Willow and Thatch is a new site created out of the love of period films and
the joy of living a graceful, grateful lifestyle filled with beauty.
Thank you for stopping by to learn more about the best period and costume dramas like those from England’s BBC, PBS’ Masterpiece (and some period documentaries, docudramas and reality pieces alongside the period film reviews).
Willow and Thatch will share the things that lovers of period films love: antique, vintage and contemporary treasures for the farmhouse, cottage home and garden (monogrammed textiles, apron dresses, transferware!) and so much more, because the world is filled with lovely. We’ll also explore places to visit in the UK and elsewhere, inspired by period film locations. And of course, Willow and Thatch is dedicated to having the most extensive, carefully researched and curated list of Best Period Films, all sorted by era and theme.
If you’d like to begin by reading at the first post, start here, after you’ve settled in with a good cup of tea. And if you feel moved to let others know about Willow and Thatch, that would be especially loved and lovely. Feel free to get in touch for collaborations, or just to say hello, or to inquire about advertising on Willow and Thatch.
Official Rules for our GIVEAWAYS: No purchase is necessary to enter. When there are additional methods of entry (such as social sharing), they offer the same likelihood of winning as the primary method of entry (leaving a comment). In other words, a social sharing entry will give you another chance to win, but carries the same weight as your entry without sharing. The winner is chosen through a random draw of all eligible entries.
Most of our giveaways are open only to U.S. residents, aged 18 and older. All giveaways have a clear start and end date/time which you can find in the giveaway post, and the winner is announced on the giveaway post, and will also be emailed to be notified. In the event of no response after 10 days from the winner, a new winner will be chosen.
If a giveaway is open to residents of Canada, entrants must be at least 18 years old. Quebec is excluded from giveaways. A Canadian winner also needs to solve a 3-part mathematical skill testing problem without the use of a calculator in order to claim the prize. Why? That’s the law!
So just what is a period film? Period films are often called by different names, like period dramas, costume dramas, historical films and heritage films. Used in the context of film and television, an easy definition is that a historical period drama is a work of art set in, or reminiscent of, an earlier time period. That time period may be general, like the 18th century, our centered around a specific date.
Many quality period dramas are filmed in stunning locations in England like Derbyshire and the Cotswolds, but they may also be produced outside of Britain, and be about any place. A great many period dramas have been adapted from classic works of literature; books from Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte, Louisa May Alcott have all been made into historical films.
In The Period Films List and in our discussion and reviews, Willow and Thatch divides period films into two main categories: Period Dramas and Factual Period Films. All the period films on Willow and Thatch are broken down by era (Dark and Middle Ages, Tudor and Stuart Eras, Georgian and Regency Eras, Victorian Era, Edwardian Era, First World War, Interwar, Second World War, Post-war) and/or by theme.
Below are just some of the genres, terms used, and types and formats of film you’ll come across nested inside the more general moniker of “period films.” Style, setting, and characters are taken into consideration when film is fitted into a main genre, but genres may overlap.
Costume drama: A type of drama that is set in the past, and gives special attention to costumes and designs. Crossing over with many other genres, as a Drama it is a subjective piece and contains numerous consecutive scenes of characters portrayed to effect a serious narrative throughout the title. Costume refers to a style of dress, including garments, accessories, and hairstyle, especially as characteristic of a particular country, period, or people.
Three years before Cranford became an Emmy-nominated success onMasterpiece, this four-part miniseries exposed American audiences to Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell. Not to be confused with the 1980s Civil War epic, North & South dramatizes England’s 19th century regional divide through the tale of a Southern do-gooder who moves to the North and falls for the taskmaster mill owner John Thornton (breakout Richard Armitage). Unlike many period dramas that luxuriate in polished surfaces and manicured drawing rooms, North & South focused on the gritty details of industrial England. – BBC America
Period piece: A general term indicating that the production features historical places, people, or events that may or not be crucial to the story. Because history is used as a backdrop to the story, it may be fictionalized to various degrees. The story itself may be regarded as “outside” history. This can include dramas, and biographies of real or fictional people.
Historical: An objective portrayal of real-life events of historical (of or concerning history; concerning past events) significance featuring real-life characters (allowing for some artistic license).
Historical fiction: A story that takes place in the real world, with real world people, but with several fictionalized or dramatized elements. This is a genre of literature and some period films are adapted directly from historical fiction novels.
