Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Monday, December 28, 2009

Movie: The Young Victoria

While this movie has yet to reach my area, I am really looking forward to it! I have a fascination with European history, especially monarchs within England. My release over this past summer, Love Will Bloom included a small snippet with Queen Victoria in it. Naturally, when I heard there was a movie coming out about her, I was excited, and its a romance which makes it even better. As you all know I'm also a history buff. An interview with Sarah Ferguson (producer of the movie and current Duchess of York) showed that she made it very clear the true history was told, and not any frivolous scenes thrown in for entertainment.

From the press release.... The Young Victoria is written by Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park, Vanity Fair) and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.). Producers on the film are Graham King, Martin Scorsese, Tim Headington and Sarah Ferguson.

Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) delivers a stunning performance as Queen Victoria in the turbulent first years of her reign. Rupert Friend (Pride & Prejudice) portrays Prince Albert, the suitor who wins her heart and becomes her partner in this spectacular romance. The film also features Paul Bettany (Iron Man, The Da Vinci Code), Miranda Richardson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Jim Broadbent (The Damned United, The Chronicles of Narnia), Thomas Kretschmann (Valkyrie), and Mark Strong (Tristan & Isolde, Oliver Twist).

The Young Victoria chronicles Queen Victoria's ascension to the throne, focusing on the early turbulent years of her reign and her legendary romance and marriage to Prince Albert.

Here is the trailer:

The Duchess of York, gave an interview and I thought, you all might be interested in a few particular things she had to say...

Did you have any hesitations with your daughter, Princess Beatrice, taking part in the film? Whose idea was it for her to get involved?

Both of them are so proud about this film that they of course loved sitting going on set and when they were on set of course it was then decided that Beatrice could go and do that and she jumped at it with both feet. She came from school where she did drama so for her it was just big dresses and just being on set. What this film has taught me just is how hard Hollywood works. Hollywood is not just entertainment, it’s about the behind the scenes, what everyone does. I’ve never seen such hard work. It’s really extraordinary and has to be heralded. I often took myself, go to the cinema and look at the big screen, walk out and go yeah that’s good but never contemplate just what it takes. I think it’s incredible. I’m happy with whatever both girls decide to do because I believe a real mother should be there to guide, be a role model, and to listen, but never to preach or teach.

What is Beatrice’s impression of the whole experience?

I think Beatrice would like to be in that century and I keep trying to tell her well it’s not going to happen dear. She really is so responsible; she was born to be a princess. She’s got it in her blood. She just has a sense of duty and responsibility that I’ve never seen in another human being.

You’ve written two novels about the life of Queen Victoria – is there a particular connection you feel you have with her?

I find her sense of cheekiness. I find her sense of humor. I find that she’s so strong and bold and I often have days when I allow people to push me around and I often think what would she do. There’s no way she’d put up with it so why am I?

Actress, Emily Blunt, who play Queen Victoria had this to say...

How much of this was a character study, compared with taking creative license?

It’s funny cause I felt like I had a free reign with her because nobody knows about the youthful side of Queen Victoria, the love and the passion and I felt like no one really knew about that so I think there was an element of me sort of saying well prove it to me, prove to me that she wouldn’t have sat like this or said that, said something in that tone of voice, but I think I wanted at the same time to do her justice cause it was very well documented, that whole side of her life. So everything that I read about her wouldn’t necessarily been read about by most people but, but I thought it was important to do justice to what I had read which presented her as this remarkable girl who had such strength and fire in her and literally everything that you see in the movie, virtually everything was true almost to the word.

You were allowed access to Victoria’s private diaries and letters – how did that help you form the basis for your role?

The diaries were the most helpful because she was so open in them and you know very expressive and would go into great detail about people or what she thought about them and who she hated, who she liked, and even with Albert she’d talk about the way he looked in such such detail. The curl of his mustache…was like she’d rapture about it for a paragraph and so it was really helpful to me to delve into that cause I could start to hear her voice in a way.

What other special research/training did you do to prepare?

I learned to side saddle a horse ride and I learned how to waltz. Both of them were frightening experiences but I overcame them in the end. It was a bit of a task but we did alright.

(I wanted to pop in here and say that even writers have to do this sort of thing. The best way to write a scene is to experience it in some way, whether that be through actual practice, lots of reading, interviewing or watching videos.)

