The Grungy, Grimy Georgians
The Georgian era comes to life
Whenever I can wrest control of the remote at my house, I like to watch historical dramas. Recently I came across the short series, City of Vice on Netflix. Have you seen it?
City of Vice is a fascinating look at the establishment of the first police unit in London under the Fielding brothers at Bow Street. In one episode (spoiler alert) an Irish gang from the Seven Dials breaks into the Mayfair home of a wealthy, social-climbing, colonial plantation owner, terrorizing him and his daughter.
The time was around 1750, and Mayfair was under construction. Thieves might take advantage of the low occupancy to prey on isolated new residents. And it was easier to do if a servant gave access, as in this case when an Irish maid was herself terrorized into opening the door to her criminal fellow countrymen.
A later Georgian Drama
Taboo, with Tom Hardy takes place decades later, in 1814. This is a really dark series, but if you are a fan of Regency or Georgian-set fiction, you really should see it. Officials from the East India Company and the Regent himself play big roles in this story. From what I can find, Taboo is available to stream on Amazon Prime for a fee. I’m hoping it comes to Netflix soon.
A few things stand out to me in film depictions of the era, but one of the big ones is just how gritty London could be, and how grungy the people could be…and those mid-eighteenth century wigs! My head itches thinking about them.
And night time is truly dark, even in London homes. We’ve had some power outages that required candlelight or battery-powered lamplight. Imagine living in a city without a police force or a way to summon help and having a Seven Dials gang invade your dark home! Scary!
Lighting these film sets properly for night time scenes must take great skill. Even in early films, we get a sense of the dark shadows of night. In the 1942 movie, Young Mr. Pitt, an early scene takes place in a dark dining room, lit by two candelabra and a flickering fire in the background.
If you’re interested in Georgian history, this movie is worth seeing. It’s available on YouTube in its entirety, though I’m not sure if that’s a pirated copy, so viewer beware!
The Quiet of the Country
The 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice does a great job depicting Georgian country life. I recall one scene in the movie: a summer day showing the quiet and laziness and potential for boredom. It’s no wonder Lydia got up to mischief in that setting!
I’m always looking for shows to help inform my writing, and I especially love series. Please share any recommendation you might have in the comments. Also, I’ve been debating subscribing to either BritBox or Acorn. Which is better?
Images: Wikimedia, YouTube