PERIOD DRAMAS ON NETFLIX STREAMING: VICTORIAN ERA
Wondering what period dramas are available to watch online now? Here is a list of Victorian era period dramas that are currently available TO STREAM on NETFLIX and Amazon in the United States.
The TITLE links you to the film / movie / television miniseries STREAMING on NETFLIX.
The PHOTO links you to the film / movie / TV miniseries STREAMING on AMAZON.
There are also text links.
Willow and Thatch spoke with NETFLIX Streaming who said that each film is licensed for a specific time period, so in the future some of these titles may become unavailable; similar agreements are in place for Amazon Video / Instant / PRIME. The titles are listed alphabetically.
This list is fairly comprehensive for full episodes of Victorian era (1837 – 1901) period films that are currently available to watch online on NETFLIX in the United States – some have been received better than others – but there’s enough here that you should discover something you like, that you can watch right now.
Follow the Amazon links to view trailers.
“The Victorian age was not one, not single, simple, or unified, only in part because Victoria’s reign lasted so long that it comprised several periods. Above all, it was an age of paradox and power. The Victorian Age was characterised by rapid change and developments in nearly every sphere – from advances in medical, scientific and technological knowledge to changes in population growth and location. Over time, this rapid transformation deeply affected the country’s mood: an age that began with a confidence and optimism leading to economic boom and prosperity eventually gave way to uncertainty and doubt regarding Britain’s place in the world.” – Victorian England
Amistad (1997): Set in 1839.
From director Steven Spielberg comes an epic journey of one man’s fight for his life and his freedom. In 1839, the slave ship Amistad set sail from Cuba to America. During the long trip, Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) leads the slaves in an unprecedented uprising. They are then held prisoner in Connecticut, and their release becomes the subject of heated debate. Freed slave Theodore Joadson (Morgan Freeman) wants Cinque and the others exonerated and recruits property lawyer Roger Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey) to help his case. Eventually, John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) also becomes an ally.
Starring Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, Nigel Hawthorne.
Streaming on NETFLIX. Streaming on AMAZON. Available on DVD.
An Ideal Husband (1999): Adapted from the play which is set over a period of 24 hours in 1895 in London, England.
Sir Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam) is a respected government official and a loving husband. His friend, Lord Arthur Goring (Rupert Everett), is a notorious womanizer who lives a life of casual lounging, meaningless flirtations and multiple illicit affairs. But when old acquaintance Laura Cheveley (Julianne Moore) arrives in London to stir up trouble, the lives of the two men become increasingly complicated and intertwined, and their true natures are revealed. Paper Magazine called it a “witty comedy”. It received a positive review from Roger Ebert. Entertainment Weekly called it “delightful”. The New York Observer said it was “immensely entertaining”.
Based on the 1895 play by Oscar Wilde, “a must-read for Wilde fans, students of English literature, and anyone delighted by wit, urbanity, and timeless sophistication.”
Starring Cate Blanchett, Minnie Driver, Rupert Everett, Julianne Moore, Jeremy Northam.
Streaming on NETFLIX. Streaming on AMAZON. Available on DVD.
Anna and the King (1999): Set in Siam (currently Thailand) in the 1860s.
Anna (Jodie Foster) has been employed to educate the king’s (Chow Yun-Fat) 58 children. She knows very little of King Mongkut, apart from the fact that his people revere him as a god. She brings with her an East vs. West prejudice against the king, considering him to be uncivilized. She soon realizes that her views are more than matched by the rulers own preconceptions about the West and particularly this impertinent English woman.
Based on Anna’s account of her time in Siam as the royal governess and the book Anna and the King of Siam: “Anna Leonowens, a proper Englishwoman, was an unlikley candidate to change the course of Siamese (Thai) history. A young widow and mother, her services were engaged in the 1860’s by King Mongkut of Siam to help him communicate with foreign governments and be the tutor to his children and favored concubines. Stepping off the steamer from London, Anna found herself in an exotic land she could have only dreamed of lush landscape of mystic faiths and curious people, and king’s palace bustling with royal pageantry, ancient custom, and harems. One of her pupils, the young prince Chulalongkorn, was particularly influenced by Leonowens and her Western ideals. He learned about Abraham Lincoln and the tenets of democracy from her, and years later he would become Siam’s most progressive king. He guided the country’s transformation from a feudal state to a modern society, abolshing slavery and making many other radical reforms.”
Starring Jodie Foster, Yun-Fat Chow, Bai Ling, Tom Felton, Syed Alwi.
Streaming on NETFLIX. Streaming on AMAZON. Available on DVD.
Anna Karenina (1948): Set in Russia with brief interludes in Germany and Italy in the 1870s.
