by Rick Grant
In 1837, an 18 year old teenage girl ascended to the British throne as Queen Of England, literally overnight. In fact, she had to be awakened to be told the news. Thus began her 64 year reign (1837-1901) as England’s most respected and accomplished queen.
Filmmaker, Jean-Marc Vallee has taken the factual content of young Victoria’s first year on the throne and created a finely crafted film featuring celebrated British actress Emily Blunt as Young Victoria. The premise involves Victoria’s sudden rise to power as her court underlings thought that they could use her naivete against her to turn her into a political puppet.
Fortunately for the people of Britain, Victoria was determined to be her own person and not be handled by scheming courtiers. Of course, head strong Victoria had much to learn about the throne and her love life, which involved Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) through long distance correspondence.
The eloquent letter writing between two lovers was an effective courtship in the midst of the Victorian era. Today, romance blooms via the Internet for the same reason–the written word is a pathway to the soul.
Julian Fellows skillfully written screenplay uses the content of the letters and the authentic dialogue to build the sexual tension between Victoria and Prince Albert to critical mass, as Victoria learns to be queen on the job.
Victoria wisely hired Lord Melbourne (Paul Bethany) as her closest confidant. He had no hidden agenda so he could act as both a sounding board and a go between to fend off the plots against her.
Indeed, Victoria was a fast learner and soon earned the respect of her staff and subjects. She was public spirited and wanted to make a difference to close the vast chasm between the rich and poor.
During Victoria’s first year, she quickly established respect and confidence and refused to be manipulated. Vallee’s brightly lit mosaic and colorful costumes take the viewer back to Victorian times–a study in pomp, circumstance, and puritan mores.
Emily Blunt’s portrayal is multidimensional and brilliantly executed. She takes Victoria from a clueless teenager to being the Queen of England with expert subtlety and deft acting verve.
Of course, Prince Albert was frustrated that his courtship with Victoria seemed endless and unconsummated. Still, he loved her and continued to shower her with romantic letters, which Victoria cherished. In that time, romance was locked in the minds of the lovers until that special day when they finally had sex. And the chorus sang the refrain, “Oh sweet mystery of life I have found you.”
Somehow the couples of that time muddled through their first sexual encounters since there was no manual or scientific information to reference. Masters and Johnson didn’t come along until the late 1950s. Just the anticipation must have been enough for the lovers to reach orgasm. By the time they got all those clothes off, it was over.
Rubert Friend portrayed Prince Albert as pompous and pushy. But, that was just the type of man Victoria needed to be her life partner. Since they both were high strung, they must have had terrible fights, but the make-up sex must have been great. They ended up having two children and were happy with each other.
Prince Albert was the German son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Albert tragically died at age 42 of Typhus. After Victoria’s death in 1901, she was succeeded by her son Prince Albert, Jr., who then became King Edward VII.
After Albert’s untimely death, Victoria went into a prolonged period of mourning. However, when she reemerged into public life in 1860, she was beloved by her subjects for her humanitarian work to ease the suffering of the sick and poor.
This movie is not for everyone, but lovers of period films that take an entertaining look at historical figures will enjoy this movie. It’s a quality film for art house devotees.
YOUNG VICTORIA Movie Review
by Rick Grant