The Young Victoria (2009)

4 Kernels

Stars: Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend

Type: Movie

Once again, like a magnet, I’m drawn to another historical movie regarding the British and their monarchs. If you’ve watched Judy Dench play Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown, as Queen Victoria in her later years, you’ll find this opposite end of Victoria’s life just as fascinating.

It’s a story of Victoria coming into her own person as a young lady and Queen of England. Her life is played like a game of chess by her mother and advisers, while the world around her moves the pieces to places of power and alliances. The story focuses upon Victoria meeting the handsome Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Even though the match seems to be cleverly orchestrated, the two fall in love. I thought it quite interesting that the Queen had to propose, and Prince Albert could not.

Victoria’s love of Albert is touching, though you have to wonder what it was like for a man to play a subservient role to his wife, the Queen. Though she puts him in his place on one occasion through a heated argument, they eventually learn to be one together during the early years of her rule.

Of course, it’s Hollywood, filled with a script of conjectures and probably void of reality. Nevertheless, I found the movie entertaining and interesting. It was well acted, the lavish life of the royals, the period costumes, and the coronation in all it’s pomp — it’s what the British do best.

My only complaint was the ending of the movie. It seemed rushed and all too quick. (Of course, I shouldn’t complain, since I’ve received that same comment in a review of my first book.)

Also, if you liked this movie, but haven’t seen Mrs. Brown, I highly recommend that you do. You’ll see the brokenhearted Queen still in love with her dead husband, who finds an unusual friend in another man.

Favorite Lines: Princess Victoria: Do you ever feel like a chess piece yourself? In a game being played against your will.
Prince Albert: Do you?
Princess Victoria: Constantly. I see them leaning in and moving me around the board.
Prince Albert: The Duchess and Sir John?
Princess Victoria: Not just them. Uncle Leopold. The king. I’m sure half the politicians are ready to seize hold of my skirts and drag me from square to square.
Prince Albert: Then you had better master the rules of the game until you play it better than they can.

Favorite Scene: Waltzing at the ball, of course!

North and South (2005)

5 Kernels


Stars:
Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage and Tim Pigott-Smith

Type:
BBC Television Series

 

Based on 1855 Victorian novel North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell, which I have read, comes the wonderful television adaptation by the British. I’d be a dunce not to give this series less than five kernels, because frankly it ranks as one of my favorites. The perfect story of two personalities who clash, but can’t help falling in love with one another. The stern businessman, John Thornton, and the feisty and independent Margaret Hale. The dichotomy of their worlds collide in this wonderful series.

Margaret’s father, a former vicar, for reasons of conscience moves his family from the south of England to the northern industrial town of Milton. His wife, daughter, and housekeeper follow him without question, but are faced with the difficulty of acclimating to a world far different from the one they’ve known.

Since I have English family members who came from northern England (Manchester) and were business tradesmen (brick makers) during the Victorian era, as well, I found this series fascinating. The struggle of the poor working men, women, and children, compared to the hard and strict owners of the mills portrayed the struggle of each class in their bid to survive. The mill owners are trying to make enough to keep open, while the workers are starving and dying from poor working conditions and low pay. The rise of unions, strikes, and hardship tug at your heart throughout the story.

Richard Armitage was broodingly dreamy! Daniela Denby-Ash was a perfect fit for Margaret. The pair made a great iron-upon-iron relationship that finally blends together in perfect harmony. Needless to say, I loved the series. The ending was heartwarming, and the final relenting kiss of Margaret’s lips upon the hand of the man she loved was priceless.

Favorite Lines: “I wish I could tell you how lonely I am. How cold and harsh it is here. Everywhere there is conflict and unkindness. I think God has forsaken this place. I believe I have seen hell and it’s white, it’s snow-white.” (Margaret Hale)

“One minute we talk of the color of fruit, the next of love. How does that happen?” (John Thornton)

Favorite Scene: The train station at the end where Margaret finally expresses her feelings and Thornton kisses her tenderly. Sigh… Let’s just relive it here.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles (2008)

3 Kernels

Stars: Gemma Arterton, Hans Matheson, Ruth Jones, Jodie Whittaker, Eddie Redmayne and others.

