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I had the great fortune to be invited to attend the World Premiere at
the Berlin Film Festival earlier this evening of this wonderful film
-and opportunities like that don't come often.
A Royal Affair is Oscar level material in many respects. The screenplay, directing and photography are all superb but the performance of Mikkel Følsgaard as Christian VII of Denmark was perfection. It is so difficult to act a madman acting as if he were sane and I cannot believe any actor taking an Oscar this year could have put up a better performance. Mikkel got the loudest cheer from the audience and he thoroughly deserved it.
The plot revolves around the machinations of power behind the throne of a simpleton monarch. Christian may be King but he simply wants to play like a child. He is married and fathers a son quite brutally but he loves his dog more than his family. And so a German Doctor is called to treat him. Christian befriends his physician and leaves more and more power in the hands of this foreign commoner. And then the Doctor falls in love with the Queen....
It's all true and I won't tell more than that. Just go and see it as soon as you can. It puts Hollywood and Bollywood both straight into the dust bin. Classic drama, brilliant script and a piece of thespian-ism that puts Olivier to task. Just brilliant.
I saw this last night and its been on my mind a lot since then..
What a fantastic movie!!, i went in with high expectations, as i had only read very positive things about it, and I was definitely not disappointed, what a beautiful, sad and touching story Great acting overall, mads Mikkelsen is always good, and this is one of his best roles in my opinion, Alicia wikander was beautiful as the young queen, but the real star of this movie has to be Mikkel Boe Følsgaard as Christian VII, Wow!!, what a great actor, his portrayal of the mentally ill king was superb, he really made me sympathize with Christian, he may have been of his nutter and mean at times, but deep down, I think he was a good guy, but he was a very insecure young man, who didn't know how to behave properly, and who couldn't deal with the obligation of being king, he was misunderstood, and I felt really bad for him at times, I really like the portrayal of the relationship between the King and struensee, they were really very good friends/companions, and struensee was like a father to Christian.
The costumes were also beautiful, I love fashion in that period, and this movie had some beautiful clothes to dwell on.
It was about time my country did a movie on our royal history, and now they have, and the outcome is better then i could have ever expected, just beautiful, Hollywood couldn't have done it better, as a Dane I take pride in our danish (royal)history.
Go and see it!!, you wont be sorry
You could dismiss this film as a Danish history lesson but it is more
than that. It is a love story with an improbable background in a rather
gloomy setting, the Danish Court of the late 18th century. Mad (or at
least seriously disturbed) King Christian VII (Mikkel Folsgaard -
superbe) marries 16 year old English princess Caroline (Alicia
Vikander) who happens to be George III's sister). He prefers the
company of his dog and mistress to her. It is not surprising that
Caroline falls for Johann Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen) who becomes the
king's personal physician on the strength of his knowledge of
Shakespeare (especially Hamlet). The king is, as they say, easily led,
and for a year or so Sturensee, despite being German, has a fine time
as de facto ruler enacting liberal measures such as the abolition of
serfdom and the repeal of censorship laws, not to mention free smallpox
inoculations. But the forces of reaction led by the king's stepmother
gather. It was surprising to learn that 18th century Denmark was such a
Mads Mikkelsen gives a nuanced performance 'quiet intensity' in fact, and Alicia Vikander is equally intense. They are a serious couple imbued with the ideals of the 18th century Enlightenment but their passion is physical as well as intellectual. Unfortunately their ideals are a little advanced for Denmark of the 1770s despite support from writers such as Voltaire. The local book-burners led by Hoegh-Guldberg (David Dencik) are not swayed by argument of course.
The production is full of atmosphere. The castles are suitably gloomy and there's plenty of medieval squalor beyond the castle gate. Much of the action takes place in winter which adds to the chilly atmosphere. The aristocracy are suitably heartless and the peasants downtrodden. The king provides some zany (if not quite authentic) moments, appointing his Great Dane to his council and ordering Struensee to make Caroline a "fun queen".
This is quite a long movie at 140 minutes yet is enthralling from start to finish. Even though you can guess the ending you are swept along by the story and the performances. You can see why the audiences at Cannes loved it.
Love, politics and religion set the stage for Nikolaj Arcel's A Royal
Affair, Denmark's official entry into this year's Foreign Language Film
race at the Academy Awards. Telling the true story of Queen Caroline
Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) who, while married to King Christian VII
(Mikkel Boe Folsgaard), had an affair with the king's physician Johann
Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), this is an affair that isn't afraid to let
its emotions all out when the time is appropriate for them. For most of
its duration, these intense desires, torments and rages are broiling
just underneath the surface and as a result when Arcel allows them onto
the surface you are truly able to feel them to their fullest extent.
It certainly helps that he has one of the finest casts I've seen so far this year, headlined by three tremendous performances from the leading triumvirate. Mikkelsen, the most seasoned of the group, is unsurprisingly brilliant in his portrayal of a man who plays his cards close to the chest but lets his guard down when in the company of the ravishing Mathilde. He's a mostly reactionary figure for a large part of the picture, but the final act allows him to really sell the emotions that he had been bottling up inside and this is where he demands your attention in each frame.
Vikander has come onto the scene in a big way this year, receiving standout reviews for her work in Joe Wright's Anna Karenina and offering an open, incredibly fragile portrayal of Mathilde here. As the constantly scorned queen, she is often found fighting an internal battle not to lash out and forcing herself to take the abuse put upon her, having to hide her inner feelings in exchange for a more peaceful endgame. As with Mikkelsen, she shines brightest in the final act when that slow-burn explodes and she is able to pour out all of the internal anguish she had been building (her animalistic scream is sure to leave a mark), and the luminescence that fills her up when they're on screen together is a beautiful contrast to the bleaker emotions felt throughout the rest of the picture.
The major newcomer here is Folsgaard, who takes on his first major role with impressive skill, getting a very big character and taking full advantage of it. We are constantly reminded that the king's mental health isn't in the best state, though we don't particularly need the reminder whenever Folsgaard is allowed to bring that insanity to the surface, which is often. Mikkelsen and Vikander are given the opportunity to build more rounded, fuller representations of their characters off of the page which pays off big time in that final act, but Folsgaard's performance is practically one money scene after the next.
A Royal Affair loses its steam a bit in the final act, as the political shifting behind the scenes doesn't mesh too well with the love story that takes center stage, but it's all part of the required setup that brings us to that explosive climax which is well worth any minor complaints along the way. This is one that earns every bit of emotion you eventually feel in those final stages, setting itself up brilliantly along the way. Adapted from a novel by Bodil Steensen-Leth, the script from Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg doesn't overly concern itself with feeding you a history lesson, but rather gets the necessary information out while building mostly around that passionate struggle at the heart of the picture. A film that truly earns its emotional payoff, Nikolaj Arcel's is one that I'm surely going to be rooting to pick up a nomination come January.
Historically relevant, A Royal Affair shows its true period-drama
nature in the very intelligent and detailed storyline, steadfast and
conspicuous acting, and, most of all, sumptuous and glorious interiors,
which actually enhance the visual experience significantly. The film
expressively reminds the world once again about the illicit affair
between Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander), the beautiful Queen of
Denmark, and the enlightened, German-born physician named Johann
Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen). In all its courtly essence, A Royal Affair
presents this 18th century tale with utmost thoroughness, adding huge
amounts of tension to its naturalistic substance with every following
minute. While it's mostly recognized for the meaningful romantic
overtone, this film presents much more than that, even though the
star-crossed lovers prove to have the biggest impact on the unexpected
turn of events.