While coming down to Moscow to help her brother, it is love at first sight when Anna Karenina meets eyes with the son of Countess Vronsky from St. Petersburg, her companion on the train, at the Moscow Station.
Back in St. Petersburg, Karenina keeps running into Col. Vronsky at parties, but with a husband and small son, they must be very discreet if they are going to see each other alone.
Starring Vivien Leigh, Ralph Richardson, Kieron Moore, Hugh Dempster, Mary Kerridge.
Based on Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel.
Streaming on NETFLIX. Streaming on AMAZON. Available on DVD.
Anna Karenina (2012): Set in Russia with brief interludes in Germany and Italy in the 1870s.
In late-19th-century Russian high society, St. Petersburg aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the dashing Count Alexei Vronsky.
Keira Knightley and Jude Law dazzle in director Joe Wright’s (Pride & Prejudice) visually enchanting new vision of Leo Tolstoy’s epic love story. At the twilight of an empire, Anna Karenina (Knightley), the beautiful high-ranking wife of one of imperial Russia’s most esteemed men (Law), has it all. But when she meets the dashing cavalry officer Vronsky, there is a mutual spark of instant attraction that cannot be ignored. She’s immediately swept up in a passionate affair that will shock a nation and change the lives of everyone around her. From acclaimed director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) and Academy Award-winning writer Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) comes this visually enchanting masterpiece hailed by critics as “ecstatic” (Time), “rapturous” (MSN Movies) and “a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed!” (The Huffington Post)
Around the World in 80 Days (1956): Set around the world in 1872.
Victorian-era Englishman Phileas Fogg (David Niven) proclaims before his fellow members of a London gentleman’s club that he can circumnavigate the globe in a mere 80 days, further boasting that he will bet the princely sum of 20,000 pounds on the success of his endeavor. With his stalwart manservant Passepartout (Cantinflas) alongside, he goes forth on his adventure, pursued by a dogged Police Inspector (Robert Newton) who suspects Fogg of chicanery. Along with the wandering Princess Aouda, Fogg crosses Europe, India, Japan, the Pacific and the United States.
“The most popular of Jules Verne’s fantastic adventure stories, Around the World in Eighty Days first appeared as a newspaper serial in 1872, much to the delight of a world already agog with recent advances in technology. Its enduring blend of comic misadventures and thrilling suspense continues to enchant generations of readers.”
Starring David Niven, Cantinflas, Robert Newton.
Blackthorn (2011): Set in Bolivia and the United States around 1928 with flashbacks to the early 1900s in the Edwardian period.
It’s been said that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in a standoff with the Bolivian military in 1908. In the Western BLACKTHORN, Cassidy (Sam Shepard) survived and is quietly living out his years under the name James Blackthorn in a secluded Bolivian village. Tired of his long exile from the U.S. and hoping to see his family again before he dies, Cassidy sets out on the long journey home. But when an unexpected encounter with an ambitious young criminal (Eduardo Noriega) derails his plans, he is thrust into one last adventure, the likes of which he hasn’t experienced since his glory days with the Sundance Kid.
Starring Sam Shepard, Stephen Rea, Daniel Aguirre, Luis Bredow.
Cinco De Mayo (2013): Set in Mexico in 1862.
On May 5th, 1862, a few thousand Mexican soldiers put their lives on the line against the world’s largest and most powerful army in one legendary battle for freedom and for Mexico. This film chronicles the story of Mexico’s Battle of Puebla, the most important battle in Mexico’s history. When the unbeatable French army invades Mexico to set up a monarchy, General Ignacio Zaragoza played by Kuno Becker (From Prada to Nada), must defend the city of Puebla, commanding a poorly armed and outnumbered troop of men. Meanwhile, two young Mexican lovers manage to find love amidst the chaos of war. Cinco de Mayo, La Batalla chronicles the bravery of a people pushed to the limit, fighting for their nation, their families and their pride.
In Spanish with English subtitles.
Starring Christian Vazquez, Liz Gallardo, Pablo Abitia, Kuno Becker.
Copper (2012) BBC: Set in the 1860s in NYC, United States.
In a time when disorder and mayhem were the law of the land, Kevin Corcoran was New York City’s finest. Copper is a gripping drama, filled with intrigue, corruption, mystery and murder. Follow Detective Kevin Corcoran – a rugged Irish immigrant cop – as he seeks justice for the powerless in the notorious immigrant neighborhood of Five Points.
The 10-part drama from BBC America centers on Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones, MI-5), an intense, rugged Irish-American cop working the city’s notorious Five Points neighborhood. Corcoran is struggling to maintain his moral compass in a turbulent world, while on an emotional and relentless quest to learn the truth about the disappearance of his wife and the death of his daughter. His friendship with two Civil War compatriots – the wayward son of a wealthy industrialist and an African American physician who secretly assists Corcoran with his detective work – takes him to the contrasting worlds of elegant Fifth Avenue and an emerging African-American community in rural northern Manhattan. The three men share a secret from their experience on the battlefield that inextricably links their lives forever.
