Wednesday, January 13, 2010

NineteenTeen goes to the movies: The Young Victoria

First, I must apologize for this post's lateness--I was indisposed yesterday, but am feeling much better. And besides, I couldn't wait to get discussion going about one of my favorite they actually made a movie about!

Yes, it's time to talk about The Young Victoria!

The film covers roughly 1836-1840, the years during which Victoria ascended the throne, married, and had her first child. All the major events from these years are covered with the exception of the Lady Flora scandal, which I can perhaps understand as it would have been hard to explain and depict in the short time available...though it more than the Bedchamber Crisis affected Victoria's popularity. History did get played a little fast and loose at times: no, Albert did not get shot, no, he wasn't at Victoria's coronation. But the little touches of what did happen--like Victoria's being required to hold someone's hand at all times when going up or down stairs and her running up to give her favorite dog, Dash, a bath when she got back from her coronation--certainly warmed my history geek's heart.

Characterizations were, on the whole, reasonably good, with a couple of exceptions. Miranda Richardson made a suitably waffling Duchess of Kent, Mark Strong a villainous Sir John Conroy (though I suspect in real life he had a trifle more least to people other than Victoria), and Jesper Christensen could have stepped out of a portrait of Baron Stockmar--in fact, it's plain that an effort was made to find actors who resembled their characters, and it shows.

I was somewhat disappointed in Emily Blunt's depiction of Victoria; I think Ms. Blunt played her a little too buttoned-up, when contemporary letters refer to her liveliness and "showing her gums when she laughs, which is frequently" and her own diaries and letters discuss her dancing till all hours at balls and show her vivid, passionate, opinionated personality. Also disappointing was Paul Bettany as Lord Melbourne, Victoria's first prime minister: the movie paints him as far too young and Machiavellian, though it does get across his rather laissez-faire attitude toward social reform. However, Rupert Friend does a superb job as Prince Albert, showing him deal with juggling the demands of his uncle, King Leopold of the Belgians, and then find his way in his difficult and anomalous position as husband (and theoretically lord and master) to the Queen of England (who made a point of saying "obey" in the marriage ceremony!)

What made this movie sing for me were its physical aspects. I wholeheartedly agree with the "utterly gorgeous and visually stunning" comments in the ad above: the sets, both indoors and out, were simply breathtaking (not surprising, as Blenheim Palace was among the locations used). And oh my goodness, the costumes!! They were simply wonderful and moreover, historically accurate: someone clearly did their homework here. My teen daughters and I were constantly whispering, "Ooh! Love that dress!" to each other through the movie.

So that's my opinion. Overall, I enjoyed it--three thumbs up from the Doyle household. How about you? What did you think?


QNPoohBear said...

I loved it! I also thought the costumes were stunning and he sets marvelous. I even fell in love with Prince Albert! A full detailed review is on my blog. I'm glad you finally got to see it. Now it's in wide release and I have a gift card to the major cinema, I may have to see it again.

Rachel said...

I've wanted to see this film since I heard of it last year, but unfortunately my city's theaters aren't playing the movie.

Right now, I think the film is limited release. Do you know if they plan on releasing it to all cities eventually?

It would be a shame to have to wait until it comes out to DVD to watch it!!

Marissa Doyle said...

I don't know, Rachel--I did a little Googling, but couldn't find any info on whether it would go out in a broader release--but QNPoohbear says it is in wide release now, so keep an eye out. I hope you'll get to see it.

Sara Leslie said...

I love this film; I keep it on my iPod so I can watch it if I need to pass some time :-)

Dara said...

Argh I'm soooo jealous! The movie played no where close to my hometown :( So now I have to wait for DVD. If you know when it'll come out, please tell us. I am dying to see this movie.

Dara said...

OK, nevermind my comment :P I just found out it is playing nearby although there's only two showtimes. Also, it looks like it will be a solo trip to the theater for me since no one I know wants to see it :P

Oh well--at least it's here and I know what I'm doing tomorrow night!

Joanna said...

I was at first a little iffy about The Young Victoria. After Marie Antoinette, I've tried very hard not to get my hopes up for movies like this.

But I was pleasantly surprised with the movie. I loved it, and can't wait for it come out on DVD. Prince Albert was just perfect in it!

ChaChaneen said...

I haven't seen this yet but anxiously awaiting!

Dara said...

Just saw it tonight and oh my goodness, I loved it. I laughed, I cried...and the music! So moving. A good movie score helps elicit emotion, and it certainly did that for me (although it doesn't take much to make me emotional).

I cannot wait until this movie comes to DVD. :)

Marissa Doyle said...

I'm glad you got to see it after all, Dara! And you're right, the music was excellent and fit perfectly.