Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Young Victoria (2009)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Princess Victoria faces a power struggle once her father dies.

As the daughter of King William IV's (Jim Broadbent) brother, Princess Victoria (Emily Blunt) is first in line for the British throne. Because of her young age, she frequently attracts the attention of those wishing to wrest away the power from her grasp including her mother and Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong), who wish for her to sign a covenant.

Her only support comes from a certain Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) who, despite being sent to seduce Victoria initially, forms a bond with the young Princess. When her father dies when she is 18-years-old though, there are plenty more people looking to wrest away her power and undermine her leadership.

The Young Victoria is the second film on the English monarchy I have seen this month. After being neither impressed nor disappointed by The Queen, I decided to delve back 150 years to the ascension of Britain's second most famous monarch.

As far as schools in the UK are concerned as long as you've heard of the current Queen Elizabeth II, Victoria, Elizabeth I, and Henry VIII then you're doing well. The more advanced students will delve deeper into the Tudor struggles around the latter two monarchs, and most will know that George VI preceded Elizabeth II (although I can't help but feel that The King's Speech is to thank for this). Despite learning masses about the Victorian age, very few will learn/remember about the events leading up to Victoria's ascension. This is the issue that The Young Victoria aims to tackle.

Because the British education system has let me down in this department (although, much of what I learnt back then has disappeared anyway), I had to turn to Wikipedia - a student's best friend - to check the historical accuracy of The Young Victoria. Impressively, despite the obvious dramatisations, it does stick fairly closely to the original story, which just goes to prove that we were never taught anything interesting in school there are some real life stories that lend themselves perfectly to film.

In fact, the film differs from the subjective view of Victorian life. Often seen as a period in British history with London covered in a deep smog with aristocrats not being able to move for young chimney sweeps and pickpockets covered in soot, The Young Victoria offers a more colourful insight with its sparkling array of bold, block colour dresses.

As leading lady, Emily Blunt takes on the not-very-amused regal demeanour and delivers an impressively controlled performance, only exuding powerful emotion when needed. Such is Blunt's control that when Victoria suffers an outburst against those wishing to remove her control it often comes as a shock and it is only during these rare moments that we truly see the human side of the character.

The problem with The Young Victoria is that all the men and advisors around the Queen seem to merge into one. The dastardly Conroy and the slick Prime Minister (Paul Bettany) both have too much of an obsession with power and their involvement with the story is far overshadowed by the development of Victoria and Albert's relationship.

So, it's not the most exciting of films and, much like The Queen, I was neither impressed nor disappointed.

3 comments:

  1. I've never heard about this. I have an in-law who absolutely eats up these type of movies, so I'd definitely be keeping an eye out for this one.

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  2. Not seen this movie but I will look out for it now.

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