12/11/2009

YOUNG VICTORIA


When I was in London last April, it was still on but, not being there alone, I couldn't see it.  I really wanted to watch this movie for several reasons - I love costume films, the Victorian Age, Queen Victoria as a historical figure, Victorian literature... - I couldn't miss it.  So Amazon UK was my saviour. It's the latest addition to my collection: YOUNG VICTORIA 2009 starring Emily Blunt, Rupert Fiend,  Miranda Richardson, Mark Strong.
I've recently seen it and just wanted to share some points with you.
The film is a romantic dramatisation of some of the events preceding and following the coronation of Queen Victoria, focusing on her early reign and romance with Prince Albert in the 1830s.
 Enough attention is given to Victoria's attitude to life and power, with a good  convincing characterization. Less realistic seems Prince Albert's portrayal: he is depicted as a youg prince, ready to satisfy his father's will, trying to flatter his young, beautiful, powerful cousin in order to fulfil political aims, planning strategies to  please Victoria as a political duty. Official biographies want him really in love with her: they were good friends first of all, then lovers, then husband and wife. Furthermore, Victoria's uncle, Leopold I of Belgium,was not as pushy and selfish in persuading Albert to marry the queen in real life as he was portrayed in the film. The Belgian King was Victoria's favorite uncle and served as a sort of father figure to her.

What surprised me most was young Victoria's relationship with power: I have always seen royals as human beings in golden cages. I mean, they live glamourous lives in wonderful palaces but totally lack freedom in my mind. In this film, Victoria, instead, after feeling herself as a prisoner of her mother's will and Sir John Conroy's  (her mother's lover and personal secretary) pressure,  she saw becoming the Queen of England as a liberation. So power = freedom.
The movie also underlines the great solitude she had to experience, especially before marrying Albert. And this, I guess, was  what brought her to the serious depression which followed his death:  to be brought again into that nightmarish solitude .

VICTORIA AND ALBERT IN OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHIES





Victoria, the daughter of the duke of Kent and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg, was born in 1819. She inherited the throne of Great Britain at the age of 18, upon the death of her uncle William IV in 1837, and reigned until 1901, bestowing her name upon her age. She married her mother's nephew, Albert (1819-1861), prince of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, in 1840, and until his death he remained the focal point of her life (she bore him nine children).

Albert replaced Lord Melbourne, the Whig Prime Minister who had served her as her first personal and political tutor and instructor, as Victoria's chief advisor. Albert was moralistic, conscientious and progressive, if rather priggish, sanctimonious, and intellectually shallow, and with Victoria initiated various reforms and innovations— he organized the Great Exhibition of 1851, for example— which were responsible for a great deal of the popularity later enjoyed by the British monarchy. (In contrast to the Great Exhibition, housed in the Crystal Palace and viewed by proud Victorians as a monument to their own cultural and technological achievements, however, we may recall that the government over which Victoria and Albert presided had, in the midst of the potato famine of 1845, continued to permit the export of grain and cattle from Ireland to England while over a million Irish peasants starved to death).




HISTORICAL INACCURACIES

In this beautiful filmed portrayal of Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert there are few historical inaccuracies  that can be interesting to notice.
1. Victoria was left handed; however, in the film she draws and paints with her right hand
2. Prince Albert was never shot during an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria: the bullet missed him.

UNBELIEVABLE TRUE FACTS


(above -  Mark Strong as John Conroy and
Miranda Richardson as Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent)

The scene where Conroy, her mother's lover,  is trying to make Victoria sign the paper when she is ill and she throws it to the floor - it's completely true and the scene in Windsor where the King stands up and insults Victoria's mother is not only true, but about two-thirds of his speech is what he actually said. However, the duchess of Kent was seated next to the King when he spoke  and did not leave during the speech; and, undepicted in the film, the princess burst into tears "and the two parties, soon realizing that they had gone too far, patched up an uneasy truce . According to Greville's Memoirs: "The Queen looked in deep distress, the Princess burst into tears, and the whole company were aghast. The Duchess of Kent said not a word. Immediately after they rose and retired, and a terrible scene ensued; the Duchess announced her immediate departure and ordered her carriage, but a sort of reconciliation was patched up, and she was prevailed upon to stay till the next day".





Though I know this is predictable and obvious, I particularly loved the costumes and locations. Mark Strong , who was a "good" wicked Sir Conroy, and Jim Broadbent, a convincing King William. I had already loved Emily Blunt as Prudie in THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB  and she has been an extraordinary young queen in this movie. Rupert Fiend as Albert? Still thinking about it ...

22 comments:

Luciana said...

I really want to see this movie, but I think it's not going to be in cinemas here in Brazil, so I'll have to wait for the DVD or something like that. I'm very interested in Queen Victoria and I hope it is good as it seems! Oh, by the way I finally got to see "Easy virtue", which is really nice! See ya!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Luciana
So you saw it, at last!Did you like Colin Firth? I too wanted to see YOUNG VICTORIA at the cinema but the distribution of this kind of movies in Italy - it'll happen to Bright Star too - is really sporadic! You must be very lucky to find it on. Thanks for your comment.

