Всё, что историкам известно доподлинно, – что Анна, которая и королевой быть не желала, и умом не отличалась, и страдала от множества недугов, затруднявших функционирование в качестве главы государства, очень долго полагалась в управлении страной на подругу детства Сару Черчилль, герцогиню Мальборо, а потом к ней охладела и вместо нее приблизила ее родственницу, Абигайль Хилл, будущую жену капитана Мэшема (она изображается юной красоткой, хотя, когда историческая Анна сделала ее своей конфиданткой, той было под сорок). Известно и то, что герцогиня грозила обнародовать «кошмарные письма» королевы, которые можно было истолковать в том смысле, что Анна была в Сару влюблена.
The latter was Anne’s companion and confidante since girlhood. When Anne succeeded to the throne in 1702, the Duchess of Marlborough was among those she brought with her to court.
Marlborough’s usurper was Abigail Masham, a lower ranking courtier and cousin of the Duchess of Marlborough, brought into court circles under the patronage of the duchess herself. The Favourite dramatises their triangular and tense struggle for dominance, putting female politics at the heart of every scene while foppish men in red high heels and extravagant suits watch from the edges.
The [Greece-born] director, Yorgos Lanthimos, breaks new ground in his dramatisation of the past.
Brace yourselves, then, for the unfamiliar sound of accuracy-o-meters exploding once The Favourite is released. Complete with denim costumes and speech that is neither obviously period nor modern – and with a duck race and dance sequence like no other you’ll have seen in court before.
In the film the queen’s bedroom – the location for much of the plot – is a haven for 17 fluffy rabbits who must be petted by any courtier claiming to be loyal. The bunnies are typical of the film’s aesthetic, and serve as a cute (albeit eccentric and surprising) addition. Of course, pet rabbits would never have been found lolloping around a royal bedchamber: they were an early 18th-century foodstuff and pest. Their function is instead historically symbolic, representing an adult lifetime of pregnancies endured by Anne that only ever resulted in miscarriage, still birth, or the premature death of newborns, infants or children.
[...] She was labelled as the ‘childless’ queen – despite her bearing and burying child after child after child after child. In The Favourite this aspect of her life and reign is brought much more firmly into our vision.
[...] The film makes no attempt to lecture to us about what happened in Britain in the 1700s. The narrative point is the female power play, not the economic, politics or cultural changes of the day.
- Extracts; full text
• Queen Anne's husband Prince George of Denmark (father of all her ill-fated children) is never seen or mentioned, although Abigail entered the queen's service in 1704 and George did not die until 1708. His death, as well as the deaths of their children, was among the reasons for Anne's depression.
• Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, is the direct ancestor of both Sir Winston Churchill and Princess Diana (born Diana Spencer).
• Most of the costumes and wigs were made from scratch. The budget was very tight, so renting them was not feasible. Costume designer Sandy Powell intentionally used anachronistic fabrics. Laser-cut lace and vinyl was used for many courtiers' clothes. The servants' dresses and britches are made from denim recycled from thrift store jeans from throughout England.
• The film was shot mostly with available sunlight or practical lighting, such as candles and fireplaces. Robbie Ryan kept backup lighting equipment on stand-by, but used very little additional light, mostly due to unseasonably warm weather during filming.
Queen Anne: Because how could anyone? She wants nothing from me. Unlike you.
Lady Sarah: She wants nothing from you. And yet somehow she is a lady. With 2000 a year, and Harley sits on your knee most nights.
Queen Anne: I wish you could love me as she does!
Lady Sarah: You wish me to lie to you? "Oh you look like an angel fallen from heaven, your majesty." No. Sometimes, you look like a badger. And you can rely on me to tell you.
Queen Anne: Why?
Lady Sarah: Because I will not lie! That is love!