Sunday, February 24, 2013
A Royal Affair 2012
A Royal Affair is a fabulous dramatization of a true story about Caroline Mathilde, a younger sister of King George III of England who was wed to the unstable King Christian of Denmark at the ages of 15 and 17 respectively. If this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, then you know where this story is headed.
The young Queen quickly finds out that she has married a bit of a whack-job, but endears herself to Denmark by quickly providing a royal heir.
Her loony King Christian then announces that he is leaving for an extended tour of Europe, to which she replies the Danish equivalent of "So? What do I care?". Oh, did I forget to mention that this film is in Danish with English subtitles? They would actually have been speaking German in the Danish Court of the time, but it's a Danish film so let's not quibble about that.
Christian brings back a certain German Dr. Johann Struensee with him from his Grand Tour, who as well as befriending and acting as a calming influence on the young King, brings some radical notions to Denmark like smallpox vaccination, freedom for serfs and the abolition of torture. He is able to use the King's power to drag Denmark into the "modern era" of The Enlightenment. This film takes place around the time of the American and French Revolutions to give some context.
Dr. Struensee finds a kindred spirit for his progressive ideas in the young Queen and, well, let's just say that the history books seem to agree that her second child, a daughter, was fathered by the good doctor!
I really enjoyed this film. It doesn't have a happy ending, it is filmed almost entirely in Danish with English subtitles and is a full 2 hours long. However I was riveted for the full 2 hours. The Squire (my husband) got a little antsy near the end and made a comment about how he kept expecting blood to drip from the corner of Struensee's eye (Mads Mikkelsen was the fabulous villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royal). Mikkelsen is verrrry attractive as the thinking woman's sex symbol of the 18th century in this film. He keeps repeatedly being voted Sexiest Man in Denmark, to which he replied "I'd rather be voted 'the sexiest man in Denmark' than 'the ugliest man in Denmark'." Hear, hear!
Anyway, if you enjoy a gorgeous, slow political romance then this is your film. Just make sure you see it with someone who is also into that kind of film. The Squire was OK with this one but only just! :)
P.S. This film is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars tonight. I will be rooting for it to win!