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The Young Victoria (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 27, 2010 by  



Beautifully made and Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend are fantastic! The film doesn’t ask for anyone to be an erudite on royalty but for one to enjoy a good ol’ romantic film based on the true love between Queen Victoria and Albert, royalty but also real people who truly loved each other – nothing more and nothing less. Definitely recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2008 GK Films LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Young Victoria

DURATION: 104 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Some Material May Not Be Suitable for Children)

RELEASE DATE: April 20, 2010

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee

Written by Julian Fellowes

Excutive Produced by Colin Vaines

Produced by Sarah Ferguson, Tim Headington, Graham King, Martin Scorsese

Co-Produced by Denis O’Sillivan, Anita Overland

Line Producer/Post-Production Producer: Elisabeth-Ann Gimber

Musi by Ilan Eshkeri

Cinematography by Hagen Bogdanski

Edited by Jill Bilcock, Matt Garner

Casting by Susie Figgis

Production Design by Patrice Vermette

Art Direction by Paul Inglis, Chris Lowe, Alexandra Walker

Set Decoration by Maggie Gray

Costume Design by Sandy Powell

Starring:

Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria

Rupert Friend as Prince Albert

Paul Bettany as Lord Melbourne

Miranda Richardson as Duchess of Kent

Jim Broadbent as King William

Thomas Kretschmann as King Leopold of Belgium

Mark Strong as Sir John Conroy

Jesper Christensen as Baron Stockmar

Harriet Walter as Queen Adelaide

Jeanette Hain as Baroness Lehzen

Julian Glover as Duke of Wellington

Michael Maloney as Sir Robert Peel

Michiel Huisman as Ernest

Genevieve O’Reilly as Lady Flora Hastings

Morven Christie as Watson

Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend star in the lavish historical drama, THE YOUNG VICTORIA. Resolved to establish her authority over those who rule in her stead, a young and inexperienced Queen Victoria (Blunt) draws strength from the love of Albert (Friend), the handsome prince who’s stolen her heart. Based on the courtship and early reign of England’s longest-serving monarch, THE YOUNG VICTORIA is a majestic tale of romance, intrigue and power.

One of the greatest love stories that many people may not be aware of.  That is the story of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert (Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha).  It’s a shame that when British royalty and relationships are focused on in the press, it’s about the disintegration of the relationship, the affairs and the amorality of its participants and anything that the gossip magazines salivate over.

Granted, perhaps this interest in the broken relationships of royalty will continue Ad Infinitum but once in awhile, it’s good to see a storyline that features true love within royalty and what best than to focus on Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the film “The Young Victoria” directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (“Strangers”, “Loser Love”, “The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne”) and a screenplay by actor Julian Fellowes (“Monarc of the Glen”, “Aristocrats”, “Jane Eyre”).   Cinematography is by Hagen Bogdanski (“Tatort, “Der Templer”, “Nachtmusik”) and music by Ilan Eshkeri (“Kick-Ass”, “Centurion”, “Ninja Assassin”).   The film was also produced by Sarah Ferguson (Her Grace Sarah, Duchess of York) and legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese.

“The Young Victoria” is a film that showcases the utmost beauty of that time in history.  Elaborate set designs and costumes and needless to say, the film was recognized by being nominated for three Academy Awards and would win an Oscar for Sandy Powell for “Best Achievement in Costume Design”.  The film would also win a BAFTA Film Award, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award and a few more awards for “Best Costume Design”.

“The Young Victoria” follows the story of how a young Victoria grew up as royalty and how her life was lonely as she grew up under the “Kensington System”, a system of strict rules designed by her mother Victoria, Duchess of Kent (played by Miranda Richardson) and her supposed lover, Sir John Conroy (played by Mark Strong).

The two literally schemed at making Victoria (played by Emily Blunt) weak and dependent on them and thus was isolated from any children while growing up (her only close friend was her dog, a King Charles Spaniel named Dash) and was monitored consistently.  Even to the point where she had to sleep in the same bedroom as her mother until she would become the queen.

