Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Young Victoria

The Young Victoria (2009)

     One of my favorite romance and royal history movies! Normally I'm skeptical when Hollywood creates a movie about the British monarchy, because more often than not, they get about 50% of the history wrong, but there are a few select films such as The King's Speech and this jewel here that gives the viewer a glimpse into the life of an extraordinary monarch and the person that was always one step behind to catch them if they stumbled.

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Emily Blunt as Princess/Queen Victoria
       In 1837, a few weeks shy of her eighteenth birthday, young and lovely Princess Victoria of Kent has dreams...many dreams. Her greatest dream of all is her own birthright as heiress presumptive to the throne of England and to take this role and live as she sees fit. This does not sit well with her overbearing mother, German born Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and her manipulative financial adviser, Sir John Conroy. They believe her to be too young and inexperienced and want her to sign a regency forum to allow her mother to rule and through her mother, Sir John Conroy will have complete power and control. 

     Although she is young, Victoria is no ones fool, but the young princess is pushed and pulled in every direction from family members and politicians. Her governess, Baroness Lezhan, is her only comfort and support, but even Victoria knows that she cannot carry the burden of the crown on her own. Believing that becoming queen of England's vast empire will gain her freedom from her gilded prison of eighteen years, Victoria has no idea what is in store for her when her uncle dies and she is now left to reign over the rebelling country of England and numerous other countries that are broken from war, poverty and desperation.

Rupert Friend as Prince Albert
     Every cloud has a silver lining, even in the royal family. Victoria finds her own lining in her handsome and generous cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Although their personalities are as different as night and day, Victoria and Albert share a similar loneliness that comes from the loss of parents, the controlling world of their guardians and the royal bloodline they had no choice of being born into. Albert becomes one of the few people in Victoria's life to see her ability and passion to be a great queen.

     Although quiet and shy, Prince Albert is a well educated and brilliant young man whose modern, but strict moral beliefs could change the country if not the world. All he has to do is get people to listen. Victoria herself is taken with him; he understands her in a way no one else in her life has; he has faith in her, but at the same time believes that her vulnerability in her trust towards the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne and her growing vengeance against her mother, may be her downfall. 

Rupert Friend as Prince Albert and Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria
     Of all of Victoria's decisions, her greatest was her decision to marry Albert and make him her equal in all things regarding the running of the country. Of course, it didn't come all of a sudden; like all newlyweds, the young queen and prince have their own fair share of run-ins with prejudiced politicians and annoying relatives, not to mention an empire with grave doubts about Victoria's age and her choice in her foreign born husband.

     Over the course of the film you see Victoria's character develop from a frightened young girl, to a naive queen, a blushing bride and newlywed, to finally a confident young woman, ready for a family of her own (including her growing relationship with her mother) and a country in need of a sovereign to care, guide and protect them. True to his nature, Albert changes very little, but he does become more trusting of the English people and in return gains their respect, as well as the respect of Lord Melbourne and other members of Parliament. Albert also encourages Victoria to forgive her mother and help them to build a relationship they never thought they could have before. 

Rupert Friend as Prince Albert and Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria
     Life is never easy, love is never easy, but finding love in life always makes it worth the pain. The one point this movie came across so well, was that even though we attain our dreams, it doesn't mean they always turn out to be perfect. In Victoria and Albert's case, it was very true. It is a coming of age story for both characters, who are eighteen when first introduced and twenty-two by the ending. 

     Victoria had much to learn in becoming queen and that meant listening to others, finding your own voice and looking toward the future with the life lessons of your past (painful as they may be) to be constant reminders of how far you've come. Albert himself learned that to be accepted, you must first accept others. Although he loathed Melbourne in the beginning, he also respected him as a prime minister, but also made very clear that he himself can be a force to be reckon with.

Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria and Rupert Friend as Prince Albert
     Stunning and irresistibly romantic, this film may have had some mild artistic license regarding Victoria and Albert's relationship. For one, they did not fall in love when they first met and Albert himself married Victoria out of duty. It was only after their first child was born did he eventually coming around to loving her dearly, and remained devoted and faithful to her for their twenty-one years of marriage.   

     If you are a costume lover (like me), this film is eye candy run amok! Victoria's dresses alone are visually stunning and add to the youth and innocence of her character. All the women's clothes range from outrageous to moderate depending on their rank and inform the characters very well. The men's costumes are just as incredible and it's interesting seeing Albert's change the higher he gets on the social ladder. There is only one word for the music...romantic!!! Almost to a fault; Victoria and Albert's love theme alone is enough to make you fall in love with the film. 

     Seeing Victoria's growth from princess to queen and then eventually, wife and mother, was documented very well. Albert is the perfect historic romantic hero who I believe was very much accurate to the true character of Prince Albert. So for anyone you loves history, royalty, romance or a costume drama or any of the above for that matter, this is definitely a movie that's worth the watch.

Victoria and Albert's Family in 1846
 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

The children: from L-R are Prince Alfred, Prince Edward (the Prince of Wales), Princess Alice, Princess Helena (the baby) and Princess Victoria (Vicky)

If you look close enough, you can see Albert almost touching Victoria's hand....

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