It’s no secret that, in literature and cinema alike, many a truly great romantic moment can be found. In fact, we regularly celebrate such moments here on a weekly basis. These are the kind of moments we sigh in happiness over because most of the time, the swoon-worthy moments are simply too memorable for our romantic at hearts to resist. Such moments include the “train scene” at the end of the brilliant BBC adaptation of North and South or the scene when Darcy and Lizzy meet as the sun rises.
But what of those “hidden gem” moments; the scenes preceding the big declaration that might include those three little words? Or those that aren’t remembered as being important because of their fleeting albeit quiet significance? Such moments pack a great deal of importance to some couple’s stories, and today I’d like to revisit some of these underrated romantic moments in period dramas.
Below I’ve compiled a collection of 10 such scenes from the big and small screen that rank among some of my favorites. Listed in alphabetical order (because you simply cannot ask of me to rank them from tenth to first), I invite you to have a look at some of literature and cinema’s most underrated leading-to-happily-ever-after moments.
Beware, there are spoilers below!
9 Underrated Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
#1. An Ideal Husband
THE MOMENT: Lord Goring (Rupert Everett) proposes marriage to Miss Mabel (Minnie Driver).
If you knew anything about anything, which you don’t, you would know that I absolutely adore you. – Miss Mabel
As is typical of an Oscar Wilde film, this scene is overflowing with hilarity while also being quite romantic. The preceding scene is also entertaining as Mabel asks Arthur if he has something “particular” he wishes to ask her. When he replies that he does, she tells him she’ll be waiting under the “usual tree.”
THE MOMENT: Drover (Hugh Jackman) and Sarah (Nicole Kidman) share a passionate kiss in the rain.
A beautiful scene hid inside a beautiful gem of a movie. What more can be said?
#3. Death Comes to Pemberley
THE MOMENT: Mr. Darcy (Matthew Rhys) flirts with his wife, Lizzy (Anna Maxwell-Martin).
Being used to seeing such a stoic Darcy, seeing Matthew Rhys bring out a lighter side of Darcy in this murder-mystery sequel to Pride and Prejudice was a breath of fresh air. This scene, in particular, was darling. It involves a spontaneously written “love note,” and Lizzy asking Mr. Darcy not to be gone a “moment longer” than necessary… as she couldn’t bear it. The scene really is sweet.
#4. The Four Feathers
THE MOMENT: Harry (Heath Ledger) teases Ethne (Kate Hudson) and gently takes her hand in his.
This film is really magnificent. The costumes, the acting and the story, all of it serves a greater purpose than the average film. That being said, the ending also manages to be one of the most beautiful romantic scenes ever. Simplistic though it may be, it’s the perfect end to this love story.
#5. The Making of a Lady
THE MOMENT: James (Linus Roache) teaches Emily (Lydia Wilson) how to swim.
Much as I adore this gothic romance, there isn’t really one key romantic moment. The story is quieter than that, which leaves it without a standout scene, albeit still beautiful. The one sequence I do think is sweet and indicative of a couple falling in love (provided you know what came before and what comes after) is the scene when James teaches Emily to swim. For this story, it’s quite lovely.
THE MOMENT: Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones) and Anne (Sally Hawkins) finally find happiness.
You pierce my soul. I’m half agony, half hope. – Captain Wentworth
Of course, it’s Wentworth’s beautiful letter (no one ever speaks as these Austen men do, which really is, a crime) to Anne that all Persuasion fans are sure to remember most and swoony over (rightfully so!), but the end scene of ITV’s 2007 adaptation is one of my favorites between these two.
#7. Pirates of the Caribbean
THE MOMENT: Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Kiera Knightley) marry while fending off pirates!
Unique in more ways than one, this scene has to be one of the most dynamic albeit unusual “I Do’s” in cinema. The scene is beautifully shot, and because of the whipping rain and passion, it has an intensity that ordinarily wouldn’t – or perhaps, shouldn’t work for a wedding scene. But this is Pirates of the Caribbean. It works.
#8. Pride and Prejudice
THE MOMENT: Darcy proposes to Elizabeth for the first time.
…I love you. Most ardently. Please do me the honor of accepting my hand. – Mr. Darcy
I remember walking away from the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with mixed emotions (it has since achieved a favorite “status”). But the one thing I do remember distinctly adoring was the proposal scene. Something about the intensity, the longing, and almost kiss, and rain made it beautiful and innovative. Also beautiful is the scene of Darcy “handing” Elizabeth up in the carriage. As he walks away, he flexes his hand after their all-too-brief touch.
(Is anyone noticing I must have “thing” for romantic moments taking place in the rain? This is further evidenced by my last pick!)
#9. Sense and Sensibility
THE MOMENT: Edward (Dan Stevens) and Elinor (Hattie Morahan) lock gazes in the rain.
I don’t think I can put my finger on what it is about this scene I so adore. But it’s there. Part of the reason might be because (in my cinematic viewpoint) Dan Stevens plays the role of Edward one hundred times better than Hugh Grant does in the 1995 box office film. Or maybe it’s just got something to do with the rain?
What are some of your favorite underrated romantic moments in period dramas? Comment down below with your picks! I’d love to read about them.