This plan was hatched early in the life of Victoria, due to the fact that if elder King George IV would die, Sir John Conroy would be appointed her personal secretary and treasurer.  So, they want her to sign a regency because in no way, does Victoria’s mother or Conroy believe she should rule England.  But Victoria has no desire to do such a thing.  In fact, the more they try to impose on her, she grows resistant towards them.

Meanwhile, many royalty and politicians know that with the successor will be the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, this would be a prime opportunity for their sons to be husband of the Queen and in Belgians, this was a plan for Leopold, King of the Belgians who had planned for many years for his nephew Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (played by Rupert Friend) to romance the Queen, become her husband and thus help his status in power.

Needless to say, when Victoria meets Albert for the first time, she knows that he has been taught well of the things that she enjoys but one thing that they have in common is that they enjoy each other’s company and both know that they are like chess pieces in a game but no matter what, Albert (who is smitten over Victoria) gives her his utmost support.  The two become pen pals and constantly write each other from that point on about what is going on in their lives and for Victoria, who has been isolated, she has found a good friend in Albert and vice versa.

The film details how Victoria became the Queen and how she would deal with her mother and Sir John Conroy but also the man men who would try to get close to her, including William Lamb, the 2nd Viscount of Melbourne (played by Paul Bettany) who is known for his romanticizing women and also his charm and intelligence.  But Prince Albert knowing that William Lamb will try to position himself to become close to the Queen, he knows that his love for her is growing more and more and will do what he can to be closer to Victoria and hope that she will choose him over the other men.

“The Young Victoria” shows us the politics and the personal life that Victoria lived but also shows us how the love between Victoria and Albert would grow and how together, these two would be in love with each other against all odds.

VIDEO:

“The Young Victoria” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1) and the film is just gorgeous to look at.  For one, the costume design by Sandy Powell is simply amazing as with the set design in capturing that part of history.  On Blu-ray, the details are simply wonderful as you can see the various patterns on the costumes, the curtains and just the overall detail of the luxuries around the mansion.  Skin tones are natural, blacks are nice and deep and simply the detail from the wavy hair of Rupert Friend, to the eyes of Emily Blunt are well-captured in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Young Victoria” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  Although “The Young Victoria” is not an action film that would showcase lossless audio continuously, the film utilizes music and ambiance to full effect.  The music, courtesy of Ilan Eshkeri is brought to full life as the orchestra envelops your soundscape.  Surround channels utilize certain instruments that literally, your room does come alive with the beautiful music.  And as for ambiance, from crowd scenes in which you can hear the crowd gasping as King George IV unleashes on the Duchess of Kent to footsteps, leaves rustling, birds chirping in the outdoor sequences.  Overall, clear lossless audio which works well for this type of film.

Subtitles are in English and English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Young Victoria: comes with the following special features:

  • movieIQ and BD-Live – For those who have their Blu-ray player connected to the Internet and can access real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the film.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes –  Featuring 17 deleted/extended sequences not included in the final cut of the film.
  • Making of the Young Victoria – (5:42) The talent talk about how much Victoria loved Albert and the things she had created and left in memorium for her husband.  Producers talk about Victoria and wanting to make things convenient for the audience and a story they can relate to.
  • Lavish History: A Look at the Costumes and Locations – (7:20) An interview with Sandy Powell and creating the costumes for “The Young Victoria” and replicating what Victoria wore.  Using paintings as a reference such as the wedding dress but also adding things of her own to make the costume look right for this film.
  • The Coronation – (2:46) Historical Advisor Alastair Bruce talks about how the coronation segment and making sure the details of the coronation are correct.
  • The Wedding – (2:35) Writer Julian Fellowes discusses the marriage and compatibility of Victoria and Albert.  Sarah Ferguson talks about wanting  to portray Victoria as a beautiful young woman in the film.
  • The Real Queen Victoria – (7:28) The cast talk about Victoria and her life with Albert.  Featuring excerpts from Victoria’s diary and to show us a little about the real Queen Victoria.

As a reviewer who has enjoyed films that have dealt with royalty, especially when done very well, “The Young Victoria” is a film that looks incredible and you can’t help but being enamored by how much was dedicated into making this film look authentic by making sure the cast and many, many extras were dressed to the style of that era but also capturing the look of the royal palace.

