Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite arrived on Netflix recently and shot up to the top ten leading up to Olivia Colman’s 50th birthday on January 30th.
The Favourite is a bold and innovative period piece that breathes new life into the historical drama genre. With its wickedly delightful stew of palace intrigue, complex characters, and unique visual style, the film stands out as a masterpiece.
In creating this film, Lanthimos drew inspiration from a variety of sources, including several films that influenced his creative vision. As he explained to Vox, “We were inspired by great filmmakers, and we certainly never tried to imitate things. But we watched things to be inspired by the freedom that certain filmmakers had in creating very unique work.” Lanthimos further explained how six films really stood out to him “as inspiring for trying to do something different with the genre.”
From the colour palette of Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers to the striking visuals of Peter Greenaway’s Draughtsman’s Contract, Lanthimos went into the details of everything cinematic splinter that inspired him to make The Favourite.
Known for its intense drama and striking cinematography, Cries and Whispers centres around three women in a house and explores themes of love, death, and betrayal. However, unlike the high drama of Bergman’s film, The Favourite is “a comedy with a tragedy interweaved in some parts of it.”
Nicholas Hytner’s The Madness of King George is a historical drama combining humour and poignant insights into power and madness. Evidence of the film’s blend of drama and comedy, as well as its portrayal of political intrigue and power dynamics within the royal court, is visible in The Favourite.
Andrzej Żuławski’s Possessions is a surreal and visually arresting film that explores themes of obsession, possession, and madness. Żuławski’s bold visual style and his willingness to push the boundaries of storytelling can be seen in the more surreal elements present in The Favourite. The camerawork in Possessions, particularly, was a point of inspiration for Lanthimos.
Juraj Herz’s The Cremator is a dark and atmospheric film that delves into themes of death, decay, and moral corruption. Lanthimos’s admiration for Herz’s ability to create a sense of unease and foreboding, as well as his exploration of the darker aspects of human nature, possibly influenced or amplified the tone and atmosphere of The Favourite as well.
Then there was the sweeping historical drama, Miloš Forman’s Amadeus, which chronicles the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his rivalry with composer Antonio Salieri. The film’s rich period detail and exploration of themes of jealousy and ambition have plenty of parallels with the Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz drama.
Incorporating elements from these diverse cinematic influences, Yorgos Lanthimos crafted a film that challenges conventions. The Favourite is a testament to Lanthimos’s singular vision and creative genius.
Six films that inspired Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite:
- Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972)
- The Madness of King George (Nicholas Hytner, 1994)
- Amadeus (Miloš Forman, 1984)
- The Draughtsman’s Contract (Peter Greenaway, 1982)
- Possession (Andrzej Żuławski, 1981)
- The Cremator (Juraj Herz, 1969)
You can watch The Favourite on Netflix and catch this iconic scene here: