When we think of Queen Victoria, we think of a short and stout old lady dressed in black mourning gowns and old-fashioned hats, with a stern expression on her face. But Queen Victoria wasn't always liked that. When she was young, she was lively and fun, with a romantic disposition and a penchant for dancing. Many a night she spent partying into the wee hours of the morning after inheriting the crown. And she was in love with a dashing German prince who felt the same way about her. That's the Queen Victoria that's portrayed in The Young Victoria, and which can shock those who see her only as a sad, old widow.
The movie opens with Queen Victoria's coronation. Here, the young Queen starts reminiscing about how different her life was just one year earlier. She had lived a quiet, secluded, strictly controlled life at Kensington Palace (the poor girl couldn't even walk down the stairs without an escort holding her hand!). In addition, her mother, the Duchess of Kent, and her ambitious adviser had tried to make her sign a regency order so that they could govern for her, but she stubbornly refused. King William IV died just after her eighteenth birthday, making a regency unnecessary and Victoria was crowned Queen.
But life as Queen wasn't all fun and play and soon, Victoria found herself embroiled in political rows. She also realized she needed a husband and her uncle, King Leopold of Belgium, arranges her marriage to her first cousin Albert. Although the marriage was arranged, Victoria and Albert loved each other very much. Their romance is handled very well. There aren't any passionate sex scenes, but instead the movie shows how they fell in love and how dedicated they were to each other. However, not much else really happens in the movie. For this reason, some may find it slow, even boring, but personally I enjoyed every minute of it as it is a fairly accurate portrayal of what really happened at the time. And let's face it, life in the nineteenth century was slow.
Of course there are some historical inaccuracies. Although several attempts were made on Victoria's life during her long reign, Prince Albert wasn't wounded in any of them. In the movie, instead, he takes a shot to protect his wife, which is a way to let the audience know how deeply he loved her. Also, King Leopold I of The Belgians wasn't as pushy or selfish as he is portrayed in the movie. He may have arranged Victoria's marriage but he was also an affectionate uncle who cared for her and often gave her advice. Overall, though the movie didn't take too many artistic liberties and I'm glad they didn't made up and twisted too many events in order to sensationalize the story and make it more appealing to our modern sensibilities. History is a lot more entertaining when it's left untouched imo.
I was a bit skeptical, instead, on the casting of Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria and Rupert Friend as Albert. Emily Blunt is one of my favourite actresses, but she's too tall and thin to resembled the short and stout monarch. But what she lacked in looks, she made up in her personality. Her Victoria is stubborn, lively and very convincing. Friend is wonderful too. He perfectly captures Albert's German mannerism, his love for his wife and his frustrations at being just the Queen's husband.
Like many people have commented, this movies is a feast for the eyes. The luxurious costumes, the marvelous settings... if the movie bores you, you could just turn the audio off and enjoy the beautiful images on the screen. Although then you will also miss out the soundtrack which is pretty good. Overall, The Young Victoria is a wonderful, historically accurate story of love and politics, with a great cast and amazing costuming that I highly recommend to all fans of costume drama fans.
Have you seen The Young Victoria? What did you think of it?