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God, the Brits are good at this sort of thing! A 180-minute history lesson
presented as a story of true love. Or maybe it's the other way round. Anyway
the whole thing spins along at a merry pace, especially the first half with
the intrigue surrounding Victoria's ascent to the throne and her marriage to
Albert. Victoria Hamilton and Jonathan Firth really convince as V & A, as
does Penelope Wilton as Victoria's domineering mother. We get the usual
lashings of fine supporting performances from Nigel Hawthorne (Melbourne),
John Wood (Wellington), Alex McCowen (Peel), Peter Ustinov (William IV),
Delena Kidd (Queen Adelaide), Diana Rigg (Baroness Lentzen) etc etc. In fact
the Baroness was just about the only character in the cast that doesn't have
a piece of Australia named after them. As far as I know the only one of them
that actually made it out here was Victoria's younger son Prince Alfie who
was shot at by some deranged person in Mosman circa 1869. The leading
teaching hospital in Sydney is named after him (how's that for
Yes, the historical record is played around with a bit my sources have Baroness Lentzen (Victoria's governess) being given her matching orders in 1842, not 1840, and Albert didn't actually save Victoria from assassination at the hands of an Irish lunatic, though his progressive views on insanity as a defence to crime may have helped to save some of the insane from the hangman (US politicians take note). However, it was probably from Albert that Victoria got her Victorian morality, and he certainly was of great influence some say he was virtually King while he was alive, at least behind the scenes. As a German he had to keep a low profile in xenophobic Britain, but he gets the credit for the success of the Great Exhibition of 1851; even if Paxton (Richard Briers) actually designed the glass and cast iron `Crystal Palace' in which it was held, Albert had the sense to see that, flimsy as it seemed, Paxton's design was an ideal solution.
It is also sometimes forgotten that Victoria and Albert started out married life when barely out of their teenage years. Both were strongly influenced by older and more experienced people yet both managed to break free. While Albert may have been the better organised and disciplined of the two, Victoria had a remarkable determination to succeed at a particularly tough job. By the end of her long reign the British monarchy had been quietly transformed.
The voluminous correspondence of both parties (the Victorians seem to have written everything down) certainly suggest that Victoria was crazy about Albert, her first cousin, almost from the start, and that Albert, not so keen on Victoria to start with despite the dynastic advantages, grew to love her deeply. This is beautifully laid out in the film, and amongst all the splendour there is a remarkable intimacy. Someone (Melbourne?) suggests at one stage that Albert, through his influence over Victoria, had saved the British monarchy `for another 100 years.' Clearly, he is needed now. Somehow one cannot imagine an equally uplifting account of the present Queen and her consort being made, either now or in another 100 years.
I'm a BBCminiseries-aholic. I can watch even the most tedious efforts
from the 70s and find them entertaining enough to watch several times.
So it is no surprise that I like this. For my enjoyment, the biggest
stumbling block of this miniseries is the casting of Victoria. To be
fair, Victoria Hamilton (Victoria) is an actress I just don't care for.
I've seen her in several things, and I just don't connect with her
screen presence. She is a fine actress, always emotionally "present,"
but I do feel that I see the same 3 emotions over and over happy,
sad, fussy. She is omnipresent through this piece, so
there you have
it. She is lovely as the coming-of-age Victoria, but the biggest
problem here is that she is not believable playing much over the age of
This is a film that would have benefited immensely by double casting the leads/ breaking half way through to change them to older actors. (And one horrible mistake is opening and closing the film with an elderly wheelchair-bound Victoria played by another actress whose eyes are bright blue, and Hamilton's are brown.) Hamilton simply does not grow up enough, despite costumes and makeup.
Jonathan Firth (Albert) also suffers from the various age make-ups, fares much better, and brings more complexity to his role. He is always exceptional, and his role here is sympathetic, even when behaving badly, but he does look as if he had just finished crying during a lot of this film a bad allergy season, perhaps? He also does not make the transition to age believably.
