I have always had a thing about history. It has always intrigued me and made me wonder what life was like at that place and during that time period. Recently, I’ve been curious about the British Royal Family and their history. I have been watching a few different documentaries about royal traditions and the history of the British Throne on Netflix. During my browsing, I came across 2009’s The Young Victoria. As a film that stars Emily Blunt as the titular Queen Victoria between the years of 1836 and 1840 during her rise to the throne, up to the birth of her first daughter, it caught my interest.
Of course, there were some liberties that were taken with the life of Queen Victoria. The most notable is the assassination attempt in 1840. Here it is shown with Prince Albert being shot when in reality no one was wounded. The other liberty that set with me the most was the ages of both Lord Melbourne and Sir John Conroy. While at this time they were 58 and 51 respectfully they were portrayed by Paul Bettany and Mark Strong who at the time were 38 and 46. Though Strong looks like he could portray someone five years older, Bettany does not look like he is 58 during this film.
Besides the aforementioned actors, The Young Victoria stars Rupert Friend as Prince Albert, Jim Broadbent as King William IV, Thomas Kretschmann as King Leopold I of Belgium, and Julian Glover as the Duke of Wellington. The cast actually surprised me as they are all high profile actors and I had no idea this film was released almost 10 years ago. Each one put in a performance that felt grounded and real. Specifically, Paul Bettany was able to take each scene he was in and make himself stand out. Be it the scenes with Emily Blunt talking about Queen Victoria’s Ladies of the Bedchamber or with Mark Strong and Miranda Richardson about Sir John Conroy not being welcome at court, he is able to come off as likeable and down to earth, and always out for himself.
Emily Blunt puts in an amazing performance, as well. She put a youthful joy to Queen Victoria that is not normally attributed to her, even if you have a hard time believing that she is 17 at the movie’s start. Blunt’s interactions with Rupert Friend has a chemistry that really makes the love between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert feel real. Other than seeing this courtship, the main mover of the story is the political drama of the time. A young queen who has been cut off from the royal court by her mother, she doesn’t know who to trust when she does become queen. She quickly learns how almost everyone is trying to manipulate her.
Since The Young Victoria was released in 2009, it was eligible for consideration at the 82nd Academy Awards. While it didn’t get nominated for any major categories like Best Picture or Best Actress, it was nominated for three of the technical categories, and for Best Makeup and Best Art Direction. And it would go on to win for Best Costume Design. Being set in the late 1830’s, all of the costuming needed to be recreated. Costuming is one of those things that can instantly date your film as clothing continuously evolves over time.
Looking at what goes into recreating the outfits that would have been worn by the people of that period, what they were able to do with the costume designs is amazing. From the top hats and hairstyles to the dresses and slacks, each outfit looks like it was pulled right out of the time period. The outfits and styling only served to pull you more into the story that the actors were telling and never once did it pull me out of the story.
The Young Victoria is a film that can be difficult to get into as its story is full of political drama with little physical action. It makes it slow at times while you are contemplating what each character had said and what their final goal is. The film ran a little long and, while getting near the end of it, there were a few moments where I thought the film was over only to find out there was a scene or two left at the end.
I was interested in the political intrigue and how each person tried to manipulate Queen Victoria throughout her young life. Even with the showing of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s wedding night, this film is rated PG and is suitable for most audiences. The political aspects that tie the film together will go over the head of most younger viewers and while the subtleties of the court were interesting to me. Though, I can see how it would turn some people off this film. With all of that said, I do recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in British history or anyone who enjoys Biopics.