Sunday, June 01, 2008

Reel People: Emily Blunt is Queen Victoria

The movie is The Young Victoria and is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée with a screenplay written by Oscar winner Julian Fellows.

Victoria of the United Kingdom

Queen Victoria was born May 24, 1819 the one and only child of her 50 year old father the Duke of Kent (4th of 5 sons) and his widow-wife Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She was named Alexandrina Victoria, and called Drina within the family. Not everyone was in favor of this name choice.

At the time of her birth she was the fifth in line to the throne, and George III was on the throne. Her father died less than a year after she was born. King George III died 6 days later. Victoria's childless uncle George IV took the throne. When he died in 1830, his next oldest brother Fredrick had also died. The third son of King George III, William IV took the throne. (William IV had many illegitimate children, but no royal heir, thus Victoria was heir to the throne).

Shortly after turning 18, William IV died and Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom upon which she became the longest reigning British monarch. Her coronation took place June 28, 1838. (Hanover did not allow women to be on the throne so Ernest Augustus became king of Hanover). Because of her young age Victoria relied very much in her first years on Lord Melbourne, the Whig Parties Prime Minister.

Queen Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert in February of 1940. Albert was not only the Queen's love interest, but also became her principal political advisor, dramatically decreasing Lord Melbourne's influence.

She had her first of 9 children in 1940, during this time there were two assassination attempts on her life by the young male Edward Oxford (later attempts where made by John Francis, John William Bean, William Hamilton, Robert Pate, as well as the Irish Jubilee assassination attempt in her 50th year of reign).

Prince Albert died in 1961 of poor sanitary conditions at Windsor castle. From this point forward Queen Victoria always wore black as a statement of mourning and was often referred to as the Widow of Windsor and became much more reserved from the public eye. There is much speculation and unclarity about the relationship and potentially secret marriage that Queen Victoria later had with her manservant John Brown.

Under Queen Victoria, relationships were formed with Ireland, a country she loved. She also had colonial influence, including becoming the Empress of India in 1876. She also helped in the transition of the constitutional monarchy that has defined much of the system we see today. More symbolic, and less political the middle class could relate with Victoria who removed much of the negative stigma of sexual, political, violent, and financial scandal previously associated with the crown. The time period the Victorian Period is named after the period of her long reign as queen.

Queen Victoria died in January 1901 of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 81. Per her request was buried in a white dress with her wedding veil and also per her request the people of Britain wore bright colors, namely white and purple as a way of honoring her death. She was succeeded as King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India by her son Edward VII.

The Young Victoria

The film, The Young Victoria, focused on the early years of Queen Victoria's reign, and features the up and comer Emily Blunt (Devil Wear's Prada) as the young Queen. The role of Prince Albert is played by Rupert Friend (Mr. Wickham in Pride & Predjudice). The film also features Academy Award winner Jim Brodbent as King William, Paul Battany as Lord Melbourne, two time Oscar nominee Miranda Richardson as the Dutchess of Kent.

Sometimes, a period piece is just what Oscar is looking for. Will Emily Blunt get some critical attention, and perhaps even an Oscar win for her portrayl of this Real (Reel) Person?


crackers and cheese said...

Hmm, can't tell if it will Oscars, but that is a pretty good cast. In 8th grade, I wrote a paper about the Victorian Era, but lost 5 points for not mentioning Prince Albert. Knowing a little something about this monarch, I'm pretty interested in this film.

Anonymous said...

Beside the last big productions about royalty in ancient centuries are failed in favor of critics and audience (MArie Antoinette, ETG, The other Boleyn girl and Memoirs of a geisha-yes That film is not about royalty but it's a epic ancient film adapted from a selling novel). I have hope for that reasons:

1. It's a Martin Scorsese production and unleast he has always an interesting proyect. I remember "The age of Innocence"
2. The screenplay is from Julian Fellowes. "Gosford Park" and "separate lies"...
3. The actors: Emily Blunt, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent and Paul bettany

Terence Towles Canote said...

Maybe it's just me, but Emily doesn't much resemble the queen... Regardless, it'll be interesting to see.