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Berensmeyer, Ingo (2008): Staging restoration England in the post-heritage theatre film: Gender and power in 'Stage Beauty' and The 'Libertine'. In: Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Vol. 56, No. 1: pp. 13-30

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This article analyses two British post-heritage films, Richard Eyre's Stage Beauty (2004) and Laurence Dunmore's The Libertine (2005). Both films are set in the seventeenth century and use the theatre as a central metaphor to describe and capture the cultural sensibilities of Restoration England. Both are based on stage plays in which theatre also functions as a site of resistance to cultural and social norms of gender and sexual politics. However, both films end by reinscribing and reaffirming the norms they set out to question, as transgressive desire is preempted and contained by an aesthetics of spectacle. Approaching the films in the light of gender performativity and queer theory, as well as examining their depiction of historical figures like Edward Kynaston and Elizabeth Barry, King Charles II and the earl of Rochester, this essay tries to find out why Restoration England appears to be so difficult to present cinematically.

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