Starring Wayne Curnew, Tom Weston-Jones, Kyle Schmid, Anastasia Griffith, Ato Essandoh, Kevin Ryan, Dylan Tayler, Tessa Thompson.
Oscar-nominated Liam Neeson stars as Ethan Frome in the adaptation of the classic Edith Wharton 1911 novel. Torn between his joyless marriage to one woman and his lustful desire for another, his actions soon lead to a forbidden love triangle between one love that is, and one that will never be.
Starring Liam Neeson, Gil Rood, Tate Donovan, Stephen Mendillo, Phil Garran, Virginia Smith, Annie Nessen, Katharine Houghton, Marcie Vaughan, Burt Porter.
Field of Lost Shoes (2014): Set in 1864 in Virginia in the United States.
Based on a true story of the American Civil War, culminating at the Battle of New Market, May 1864. A group of teenage cadets sheltered from war at the Virginia Military Institute must confront the horrors of an adult world when they are called upon to defend the Shenandoah Valley. Leaving behind their youth, these cadets must decide what they are fighting for.
Starring Jason Issac, David Arquette, Lauren Holly, Luke Benward, Tom Skerritt.
Great Expectations (2011) BBC / PBS: Set in 19th century England. Pip is born in the early 1800s, and our narrator is telling his story in 1860. It is probable that Pip encounters Magwitch around 1809 and again around 1825, so the story also largely takes place in the Georgian era.
Pip, an orphan boy, meets an escaped convict, a mentally unhinged rich woman, and a bewitching girl, and is bestowed great expectations of wealth from a mysterious patron, in Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. Starring Gillian Anderson (Bleak House) as Miss Havisham, one of Dickens’ most haunting and enduring creations, Great Expectations unites renowned actors David Suchet (Hercule Poirot) and Ray Winstone with emerging talents Douglas Booth and Vanessa Kirby. Adapted by Sarah Phelps (Oliver Twist), Great Expectations celebrates Charles Dickens in the year that marks the bicentenary of his birth. The television miniseries is a BBC – Masterpiece PBS coproduction.
Starring Douglas Booth, Ray Winstone, Oscar Kennedy, Shaun Dooley, Jack Roth, Claire Rushbrook.
Hatfields & McCoys (2012): Set in the post Civil-War era in the United States.
Bonded by their oath to the same flag, two confederate soldiers, “Devil” Anse Hatfield (Kevin Costner) and Randall McCoy (Bill Paxton), return home seeking peace after tireless months of battle. Their expectations are quickly shattered when a murder based on misunderstandings and an illicit love affair trigger warfare between former comrades and their clans. This historic feud teeters on the brink of an all out civil war as friends and neighbors join opposing sides in a rivalry that would ultimately shape American History.
“The legendary 19th-century battle between two West Virginia clans that came to define the term feud gets a lengthy and frequently dramatic retelling in Hatfields & McCoys, a six-hour miniseries driven by leads Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the warring family patriarchs. A major ratings hit and multiple Emmy nominee for The History Channel, which made its dramatic project debut with the miniseries, Hatfields & McCoys is a compelling historical drama for both Western fans and non-genre followers alike.”
Starring Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Herb Nanas, Darrell Fetty, Powers Boothe, Joe Absolom, Noel Fisher, Boyd Holbrook, Matt Barr.
Hell on Wheels (2011): Set in the post Civil-War era in the United States.
The Civil War is in the past, but former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon can’t put it behind him. Fresh are the horrific memories of the death of his wife, killed at the hands of the Union soldiers, an act that sets Bohannon on a course of revenge. This contemporary Western tells the story of his journey, a story that rides on Union Pacific’s construction of the first transcontinental railroad. Bohannon’s westward travels take him to a lawless melting pot of a town called “Hell on Wheels,” which moves with the construction of the railroad. Hell on Wheels looks at the institutionalized greed and corruption behind the building of the Transcontinental Railroad as the race between the Central Pacific and Union Pacific intensifies. The AMC television show is 5 Seasons long.
Starring Anson Mount, Common, Colm Meaney, Wes Studi.
Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown (1997): Set in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, around 1863.
Rugged Scotsman John Brown is a lowly servant who looks after Queen Victoria’s horses. Yet when circumstances bring them together, the result is a passionate friendship that scandalizes a nation.
