Saturday, January 2, 2010
The Young Victoria
We Americans ( as in U. S. of Americans) are an odd lot. We hang on to our hyphenated history as if being American is not enough. All my ancestors came from that darling little island across “the pond” that holds three little countries. If I’m ever diagnosed with multiple personalities it’s the English-Welsh-Scots blood in me at war! (I’ll spare you the percentages) Seriously, it puts me in awe to think of the day when any one of them got in a sailing vessel and left their families forever to start life in a new, wild land.
I’ve waited long to see The Young Victoria, its US release eight months later than in the UK. And, with little fanfare. As my Netflix queue is almost entirely BBC period piece films, you will not be surprised that I searched this movie out. Now that its actress Emily Blunt has received a Golden Globe nomination, you may hear more of it.
So here is Inktropolis’ first movie review. Your reviewer is a middle aged, female, obsessive-in-the-nicest-sort-of-way (see above) writer who happens to have a WIP (work in process) set in 1837, the year of Victoria’s ascension to the throne. If you want an unbiased movie review, away wi’ ye!
To prepare, I watched the A&E version of Victoria and Albert. I like to compare (we’ll talk Jane Austen movies another day) and then chase after facts: what was true and what was ‘dramatic license’.
Both movies show us the confined life Victoria had as a child. Rather than give history on the royal family and their marriages to European monarchs, let’s leave it as Victoria was a shoo-in for Queen amidst the requisite royal intrigue. (You DO read Phillipa Gregory, don’t you?). Her widowed mother, the Duchess of Kent, was ‘guided’ by Sir John Conroy (played here by Mark Strong-- you ladies will know as one of Emma’s Mr. Knightleys and is currently the bad guy in Sherlock Holmes). Both mom and Sir John are disliked and publicly slammed by the sitting King, Victoria’s silly uncle William. He vows to stay alive until Victoria is 18 and can take the crown, lest her mother be appointed Regent. She turns 18. He dies. She does the crown and robe and scepter thing. The prime minister, Lord Melbourne begins his relationship as counselor and friend. Here’s where the movies really diverge.
The Young Victoria offers a younger, charming, selfish Melbourne who not only seems to want to guide her but to marry her. A&E’s version shows him as a sad, older mentor. (Truth? Who knows? Melbourne did have a fascinating history of scandal himself but was 58 when Victoria was 18.)
Each movie brings out a different “trusted adviser” to Victoria who offer the same advice: You must learn to live with Parliament, but politicians come and go and The Monarchy stays forever.
Victoria matures, steels herself for public service and begins the job of ruling over/alongside two battling parties.
Albert, meanwhile, is sitting in the middle of Europe's Coburg dynasty, and being pushed to do what he needed to do: Marry Victoria. (For Europe’s benefit and because it was the thing to do. Marry your cousin.)
Here’s another difference in the movies: The A&E movie's Albert resents the push and doesn’t love her until later in the marriage when time had softened his heart toward her—in fact, he’s quite resentful of his empty role as prince consort. The Young Victoria’s Rupert Friend (some of you will recognize him as Mr. Wickham in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, aka the Keira Knightley version) plays an Albert who falls in love with Victoria early and honestly worries she will not choose him. I think he does a smashing job of it. Both movies suggest a young man of intelligence who gives great advice--when she’s willing to accept it. He steers her consciousness to the common people and encourages her to respect deserving politicians despite their party background.
(Seasonal note: The A&E movie also reminds us of the impact V and A had on our modern Christmas traditions.)
The Young Victoria stretches the truth of an actual assassination attempt by having dear Albert shot while protecting his wife (after an argument, isn’t that touching?). This movie ends around the time of their first child’s birth, and felt abrupt to this seasoned movie watcher. All I can say is, "We are not amused."
In case some of you don’t know what happens after this, I won’t spoil it for you. It is history, after all.
For you Anglophiles, find the A&E version which gives a much longer look at the Queen’s life. Then, check out Mrs. Brown, with Dame Judi Dench.
Leave a comment for a cool little memento of my visit to the theatre. I mean theater. Sorry.
Have you seen it?
What's your favorite British history flick?
Have you ever had Yorkshire Pudding?
Would you like me to stop asking questions now?
Okay, check out my links:
---this is the movie site for the colonies:
---this is the movie site for mother country:
---this is a you tube trailer with the most details:
throw tomatoes in this direction: firstname.lastname@example.org
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