January 2nd, we went to the Downer Theater to see “Young Victoria.” I was particularly interested in this film because I had recently read “We Two,” the biographical historical book by Gillian Gill which also covers Victoria and Albert’s marriage and the events leading up to it. Overall, I found the movie to be quite faithful to documented historical detail as far as it is known, with one quite significant deviation from fact for dramatic effect concerning the 1840 assassination attempt by Edward Oxford. Since many of the principals’ letters and journals were never published, dialog is, of course, dramatized, but seems generally plausible.
Emily Blunt is very good as a young and vivacious Victoria, who makes it reasonable that Albert would become loyal to her for herself rather than solely the access to political power and wealth she represented. The role of Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) shows us Albert as Victoria saw him—at first clumsy, but later charming, warm, and a true friend and lover. Of course, there were issues; Gill’s book is subtitled, “Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals,” and the movie does a good job of portraying the myriad competing tensions and demands that affected the life of the young Queen.
Before her accession to the throne, there was a low-level tug-of-war between her mother, the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson) and the dictatorial Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) on the one hand, and Victoria’s uncle, King William (Jim Broadbent), which occasionally broke out into open feuding. Once Victoria becomes Queen, the battlefield switches from family to politics, as the Whigs, represented by Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany); the Tories, lead by Sir Robert Peel (Michael Maloney); and King Leopold of Belgium (Thomas Kretschmann) all attempt to control and use Victoria for better or worse. The movie also gives accurate, if brief, portrayals of the activities of “back room” characters such as Victoria’s champion, Baroness Lehzen, and Leopold’s “fixer”, Baron Stockmar (Jeanette Hain and Jesper Christensen).
The costumes, hairstyles, and settings all seemed very accurate to our eyes, which added greatly to the effect of the movie.
All in all, a very nicely done biopic which details a very important but neglected period of history and makes it very accessible. Highly recommended.