I have been meaning to do this for a while, but was finally set in motion by a link that a colleague sent me concerning a discussion of eighteenth-century fashion (here). The link is to a site has a heavy emphasis on eighteenth-century fashion, but does contains some film reviews which I wanted to link to somehow.
Like my other link-posts, I expect this post to grow slowly, but unlike the others I do not aim at a comprehensive list. My aim is to bring together information on films that I—and my students—might like to watch out of interest in the period, or out of interest in the works of fiction written in the period. The selection criteria is not entirely clear yet, but my preference is for recent films over older ones on the same subject, unless the older version is particularly good, and for films that are easy to get on DVD.
Looking online, the most prominent lists I could find were last updated in 1996 and 1999. Wikipedia has a category for Films set in the 18th century, but the list of films in this category is short. There is also this—very slow loading—list of "18th Century Costume Flicks" on The Costumer's Manifesto which I found useful, and the Period Movie Review, which has recently gone on hiatus . If anyone knows of any other lists, please let me know.
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The Abduction Club (2002). ¶ Set, Ireland, 1780s. Irish noblemen woo and then abduct wealthy heiresses in order to marry into their fortune and avoid becoming priests or soldiers; starring Sophia Myles. ¶ Discussed, briefly here.
The Affair of the Necklace (2001). ¶ Set, France, 1780s. Based on a mysterious incident at the court of Louis XVI involving his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette; starring Hilary Swank, Joely Richardson and Simon Baker. ¶ Discussed here.
Amadeus (1984). ¶ Set, Vienna, 1780s. The life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. ¶ Discussed here and here.
The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965). ¶ Set, UK, 1710s. Based on Daniel Defoe's The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (1722), this version starring Kim Novack.
Aristocrats (1999). ¶ Set, mid- to late 18C. The story about the four, aristocratic Lennox sisters; starring Anne-Marie Duff. ¶ Discussed, briefly here.
Barry Lyndon (1975) ¶ Set, Europe, 18C. Based on William Makepeace Thackeray's The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844), this version starring Ryan O'Neal and Marisa Berenson. ¶ Discussed here—where it is compared to Tom Jones (1963)—and here.
The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones (1953). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749), this version starring Nicky Henson and Joan Collins.
Becoming Jane (2007). ¶ Set, UK, 1790s. Based on the early life of author Jane Austen (1775–1817); starring Anne Hathaway, Julie Walters and James McAvoy. ¶ Discussed here.
The Beggar's Opera (1976). ¶ Set, UK, 1720s. Based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728), this version starring Laurence Olivier and Dorothy Tutin.
The Beggar's Opera (1983). ¶ Set, UK, 1720s. Based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728), this version starring Roger Daltrey and Carol Hall.
The Bounty (1984). ¶ Set, The Pacific, 1789. One of several fillms based on the real-life mutiny that occurred aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty on 28 April 1789; starring Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Daniel Day-Lewis and Liam Neeson (what a cast!).
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001). ¶ Set, France, 1760s. Loosely based on a the famous legend around the Beast of Gévaudan and the real-life series of killings that took place in the Margeride Mountains from 1764–67; starring Samuel Le Bihan and Monica Bellucci.
Casanova (2005). ¶ Set, Venice, 1750s. Loosely based on the life of Giacomo Casanova; starring Heath Ledger. ¶ Discussed here (and many other places no doubt).
Le Chevalier D’Eon (2006–7). ¶ Set, Europe, 1780s. An animated film loosely based on the life of Chevalier D’Eon de Beaumont. Although the events of the series are supposed to start in 1742 the historical figures and events are all from later in the century. ¶ See my discussion here.
The Clandestine Marriage (1999). ¶ Set, Ireland, 1760s. Loosely based on a play of the same name by Colman and Garrick (published 1766); starring Nigel Hawthorne and (sadly) Joan Collins. ¶ Discussed, briefly here.
Clarissa (1991). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady (1748), this version starring Saskia Wickham and Sean Bean.
A Cock and Bull Story (2005). ¶ Set, UK, 1760s. Based on the Laurence Sterne's "essentially unfilmable novel" The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759–67).
The Convent of Sinners (1986). ¶ Set, France, late 18C. One of a few films based on Denis Diderot's La Religieuse [aka The Nun] (ca. 1780), in which a nun describes her intolerable life in the convent. A nunsploitation flick starring nobody of note.
Dangerous Liaisons (1988). ¶ Set, France, ca. 1770s. Based on Choderlos de Laclos's Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782), this version starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer. ¶ Discussed here.
The Duchess (2008) ¶ Set, UK, late 18C. Based on the life of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (1757–1806); starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes. ¶ Discussed here.
Fanny Hill (1983). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748–49), this version starring Lisa Foster and Oliver Reed.
Fanny Hill (2007). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748–49), this version starring Rebecca Night and Alex Robertson. ¶ Discussed, briefly, here (compared to other Andrew Davies films).
Frankenstein (1994). ¶ Set, Switzerland, ca. 1785. Based on Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein (1818); starring Kenneth Branagh, Robert De Niro and Helena Bonham Carter.
Gulliver's Travels (1996). ¶ Set, "abroad," 1720s. Based on Jonathan Swift's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World (1726; 1735), this version—one of the few which is even remotely close to the text—starring Ted Danson.
The Harlot's Progress (2006). ¶ Set, London, early 18C. A fictional account of William Hogarth and his relationship with the prostitute that inspired his most famous series. ¶ Discussed here.
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1997). ¶ Set, England, 1750s. An adaptation of the novel by Henry Fielding; starring Max Beesley. ¶ Discussed here.
The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant (2005). ¶ Set, England, Australia, Timor, 1780s and 1790s. A young woman is transported to Botany Bay in 1788; she escapes to Timor and returns to London; starring Romola Garai and Sam Neill. ¶ Discussed here.
Jefferson in Paris (1995). ¶ Set, Paris, 1790s. Follows Jefferson (as the US ambassador to the court of Louis XVI), following the death of his wife ¶ Discussed here and here.
Joseph Andrews (1977). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on Henry Fielding's The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews (1742), this version starring Peter Firth and Natalie Ogle.
The Lady and the Duke (2001). ¶ Set, Paris, 1790s. Inspired by the memoirs of a Scottish courtesan (Grace Elliott) during the French Revolution. ¶ Discussed here.
The Libertine [aka Le Libertin] (2000). ¶ Set, France, 1750s. Based on a day in the life of Denis Diderot (1713–84).
The Libertine (2004). ¶ Set, UK, 1670s. Johnny Depp as John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (1647–80).
The Madness of King George (1994). ¶ Set, UK, 1780s. Tells the true story of George III's deteriorating mental health. ¶ Discussed here and here.
Marie Antoinette (2006). ¶ Set, France, 1780s. Based on the life of Marie Antoinette (1755–93) in the years leading up to the French Revolution. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Judy Davis and Jason Schwartzman. ¶ Discussed here.
Mesmer (1994). ¶ Set, Vienna and Paris, 1770s. Based on the life of Franz Mesmer (1734–1815); starring Alan Rickman and Anna Thalbach.
Mistress Pamela (1974). ¶ Set, UK, 1740s. Based on Samuel Richardson's Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740), this version starring Ann Michelle and Julian Barnes.
Moll Flanders (1996). ¶ Set, UK, 1710s. Based on Daniel Defoe's The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (1722), this version starring Robin Wright Penn and Morgan Freeman. ¶ Discussed here (compared to He Knew He Was Right (2004)).
The Monk (2011). ¶ Set Madrid, late 17C. Based on Matthew Lewis's The Monk (1796); staring Vincent Cassel, Déborah François and Joséphine Japy . ¶ Discussed by me here. NEW
The Nun (1966). ¶ Set, France, late 18C. One of a few films based on Denis Diderot's La Religieuse [aka The Nun] (ca. 1780), in which a nun describes her intolerable life in the convent; starring Liselotte Pulver and Anna Karina.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006) ¶ Set, France, 18C. A gifted apprentice in pursuit of the perfect perfume. Starring Ben Whishaw.
Pirates of the Caribbean (2003–6). ¶ Set, Caribbean, 1760s? Features the East India Trading Company, Port Royal, The Flying Dutchman, and Johnny Depp, what more could you want? (Depp uses a genuine pistol made in London in 1760.)
Plunkett & Macleane (1999). ¶ Set, London, mid-18C. Based on Will Plunkett and Captain James Macleane, Gentlemen Highwaymen; starring Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller and Liv Tyler.
Quills (2000). ¶ Set, France, ca. 1805. The Marquis De Sade fights a battle of wills against a tyrannically prudish doctor.
Restoration (1995). ¶ Set, London, 1680s. Based on the life of a doctor at the court of Charles II; starring Robert Downey Jr., Sam Neill, Hugh Grant and Meg Ryan.
Ridicule (1996). ¶ Set, France, late 18C. In the decadent court of Versailles social status can rise and fall based on one's ability to mete out witty insults and avoid ridicule. Starring Charles Berling, Jean Rochefort and Fanny Ardant.
Rob Roy (1995). ¶ Set, France, ca. 1805. Based on the life of Robert Roy MacGregor, the famous Scottish folk hero and outlaw of the early 18C; starring Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange and John Hurt.
The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982). ¶ Set, France, ca. 1792. One of many films based on a series of novels by Baroness Emmuska Orczy; starring Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen. ¶ Discussed here.
Sleepy Hollow (1999). ¶ Set, New York State, USA, 1799. Based on Washington Irving's short story "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1820), this version starring Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci and Miranda Richardson.
The Triumph of Love (2001). Set, France, early 18C. Based on Pierre de Marivaux's play "Le Triomphe de l'amour" (1732); starring Ben Kingsley, Mira Sorvino and Rachael Stirling.
Valmont (1989). Set, France, ca. 1770s. Based on Choderlos de Laclos's Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782), this version starring Colin Firth, Annette Bening and Meg Tilly.
Wuthering Heights (1992). Set, Yorkshire, late 18C. One of many films based on Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847); starring Juliette Binoche, Ralph Fiennes, Janet McTeer, Jeremy Northam. ¶ Discussed here.
Young Catherine (1991). Set, Germany and Russai, mid- to late 18C. Based on the life of Catherine the Great, starring Julia Ormond and Vanessa Redgrave.
BTW: I was very tempted to use Kathy Brandt's characterisation of the eighteenth-century on film as "libertines, pirates, cleavage & costume drama." (See pdf here.)
[UPDATE 1 January 2013: new items marked NEW]