Mary, Queen of Scots and the Color Red

We walked in a bit late to the showing of Mary Queen of Scots, but the realization of the fierce and complex dynamic between Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth was immediate. Fittingly, the movie about 16th century Scottish/English monarchy is in a sepia-like hue and an ornate yet cloudy setting. However, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth both have these fiery red heads of hair, that by imagery serve as sources of illumination and passion in the dismal politics. (Spoiler alert:) This is played up further when Elizabeth contracts pox, and we can see her face and hair start to wither. She attempts to rejuvenate her fair youth by covering her facial pox scars with white face makeup and by wearing a tall, rich red wig. In another powerful usage of red, in the ending scene, Mary steps up to her execution platform and her attending ladies strip away her outer coat, revealing a brilliant red dress that she wears for her own execution.

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