Type: BBC Television Series

 

People complain about The Price of Innocence being a book that touts the message “life is a bitch and then you die,” well you can add this story to the list. Talk about depressing. This is BBC’s four-hour adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s book (which I have not read, by the way).

It was one of those stories that breaks your heart through the majority of the series, as you watch young Tess struggle through a life of poverty during the Victorian era. She could have been a woman of potential in spite of her lot in life, but bad choices, poor circumstances, and the men she encounters is enough to make you go for a Skinny Cow after the bag of popcorn.

I found it to be well portrayed in acting, setting, and costumes. I must say you get caught up in each of the character’s lives. You feel terribly sorry for Tess’ life and struggle of survival. I found myself becoming very angry at her unforgiving husband, who frankly I blamed just as much for the outcome of her life. As far as the man who manipulates her to destruction, well, I could have killed him too.

If you can handle the outcome of the story, it’s a good watch. But if you’re looking for an uplifting story to leave you feeling great, move on elsewhere. Otherwise, you’ll overeat during this sitting. It’s hard to toss a TV across the room because the story dragged you down.

I’ll skip the favorite character, lines, and scenes in this one.

Lost in Austen (2008)

5 Kernels

Stars: Jemima Rooper, Elliot Cowan, Hugh Bonneville, Alex Kingston and many other wonderful individuals.

Type: Four-part 2008 British television series for the ITV network

 

If you’re obsessed with accuracy and looking for a perfect Jane Austen rendition, move on. But if you’ve ever read the book, saw an Austen movie, and closed your eyes and wished that you could go back in time and live in Austen’s time period, this is story for you. How many of us wish we could be part of Darcy’s world? Meet a man with manners or live in a world without TV’s, iPods, computers and learn what the true intercourse of conversation meant? Our modern lifestyles would actually make it very hard for us to adapt into a time and place we merely romanticize about in our minds. How odd those characters would think our mannerisms were in return!

The series does just that, only Amanda’s arrival sort of “buggers” up the story, if you get my drift. One night as she reads her favorite Austen book of Pride and Prejudice, the fantasy begins. Elizabeth Bennett enters through a door in her bathroom, of all places, and comes from the past into the future. After their first encounter, Amanda chalks it up to delusion and needing a break. When Elizabeth shows up again, her life takes a turn toward fantasy. Amanda hadn’t planned on going back in the past, but Elizabeth loves the future. She shuts the door behind her and leaves Amanda to enter the book world of Pride and Prejudice – right at the very beginning. The door back into the future remains locked. She tries to acclimate herself to the times, which often is quite humorous. The plot goes haywire, and Amanda tries to fix the story.

Darcy, of course, is wonderfully attractive, the absolute snob, who can’t figure out why he’s “tormented” and attracted to a woman he frankly considers vulgar–Amanda. It’s fiction living inside of fiction – a phenomenal idea.

All I can say to the die-hard Austen fans, is lighten up folks! It’s meant to be fun and enjoyable, not a perfect rendition of the original. It’s called creative liberty. What always amazes me about obsessed fans of certain genre, is that they treat the originals as if they were written by the finger of God on stone, and we’re not to change, alter, or enjoy it in any other manner. That, I think, is a great shame.


Favorite Character: Darcy, of course! Duh…Elliot Cowan is extremely dreamy in the role and has become my favorite Darcy (sorry Colin).

Favorite Lines: Mr. Bingley: [after Amanda sings ‘Downtown’] Brava, Miss Price! And whenever life is gettin’ me down, I shall be sure to go ‘downtown’. Eh, Darcy? (Unfortunately, Amanda’s singing of “Downtown” was removed from the DVD collection. Bummer.)

Favorite Scene: Darcy dipping into the pond and coming up with his white shirt clinging to his sexy body, just so Amanda can relive Colin Firth’s role in P&P.

NOTE: At one time, Lost in Austen was going to be made into a movie set in New York City, rather than in Britain. Nora Ephron is noted as the Director, filmed by Sony Pictures, and there is still reference of a 2013 release. I cannot find anything that says the movie has actually gone to production.

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