Tuesday, October 23, 2012
A ROYAL AFFAIR
A ROYAL AFFAIR tells the story of Christian VII of Denmark, his wife Caroline Mathilde, and his doctor and advisor, Johann Friedrich Struensee, a story of sexual and political intrigue in the court from about 1766 to 1775.
A ROYAL AFFAIR is an important and very timely film, describing the “enlightenment” (around 250 years ago) in terms that illustrate how far we have come, and how far backward we are slipping… again.
Three hundred years ago slavery was condoned, serfdom was the norm, civil liberties and equality for anyone but the elite were almost non-existent; but the excitement in philosophy, the momentum, was for political liberty.
The situation is now almost reversed. Civil liberties and equality for everyone has come a long, long way. But the drum-beat that makes the news here in the US is from the advocates of more money for the rich, less services for the rest. As if it was good for everyone. (Would you like to buy shares in the Brooklyn Bridge?) As if it were moral and positive.
A ROYAL AFFAIR (ARA) stands above other stories of its genre, but it covers ground that seems quite familiar: One character in ARA even remarks directly on the similarity between the story of these characters to the legend of the classic triangle of King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, and Guinevere. There is a “mad” king. And there is a beautiful princess shipped to a foreign land as a young teen to a foreign court with a foreign language and foreign customs (as was Marie Antoinette).
What makes this film special is the relevance of its political message, distinguished by the skill with which it is executed.
This film reminds us that “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” It tells the story of the coups and counter-coups, the politics, the politicians, the bed-fellows, the plotters and the conspirators trying to catch the ear of the King, for and against reform. It tells of the struggle between reform and privilege, between enlightenment and entitlement.
Along with the relevance of the story, the film was made by experts, and was expertly made. The director and co-author of the screenplay, Nikolaj Arcel was a co-writer of the original GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. The screenplay for ARA received a Best Screenplay award at the Berlin Film Festival, and the actors playing the King and the Doctor were also honored with awards. The doctor is played by Mads Mikkelsen, who was seen as Stravinsky in COCO CHANEL & STRAVINSKY, and as Le Chiffre in CASINO ROYALE. Mikkel Boe Følsgaard was terrific in his first big role, while still a student!
The beautiful Alicia Vikander, who plays the central role of Caroline Mathilde, the Queen, was honored as one of the Europe’s Rising Stars, and this fall at HIFF as one of the Variety and HIFF Top Ten Actors to Watch.
Alicia morphs brilliantly from a girlish, barely teen-age British Princess sent across Europe almost alone to marry a Danish King, to a wronged and angry Queen, to an ecstatic lover, to a reformer, to the exiled, dying, but still loving young mother.
A ROYAL AFFAIR
Photo by Eric Roffman
Alicia, who is Swedish, speaks perfect English and is charming, friendly and direct in person.
She will soon be seen as the lover of Domhnall Gleeson (another Rising Star and Top Ten Actor to Watch) in the Keira Knightley ANNA KARENINA.
An historical note:
A ROYAL AFFAIR is based on historical events describing the Danish court of King Christian VI (January 29, 1749 – March 13, 1808).
Christian VII married Caroline Mathilde (who was actually his cousin) on November 8, 1766. After having a son with Christian VII, Caroline had an affair with the King’s doctor, a political reformer, with whom she worked to implement many liberating policies in Denmark. But Christian was mentally ill, and a palace coup by anti-reformists reversed the edicts, and revealed the affair, resulting in Christian divorcing Caroline, and sending her into exile where she died from scarlet fever on May 11, 1775 at the age of just 23.
Nine years later, then in his teens, on April 14, 1784, the son of Caroline and Christian VII took over as effective head of the government in a counter-coup and, becoming King Frederick VI on the death of his father, implemented many reforms, including the abolition of serfdom. (Tho’ later, in the face of economic, political, and military problems, he reversed some of his own reforms.)
A ROYAL AFFAIR was shown at the Hamptons International Film Festival in early October, and can be seen in a screening at the Gold Coast Film Festival – see below – in Port Washington on Sat 10/27)
ARA is opening in the US on November 9. Whoever wins the election a few days earlier, the tension back and forth between enlightenment and entitlement, and the politicians on either side as told in this film, A ROYAL AFFAIR, will be seen as an essential and relevant commentary on the election – on whether the result is a victory for rational enlightenment, or for entitlement and privilege for those who are affluent and consider themselves entitled.
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel
Written by Rasmus Heisterberg and Nikolaj Arcel
From the novel "Prinsesse af blodet" by Bodil Steensen-Leth
... Caroline Mathilde -- The Queen & Queen Mother to the future King
... Johann Friedrich Struensee – The Doctor and Reformer
Mikkel Boe Følsgaard
... Christian VII -- The King
THE HAMPTONS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
THE GOLD COAST INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
A ROYAL AFFAIR – WIKIPEDIA
A ROYAL AFFAIR - IMDB
CLICK ON THE IMAGE
NIKOLAJ ARCEL -- IMDB
ALICIA VIKANDER – IMDB
MIKKEL BOE FØLSGAARD
CHRISTIAN VII OF DENMARK – WIKIPEDIA
THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT – WIKIPEDIA
FREDERICK VI – WIKIPEDIA
THE DICTATOR – WIKIPEDIA
(A film from 1935 about the same events)
Labels: A ROYAL AFFAIR, Alicia Vikander, Bodil Steensen-Leth, Gold Coast Film Festival, HIFF. Hamptons International Film Festival, Mads Mikkelsen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg