We are entertained...
The hard faced and hard hearted ruler of an empire. That's the picture most people have of Queen Victoria. We have seen the most of her on screen in the post-Albert years.
So this film decides to look at something different, events (surprisingly enough from the title) from the life of the young Victoria, the vast majority of which are taken from her own diaries. The script concentrates on her younger years, from needing to be accompanied up and down her own staircase by an assistant, to battling her mother's advisor Sir John Conroy and his plans for a regency, and finally becoming Queen just after her 18th birthday. And then there's the matter of Prince Albert and the scheming of Lord Melbourne...
Video and Audio
As usual nowadays, an excellent 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is presented. Everything looks crisp and sharp and there are some very nice locations used here. Everything looks regal, opulent, period and lavish. Imagine a classic BBC period drama on the big screen.
Again, as you would expect, a very good DD5.1 soundtrack. Not a lot of audio action here, but a fantastic score which is also suitably regal and period.
I sat and watched this in the cinema. And whilst I was watching, the thought occurred to me that there would be some great extras on the DVD (reviewing DVDs for ten years does that to you). So I was heartened to see extras listed on the disc. But...
They are all little, itty bitty pieces which promise to talk about the thing in their title, but most of the time don't. They seem to have quite long scenes from the film tacked on at the beginning and the end. So you might get about 2-3 minutes of actual extra footage in each one. What's the point of that? And again, there's no "Play All features" function, so after 5 minutes you are back at the menu waiting to select the next thing to watch.
There could have been so much of interest here, instead we get a brief snippet of what might have been (snatches of interviews with most of the leads, a quick bit with the director and writer, and a brief chat with Sarah Ferguson who was one of the producers). There could have been a hour long documentary with some of the background to the royal history on display here. Maybe they'll release a Blu-ray in a year's time with everything else on it. Oh what a cynic I am...
I really enjoyed this film at the cinema. It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon's viewing. It's interesting that this DVD can be purchased for the same price as just one of the tickets to watch it at the cinema, but that's the way things are nowadays.
Essentially, it's a simple enough story, well told. The script is good and Emily Blunt is superb as Victoria, thoroughly believable as the vulnerable yet strong young Queen, warm when required, cold if the situation calls for it. Rupert Friend is not bad as Albert, but it is elsewhere in the cast that the rest of the interesting performances appear. Paul Bettany's Lord Melbourne is suitably slimy, as you would expect from a politician of the day. Miranda Richardson (Who's Queen? Oh, not me this time?) is perfect as Victoria's mother, and fellow Blackadder performer Jim Broadbent (who played Albert in Blackadder's Christmas Carol) turns in a great performance as the King who is hanging in there until Victoria is ready to be Queen.
Whilst there were a few factual inaccuracies (chiefly the assassination attempt, where in real life the shots missed completely), the team behind the film (including producers Martin Scorsese and Sarah Ferguson, and I never thought I'd write that sentence) have largely resisted the temptation to "Hollywood up" the story and it is a very nice film. And it's certainly not "too German" as our current monarch apparently described it! How a film that's essentially about the last monarch from the House of Hanover who married someone from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha can be described as "too German" is beyond me!