mandag den 20. januar 2014

Mini-Review: A Royal Affair

Today I'm gonna talk about the pride and joy (at least in my opinion) of danish movie culture.
As a dane, I am of course not aware of how widely known this movie is, outside of Denmark, but when it came out it was a big deal! Which felt really strange to me, as usually historical movies doesn't really get that much attention. This was the first real big historical movie production in Denmark, though. As soon as I found out that for this project they were gonna use the story of Caroline Mathilde, Struensee and our crazed king Christian, I knew that I had no choice but to go see this movie in my local movie theater. It is one of my favorite eras of danish history, if not my most favorite one. 

The story takes place in the mid to late 18th century, and is about how the german physician Johann Friedrich Struensee changes Denmark through his influence on the crazy king of the danes, Christian the 7th. The king behaves like a spoiled child. A popular example of this was something that an english traveller witnessed in Copenhagen- According to him, the king was throwing furniture and other valuables out from a balcony to the masses, though we don't get to see this in the movie. Struensee becomes a fatherly figure and best friend to the king, who has married his own cousin from Wales, Princess Caroline Mathilde. Caroline Mathilde is an intelligent young woman, fascinated by the forbidden works of Rousseau. She finds her equal in the new royal physician. They start a love affair, and plan to transform danish society in a more progressive and liberal direction. For this, they use the naive king's influence to get their reforms past the royalist government. As far as I remember, they even implement free speech this way!

How all of this plays out, you'll have to see for yourself! The movie is Ah-Ma-Zing, and I'm not even saying this because I'm danish and I love the story. The actors and actresses are talented and believable.
What I find to be quite impressive, too, is the many grey-zones that the movie puts to good use, if you just keep your eyes open and have a tiny bit of historical understanding of society and norms. The movie doesn't fall into the trap of "It's Good vs. Evil". King Christian 7th is shown as being both cruel and selfish, but he is never evil. He wants to do good and he wants to be a good king. It's very apparent that Struensee is a good influence on him. Struensee isn't portrayed as being a saint, either. He has his faults. The same can be said for Caroline Mathilde, who is neither sweet nor angelic. She is strong, and intelligent, but has very little patience for King Christian and his crazy, and she doesn't trust him.
You come to understand where all of the characters are coming from. Even the royalists who work against Struensee and his progressive thinking! After all, they're not trying to be mean. They're doing what is natural to them, and they're fighting for what they believe in and what they think is right, too. 

The only reason we support Struensee and what he's doing, is because we were born into the age we live in, where freedom of speech, the liberation of the printing press and similar things, are a vital part of our everyday life! Back then, these things seemed mad! You couldn't give free speech to the masses! That would cause an uprising, you know!? And this was even before the French had beheaded the king!

Another interesting part of this story, is that we get to see what happens to a man who was clearly born centuries before his appropriate day and age. The world was not ready yet, though it would have been, just a hundred or 150 years later. He would have been seen as conservative today, but he could have been considered invaluable at court in the mid to late 19th century. As long as he could keep his hands off the queen.

Have I said to much? Well, go watch it!
To me, it's one of the only good things to come out of danish movie theaters in a long, long time. I'm not a fan of the strange stuff we tend to put out, otherwise. Like "The Green Butchers", "Fidibus", "Blinking Lights".. Strange stuff. And all the crime shows, even if the international world seem to love those... Bleh.

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