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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
This is a truly wonderful production with brilliant, almost surreal touches that lift this drama about the crowd.
I would love to know if any of Prince John's drawings survived. They had, or at least the ones used for the film had a Chagal-like quality that was both very graceful and artistic and filled with insite as to the inner character of the subjects. "The Tsar Swimming" and "Fat Mary" are two example. His father wearing a crown far too big for his head is a masterpiece.
I also wonder if Prince John wasn't a savant. His drawings were exceptional and far ahead of his time and his musical ability was,(if the film properly portrayed this talent)quite remarkable.
What is wonderful about this film is the sense that John despite everything managed to form his own little community on his "Estate", surrounded by people who really did love him. I also have the feeling that he was quite a happy child most of the time.
His parents were no worse than other Royal parents and a great deal better than most.
Special mention should be made of the marvelous Bibi Anderson who played Queen Alexandra so perfectly. At the funeral she even managed to look almost exactly like the Dowager Queen.
Someone mentioned that they didn't believe that the Tsar and the Tsarina would have acted as coldly toward their relations when visiting at Cowes. Unfortunately, that's just how they acted. They did believe that they were seated higher at the table of the Rulers of the World than their cousins in England who had to make-do with smaller versions of their own vast palaces in St. Petersburg. After all the Tsar was the last Absolute Monarch in the world. He even had to approve of every marriage and every divorce. No decision could be made unless he gave his approval. His cousin George had to actually deal with a rabble of advisors and that intrusive Parliment.
The scenes of the Tsar swimming were especially out of touch with reality, just as the Tsar was out of touch with the reality of his situation.
The Russian Grand Duchesses were so dream-like in their lovely summer laces and huge flower-like hats. All of John's imagined scenerios were touched with this combination of wistfullness and joy.
I mention these things because they haven't been mentioned before and they are what I will bring with me forever. Those haunting images of the children running on the beach, the flower-hats in the flower-garden and John peeking through the rails of the balcony at the beautiful lady at the banquet who smiles and waves back at him...a small and precious moment to be treasured.
See this film and fall in love with a child that refuses to be "Lost".
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