Because of this, what makes this piece tick, run, and flow is the exquisite supporting cast. This is always the case with these BBC/A&E productions, and it may be what is really their core secret. People a town with geniuses, and any idiot can run the place . Well, that is what they do with their actors. Penelope Wilton has the standout performance as a desperate, emotional, miscalculating Queen Mum. David Suchet is simply perfect, and so far from Poirot you need to remind yourself that this is the same actor. Diana Rigg and Nigel Hawthorne also lend gravitas to production.
This production also features some really beautiful castle/historic locations, but this one is probably only for those who are addicted to the anglo-miniseries. (Almost exclusively indoor and talky, so boys will probably feel as pent up and useless as Albert did.)
I must admit I really enjoyed 'Victoria and Albert'. It was excellent. My only criticism of the film was it could have been a couple of episodes longer as it left out so many other possibilities rushing to reach its conclusion. Jonathon Firth was really very good as Prince Albert and Victoria Hamilton made a good job at Queen Victoria. I particularly liked Dame Diana Rigg as Baroness Lehzen and Penelope Wilton as the Duchess of Kent. Sir Peter Ustinov was marvellous as King William IV. Patrick Malahide was so completely odious as Sir John Conroy. I also found Nigel Hawthorne brilliant as Viscount Melbourne. Rachel Pickup was really very good as Lady Henrietta Standish and David Suchet was great as Baron Stockmar. Jonathon Pryce was adequate as King Leopold I. Elizabeth Spriggs was delightful in a cameo role in 'The Rivals'. I would really recommend this.
"Victoria & Albert" examines the life Queen Victoria during the 24 year period from just prior to her coronation as Queen until the passing of her husband, Albert. Although this historical biopic spends precious little time with romance, it does dwell most on the relationship between the couple as they go about the business of working to bring dignity to a tarnished monarchy while raising a family and doing what royal couples do. Hamilton makes a solid centerpiece for this 3.5 hour miniseries which sports a capable ensemble and very good production value. If "V&A" has a liability, it is, perhaps, that the life of the Queen was not quite as interesting as the fictional lives of the characters from the more popular novels of the same period. Worth a look for those with an interest in Queen Victoria, the British monarchy, and the period. (B)
I am a HUGE fan of A&E originals, as well as Masterpiece Theatre. Two of
favorite movies of all time are "Pride and Prejudice" (1995), and "Wives
Daughters". I am now adding "Victoria and Albert" to my list of all time
favorites. This movie was absolutely stunning! And, what's even more
amazing is that, unlike the previous favorites I mentioned, "Victoria and
Albert" is a TRUE story! As soon as I finished watching it, I immediately
went online to try to find more information on Victoria and Albert, family
photos, excerpts from their diaries, etc. I had always thought of Queen
Victoria as a women of 75 or so, and in a wheelchair. To see the true
of her younger years was such a treat.
The story was told SO very eloquently. Jonathan Firth and Victoria Hamilton were outstanding! They breathed life into their characters. I felt connected to Victoria and Albert somehow after I finished watching the movie. I actually felt like I was watching their lives unfold. The supporting cast was unreal. This was a dream cast, if I've ever seen one. Absolutely NO ONE was miscast. Nigel Hawthorne, as Lord M, was wonderful. The scene were he has to say goodbye to Victoria was so touching. Seeing these two historical characters sharing a tearful goodbye, and a handkerchief, was simply beautiful. The scenes between Victoria and Albert were pure magic. I love the scene between the two of them over the game of chess. I just don't know what else to say, except that this movie was utterly brilliant. It's an amazing in-depth look into 19th century British politics, but, above all, it's a stunningly glorious story of TRUE love. I'm getting teary-eyed just thinking about it! Please, please, take the time to see "Victoria and Albert". If you don't like this movie, well... then you and I could never possibly be friends. I know it's a bit harsh, but there it is. :)
Jonathon, Colin's younger brother, plays the best Albert that I have ever seen in my entire life. If you love period films, such as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park, you will LOVE this film. Victoria Hamilton, from Mansfield Park, made me honestly respect her as a great actress. She brought me to tears by the end of this amazing miniseries!
