Updated On: November 06, 2023 by   Nouran Ashraf   Nouran Ashraf  

From enormous gowns to curtsy and bowing when greeting others to the distinguished vocabulary, period dramas never fail to astonish their audience. Therefore, they have a special place in their hearts. Regardless of the genre, these details capture our eyes and make the work super special. Although there are plenty of US periodic films and shows, British ones seem to have this extra element of, maybe, the accent and the overall air.

Best Period English Movies And Shows

Whether you’re into romance, drama, mystery, thriller, or a little bit of everything, we’ve got you covered. The movies and shows we’re talking about today will satisfy your cravings for good British period dramas. The best thing about these dramas is that there’s never a dull moment when watching them; no matter how many times you do, you’ll always find them interesting and compelling. That said, we’ll list some of the best period English movies and shows that will take you on a trip to the beauty of the past.

Pride and Prejudice

Every single bit about this film is beyond fascinating, from the story that’s adapted from Jane Austin’s novel of the same name to the brilliant performances of the actors to the scenery and beauty of this era. It is just one of the dearest movies to our hearts, especially the 2005 version, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Pride and Prejudice follows the story of Elizabeth Bennet, a modern, smart, and ambitious girl with her other four sisters and affectionate mother who’s desperately devoted to marrying off her five girls to elite rich men.

When the Bennet family encounters Mr Bingley, a gentleman who meets and surpasses all the mother’s expectations, she relentlessly tries to make him marry her older daughter, Jane. On the other hand, Mr Bingley’s avid friend, Mr Darcy, finds the Bennet family’s inappropriate behaviour appalling, but Elizabeth catches his special attention. Throughout the film, we witness Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s pride get in the way of them actually knowing each other, but when they do, we’re presented with one of the best, most emotional and sincere love stories.

Sense and Sensibility

Despite the limitations of the original novel, Sense and Sensibility is a fantastic film. Emma Thompson, the lead actress and the screenplay writer, has managed to stay true to the plot and tone of the novel while also filling in a few gaps and adding more light humour than was there in Jane Austen‘s original novel.

The finished film is a touch too long (135 minutes), but it still makes for a good cinema experience, especially for those who enjoy historical romantic melodramas. Aside from all the great performances and the compelling story, Alan Rickman, who plays Colonel Brandon, adds a special touch to the film with his exquisite performance and overall presence that we shall forever cherish and love even though he’s left us.

Jane Eyre

Here’s to another novel-to-film adaptation that we surely all love, given the brilliant story and the amazing performances, especially Mia Wasikowska, who plays Jane Eyre. If you haven’t seen this 2011 movie, you should add it to your watchlist; you won’t regret it. We won’t add any spoilers, but we’ll tell you briefly what the story is about. Jane Eyre, an orphan with a tough childhood who experienced no love and spent most of her life in a merciless institution, finds a job as a teacher at Thornfield Hall, where she meets the rugged Mr Rochester. We can safely say that after a long series of unfortunate events, Jane Eyre finds happiness in the end.

Emma

The 2020 Emma is a modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s famous story, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, one of our all-time favourite actors. The story follows Emma Woodhouse as she keeps trying to meddle in the romantic relationships of her family and acquaintances in Regency-era England. However, it will take a while (as well as a few romantic mishaps) for her to discover a love of her own.

Try this BBC TV miniseries if you want a fuller adaptation of Jane Austin’s classic novel about Emma Woodhouse. Despite having just one season, Rotten Tomatoes rated the show five stars, noting the delightful backing cast and Romola Garai’s captivating performance as the lead heroine renders this a remarkable Emma adaptation.

Atonement

Atonement leaps into the world of sorrow and loss, although it begins on a happy note. The story begins with elegant opening sequences at a rural mansion in England between the wars. A 13-year-old girl witnesses something she misinterprets, tells a lie, and ruins every chance of happiness in three people’s lives, her own included. 

The movie itself, with its brilliant actors, will transfer you to the beauty of the past and will allow you to live a romantic love story. However, it never ends the way we always hope it does. Sadly, no one gets the happy ending, and the audience is left in shock.

