Friday, December 18, 2009


By D.E.Levine

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Writer: Julian Fellowes
Producers: Sarah Ferguson, Tim Headington, Graham King and Martin Scorsese
Executive Producers: Colin Vaines
Co-producers: Denis O'Sullivan and Anita Overland
Line Producer: Elizabeth-Ann Gimber
Cast: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Thomas Kretschmann, Mark Strong, Jasper Christensen, Harriet Walter, Jeanette Hain, Julian Glover, Michael Maloney, Michiel Huisman, Genevieve O'Reilly, Rachel Stirling, Morven Christie, Josef Altin et al.
Original Music: Iian Eshken
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Language: English and German
Genre: Romance, Drama, Biographical

Queen Victoria survives through photographs that basically show her as a dour, elderly monarch. When looking at those photographs most people do not think about Victoria's life as a young girl.

That's what makes this film's idea so interesting. Victoria, played by Emily Blunt is initially introduced as an under aged, only heir to the throne of England. With the king's brothers all dead (including her father), no surviving children of his own, and a need to pass the crown on to a blood relation, it's a given that Victoria will one day ascend to the throne.

Unfortunately, her mother wants to be Queen and control the kingdom while under the influence of a trusted adviser. The two of them try to browbeat a very ill Victoria into signing the regency papers so she can be Queen until Victoria comes of age. As sick as she is, Victoria refuses to sign the papers.

Victoria is portrayed as a well educated but not politically savvy young girl who sets out to learn the rules of politics so she can play the game.

When her uncle, King William III dies, Victoria is indeed crowned Queen and then becomes the subject of gossip regarding whom she'll marry.

Prince Albert of Belgium is deliberately sent to England by King Leopald (her maternal uncle) to report on the politics of the court and make himself indispensable to Victoria.

Over a period of time Victoria and Albert develop feelings for each other which continue via mail when Albert returns to Belgium.

According to the film, Victoria is under the influence of her unpopular prime minister. In general, the political turmoil and which we know had to exist during her reign, is portrayed rather as rather lackluster.

Her choice of Albert as a spouse seems to stem out of the feeling that he's the only person who listens to her, and after their marriage he stops supplying King Leopald with information and becomes a true partner in the marriage. According to the story, Albert shared Victoria's concerned for the common people and together they changed many of the regulations governing treatment and benefits for such.

Victoria and Albert had nine children (who survived) together, each of whom became a leading monarch of a European nation. This explains why all the major royal families are related.

They were married for 20 years before he died of typhoid and her devotion to his memory is well known. Victoria ruled longer than any other British monarch, even Elizabeth I so she must have learned how to protect herself in the political arena and survive all the mudslinging and underlying plots.

Despite her long reign, Victoria's life seems much more mundane than the colorful Elizabeth's. She and Albert appear faithful and devoted to one another, without the scandals that were associated with Elizabeth. As a result, Victoria's life doesn't really seem exciting.

However, what the film lacks in character development and scandal it makes up for in the visual beauty of the real palaces where it was filmed. Since Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York is one of the producers, we assume that access to many of these previously unfilmed locations were achieve through her influence.

"The Young Victoria" is an interesting and beautifully made film which may well raise interest in its subjects and induce audience members to do some research and reading on the real people.