want to say too much about each one because they really should be watched to be experienced!


eatingpopcornsmiley :eating popcorn:


  • Hahah i’m totally into the death/mayhem/other tv craziness that’s on these days. I’ve only watched Ever After && heard of Becoming Jane and Pride and Prejudice. ..I saw Bride & Prejudice if that counts? :-D :-p Don’t kill me.

  • Lol, definitely think death and mayhem is more your style :P As for bride & prejudice ahhhhhh loved that mr. coolie, definitely husband material in our neck of the woods ;)

  • Cool post. As you know Sis J – I love P&P (aren’t I a rare gem? – as Sr. Zaufishan put it in the award blog post. Wasn’t there a version of Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow – that’s the version I like . . I liked Sense and Sensibility from what I remember —-> *loves Kate Winslet* Ok, not too sound girlish ,but what about Little Women?
    As for the overall comments you made, yes, no improper scenes, etc, especially if you’re watching with parents – while in P7P the women are still not “covered up” the dresses were about elegance and though the neck-lines were revealing, it wasn’t about titillation, but just being womanly which was how they dressed at those times, so yes, overall more in tune with Eastern dress code and as well as the issues that we still face or consider today, as you mentioned.

  • I totally had Little Women on my original list and ‘Ever After’ as a #11 and couldn’t decide between them and Wuthering Heights!!! Little Women with Winona Ryder is definitely a classic agreed. Now that u mention it, u do kind of remind me of Laurie.. :)

  • Now I remember why I took it off…it’s cause I don’t think I could watch it over and over and over again. Because some parts of it were just extremely sad *spoilers* death of one of the sisters *spoilers* and I’m really not sure if I agreed with Jo’s decisions so..

  • Sis J! – I have to admit, I didn’t remember the story of Little Women, but just wanted to suggest another period drama and I remember watching the movie at some point, probably with my Amma. I was looking up Laurie, his character and role in the narrative, etc – so what part of him does kinda remind you of me? Just curious to be honest :-) Is it because I too, ran off to Europe? :-P

    Yeah, if you can’t watch it over and over, it’s not really a classic. That’s what I base my DVD (now BluRay) purchases on – can I watch it whenever and still enjoy it, laugh, no matter how many times I watch it? If yes, then I buy!

  • I haven’t watched it in like 10 years!! So I don’t know why exactly, it was just a passing thought. Not that I know you for real anyway, so I’m sure it’s not very accurate!

  • Ahh, ok, cool. Yeah, very true: online vs. reality not the same.

  • You soooo need to add Anne of Green Gables (remember Anne with an ‘e’). Apparently they’ve made a follow up after Anne and Gilbert got married!

  • Awww I do remember the Anne of Green Gables series, good memories there, but kinda feel too old for them now?? Haven’t seen the one’s where they’re all grown up and married tho!!