After the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) withdraws from public life, so the court appoints a former servant of the prince, John Brown (Billy Connolly), to help her recover from her grief. Brown’s unorthodox ways and disdain for protocol draw the queen out of her shell, and the brash Scot becomes her sole confidant. However, their growing closeness causes a stir, as scandalous rumors begin circulating about the exact nature of their relationship. Acclaimed as a must-see film, Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown is a riveting, true-life story about “two strong-willed people who find exhilaration in testing each other.” (Roger Ebert)
The film was produced by the BBC and Ecosse Films with the intention of being shown on BBC One and on WGBH’s Masterpiece Theatre. However, it was acquired by Miramax.
Starring Billy Connolly, Judi Dench, Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Palmer, Antony Sher.
Jane Eyre (1996): Set in the early decades of the nineteenth century in northern England.
An orphaned young girl, Jane Eyre, suffers humiliation and abuse at the hands of her aunt and is subsequently banished to a strict boarding school for several years. Upon her release, the adult Jane becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, caring for the child of Mr. Rochester and his ailing wife. Jane and the enigmatic Rochester begin an intense relationship overshadowed by doubt and madness. Based on the classic gothic romance novel by Charlotte Bronte.
“What I liked about this version is that Zeffirelli is true to the characters. This is a romance between two troubled, wounded people, and by playing it that way Zeffirelli makes it touching.” – Roger Ebert
Starring Anna Paquin, William Hurt, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Maria Schneider, Joan Plowright, Anna Paquin, Elle MacPherson, Fiona Shaw.
Jane Eyre (2011): Set in the early decades of the nineteenth century in northern England.
As an orphaned child, Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) is first cruelly abused by her aunt, then cast out and sent to a charity school. Though she meets with further abuse, she receives an education, and eventually takes a job as a governess at the estate of Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Jane and Rochester begin to bond, but his dark moods trouble her. When Jane uncovers the terrible secret Rochester has been hiding, she flees and finds temporary refuge at the home of St. John Rivers.
“The classic “Jane Eyre” is the 1944 version with Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles. Fontaine was 27, Welles was 29. Mia Wasikowska is 21 and Michael Fassbender is 34. In the novel, Jane is scarily 20 and Rochester is … older. Whether in any version he is old enough to accomplish what he has done in life is a good question, but this film is correct in making their age difference obvious; Jane in every sense must be intimidated by her fierce employer.” – Roger Ebert
Based on the classic gothic romance novel by Charlotte Bronte. The film was produced by Alison Owen’s company Ruby Films, with financial support from BBC Films, Focus Features and Lipsynch Productions.
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Jamie Bell, Judi Dench, Su Elliot, Holliday Grainger, Tamzin Merchant, Amelia Clarkson, Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins, Lizzie Hopley, Jayne Wisener, Freya Wilson.
Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (2014): Set in 1892 in New England, United States.
A sweltering hot day in Massachusetts, 1892, is pierced by the brutal double murder of Mr. and Mrs. Borden that would stun the nation. LIzzie (Christina Ricci), a wholesome Sunday school teacher and Mr. Borden’s youngest daughter, quickly becomes the prime suspect. Now, as her lawyer Andrew Jennings (Billy Campbell) proclaims her innocence, the original good-girl-gone-bad will stand trial in one of the most gripping, gruesome mysteries of all time. Her name will forever live in infamy and the eerie children’s rhyme will continue to haunt those that know the story, but the truth is anything but clear.
Starring Andrea Runge, Stephen McHattie, Christina Ricci, Billy Campbell, Clea Duvall.
Madame Bovary (2014): Set in the middle of the nineteenth century in southern, rural France.
Trapped in a loveless marriage and desperate for excitement, a doctor’s wife (Mia Wasikowska) seeks love and fulfillment outside the bonds of matrimony. Based on the classic novel by Gustave Flaubert.
“Madame Bovary is never less than lovely to look at. Cinematographer Andrij Parekh’s melancholy images seamlessly combine muck and luxury, sometimes within the same image, in a way that’s reminiscent of Joe Wright’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Thomas Vinterberg’s “Far From the Madding Crowd” earlier this year. And the clothes are gorgeous (the work of costume designers Christian Gasc and Valerie Ranchoux) as Emma’s tastes become more expensive and extravagant. Fastidiously tailored and flouncy, her ornate gowns in a wide array of jewel tones vividly reflect her transformation from pious convent girl to brazen adulteress.” – Roger Ebert
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Paul Giamatti, Laura Carmichael, Erza Miller, Henry Lloyd Hughes.
Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas (2011): Set in 1900 in the United States.
This one is for kids. December, 1900, Miss Heathwood’s School for Girls. Thrust into the chaotic and unfamiliar world of a boarding school at Christmas, Mandie finds herself hounded by new rules and regulations at every turn. Unable to grasp the finer points of high society, she constantly falls into trouble with Miss Heathwood, the headmistress. While visiting the school’s forbidden attic, Mandie stumbles upon a mystery from which she is warned to flee. Seeking the truth will require Mandie to lie, but it just might proivde they key that unlocks the memories of a long forgotten Christmas. Based on the “Mandie” books by Lois Gladys Leppard.
Starring Kelly Lynn Washington, Amanda Waters, Joanna Daniel, Glennellen Anderson, Dave Blamy.
Marie’s Story (2014): Set in 1897 in France.
At the turn of the 19th century, a humble artisan and his wife send Marie, their deaf and blind fourteen-year-old daughter, to the Larnay Institute in central France where an order of Catholic nuns manage a school for deaf girls. There, the idealistic Sister Marguerite sees in Marie a unique potential, and vows to bring the wild young thing out of the darkness. Based on true events, Marie’s Story recounts the courageous journey of a young nun and the lives she would change forever.
[The film] is lovely and sweet, sad and uplifting…. it satisfies them nicely with vivid performances, beautiful imagery, and compassionate direction. –Seattle Weekly
In French with English subtitles.
Starring Isabelle Carré, Ariana Rivoire.
Miss Julie (2014:) Set in the late 1880s in Ireland.
Miss Julie depicts a fierce battle between a man and a woman, a struggle for power and dominance enacted through a cruel and compulsive game of seduction and repulsion. A country estate in Ireland in 1880s. Over the course of one midsummer night, in an atmosphere of wild revelry and loosened social constraints, Miss Julie and John, her father’s valet, dance and drink, charm and manipulate each other. She, all hauteur longing for abasement; he, polished but coarse – both united in mutual loathing and attraction. By turns seductive and bullying, savage and tender, their intimacy leads to desperate plans and vision of a life together… Unsure if the morning brings hope or hopelessness, Julie and John find their escape in a final act as sublime and horrific as anything in Greek tragedy.
“The story is based on Miss Julie (Swedish: Fröken Julie), a play written in 1888 by August Strindberg. It is set on Midsummer’s Eve on the estate of a Count in Sweden. The young woman of the title is drawn to a senior servant, a valet named Jean, who is particularly well-traveled, well-mannered and well-read. On this night the relationship between Miss Julie and Jean escalates rapidly to feelings of love and is subsequently consummated. Over the course of the play Miss Julie and Jean battle until Jean convinces her that the only way to escape her predicament is to take her life. The major theme of the play is Darwinism, with Miss Julie and Jean vying against each other in an evolutionary “life and death” battle for a survival of the fittest. The character, Miss Julie, represents the last of an old aristocratic breed about to die out. Whereas Jean represents one who is clambering upwards, and who is more fit to thrive because he is better able to adapt in terms of the “life roles” he can take on. The play contains a variety of themes, partly because Miss Julie’s actions are motivated by a range of factors and influences: her class, her desires and impulsive nature, her father, and the dynamic traumas of her family histories.”
Starring Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Nora McMenamy.
Murdoch Mysteries (2008): Set in the late Victorian era circa 1895 Toronto, Canada.
Based on novels by Maureen Jennings, “Murdoch Mysteries” follows young detective William Murdoch. In a series of stories taking place in Toronto during the 1890s, several challenging murder cases arise. Murdoch uses up-and-coming forensics techniques and an unconventional approach, which often elicit skepticism from his fellow officers and his boss. Coroner Julia Ogden becomes Murdoch’s number one ally, and they make a top-notch team, but he must struggle against tradition and prejudice to solve some of the city’s most-gruesome murders. Eight seasons.
Starring Yannick Bisson, Helene Joy, Thomas Craig, Jonny Harris, Dmitry Chepovetsky, Tamara Hope, Patrick Garrow, Alan C. Peterson, David Huband.
North & South (2004) BBC: Set in England in the 1850s.
As the daughter of a middle-class parson, Margaret Hale has enjoyed a privileged upbringing in rural southern England. When her father uproots the family to take work in the northern mill town of Milton, Margaret is shocked by the dirt, the noise and the gruffness of the people, but she reserves her highest contempt for the charismatic mill-owner John Thornton.
However, Margaret gradually begins to settle in Milton. Her social conscience awakens and she befriends some of the local mill workers, learning about their poverty and workplace struggles. As events conspire to throw Margaret and Thornton together, the two spirited characters have to overcome their repressed physical attraction for one another and conquer prejudices of class and circumstance.
Set against the backdrop of Victorian England’s industrial north, it follows the fortunes of Margaret Hale, one of 19th century literature’s most original heroines. Margaret takes instant offence to the town and its people. She becomes terribly lonely and hates the dirt, noise and lack of civilisation, blaming their new way of life for her mother’s ailing health. Her distaste for the town and its people extends to handsome and charismatic cotton mill owner John Thornton, (Richard Armitage), whom she believes epitomises everything she dislikes about the North.
Adapted from the 1854 novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, North & South was filmed at a variety of locations in Scotland, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the south of England.
Starring Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage, Sinead Cusack, Tim Pigott-Smith, Pauline Quirke, Brendan Coyle, Lesley Manville.
Ripper Street (2102) BBC: Set in and after 1888 in England.
BBC America’s compelling crime drama Ripper Street set in the seething backstreets of Victorian London: Haunted by the failure to catch London’s most evil killer, Jack the Ripper, Inspector Edmund Reid now heads up the notorious H Division – the toughest police district in the East End. Charged with keeping order in the blood-stained streets of Whitechapel, Reid and his men find themselves fighting to uphold justice and the rule of law; but always in the background lurks the fear of the Ripper – is he back for another reign of terror? Rich episodic storylines meld with the intrigue of a criminal underworld festering on the hard streets of Victorian London, following the battle of the men whose job it is to bring the law to the lawless. By Season 3, the time is 1894.
Starring Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg, MyAnna Buring, Charlene McKenna, Lydia Wilson, David Wilmot, Clive Russell, David Dawson.
Savannah (2013): Set in the post Civil-War era in the United States.
Narrated by a 95-year-old Christmas Moultrie (Ejiofor) as he recalls his friendship long ago with Ward Allen (Caviezel) in Savannah, Georgia back in the early 20th century. This is the true story of the charismatic Ward Allen, who in the early 1900s leaves behind a life of privilege in Savannah to live off the land with his hunting buddy Christmas Moultrie and must choose between his newfound freedom and the love a the society woman who captures his heart. Based on the true story and the book Ward Allen: Savannah River Market Hunter by John Eugene Cay Jr.
Note: Despite the strong cast, he “plush production values” and powerful cinematography had more impact on critics and viewers than the telling of the story.
Starring James Caviezel, Jaimie Alexander, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jack McBrayer, Bradley Whitford, Sam Shepard, Hal Holbrook.
Stonehearst Asylum (2014): Set in 1899 in England.
When young doctor Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess) arrives at Stonehearst Asylum in search of an apprenticeship, he is warmly welcomed by superintendent Dr. Lamb (Ben Kingsley) and a mesmerizing woman by the name of Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale). Edward is intrigued by Lamb s modern methods of treating the insane until a series of unusual events leads him to make a horrifying discovery, exposing Lamb s utopia and pushing Edward to the limits of his conscience. Inspired by a short story from Edgar Allan Poe, Stonehearst Asylum is a tale in which nobody is who or what they appear to be.
“The time and place is the same penny dreadful setting as all of those juicy wet-cobblestone and fog-creeping-in-off-the-Thames epics from the end of the 19th century, including the ones about Jack the Ripper, Jekyll and Hyde, Sweeney Todd, the Elephant Man, Dorian Gray and other assorted grave robbers and body snatchers of Victorian England. Elegantly costumed and photographed, stealthily directed with a maximum of suspense and solidly acted, this is the best madhouse movie since Bedlam.” – Observer
Starring Kate Beckinsale, Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, Jim Sturgess, Brendan Gleeson.
The Buccaneers (1995) BBC: Set in 1870s England.
Deemed nouveau riche and shunned by elitist New York society, sisters Nan and Virginia St. George, along with their friends Lizzy Elmsworth and Conchita Closson (Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino), try their luck in London. The girls’ New World spontaneity and impertinence constitute nothing less than a social invasion of Old World society and they soon find themselves courted by a coterie of fascinated admirers. But as the old and new worlds come to clash, something has to give.
Shown on PBS Masterpiece.
As four young American women find their way through the labyrinthine social world of 1870s England, their fortunes rise–and sometimes, with brutal abruptness, fall. Based on Edith Wharton’s unfinished novel, The Buccaneers, this lavish BBC production follows Nan and Virginia St. George (Carla Gugino, Spy Kids, and Alison Elliott, The Spitfire Grill), two American sisters who follow their friend Conchita Closson (Mira Sorvino, Mighty Aphrodite), a Brazilian bad girl who marries a dissolute British lord, to England in search of aristocratic husbands–partly due to the influence of their canny governess, Laura Testvalley (Cherie Lunghi, Excalibur).
The Buccaneers has a good dose of the delicious satirical wit to be found in many BBC dramas, but tempered by the presence of the naive American girls, who find themselves trapped by the very things they thought they wanted. Though mocked by some critics for its heaving bosoms and towering hairdos, the five-part series stealthily paints a sometimes devastating portrait of women’s lives. When Idina Hatton (Jenny Agutter, Logan’s Run), the older lover of the aimless Lord Seadown (Mark Tandy, Shackleton), learns that Seadown is going to marry the young and lovely Virginia, it’s a heartbreaking moment, yet one that isn’t overdone. The Buccaneers is full of such gracefulness–Wharton observes the fickle turns of life in society with a judicious eye, empathizing with the pain but never losing sight of the hard realities of money and marriage. In a strong cast, Gugino particularly shines; with her round, rosy cheeks and expressive eyes, she makes a smart yet vulnerable heroine. –Bret Fetzer
Starring Mira Sorvino, Carla Gugino, Alison Elliott, Rya Kihlstedt, Cherie Lunghi.
The Importance of Being Earnest (2002): Set in 1890s London, England.
Two young gents have taken to bending the truth in order to put some excitement into their lives. Worthing (Colin Firth) has invented a brother, Earnest, whom he uses as an excuse to leave his dull life behind to visit Gwendolyn (Frances O’Connor). Montcrieff (Rupert Everett) decides to take the name Earnest when visiting Worthing’s young and beautiful ward, Cecily (Reese Witherspoon). Things start to go awry when they end up together in the country and their deceptions are discovered.
Based on the play by Oscar Wilde, the costume drama comedy is “breezy entertainment.”
Starring Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Frances O’Connor, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench.
Based on the 1901 novel by celebrated writer Frances Hodgson Burnett, this is the story of the educated but penniless Emily. During her duties as a lady’s companion for Lady Maria she meets her employer’s wealthy widower nephew, Lord James Walderhurst. Accepting his practical if unromantic marriage proposal, Emily finds solace in the company of Walderhurst’s nephew Alec Osborn and his glamorous wife, Hester, after Lord James leaves to rejoin his regiment. Emily, alone with the Osborns, increasingly comes under their control. She begins to fear for her life.
Starring Lydia Wilson, Joanna Lumley, Linus Roache, James D’Arcy, Maggie Fox, Hasina Haque.
The Missing (2003): Set in the late 19th century circa 1885 in New Mexico, United States.
When frontier woman, rancher and single mother of two Maggie Gilkeson (Cate Blanchett) sees her teenage daughter, Lily (Evan Rachel Wood), kidnapped by Apache rebels, she reluctantly accepts the help of her estranged father, Samuel (Tommy Lee Jones), in tracking down the kidnappers. Along the way, the two must learn to reconcile the past and work together if they are going to have any hope of getting Lily back.
Starring Evan Wood, Aaron Eckhart, Cate Blanchett, Tommy Jones, Jenna Boyd.
The Paradise (2012) BBC: Set in England in the 1870s.
An intoxicating rags-to-riches love story set in England’s first department store. What does it take to climb to the dizzy heights of power in The Paradise, Britain’s first department store? Smart and beautiful shop girl Denise Lovett follows her heart and her ambition from the ladies wear department to the luxurious office of John Moray, the store’s dashing and ruthless owner. Irresistibly drawn to each other, they risk losing everything if Katherine Glendenning has her way. The pampered daughter of Moray’s financier wants Moray for herself or if she can’t have him rich revenge. Brace yourself for passion, high fashion, rivalry and greed in this story, inspired by Emile Zola’s novel Au Bonheur des Dames.
Created by Bill Gallagher (Lark Rise to Candleford), Variety called it “impeccably cast, extremely handsome…another first-rate costume drama.” Shown on PBS Masterpiece, The Paradise aired for just two seasons, much to the dismay of its many fans.
Starring Joanna Vanderham, Emun Elliot, Sarah Lancashire.
The Trail / Let God (2013): Set in the American West in the mid-1800s.
As rumors of gold in California spread across the United States in 1848, Levi decides it is time to head west with Amelia, his young housewife, to stake their claim and build a better life. Against her better judgment, Amelia honors her husband’s demands, leaving her home and family. Secretly, they join the last wagon caravan of the season dangerously late, leaving behind a string of bad debts. On the trail, they encounter unimaginable danger that will ultimately change the course of their lives.
After a savage (offscreen) attack takes her husband, Amelia is left alone and without resources. For the first time, Amelia must take life into her own hands, battling winter, hunger, and the unknown. As she grows weaker by the day, she finds strength in a mysterious and unexpected guide. Survival becomes a race against time and Amelia must find something greater than herself to help survive the frigid winter along the Oregon Trail.
The Dove Foundation calls The Trail “a powerful movie about trials and a faith that overcomes all odds.”
“Given its wholesome historical feel, it’s destined to appeal to viewers of similar period productions from Little House on the Prairie to Sarah, Plain and Tall all the way up through Hallmark’s smash successful adaptations of Janette Oke works from the Love Comes Softly series to When Calls the Heart.” – Film Intuition
Starring Jasmin Jandreau, Shannon Brown, Tommy Nash, Brianna Oppenheimer.