JaneGS said...

What a great review--I really appreciate the historical perspective you brought to the discussion, and I can feel a thorough study of Queen V coming on! :)

>she saw becoming the Queen of England as a liberation. So power = freedom.

That is an interesting idea and different from the modern conventional view that royalty is trapped in their position rather than it may be a liberating force.

I requested it via NetFlix, but I don't think it's available yet.

I usually think of Victoria as she was after Albert died--it'll be so interesting to see her as a young woman.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@JaneGS
You're right Jane. We usually remember her as she was in the latest years of her reign. This rapid overview of her youth can help us form a different image of her, more humane and complete. Hope you can find the DVD.

Vickie said...

I want to see this movie, but not sure when it will air in the states. I will probably have to wait until it is on DVD and if I can find it. I also heard about some of the inaccuracies. Movies are notorious for that practice.

Great review!! It was very thorough and interesting.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Vickie
Thank you Vickie. Inaccuracies apart, this is a good movie, for period drama lovers. And most of the facts narrated are real, anyhow. Hope you'll find the DVD.

Nat at RA FanBlog said...

I've wanted to see this movie since seeing a review on a period dramas blog a few months ago! It comes to theaters in the states this month, I believe. I will be going as soon as it comes to my town. I didn't like Rupert too much as Mr. Wickham... his acting lacked something, so I'm hoping I like him as Albert. (I like the look of him in the role, but is the acting any better?)
By the way Maria, I love how you not only give reviews, but tie in historical facts and other interesting tid-bits. :)

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Nat at RA FanBlog
As you say Nat , Rupert lacks something in this role too. Not very involved nor involving. But RA's fans - like us - are spoilt, they are used to very high standards. Is this the reason why we aren't easily satisfied with ordinary performances? Thanks for contributing.

lunarossa said...

Great review, MG. I saw the film on dvd last summer and although it was rather pleasant, it left me somehow unsatisfied. maybe it was because I didn't like how Rupert Friend portrayed Alberto. Have you seen the 2001 period Drama "Victoria and Albert" with Victoria Hamilton and Jonathan Firth (Yes, Colin's younger brother)? That was really impressive. it also features a wonderful Peter Ustinov playing the William IV. Ciao. A.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@lunarossa
No, I haven't seen that Period Drama. I'll try to get it. I'm so interested in that epoch and in Queen Victoria herself. Thanks for suggesting. Have a great weekend!

Mo said...

I must watch this after such a great write up

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Mo
I really hope you'll like it! The best of the weekends to you!

Avalon said...

I can not wait to see this movie. Interesting review. By the way I am left handed too, lol, just thought I would throw that in there....
I just purchased four volumes of Winston Churchill's History of English Speaking People. Have you read this? I am a huge American history fan and just skid through European history in college and now that I am older I am really interested in European history and regret my behavior. So I have been reading up on what I ignored.

Laura's Reviews said...

Wow - this sounds fantastic! I sure hope it comes to the U.S. soon!

Thank-you for joining the All About the Brontes Challenge. I look forward to reading your reviews. It looks like you and I share a lot of common interests in books and film.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Laura's Reviews
It sounds like we do! Your All About the Brontes Challenge will be great fun. I'm sure. I'm preparing my list of tasks. I want to read the few works I haven't read yet and ... Well, I'm going to post about my ideas and you'll see! Thank you Laura, for dropping by and commenting and for the challenge!

Anonymous said...

Grazie della recensione così accurata Maria Grazia!
Ho visto il film qualche tempo fa e mi è piaciuto, specialmente lei, ma non mi sono posta problemi di esattezza storica ;-)
Devo comprarlo, voglio che faccia parte della mia collezione di DVD!
Scusa se non scrivo in inglese..
Cristina

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Cristina
Ciao! Non, ti preoccupare. L'italiano è una lingua accettata su FLY HIGH! dal momento che è anche la mia lingua madre,dopotutto! Grazie per essere passata di qua e aver commentato.

Judy said...

Hi, Maria. Just catching up with your blog, and enjoyed reading this, as this is one of my favourite costume dramas of recent years. Must say I thought both Rupert Friend and Emily Blunt were excellent, and also Paul Bettany as Melbourne - but Jim Broadbent was probably my favourite. I hadn't realised that outburst at the dinner table really happened - fascinating bit of background there!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Judy
I'm always so glad to read your comments Judy. Thank you!

Alesya said...

ottima recensione!!!!molto molto molto accurata complimenti!!!!!!

Ruth said...

Great thoughts about the movie! And I think I get where you're coming from regarding Friend's take on Prince Albert. It can so go either way, me, I was a total sap for it and loved every second. *wink* I can't wait until this comes out on DVD here in the States. If I can find the time, I'd like to re-read a Victoria biography or two...

MARIA GRAZIA said...

I've got HER LITTLE MAJESTY by Carolly Eriksson in my TBR list and A BBC documentary titled The Young Victoria in my TBW list. I hope I'll have the time to read and see all I'd like to ... Thanks for reading my review, Ruth, and for commenting.