It starts very similarly to Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, with a young princess bound to marry a king she doesn't even know, through the old-fashioned way of a royal transaction. Right after the Queen finally sets her lovely eyes on the mysterious husband-to-be one thing is certain there is something wrong with his majestic appearance. Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) giggles nervously, and is more interested in greeting his own dog than the woman, with whom he will probably (but not likely) spend the rest of his palace life. Right after the both absolutely awkward and truly humorous announcement of King's nightly visit in his wife's bedroom, and Caroline's anxiously awaited pregnancy, it becomes perfectly clear that the pair won't present itself in the expected, regal way. Those two characters don't even intend to give the appearance of being fully in love with each other. The king wanders angrily around the luxurious chambers making fun of everyone, not knowing that he ostentatiously presents all of his biggest weaknesses. At the same time, the Queen spends most of her time with the newborn baby. When Christian proclaims his forthcoming trip around Europe nobody realizes that big and sudden changes are about to happen. During the journey King's mental illness becomes worse. He needs a private doctor and he needs him quick. This is the moment when Johan Struensee first shows his handsome face. Apart from his unquestionable medical abilities, he proves to be a great admirer of the Enlightenment movement's greatest thinkers and their innovative works, and that's what makes him an ideal partner for the King. After returning to the country, their companionship grows stronger every day. Unfortunately, so does Johan's affection towards Queen's awe-inspiring persona. After a while, it becomes awfully obvious that they won't be able to suppress their deepest urges and a risky romance will soon take place, one that might actually begin a new era in the history of Denmark. Scheming behind the back of the wig-wearing, ignorant council, Caroline and Struensee use the gullible King for the sake of a greater good they create many new and reformative laws, and using Christian's powerful, yet unstable hand they end up improving the whole land and its citizens' life, rushing Denmark towards the desired Enlightenment.
As history so often shows, when there is the optimistic, hard-working side there must also be the pessimistic, mischievous one. In A Royal Affair, it takes the form of an ominous, recalcitrant aristocrat named Ove Høegh-Guldberg (David Dencik). Conspiring along with Christian's stepmother Juliane Marie (Trine Dyrholm) he comes up with a perfect plan to get rid of the unwanted German and, at the same time, bring back Denmark's old 'glory'. Revealing the shocking truth about Queen being pregnant with Struensee he wreaks havoc among the society. The return of the Dark Ages is upon Denmark, and no one is able to stop this devastating process, as the King gave in to Ove's strong and convincing character, and, ultimately, to his own illness. Johann and Caroline are banished from the Kingdom, just to see that, sadly, their thorough plan wasn't actually meant to help anyone.
With its splendidly high entertainment value, A Royal Affair turns out to be a history lesson for everyone. Considerable attention to details in plot and in art design brings out the true substance of the film. The costumes are pitch-perfect, the music flows adequately to the events, and the ongoing transition in the atmosphere intensifies the reception of the whole. A Royal Affair possesses a great energy, which shows its true strength in all the performances. Without offending anyone from the amazing cast, it's important to note that Mads Mikkelsen gave the most award-worthy performance, showing the straightforwardly persuasive impassiveness that may really convince his fans and anti-fans alike. Therefore, those irrefutable acting skills, combined with a well-written script and steady direction, make A Royal Affair one of the most memorable Danish movies of the last decade.
"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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We didn't get too much Danish history at my school nor, I suspect, at most schools in England, so I came to this film more or less ignorant of the facts yet happy to accept that it was based on historical fact. At the beginning there are some stunning visuals that lull the viewer into a pleasant mood but we are soon disabused of the notion that this is yet another chocolate box potted history. After the briefest of sojourns in England we are whisked - along with Caroline, wed to a man she has yet to meet - to a Denmark where the politico/religio axis has the country in a headlock but we are smack dab in the centre of the Age of Enlightenment and things are about to change and then change again. The King - a beautifully judged performance by Mikkel Boe Folsgaard - is little more than an overgrown child with minimal interest in his bride - another fine performance by Alicia Vikander - and the catalyst in the woodpile is not the young Negro boy he treats as a pet so much as the German physician (Mads Mikkelson), a devotee of Rousseau who quickly gains the King's ear and the Queen's bed with the result that soon all three unite in a non-sexual menage a trois and push through several important reforms. It does, of course, end in tears but it also keeps us riveted for some two and a quarter hours. A fine effort.