For one, it helps that you have a producer like Sarah Ferguson, who is familiar with royalty to produce the film and also having the drive to make this movie come alive.  And also, writer Julian Fellowes, who wanted to make sure that as much of Victoria’s past is captured in the film.  It’s important to note that there are situations from the film that were dramatized for the film (there is an incident in which Prince Albert is shot but this never happened in real life) and a few things that were not exact (ie. during King George’s unleashing on Duchess of Kent, the Duchess was seated next to him, not several chairs down and that afterward, the Duchess including her daughter Victoria were reduced to tears).

Personally, with so much negativity focused on the relationships of royalty, I felt that it was pretty good to see a film that covered a royal family in which the King and her husband were very much in love.  Victoria’s love for Albert is well-known in the UK for her creating various institutions in honor of her husband and other things detailing Victoria’s unconditional love Albert that were covered in the film.

This is not a film that focuses too much on the politics but focuses on the love of Victoria and Albert and thus, for those looking for something deeper than that may be disappointed.  Case in point, film critic Mick LaSalle of sfgate.com writes, “Still, if you want to hate “The Young Victoria,” you’ll have to work at it. Even at its worst (all the many scenes of Victoria and Albert kissing and rolling around in bed) it’s diverting in a soap opera way. If you really want to see this movie, don’t let me talk you out of it.”

It appears that LaSalle was slightly invidious towards the film and the emotional and love story aspect of the film made him consider this film as kitsch.  But aside from his assessment, he was not going to enjoy the film because of its relationship angle. Personally, “The Young Victoria” is a film about a relationship of two people who love each other.  Yes, the two have a scene rolling around in bed but it’s not long nor is it a major focal point in the film that makes the film seem soap-operish at all.

Ty Burr, film critic of the Boston Globe, gives a better explanation of why he doesn’t like the film.  Burr explains, “It’s a muddled but plush experience overall, and if you’re a royalist completist or a historical romantic, you’ll probably have a decent time.”

Burr goes on to say, “But the role calls for a good dollop of British royal naivete, and Blunt, to be blunt, can’t dull her edges enough to play it. We never really believe Sir John or Lord Melbourne or King Leopold constitutes a threat to this girl and, without that, any dramatic suspense evaporates into topiary and velvet.”

I accept Burr’s review in the fact that “The Young Victoria” is a plush experience that romantics will fall in love with.  It is a very good film that focuses on that but in terms of Emily Blunt’s performance, I felt Blunt and also Rupert Friend had tremendous chemistry and both did a wonderful job.  I felt Blunt was more appropriate in her role versus and her performance was actually quite radiant.  It’s important to note that Victoria was a woman who literally grew up with no childhood.  She was literally raised with a strict upbringing and one can wonder, how was she at a young age.

And where other royalty films focus on the monarchy, “The Young Victoria” is a film that doesn’t focus too much on the monarchy that people can identify in the characters of Victoria and Albert.

But I suppose when it comes to dramatic suspense, I must digress as it is true that perhaps the film does not have much in terms of dramatic suspense (thus, the need for the writer to include a false scene involving Albert and an assassin) was needed.  I suppose if earlier in the film, there were more scenes that focused on Victoria’s upbringing by the “Kensington System” that we could have some sort of feeling of why she had a true disdain towards her mother and Sir John Conroy.  But needless to say, by the time Victoria’s a grown up woman about to become a queen, the viewer has less interest in Queen Victoria’s mother and Conroy and are more focused on if Albert can win the affection of Victoria.

Overall, “The Young Victoria” was a beautiful, romantic film.  On Blu-ray, the visual details on the picture quality was gorgeous and the music via lossless was beautiful to the ears.  In some way, because of the context of the film being a romantic film, I felt there was no need to focus too much on the polemicizing.  The film doesn’t ask for anyone to be an erudite on royalty but for one to enjoy a good ol’ romantic film based on the true love between Queen Victoria and Albert, royalty but also real people who truly loved each other – nothing more and nothing less.

Definitely recommended!






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