Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots Information

Mary Queen of Scots is a 2013 Swiss period drama directed by Thomas Imbach. It is his first film in English and French language starring the bilingual French actress Camille Rutherford. The film portrays the inner life of Mary, the Queen of Scotland. The film is based on Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig's 1935 biography, Mary Stuart, a long-term bestseller in Germany and France but out of print in the UK and the US for decades until 2010. The film was first screened at the 2013 International Film Festival Locarno and was later shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.


Mary, Queen of Scots, awaits her execution by order of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Mary composes a letter to Elizabeth, to whom she feels a close kinship as her cousin and a fellow female monarch. Through flashback, Mary narrates to Elizabeth the events of her life, starting from her birth in Scotland to the French Mary of Guise, who sends her to France as a child for her protection.

Mary is raised in French court, where she had for companions her Scottish ladies Mary Beaton, Mary Seton, Mary Fleming and Mary Livingston, as well as the Italian musician David Rizzio. Upon reaching adulthood Mary is married to the Dauphin, Francis, who becomes King of France when his father dies. News arrives that Queen Mary I of England has died and her sister, Elizabeth, has become Queen despite her official status as a bastard. Mary is aware of her own legitimate claim to the English throne; although she writes to Elizabeth promising not to challenge her, she insists on using the English coat of arms and the title "Queen of France, Scotland and England".

After Francis's early death, Mary returns to Scotland with her ladies and Rizzio. There, she is treated with suspicion and skepticism by her half-brother, Lord Moray, the Protestant clergyman John Knox and other Scottish lords. Mary struggles to ingratiate herself to them, but ends up isolating herself further by relying on Rizzio for political advice, marrying Englishman Darnley without the Lords' consent, and supporting the controversial Scottish border Lord Bothwell. Mary's love for Darnley fades when she learns of his extremism in pursuing the English throne; Mary has strong affection for Elizabeth, and wants to be her heir instead of usurping her.

Darnley conspires with Moray and the Scottish Lords to murder Rizzio in cold blood in front of a heavily pregnant Mary. Afterwards Mary begins to see visions of Rizzio, who warns her of worse things to come. Mary gives birth to her and Darnley's heir, James, but she is effectively separated from Darnley and has a new passion for Bothwell, with whom she has an affair. Soon afterward Darnley is killed in a gunpowder explosion, and Mary marries Bothwell because she is pregnant with his child. The marriage is heavily protested, with the Scottish Lords taking up arms against Mary and Bothwell. Eventually Mary and Bothwell are outnumbered, and Bothwell flees from Scotland while Mary travels to England in the hopes of getting protection from Elizabeth. Instead, Elizabeth has Mary incarcerated, and decades later Mary is executed by order of the cousin she has never met.


  • Camille Rutherford as Mary
  • Sean Biggerstaff as Bothwell
  • Aneurin Barnard as Darnley
  • Edward Hogg as Moray
  • Mehdi Dehbi as Rizzio
  • Tony Curran as Knox
  • Clive Russell as Douglas
  • Ian Hanmore as Ruthven
  • Joana Preiss as Marie de Guise
  • Bruno Todeschini as De Croc
  • Roxane Duran as Mary Seton
  • Gaia Weiss as Mary Fleming


"Mary Queen of Scots rises well above its roots as a historical drama, for it is an extremely well-directed and imaginatively conceived piece of filmmaking. ("?) What consistently impresses is the absolute ,rightness"? of everything in this film. It is amongst the most thrilling treatments of a historical subject I have ever seen".

"Mary Queen of Scots features an appealing reworking of familiar contents: While in many ways a traditional period drama, its time-shifting structure and dreamlike narration manages to critique the very strictures of the genre".

"Swiss director Thomas Imbach"?s take on the much-told story of Mary Queen of Scots is an intimate version - rather than an all-singing, all-dancing epic drama - the dwells on personalities and discussion rather than armies, ships and battles. Cleverly Imbach avoids the usual clichd aspects of the story. The period setting, evocative locations and good use of costumes are impressive".

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