Favorite Period Movies - Part I

I love winter evenings, because the sun sets sooner and everyone is indoors together and the house is cozy and warm. And in these long nights of January, we’ve been watching some period movies, old favorites and new discoveries. Here is our list of favorite period movies…always with commentary, sometimes with a plot synopsis, and sometimes with a trailer for the lesser known movies.

Wives & Daughters

Hands down, this is my all-time favorite period movie. Based on the novel by Elizabeth Glaskell, it is set in England in the 1850′s. The acting is superb! The costuming exquisite! (And you know that’s so very, very important to me.) And the movie is just so perfectly decent. While Jane Austen is pretty decent too, there’s usually the hint of a scandal somewhere. This is not so in Wives & Daughters. Humor and excellent dialogue all help to make it my favorite!

Photo credit here.

All the various Jane Austen movies:

Pride & Prejudice

I like both versions. Colin Firth, the beautiful civility, the elegance, the dialogue, and more all make me like the first version best.

Photo credit here.

In the newer version, I really enjoy: the mother being kindly and silly rather than ridiculous, the realism that runs throughout the movie (especially in the first dancing scene), and the sumptous, fabric-like feel to the cinematography. (Shown: my favorite scene.)

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy played by Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen in Pride and Prejudice (2005) 2

Photo credit here.

Sense & Sensibility

A dear friend of mine described the version with Emma Thompson as, “...a perfect movie.” So true. Can’t find one flaw in it. Perfectly acted and costumed. Beautiful cinematography. Great sets. Elegant musical score.

Photo credit here.


Our favorite is the version with Gwyneth Paltrow. Humorous story of a young matchmaker, who is quick to recognize love for everyone except herself. The archery scene always make us chuckle.

Photo credit here.

Amazing Grace

Moving on from Jane Austen movies now… Our whole family loves Amazing Grace! Inspiring, true story of Wilbur Willberforce, who succeeded in abolishing slavery from England, and his friendship with John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace”. Stellar performances by all the actors and actresses in this movie. Beautifully costumed.

Photo credit here.

North & South

Also based on a novel by Elizabeth Glaskell (as was “Wives & Daughters), this is a new favorite of ours. It has NOTHING to do with the American Civil War, but is instead set in 1850′s England. A minister’s family moves from the cosmopolitan area of southern England to a northern mill town, where their genteel manners are in contrast to the sometimes-rough tradespeople who surround them. Can the minister’s daughter find love there?

Photo credit here.

Click here for a trailer from North & South.

The Four Feathers

This movie differs a bit from all the previously mentioned ones, as it is often violent and portrays some really wretched prison scenes, but I do like it. Heath Ledger portrays a young British officer who is given four feathers, symbols of cowardice, from his fellow officer friends and his fiance when he decides not to follow his commrades to war. Beautiful scenes in England. Excellent costuming. A touching story of friendship and atonement.

Photo credit here.

And here is a trailer for "The Four Feathers".

Under the Greenwood Tree

This is the story of a young teacher who creates quite a stir when she moves to a small, English town. Soon she finds herself with three suitors. Hilarious, at times.

Photo credit here.

Little Women

A favorite, especially at Christmas time! Good for the whole family!

Photo credit here.

Anna and the King

This is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. The costuming is flawless! The cinematography exquisite! The acting superb! Heavy subject matter at times, and humorous at other times.

Photo credit here.

Comments and other movie recommendations welcome!  More of our favorites in my next posting.


  1. Four Feathers going right on the queue! I knew nothing of it, thank you.

    I agree with the dancing scene in new P & P. Anyone who has danced knows it is hard, close work and quite sweaty.

    Hands down John Adams: the HBO mini-series. Perfect. Some gruesome medical scenes, a partially naked tar-and-feathering, and a stunning portrayal of decadent French society within -- be forewarned. But the score has become part of our family's fabric, and John and Abigail like old friends.

    We also loved BBC's Bleak House with Gillian Anderson, and the Cranford movies... among others.

    Looking forward to your next installment.

    deb meyers

  2. Yes, we love the John Adams mini-series too (and object to all those same scenes). John and Abigail Adams are my two favorite people in American history!

    Hmmm...as far as your other recommendations...did you peak at my next posting? ;-)

  3. no, not peeking :) Birds of a feather blog together, i guess.

    I left off 2006 Jane Eyre by mistake in this comment, glad you caught it in today's post! No other version compares.

  4. Yes! Yes! I agree! Just LOVE that version of Jane Eyre!


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