• (L - R) 'Tommy's Honour', 'Interlude in Prague', 'Sunset Song', 'Mary Shelley'. (SBS)Source: SBS
The 1950s, 1930s, 1920s, 19th and 18th centuries. Take your mind off 2020 and escape with our collection of period dramas (and a comedy) with impressive costume and production design now streaming at SBS On Demand.
By
SBS Movies

27 Oct 2020 - 2:03 PM  UPDATED 27 Oct 2020 - 2:03 PM

Tommy's Honour

M
UK, 2017
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: English
Director: Jason Connery
Starring: Peter Mullan, Jack Lowden, Ophelia Lovibond, Sam Neill
What's it about?
Set in St. Andrews, Scotland during the hidebound Victorian era, the story opens in 1866 as 15-year-old Tommy Morris heads to the links with his father, Tom. Already a legend, “Old Tom” is the three-time winner of the first major golf tournament, the Open Championship which he founded in 1860. Tom has secured his place in the history of the ancient game. But Tommy will soon outshine him, retiring the Open’s prize Championship Belt while still in his teens, and, as the “dashing young man of golf,” drawing flocks of spectators to the sport. 

Despite their shared passion, father and son repeatedly clash over the unwritten rules of social class.

 

Sunset Song

PG
Luxembourg, UK, 2015
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Terence Davies
Starring: Peter Mullan, Agyness Deyn, Kevin Guthrie, Hugh Ross, Douglas Rankine
What's it about?
For our next film we stay in Scotland with Peter Mullan. Sunset Song is an intimate epic of hope, tragedy and love at the dawning of the Great War. A young woman’s endurance against the hardships of rural Scottish life, based on the 1932 novel by Scottish writer Lewis Grassic Gibbon, the story is told with gritty poetic realism by the great British director, Terence Davies. The woman’s conflicts and choices reflect the struggle between tradition and change; a them that continues to resonate today.

Terence Davies talks the power of perseverance and his latest elegy for the past, 'Sunset Song'

 

Mary Shelley

PG
Australia, Ireland, Luxembourg, UK, USA, 2018
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: English
Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Starring: Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth, Bel Powley, Stephen Dillane, Joanne Froggatt, Tom Sturridge
What's it about?
She will forever be remembered as the writer who gave the world Frankenstein. But the real life story of Mary Shelley – and the creation of her immortal monster – is nearly as fantastical as her fiction. Raised by a renowned philosopher father in 18th-century London, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin is a teenage dreamer determined to make her mark on the world when she meets the dashing and brilliant poet Percy Shelley. So begins a torrid, bohemian love affair marked by both passion and personal tragedy that will transform Mary and fuel the writing of her Gothic masterwork. Imbued with the imaginative spirit of its heroine, Mary Shelley directed by Saudi Arabia's Haifaa Al-Mansour (Wadjda), brings to life the world of a trailblazing woman who defied convention and channelled her innermost demons into a legend for the ages. 

 

Lady Chatterley

M
Belgium, 2006
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Pascale Ferran
Starring: Marina Hands, Jean-Louis Coulloch'd, Hippolyte Girardot
What's it about?
You may think you know the story, but this film is an adaptation of the lesser known D. H. Lawrence novel John Thomas and Lady Jane (1927), a precursor to Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928). Young Lady Constance Chatterley lives a life of comfort on the lavish estate owned by her much older husband, Sir Clifford, a WWI veteran bound to a wheelchair. Increasingly bored with her unexciting marriage, she falls into a hot and heavy, scandalous affair with the rugged estate gardener, Parkin. 

Lady Chatterley Review

 

Far From Men

M
France, 2015
Genre: Drama
Language: French, Spanish, Arabic
Director: David Oelhoffen
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Martin, Reda Kateb
What's it about?
The year is 1954, the Algerian war is beginning and village schoolteacher Daru, an ex-French Army soldier, is caught in the crossfire. Born in Algeria but Spanish by lineage, he's a man out of time and place. So when he reluctantly agrees to escort a dissident to a regional police station to face trial for murder, a series of incidents and revelations test where Daru's loyalties truly lie. Far From Men is a gripping tale of morality and friendship.

Far From Men review: Algerian war told powerfully through quiet intensity
Far From Men's David Oelhoffen and Warren Ellis on Viggo Mortensen, displacement, and scoring westerns with Nick Cave

 

The Bookshop

PG
UK, Germany, Spain, 2017
Genre: Drama
Language: English
Director: Isabel Coixet
Starring: Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, Patricia Clarkson
What's it about?
Based on Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel of the same name, The Bookshop is set in 1959. Florence Green, a free-spirited widow, puts grief behind her and risks everything to open up a bookshop – the first in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, England. By exposing the narrow-minded townsfolk to the best literature of the day including Nabokov’s scandalising Lolita and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, she opens their eyes thereby causing a cultural awakening in a town which has not changed for centuries.

Her activities bring her a kindred spirit and ally in the figure of Mr. Brundish who is himself sick of the town’s stale atmosphere. But this mini social revolution soon brings her fierce enemies: she invites the hostility of the town’s less prosperous shopkeepers and also crosses Mrs. Gamart, Hardborough’s vengeful, embittered alpha female who is herself a wannabe doyenne of the local arts scene.

When Florence refuses to bend to Gamart’s will, they begin a struggle not just for the bookshop but for the very heart and soul of the town.

 

Interlude In Prague

M
UK, Czech Republic, 2017
Genre: Drama, Music
Language: English
Director: John Stephenson
Starring: Aneurin Barnard, James Purefoy, Samantha Barks, Morfydd Clark, Dervla Kirwan Procházka
What's it about?
Prague, 1787. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart spends a few turbulent months escaping the frustrating, privileged elite of Vienna. However his unconventional presence soon unleashes a series of dramatic and tragic events. Overwhelmed by the tangled web of violence and intrigue that surrounds him and with his mind affected, Mozart creates the astonishing music and drama that becomes “Don Giovanni”.

 

The Man Who Laughs

PG
France, 2012
Genre: Drama
Language: French
Director: Jean-Pierre Améris
Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Emmanuelle Seigner, Christa Theret, Arben Bajraktaraj, Marc-André Grondin
What's it about?
Based on the 1869 eponymous novel by Victor Hugo, Gwynplaine is a young boy who has been mutilated and left with a scarified grin and abandoned by his carers. Homeless, he trudges through the snow where he finds the body of a woman, her newborn baby alive and clutching her breast. Gwynplaine saves the baby and is finally taken in by Ursus, a vagabond who lives in a tiny caravan with his pet wolf. Fifteen years later, the three move to the city and launch a popular circus act, with Gwynplaine the star. His disfigured face, rejected in everyday life, is warmly accepted by the crowd when he is dressed as a clown. But his life is turned upside down when he is discovered to be the missing son of a disgraced noble.

 

Return of the Hero

M
Belgium, France, 2018
Genre: History, Comedy
Language: French
Director: Laurent Tirard
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Mélanie Laurent, Christophe Montenez, Fabienne Galula, Noémie Merlant
What's it about?
This may be a comedy, but after all that drama, sometimes you just need a good French period farce that is completely ridiculous. France, 1809. Captain Neuville is called to the front, leaving his future bride Pauline heartbroken. Her sister Elizabeth decides to write letters on his behalf to cheer her up, thinking he would never come back. When Neuville returns home unexpectedly, he is welcomed in glory, but in truth is a war deserter and an opportunistic coward. A suspicious Elizabeth is determined to expose the real Neuville and the two deceivers (Neuville & Elizabeth) are about to start a ruthless fight, using the best tricks they can find.

 

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