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Seen this evening with big_daz at the Light.

This is definitely a very patriotic and royalist film, which is no surprise given that one of its producers was Sarah Ferguson. That's not necessarily a criticism, and it's certainly entirely in keeping with the position Queen Victoria already occupies in the nation psyche. But I'm just saying that anyone who wants to see a measured critique of either Victoria specifically or the institution of the monarchy more generally should probably give this film a miss.

Personally, I didn't mind it in the least. Partly, this is because I am a royalist anyway,1 and partly it's because, since Queen Victoria was a woman, the patriotic fervour also had a distinctly feminist slant. There was a lot of emphasis on her casting off the influences of the various power-hungry men who were seeking to control her, and establishing a style of rulership of her own which was ultimately better for the nation. But while at one level this could be read as "See, you greedy and corrupt politicians try to sully the golden purity of our wondrous monarchy, but its true nobility prevails!", a secondary reading more along the lines of "Take that, you patriarchal fools!" put in a very healthy appearance.

Furthermore, the score centred throughout around perhaps the most patriotic and royalist piece of music ever written: Handel's Zadok the Priest. Which I love, and which we sang in the Sacred Wing in December 2007, and which really made the passion rise and kept making me want to yell out "GOD SAVE THE KING! LONG LIVE THE KING!" (or queen, even) at the appropriate moments. Add to that the beautiful camerawork, with lots of very good use of imbalanced shots in particular (i.e. the main focus of the shot is off to the left or right of the screen, not in the centre - I don't know if there's a better technical term for that), and a script which was sparing and naturalistic, conveying a great sense of the volumes left unspoken (as you would expect from Julian Fellowes, who was also responsible for Gosford Park), and you're in business, really.

So it's not one for those seeking an intellectual challenge or rigorous debate, but if you're up for a bit of QWEEN VICTORRIA IS TEH ACES, it makes for a good night out. And if at least one member of the cast doesn't feature in the next Honours List, I will eat my hat.


1. Essentially because I think that the monarchy offers a valuable cultural focus which helps to bind us together as a community, and that an important part of the nature of that focus is a vivid and tangible link with our past - which, as a historian, I obviously consider to be a particularly important component of our cultural identity.

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
kernowgirl
Mar. 12th, 2009 11:46 pm (UTC)
I like your reasoning for being a royalist. I'm pro the monarchy too, but the reason I always give is that I like the Queen better than the Prime Minister. As a face of Britain for the world in general, I've always felt much safer behind hers than whoever happens to be in number ten at the moment. I also happen to like and respect Prince Charles (which doesn't appear to be the popular view), so it looks like my leanings may continue for many years yet.
megamole
Mar. 13th, 2009 08:55 am (UTC)
*applause*
the monarchy offers a valuable cultural focus which helps to bind us together as a community, and that an important part of the nature of that focus is a vivid and tangible link with our past - which, as a historian, I obviously consider to be a particularly important component of our cultural identity.

Couldn't agree more, Penny.

Once again you are made of win.
big_daz
Mar. 13th, 2009 09:16 am (UTC)
I enjoyed the film too- thanks for joining me.

I too am a Monarchist due to the tradition aspect, plus the philosphy that if it ain't broke, it don't need fixing.

I have great respect for the integrity of HMQ, more integrity than the likes of an El Presidente Blair or Thatcher would ever possess ('cos lets face it, the presidents of a lot of democratic rebublics turn out to be clapped-out politicians).
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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