The recently released film, “The Lost King,” directed by Stephen Frears and starring Sally Hawkins and Steve Coogan, follows the journey of an amateur historian named Philippa Langley, who was instrumental in discovering the remains of King Richard III in 2012, after centuries of debate regarding his final resting place. The movie is a beautiful portrayal of the journey that led to King Richard III being dug up from a car park, a place that sat above the former site of Greyfriars Friary, and brought Philippa’s theory to fruition. The film examines the mythos surrounding the Plantagenet family and its power along with their successor’s, the Tudors. Philippa’s devotion to Richard III, along with her vision and active involvement, helped write a new chapter for the history books.
Played by Sally Hawkins, Philippa sees beyond the fact that Richard III was labeled a usurper, tyrant, and murderer by Tudor historians. She becomes convinced that Richard might not have been a bad king after all and that he might have helped make England more just during his reign. Despite facing resistance at every step of her journey, nothing could stop her from knowing the truth about Richard III’s life, reign, and death. Hawkins portrays Philippa’s journey of discovery, and her feelings towards Richard III, her imaginary friend who guides her through the ins-and-outs of uncovering his legacy, with great tenacity and incredible human emotion.
Through Philippa’s journey, the audience can understand the background and context of remarkable historic times. Furthermore, it highlights how perception of an ideology can shape history as well. It shed light on how the Tudor Era portrayed King Richard III as a hunchbacked man, a depiction that was likely inspired not only by envy of his courage but also by the weak evidence at the time. Yet, by learning about his reign from Philippa and how he was initially portrayed, there is so much more people need to uncover to gain a true understanding of the past.
“The Lost King” is one of those movies worth the watch, not only because of its production value and skilled direction but because it highlights the fallacies of the perceptions surrounding bloodlines and divine majesty. Richard III is indeed a real and historical figure, but this movie also captures the delicate and arbitrary nature of the royals’ identity, as well as other world leaders of the past. It serves as a reminder of what is at the very heart of power and what happens when we place arbitrary values based on one’s position in society.
Catchy title suggestion: Revealing the Mythos behind King Richard III through ‘The Lost King’