The Warlords (2007): Set in the 1860s, during the Taiping Rebellion in the late Qing Dynasty in China.
THE WARLORDS stars Jet Li as General Pang, who barely survives a brutal massacre of his fellow soldiers by playing dead, and then joins a band of bandits led by Er Hu and Wu Yang. After fighting back attackers for a defenseless village, the three men take an oath to become “blood brothers,” pledging loyalty to one another until death. However, their lives quickly derail as they become embroiled in a web of political deceit and a love triangle between Pang, Er Hu and a beautiful courtesan.
“Epic in scope but intimate in theme, “The Warlords” heaves with spectacular battles and the relentless sway of self-interest over conscience. Political context is provided in the form of a clutch of scheming overlords, but their peripheral powwows never distract from the movie’s soapy pleasures.” – New York Times
Starring Jet Li, Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Jinglei Xu, Bao-ming Gu.
The Woodlanders (1997): Set in the late 19th century rural Wessex, England.
This award-winning motion picture is a must-see adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1886 timeless tale. After being away at school, Grace feels she’s outgrown her rural hometown and childhood sweetheart, a simple woodsman named Giles. She longs to travel abroad with the rich widow Mrs. Charmond (Polly Walker from Emma and Enchanted April) and marries a handsome young doctor. But Grace soon learns that culture is no substitute for true love. Honored with awards at numerous international film festivals, the first-rate cast of The Woodlanders brings this treasured tale to life! Filmed in southern England; mostly Dorset, Wiltshire.
“Illumined by a star-making turn from young actress Emily Woof, and suffused with a deep feeling for the landscape and characters of Thomas Hardy’s ensemble novel, “The Woodlanders” is a classy and emotionally involving costumer.” – Variety
Starring Emily Woof, Rufus Sewell, Polly Walker, Jodhi May, Tony Haygarth, Cal MacaNinch.
Adapted from the book by celebrated author Janette Oke (The Love Comes Softly series) comes a rigorous and romantic adventure as epic as the wide frontier. When Calls The Heart is “a beautiful story with roots in relationships, self-empowerment, and the enduring power of love” (Common Sense Media). Living in a 19th century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive in the rural west on her own. The historical Christian romance is directed by Michael Landon, Jr.
Elizabeth Thatcher (Krakow) is a strong-willed teacher who has foregone the life of the big city and found a job, a home – and a bit of unexpected romance with a handsome Mountie named Jack – in the small frontier town of Hope Valley. But life on the frontier can hand you many tough turns, and so it is for Jack and Elizabeth as they face their very different upbringings, the pressures put upon them by family, rival suitors and even various criminal counterfeiters and kidnappers in their quest to find their place in this remote and rugged land.
In Season 3 of this television miniseries from the Hallmark Channel, Elizabeth and Jack’s romance in Hope Valley continues to develop as we follow the adventures of other townspeople. In particular, two newcomers arrive, changing the lives of both Frank and Abigail and challenging their relationship; Lee and Rosemary’s bond deepens as they reconcile their strong personalities; and Bill Avery’s future remains uncertain.
Starring Erin Krakow, Daniel Lissing, Jack Wagner, Lori Loughlin.
You may also like Mr. Pip (2012) Set in 1989 in Papua New Guinea.
While civil war rages on her island, a girl immerses herself in an imaginary world which fuses the Victorian London of Charles Dickens’ classic Great Expectations with the environment and people she knows. Based on Lloyd Jones’ novel Mister Pip.
Starring Hugh Laurie, Eka Darville, Kerry Fox.
You may also like Kate & Leopold (2001) Set in NYC in the 21st century, with a visitor from 1876.
Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman come together as star-crossed lovers who discover that passion and chivalry never go out of style. When a rip in time brings together a charming 19th-century bachelor and a 21st-century woman, the potential for an old-fashioned modern romance ignites.
Starring Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Breckin Meyer, Natasha Lyonne.
Did Willow and Thatch miss any costume historical dramas in the VICTORIAN era that are on NETFLIX, and are available to stream right now?
If you enjoyed this post, you’ll want to wander over to the Period Films List for the best costume dramas, heritage films, documentaries, period dramas, romances, historical reality series and period inspired movies, all sorted by era and theme. You’ll be particularly interested in the Best Period Dramas: Victorian Era List:
You may also be interested in Period Dramas 2016: Victorian Era, featuring the new costume dramas and period films to be released in 2016, as well as Victorian Period Dramas In-Development 2016. Also see Willow and Thatch’s SHOP, for other places to stream additional titles of period films.
For more costume and historical period dramas from all eras, streaming on NETFLIX in 2016, see The List: 100 Period Dramas Streaming on NETFLIX Right Now.