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This film follows Norma Jean from her simple, ambitious youth to her sex star pinnacle and back down. She moves from lover to lover in order to further her career. She finds fame but never happiness, only knowing seduction but not love.
British empire monarch George V and his wife Queen Mary decide to hide their last-born son, Johnnie, from the public, being embarrassingly affected by epilepsy. While his protective elder brother is ruthlessly groomed for court life, Johnnie gets packed off to a country cottage on the royal estate Sandringham. With his full-time governess Lalla, a substitute-mother, he's abandoned to playfulness and virtual social neglect. The Great War and the Russian Revolution change life in Britain, also at court, even at Sandringham, where royal refugees are expected. Written by
Poignant, lovely, but you better know your history
Excellent period film with a liberal dose of brief stunning vignettes that haunt the viewer for weeks afterward.
This film keeps stepping into and outside the action, drawing us intimately into Lalla's desperate care for Prince John and Queen May's inability to cope with the crumbling world around her -- then it steps back and views the world through John's eyes, turning us into spectators of something so large and complex (the destruction of centuries of royal culture and the social revolutions of the early 20th century) that we can only make sense of bits and pieces.
As noted elsewhere, the acting is marvelous, with Miranda Richardson simply outstanding.
The drawbacks are few but significant. The biggest one is the lack of hints for those not deeply versed in the personalities and events of the Great War. For instance, I'm not sure Stamfordham's name is ever actually mentioned in the film. How are we supposed to know who he is? There are a number of examples of this type of thing. I felt fortunate to know as much as I do about this period of history in England and Russia but was, at times, distracted from the film as I wracked my brain to piece together who the characters were talking about.
While the film assumes an extensive knowledge of this time period, it oddly did not portray Dowager Queen Alexandra's deafness, nor, to my memory, mention Alice Keppel or show King Edward as the dissolute party boy he was.
It is for these reasons I rated the film as I did; there were a few too many times when I was drawn out of the story. But there are images from the film that haunt me yet, and the whole sad plight of Prince John seems a metaphor for the distorted time period covered in the film.
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