I just finished watching The Young Victoria. Given that Victoria Day is coming up and I am presently in a British pop culture class, I felt it was too ridiculously appropriate to pass up. This version stars Emily Blunt as young Victoria, some guy who looks really familiar as Prince Albert, Paul Bettany as Lord Melbourne and I believe, Marc Strong as yet another villain. Lots of British actors. Duh. I wonder why... And yet, I did not see Judy Dench. Her manager must have missed this one.
I don't actually know enough about Victoria as a monarch to really comment on her as a ruler. Prior to watching this movie, I knew that she had a very long reign, that she was an important matriarch and that she had a lot of kids. After watching this movie, those points were confirmed. I didn't learn a whole lot more though the movie did indicate that she had a social conscience. So, historically, I can't really comment. Though I do know that sciences, arts and education did very well during the period she was in power.
As a movie, it was a love story. There was the classic love triangle, which Anne Medina assured me (and only me) afterward was movie-magic. Regardless, the triangle is resolved in Albert's favour when he shows himself to be more interested in helping Victoria grow in her opinions and role rather than controlling her. It seemed as though Victoria and Albert had a strong, loving marriage which to me seems very odd. I would have imagined power being a rather contentious issue to negotiate. It can't have been easy to walk the line of "subordinate"wife and monarch, nor could it have been easy to be the husband of a powerful queen. Talk about messing up Victorian gender norms.
Outside of the love story, control is the other issue most explored. At the beginning of the movie, we see Victoria at age 17 being led up and down the stairs, always holding someone's hand. It was apparently a rule that she couldn't climb or descend the stairs without being supported by an adult. Ah, injury prevention. I imagine that if she fell down the stairs, gravity would ensure that both fell. And what if the adult slipped and fell and dragged her down with him/her? Her mother was also painted as being particularly controlling, along with her advisor, played by Marc Strong. And he really is awful. I did not like him at all. Is there a movie where Marc Strong plays someone likeable? Later of course, she feels controlled by various politicians and the media.
Lauren Nerding Off
I thought it was interesting that they showed some of the newspaper coverage surrounding Victoria. At this point in time, with growing literacy rates and a growing middle class, more people were subscribing to papers. More and more people were becoming socially literate and involved which must have been a total pain in the ass for any monarch to get used to. The humble beginnings of our modern paparazzi. Another thing that amused me, all the characters are reading The Times. I'm learning in my class right now that The Times was more of an upper class paper catering to people who actually had time to sit and read. The articles tend to be quite long and are dense. I've read issues of The Times from the 1880s... It's not the easiest to get through when you're used to today's media standards. Still, the obvious class divisions make for an interesting study. (Working class and lower middle class papers were far more concise and less dense as a result of depending on advertisers. They were about getting out the information quickly to a busy readership. In case you wanted to know...)
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If you want to see a movie about royals, see pretty dresses and palaces, and visit the Victorian period for two and a half hours, this movie will suit your fancy. If you're a romantic, you'll likely love this movie. The scenes between Victoria and Albert are very sweet. If you're looking for something with historical substance, move along. If you're looking to learn about Victoria, there are better resources. It's an entertaining movie. I enjoyed it. But the focus really is only on the love story and the teeniest bit on how Victoria adapts to being Queen. There are quick text mentions at the end of the movie that Victoria and Albert reformed education, well fare, that art and science flourished. What I found lacking, is actually seeing her implementing some of those reforms. More than once in the movie she comments that she wants to be an agent of social change for the working poor. Words. Nothing more than words. You don't see them implementing any changes at all. Unless you count changing their clothes... because in that case, they do it quite frequently.
In the end, worth a watch. It's well done. It could be a good springboard if you're looking to peak interest or research a particular topic about Victoria's early life. If you just want something easy to watch, The Young Victoria works.
My final question: Where was Judy Dench?