5 Historical Films to Drop the TARDIS Into

Consisting of five more ideas for Doctor Who role-playing games (or simple daydreaming) taking very simple inspiration from the world of cinema.

This time around, we're sending the TARDIS into the past, whether that's the Doctor's or "Your Own Time Lord's"(TM), and that's the past as seen through the eyes of cinema. Naturally, these will provide a number of opportunities for historical celebrities to show up, but should act as unusual and interesting canvases, much like, say, Th Reign of Terror (Happy Bastille Day!), which I'm listening on audio this week. In that story, Robespierre shows up, but it's really more about enjoying the tropes and atmosphere of the French Revolution. Hopefully these ideas will write themselves, the films acting as easy and entertaining research.Elizabeth. Despite the Doctor's claims to have married Elizabeth I, and her apparent ire at all this, we haven't actually seen a proper Elizabeth I story. The early days of her rule seems rife with possibilities for any time traveling crew, from preventing her assassination to vetting candidates for marriage. Action and romp both possible. (And maybe I've got a thing for naming a Christopher Eccleston movie in each of the articles, I dunno.)
Kafka. New Who has a strong tradition of using famous writers in celebrity historicals, and I can't believe they haven't thought of creepy Franz Kafka yet. The movie is built just like a Doctor Who episode too, with biopic dovetailing into the writer's fictional worlds. The TARDIS crew should be accompanying ol' Franz into the full-color Castle is what I'm saying.
Titanic. A favorite of any time travel RPG or series (GURPS Time Travel and Time Tunnel both make use of it right away, for example), there are many story opportunities in the sinking of the Titanic. The film itself turned the event into a canvas for melodrama, and you could do that too. Or it could just turn into a race against the clock as the fateful hour approaches and the TARDIS is for some reason (as was often the case in Hartnell historicals) off limits. Cut the Jack&Rose stuff and you've got a very detailed retelling of the event for research purposes. Definitely one for people who felt cheated by Voyage of the Damned and its fake space Titanic.
Cleopatra. Whether or not the crew meets the famous monarch, this historical era would be a nice change from all the Roman Empire stories we've gotten anything the TARDIS has gone Antiquity's way. Ancient Egypt is a really neglected part of history, y'know? And Rory could still wear his Centurion costume and be bossed about by Marc-Anthony or Caesar or something. The best of two worlds.
Red Cliff. Or in fact, any "Three Kingdoms" era film. We haven't been to the Whoniverse's China since, what, Marco Polo in 1964?! The wars of the Three Kingdoms are rife with possibilities for rescues, tactics or just plain tourism in an era and location that, to many Western minds, seems as alien as the aliennest planet ever seen in Who.

Take the blue tunnel into the past and do what a time machine was designed to do. Relive the past! But don't change history, not a single line!) Perhaps you have other historical ideas mined from the world of cinema. Don't be shy!


ShadowWing Tronix said...

Disagree on Titanic. Something about it just doesn't click with me. Plus he's already seen it on its way.

Although I haven't seen it, I would choose Camelot, because I really want to see the Doctor as Merlin, as was mentioned in a Sylvester McCoy episode. Maybe make it a regeneration story, as LeFay mentioned his changing his face.

Craig Oxbrow said...

Tombstone - he's been here before, but I think the movie does it rather better.

Doctor Zhivago - the Russian Revolution(s) and Civil War is a cluster of chaotic and dangerous events, with built-in mysteries, betrayals, larger-than-life characters, plenty to do.

Braveheart - "That's wrong, that's wrong, you're wearing woad five hundred years late and clan tartans five hundred years early, she was ten at the time, there was a bridge there..."

delenore said...

Excellent list. I would add The Name of the Rose (even if the time period was done before in the Time Meddler) and for a more fantastic spin i'd love to see ancient Greece ala Jason & the Argonauts or perhaps some 6th century Germany with Beowulf & Grendel.

Jeff R. said...

300. (Works straight, or give us semi-friendly Sontarans and bad Rutans to join in the fight.)

Hero (The Jet Li one, that is.)

And Ben-Hur.

Siskoid said...

You know, the 1st Doctor's already met Wong Fei-Hung in the BBC line of books, and it was pretty awesome.

Steve said...

Has the Doctor ever met the three musketeers? They'd be a good fit. There's plenty of swashbuckling opportunities, and everybody knows who they are so you get straight on with the action.


Siskoid said...

For fun I've tried to imagine the Doctor active at the time of the film's release was the one who actually starred in the adventure.
-Elizabeth (1998) the 8th Doctor romances the Queen
-Kafka (1991) that makes it the 7th Doctor's time (with Ace and Bernice)
-Titanic (1997) 8th Doctor rides again (well, he does need the stories more than other Doctors)
-Cleopatra (1963) the original crew goes to ancient Egypt!
-Red Cliff (2009) The companionless 10th Doctor picks up that Mulan wannabe, I'm sure.


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