Anna Karenina was an epic production filmed over the course of 12 weeks on 100 different sets, across 240 scenes, with 83 speaking parts. Director Joe Wright immerses himself in visual and literary research, and takes his team along for the ride with everyone spending a lot of time researching and understanding the world that they are entering into to tell the story. Beyond character development and interacting with their fellow cast members, the actors were educated about Russian cultural life of the time through research presentations and discussions to help inform their understanding of the world their individual characters existed within. – Focus Features
Epic: Epic films tackle larger than life settings, often with a very large cast, to tell a story in the most dramatic and extravagant way possible. These are often historical pieces, sometimes told over long periods of time, covering subjects like battles, royalty, biblical tales, and mythical figures. Elaborate costumes and sets are often employed.
Family: Or family-friendly, this label indicates universally accepted viewing. The production may be aimed specifically for the education and/or entertainment of children or the entire family. Family movies often include teaching moments when characters deal with issues or situations familiar to kids. Christian and faith-based pieces are nested under the family-friendly label, but not all family-friendy pieces are faith-based.
Romance: A Romance period drama, film / television show, etc. contains numerous inter-related scenes of a character and their personal life with emphasis on emotional attachment or involvement with other characters, especially those characterized by a high level of purity and devotion.
Biography: The details of the life story of a real person, told by someone else. In a Biography, the depiction of activities and personality of a real person or persons could include some or all of their lifetime. Events in their life may be reenacted, or described in a documentary style. If re-enacted, they generally follow reasonably close to the factual record, within the limitations of dramatic necessity. Also called a Biopic.
Autobiography: Essentially the same as a biography, with the exception that the story is written by the person who is the subject of the story.
Memoir: Similar to autobiography, with the exception that it is told more “from memory”, i.e. it is how the person personally remembers and feels about their life or a stage in their life, more than the exact, recorded details of that period.
Documentary: A Documentary depicts a real-world event or person, told in a journalistic style (if told in a literary narrative style the result is often a docudrama). A movie may be shot in a “documentary style” without being an actual Documentary.
In Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes follows the upstairs and the downstairs of a fictional Yorkshire estate as it weathers such real-life events as the sinking of the Titanic and World War I. – BBC America
Docudrama: A program depicting some sort of historical or current news event, with specific changes or fabrications for legal, continuity or entertainment reasons. Depending on the quality of the feature and intended audience, these changes can minimally or completely change the story in relation to the actual events.
Reality: A purportedly unscripted show featuring non-actors interacting with each other or dealing with invented or contrived challenges, such as living in the 19th century on a farm. Produced in a similar fashion as the documentary film genre.
Thriller: The work will contain numerous sensational scenes or a narrative that is sensational or suspenseful.
Miniseries: A miniseries (also mini-series) is a television program that tells a story in a predetermined, limited number of episodes. A miniseries is distinguished from an ongoing television series, which do not usually have a predetermined number of episodes and may continue for several years. Before the term was coined in the USA in the early 1970s, the ongoing episodic form was always called a “serial”, just as a novel appearing in episodes in successive editions of magazines or newspapers is called a serial. In Britain, miniseries are often still referred to as serials.
Television mini-series have always provided an opportunity for translating longer novels to the screen by allowing more time to flesh out details and subplots. This fact has certainly not been lost on 21st century TV producers. When the BBC did Dickens’s Bleak House in 2005, writer Andrew Davies’ eight-hour adaptation was shown in 15 weekly half-hour installments (except for the first, which was an hour). Many people said the result gave the show more of a soap-opera feeling, which some said was appropriate, as it recalled the serialized publications of the original book. – BBC America
Television movies: Also known as a TV film; television movie; TV movie; telefilm; telemovie; made-for-television film; direct-to-TV film; movie of the week; feature-length drama; single drama and original movie), a television movie is a feature-length motion picture that is produced for, and originally distributed by or to, a television network like PBS, BBC, and ITV, in contrast to theatrical films, which are made explicitly for initial showing in movie theaters.
Note: All the images and photos on this website are copyright their owners and are being used with the understanding that they are courtesy of that copyright holder with the express purpose of promoting that film, book, product or place. However, if you are the owner of an image and wish for it to be removed, please contact Willow and Thatch.