Is there one scene in the film that you are particularly fond of?

It’s funny, I really like the scene where she meets the privy counsel for the first time where she addresses the room full of sort of 60 old men who are there to judge her really, and doubtful of whether this young girl can..is up to the task. As an actress when there’s so much to play with that you know she’s terrified, she needs to assert herself, this is a huge moment for her, she knows that they doubt her, she’s feeling very vulnerable about the fact that her dearest uncle has just died and it was so much to play with that I really enjoyed that scene, I just really enjoyed it. I thought it was her really coming into her own. I think on the day that I read about it in biographies, she really did surprise them and they talked about the strength and the femininity but also that she was someone that was quite hard to read and I found that interesting that she was actually quite an ambiguous girl. You couldn’t quite figure out what she was thinking so there’s something quite powerful in that. That’s the thing and that’s what I loved about the film. You see the private side and the public side and she lead such a duel existence as you know so many of the monarchs do.

Actor, Rupert Friend who plays Prince Albert, was interviewed as well. Here are few things he had to say...

It seems as though you enjoy working on period pieces (The Young Victoria, Pride and Prejudice, The Libertine, The Last Legion, etc.) - what attracts you to these types of films? Do you prefer period pieces to modern day films?

I think it’s just the stories that have come my way that have interested me and in a sense there’s an element of kind of I guess time travel about it that I really like. Being able to really go back in time and see how people lived in other periods is really exciting for me. As different as it can be from my own experiences the better.

To prepare for the role of Prince Albert, you took dancing, calligraphy, archery lessons, and even worked with a vocal coach to capture an accurate German accent. Out of all the lessons, what did you find the most challenging to learn? What was the easiest to pick-up?

The hardest was the piano because I had to learn a piece of Shubert which Albert plays for, well he doesn’t actually play it for her but he plays it in the movie, and that was really really hard but the most rewarding as well because when I cracked it, it was the best feeling ever, so that was the hardest. The easiest in a way actually was the archery. The guy who was teaching me was amazing and he made me my own bow and my own arrows. It came weirdly quite naturally the whole sharp shooting thing.

I leave you withthis particular scene in The Young Victoria that reminds me a great deal of another great queen who also struggled with being a woman and holding the crown...

Can you guess which queen I speak of?

I hope you all enjoy the movie, I'm chomping at the bit to see it!



Leslie Carroll said...

Eliza, this is a terrific post -- so comprehensive! I saw the movie a couple of days ago and blogged about it on my Royal Affairs blog (www.royalaffairs.blogspot.com) and it's really interesting to match what the interviewees said to what's on the screen or at least to my impressions of the film.

I'm guessing that I may have a slightly different impression than a lot of moviegoers because I read so much about the young Victoria and her courtship/early years of marriage with Albert, that I knew the story really well (so I know where they did in fact detour from the facts).

Oh, and you are so right about writers learning how to do what their characters do, so we gain a more thorough understanding of the activity! Once it's in our bones, we can really write about it with verisimilitude.

librarypat said...

What a wonderful informative post. I had not heard much about the movie nor did I realize that Sarah Ferguson had anything to do with it. The interviews and the clips have convinced me this is a must see at the theater, not to wait for the DVD.

Eliza Knight said...

Thank you Leslie! I'm jealous that you saw the movie! I can't wait for it to come to my area. I have the movie Victoria and Albert that was made by the BBC, and I plan on watching it this weekend. Have you seen that one?

I will have to visit you post! Happy new year to you!

Eliza Knight said...

Thank you librarypat! Please let me know what you think! Happy new year :)

Genella deGrey said...

I loved this post, Eliza!
I'm a huge Victoriana fan (clothes, manners, etc)
Thank you!

Mary McCall said...

Wonderful post, Eliza! Now I'm looking forward to the movie too.

Adrianna Wingate said...

OMG! I cannot wait it see this movie. Is it Queen Elizabeth I that you were thinking of?

Among my movie favs are Elizabeth, Elizabeth I(Cate Blanchett, both)
The Duchess(Keira knightly), The other Boelyn Girl, and I love anything written by Phillipa
Gregory. Great post. Sorry just finding you!