Becoming Jane

Since there are plenty of film adaptations of the renowned Jane Austin novels, it is only fair to include a movie that narrates the story of the writer herself. Although Austin’s novels are all about love and finding soul mates, she was never that lucky in her own love life. She has indeed been in love, but due to her family status, her reunion with her lover was opposed by his family. Therefore, she never got married. Can you believe that the person who has created these fabulous romantic stories never got the chance to live as happily as her characters?

Emily

Emily depicts the made-up life of Emily Brontë, one of the most well-known writers in history. Emma Mackey plays rebellious misfit Emily in the movie, who discovers her voice and crafts the literary masterpiece Wuthering Heights. In Emily, the relationships that influenced her are explored, including her untamed, driven sisterhood with Charlotte and Anne, her first painful, forbidden love with Weightman, and her support for her rebellious brother, whom she idolises. Brontë, who is most known for her single book, Wuthering Heights, passed away at the young age of 30 in 1848.

Persuasion

Persuasion is another Jane Austin novel that made it to the big screen thanks to its amazing story and brilliant plot. The novel has two renowned film adaptations, but we’d like to shed light on the most recent one, which was released in 2022. As the name suggests, Anne Eliot, the heroine, has been persuaded to let go of her penniless lover—a decision she later regrets when he becomes a man of fortune. When he runs into her again, she’s torn between putting the past behind her and listening to her heart.

Although the film got several negative reviews due to its contemporary dialogue and overall style that was considered ill-suited for the original story, it’s still considered a huge success. One of the best things about this adaptation is its feminist take. The “A woman without a husband is not a problem to be solved” phrase is certainly one of the best in this entire movie. We must warn you that if you wouldn’t tolerate a modern take on one of Jane Austin’s novels, where you can hear this phrase: “He’s a 10; I don’t trust a 10,” we suggest you skip this version and watch the 1995 Persuasion.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Emma Corrin portrays a young woman (Constance Reid) who is coldly married into an aristocratic family. Constance thinks highly of Clifford Chatterley and finds him to be a compassionate and forward-thinking man. He and Connie relocate to Wragby when he comes back from World War I, paralysed from the waist down, and they work to adapt to unforeseen difficulties until she meets Oliver Mellors, Wragby’s new gamekeeper (Jack O’Connell).

Oliver and Connie have a relationship that violates propriety rules and social distinctions. Clifford initially thought of Connie’s infidelity, even though the gamekeeper was not at all the person he had in mind. Clifford suggests a discreet affair with no conditions or problems with the objective of creating a successor who could pass on the Chatterley name. Connie falls in love with Oliver, and their affair is no longer a secret. They face some hardships but then get reunited to live happily ever after. The novel was banned for a long time due to its excessive sexual content. However, we think that the film focuses more on women’s needs and trying to understand their bodies.

Sherlock Holmes

Although Sherlock Holmes originated in 19th-century Victorian England, the majority of the traits fans like about him are timeless. Holmes is incredibly clever and powerful, yet he is also likeable. For these reasons, Sherlock Holmes continues to be the most well-known fictional investigator. So whether you choose to watch the film or the series, you’ll absolutely love them as they’re equally entertaining and brilliant. Robert Downy Jr has his own sense of humour and likeable charisma that never fails to make his fans adore him. The same applies to Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock in the drama series of the same name. He’s the perfect British actor to play this eccentric detective.

Enola Holmes

Enola Holmes is a delightful, peculiar, and endearing person. If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes, though, it might lose its appeal. Otherwise, you’ll adore it. To match the tale, they essentially alter every character to the point that they are no longer recognised. However, young teen females will like it because it is designed for them. Although her brother is the most famous detective, Enola never fails to show off her detective skills to try to solve mysteries.

There’s no doubt that period dramas, whether they’re movies or series, can transfer the audience to a whole different magical world. The costumes, way of talking, plots, characters, and, most importantly, performances shall satisfy you whenever you want to watch something calming. Make sure you watch all of the listed movies or rewatch your favourites for some peace of mind.

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