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Nine Underrated Romantic Moments in Period Dramas

The Making of a Lady |Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
The Making of a Lady | Photo: ITV

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).

An Ideal Husband Rupert Everett and Minnie Driver - Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
Minnie Driver and Rupert Everett in An Ideal Husband | Photo: Miramax

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.”

#2. Australia

THE MOMENT: Drover (Hugh Jackman) and Sarah (Nicole Kidman) share a passionate kiss in the rain.

Australia (Kiss in the Rain) Hugh Jackman Nicole Kidman - Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman in Australia | Photo: 20th Century Fox

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).

Death Comes to Pemberley Darcy - Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
Mr. Darcy (Matthew Rhys) writes his wife an impromptu love note | Photo: ITV

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.

The Four Feathers (Hands) Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
Photo: Paramount / Miramax

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.

The Making of a Lady (Kiss) Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
Photo: PBS

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.

#6. Persuasion

THE MOMENT: Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones) and Anne (Sally Hawkins) finally find happiness.

Persuasion 2007. Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
Wentworth and Anne dance | Photo: ITV

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!

pirates of the Caribbean. Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner | Photo: Disney

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.

Pride and Prejudice (Last Man I Could Ever Marry) Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
Mr. Darcy Proposes to Lizzie in the rain | Photo: Focus Features
Pride and Prejudice (Proposal in the Rain) Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
Photo: Focus Features

…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.

RELATED: Classic Romantic Moment Series: Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy

(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.

Sense and Sensibility Edward3 Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
Dan Stevens as Edward | Photo: ITV
Sense and Sensibility 2008 Elinor Romantic Moments in Period Dramas
Hattie Morahan as Elinor | Photo: ITV

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.



20 Underrated and Obscure Period Dramas

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By on January 21st, 2016

About Rissi JC

Rissi is a self-diagnosed Bookaholic and TV fandom addict. She’s currently an avid blogger and reader who enjoys interacting with readers, and often dreams about finishing her first novel. When not writing or reading, she can be found working as an INSPYs advisory board member or contributing to e-zines. Her scribbles are housed on her blog Finding Wonderland (https://www.rissiwrites.com).

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7 thoughts on “Nine Underrated Romantic Moments in Period Dramas”

  1. Mr. Darcy’s hand flexing is one of my favorite moments, too. (I have only lately fallen in love with the 2005 version after years of arguing that it could not be as good as the Colin Firth version. Boy, was I wrong!)

    • OhMyGosh! That scene when Darcy helps Lizzy into the carriage? Ahh! So romantic.

      Your “journey” with the 2005 movie sounds fun. I REALLY liked the 2005 version after seeing it in theaters, but having been a diehard of the A&E series, I was much like you. Fortunately, I have since come around, and dare I say this, the ’05 adaptation has since become my favorite! Thanks for commenting, Melanie. 🙂

      • You’re welcome. I think the 2005 version is quickly becoming my favorite. I’m afraid to tell my best friend. But then, she and I totally disagree on the versions of Jane Eyre.

        • LOL, that’s my dilemma too; telling people the 2005 version is my favorite. Once upon a time I tried to keep it quiet, now not so much. 😉

          If I may ask, what is your favorite version of “Jane Eyre”?

  2. Yes! That shot of Darcy’s hand in the 2005 P&P is just perfect. It’s mirrored later when they meet at Pemberly and she leaves him to walk home alone. The scene cuts away after a shot of his empty hand. Just brilliant.
    I really think that version is underrated. It’s hard to be compared to the Colin Firth adaptation which was much longer and more true to the book. But I think Joe Wright did a fabulous job and I dare say – it’s my favorite version. (Get out your pitchforks, Austen purists).

    • I don’t mind admitting (even if it does incur the wrath of Austen purists :D) that the 2005 version is, overall, my personal favorite adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice.” True, its length prohibits it from being book-to-screen scripting perfection, but it’s beautiful, romantic and yes, I agree, Kelly, given the time, Joe Wright does a magnificent job capturing the story. The scene you describe is Darcy and Lizzy wonderful. It’s a scene/moment that never grows old. Thanks so much for adding your thoughts! 🙂


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