Since the days gradually came on the Royal Family in Great Britain that
they are to reign rather than rule, the struggle has always been to be
popular and stay popular without being self indulgent. They are the
unifying symbol for their country rather than a written Constitution
that we Yanks have, so they're behavior, good or bad, counts for so
The folks who established that tradition were Victoria & Albert, first cousins in the Saxe-Coburg family and husband and wife. Through her father, the Duke of Kent, young Victoria was the heir to the British monarchy to which she ascended in 1837.
Royalty made its last gasp for power immediately preceding the events that are shown in this mini-series. King William IV played here by Peter Ustinov by royal prerogative dismissed the government of Prime Minster Earl Grey. Robert Peel formed a Tory government, but it only lasted for a few months because Parliament by now had firm control of the Treasury. William IV was forced to call back Earl Grey and bow to the wishes of the people's representatives, now even more representative since the Reform Act of 1832 reapportioned Parliament after several hundred years.
So the monarchy was to reign instead of rule, but if this bunch didn't keep a lid on the peccadilloes, the folks in the United Kingdom might just take it in their heads to be rid of them and get themselves a republic like their former colonies had done. That was the duty that Prince Albert (Jonathan Firth) saw it and he persuaded his young bride, Queen Victoria (Victoria Hamilton) that they must do the same.
Albert was a serious young man and Victoria had been leading a sheltered life courtesy of her mother Penelope Wilton had led a life away from the dissolute Hanoverian Court of Uncles George IV and William IV.
When you have no other purpose in life, but to set an example, you'd better be good at that. A few in the Royal Family haven't lived up to that down to this day. If you can't be good, at least be discreet.
Victoria & Albert is a good mini-series from the BBC capturing the ambiance of the early Victorian era very well indeed. Diana Rigg won an Emmy for her performance as Baroness Lehzen, young Victoria's governess who didn't quite know when to let go.
You can enjoy it even if you're not familiar with British history.
When I first saw Victoria Hamilton in the trailers, I thought, 'she's not a good likeness', but having seen the first episode, I can only praise the wonderful acting and superb script. I, for one, (while reasonably coversant with history), have never thought about her early years on the throne, and the difficulty as a teenage monarch, of dealing with Mum and Parliament! Mentally, I was constantly comparing her situation with that other teenage female queen, Lady Jane Grey. Victoria as portrayed, is an engaging and thoroughly likable person, very much a child coming into adulthood, and thus a fascinating comparison to the standard historical perspective that we have grown up with.
Few movies are made that are so flawless. Perfect in: casting, directing, editing, content, costumes, and background music. All performances are believable and the diction is as clear as if it were an American made movie. The main character "Victoria" is played by Victoria Hamilton whose ability to express feelings without speaking is Oscar winning quality plus.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**There might be spoilers ahead so beware**
When I first heard about this film, I felt compelled to tape it since, being a history major, I should know something about Queen Victoria, since I always saw her as some old woman with a lot of grandkids. This film shed light on her younger days and proved to me that there was more to her life than just sitting in a wheelchair in traditional mourning garb. To say that Victoria Hamilton and Jonathan Firth were excellent in their roles is a mere understatement (oh, and Jon Firth is much cuter than his brother, Colin). I vaguely knew of these actors before seeing the film and I now realize that casting those with talent is much more important than casting those who have achieved a high level of fame. If this movie was put on the big screen in theaters, it would've brought home quite a few Oscars. Thankfully, I taped the movie and I plan on watching it whenever I feel like seeing something wholesome and educational. It's now in my list of favorite films among "Gone with the Wind", "The Sound of Music," "Casablanca," etc. Jon Firth is now among one of my favorite actors as well. Out of 10, I give this film a well deserved 11 :)
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