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The Favourite: True Story & Ending Explained

What Happens At The End Of The Favourite?

Over the course of The Favourite, we watch Sarah Churchill and Queen Anne’s relationship begin to crumble as Abigail Hill worms her way into the monarch’s favour. After poisoning Sarah to ensure that she is away from court for an extended period of time, Abigail triumphs and successfully supplants the Duchess of Marlborough.

As a result, Abigail assumes Sarah’s various positions – including Keeper of the Privy Purse – but she is worried that her predecessor could still make a comeback. To further drive a wedge between the two women, Abigail claims that the Marlboroughs have been embezzling the crown, but this proves to be a step too far. Anne refuses to believe this story, and she becomes more suspicious of her new favorite.

Sarah writes to the Queen in an attempt to mend the bond between them, but Abigail intercepts the letter and, burns it. This proves to be the most decisive move of all. Until this point, Anne has eagerly anticipated her mail, seemingly hoping for reconciliation with Sarah. But when no letter arrives, the Queen uses Abigail’s claim to completely severs ties with Sarah, banishing her from the country.

The aftermath focuses upon a deteriorating Anne and her relationship with Abigail, the latter of whom has become just as self-satisfied in her power and luxury as Sarah was. Following a lavish party, Abigail lounges in the Queen’s palace and casually crushes one of the pet rabbits under her foot. Anne notices this, and furiously demands that Abigail tend to her leg. As Abigail rubs the contaminated leg, Anne painfully seizes her subordinates’ hair. The film closes with psychedelic display of their faces merging, along with multitudes of rabbits slowly materialising onto the screen – and eventually dominating it – before it fades to black.

What The Favourite's Ending (& Rabbits) Really Means

With his lingering, unsettling shots of faces and rabbits, The Favourite demonstrates Yorgos Lanthimos’ idiosyncratic sensibilities, which he has previously displayed in The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. But many film fans have picked up on the powerful metaphor contained within The Favourite’s final sequence.

The inclusion of rabbits has been noted as particularly important. Queen Anne may never have owned a collection of pet rabbits in real life (they were only seen as a nuisance or source of food in the 1700s), but these creatures take on a greater significance in the movie. Each one represents a child that Anne has lost, and thus they serve as literal reminders of the character’s hardships. However, they also connect the Queen to her warring favorites as well. In typical unsentimental fashion, Sarah Churchill dismisses them as morbid curiosities. On the other hand, Abigail bonds with Anne through their affection for them – initially at least. Abigail’s tormenting of Anne’s pet at the end of the movie confirms her duplicity, and the savagery of her actions. But this communication goes both ways.

The new Baroness Masham may have triumphed by the end of The Favourite, but by blurring her face into the hordes of bunnies, Lanthimos implies that all is not well. Given her final, subordinate position, it’s clear that Abigail has become a caged plaything of the Queen, much like those beloved pets. Certainly, through her pitiless scheming she has created an unhappy situation for both herself, and her Queen, by caging themselves together. As the rabbits multiply onscreen, The Favourite emphasises how Abigail’s malicious, self-interested actions have not improved anything; on the contrary, her choices will clearly perpetuate even more horrors to come.

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Lanthimos’ movie-making style – and his casual approach to history – may not be appreciated by every moviegoer. However, its accuracy notwithstanding, The Favourite offers an investigation upon the viciousness of politics, a captivating female drama, and a rare view upon a lesser-known part of British history.

More: Oscars 2019 Best Picture Predictions

Key Release Dates
  • The Favourite (2018) release date: Nov 23, 2018
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