In 1767, the British Princess Caroline is betrothed to the mad King Christian VII of Denmark, but her life with the erratic monarch in the oppressive country becomes an isolating misery. However, Christian soon gains a fast companion with the German Dr. Johann Struensee, a quietly idealistic man of the Enlightenment. As the only one who can influence the King, Struensee is able to begin sweeping enlightened reforms of Denmark through Christian even as Caroline falls for the doctor. However, their secret affair proves a tragic mistake that their conservative enemies use to their advantage in a conflict that threatens to claim more than just the lovers as their victims. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
The Danish colloquialism "rolig nu" ("easy now") features in the dialogue, but this is a modern innovation dating back only to the 1990s or so. See more »
[writing a letter]
I'm trying to remember him. Johann. I have to tell you about him. About us. Why we did the things we did.
My beloved children, you do not know me, but I am your mother. Perhaps you have never forgiven me. Perhaps you hate me. I hope not. I now know that I will never see you again, so I am writing to tell you the truth, before it's too late.
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"A Royal Affair" is a Danish/Swedish/Czech production about the reign of 18th century King Christian VII of Denmark, his Welsh wife and a German physician whose progressive ideas shake Denmark's conservative ruling class to its foundations. As best I can discern the film tries to keep true to actual history with some embellishments added concerning the role of the Queen in the political machinations along with some reasonable speculation about a possible menage a trois. The screenplay by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg does a nice job of capturing the unusual atmosphere of life at a court governed by a mentally unstable monarch who's little more than a nuisance puppet of the nobility and the church. In the middle of all that is the young English Queen trapped in a loveless marriage. She is also disturbed by the unwillingness of her adopted country to accept the ideas of the Enlightenment then circulating around Europe. Under the direction of Nikolaj Arcel "A Royal Affair" is an effective recreation of a bygone age yet one in which we can see our contemporary quagmire between those who advocate change and those condemning it. Mikkel Folsgaard is excellent as the King. He never descends to caricature and is both powerful and pitiable. Mads Mikkelsen is compelling as Dr. Johann Struensee a noble but flawed man given a rare opportunity to improve the lot of the lower classes who are suspicious of him as a foreigner usurping the state. Alicia Vikander is Caroline Mathilde a Welsh princess sent to Denmark in an arranged marriage of noble households with no idea of what's in store for her. This is very good intelligent costume drama that should please fans of the genre. Well worth seeing.
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