This was a magnificent film, with stunning performances by the star
cast and the supporting roles.
I am not an unconditional fan of Mads Mikkelsen, but he really was strong and convincing in this role.
And one could easily forgive the good doctor for falling in love with Queen Caroline, as portrayed by the lovely Alicia Vikander.
And one even had sympathy for poor old Christian in the end. I was beginning to wonder whether he was quite as insane as people thought him to be. There seemed to be a genuine friendship between him and Dr Struensee also. Had things gone slightly differently, one could have imagined them forming a happy and successful ménage à trois, and living happily ever after.
And the villains were truly villainous :-)
(I spotted a few familiar faces from Forbydelsen I and other places, including Søren Malling (Jan Mayer ), and Bent Mejding who was the standing mayor (playing a not dissimilar sort of character)
A very interesting and surprising historical lesson as well.
Love can lead to transformation yet the force of greed and the lack of
political skills can bring anyone down even though you have the best
intentions and act for the "greater good".
It does not happen very often that I come out of the cinema and completely shut up. It didn't feel like I was listening to a non-English dialogue. Danish felt like a familiar language ... and it was beautiful in this movie.
Though not with splendid clothes like Marie Antoinette, no intense intrigues, no large battle scenes, it was one of the best historic films I have ever seen. Everything was kept "small", yet with so much feeling that I could not take sides with any of the 3 main characters. Fair enough, the greedy and backward upper-class angered me much; just can't stand stupidity, especially when it holds back progress and the aim for improvements.
Danish screenwriter and director Nikolaj Arcel's fourth feature film
which he co-wrote with Danish screenwriter Rasmus Heisterberg, is based
on the novel "Prinsesse af blodet" from 2000 by Danish author Bodil
Steensen-Leth and somewhat inspired by the novel "The Visit of the
Royal Physician" from 1999 by Swedish author Per Olov Enquist. It
premiered In competition at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival
in 2012, was shot on locations in the Czech Republic and Germany and is
a Denmark-Sweden-Czech Republic-Germany co-production which was
produced by Danish producers Meta Louise Foldager, Louise Vesth and
Sisse Graum Jørgensen. It tells the story about Caroline Mathilde, a
young woman who leaves her family in Britain and marries her cousin
king Christian VII of Denmark. Though becoming aware that her husband
is mentally ill Caroline remains loyal to her partner, but when a
German doctor named Johann Friedrich Struensee is hired as the royal
physician to the monarch she is invigorated by his controversial views
and a new passion is awakened in her.
Finely and engagingly directed by Danish filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel, this finely tuned and somewhat fictional tale which is narrated by the main character and mostly from her point of view, draws a mindful and gripping portrayal of the relations between a king, a queen and a German physician during the age of enlightenment in the late 18th century. While notable for it's naturalistic and atmospheric milieu depictions, stellar cinematography by Danish cinematographer Rasmus Videbæk, production design by Danish production designer Niels Sejer, costume design by Danish costume designer Manon Rasmussen and use of colors and light, this dialog-driven and narrative-driven story which is inspired by real events and which is brilliantly narrated from multiple viewpoints, examines themes like friendship, love, betrayal, class distinctions and contradicting ideals, depicts three dense and merging studies of character and contains a good and timely score by Lebanese composer Gabriel Yared and French composer Cyrille Aufort.
This political, historic, romantic, at times humorous and intriguing period piece about the experiences of the young queen Caroline Mathilde of Denmark and Norway who also was a member of the royal British family and her passionate relationship with regent Johann Friedrich Struensee, which was chosen as Denmark's submission to the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 85th Academy Awards in 2013, is impelled and reinforced by it's cogent narrative structure, quick-witted dialog, emphatic and poignant acting performances by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, Danish actors Mads Mikkelsen and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard in his debut feature film role and the fine supporting acting performances by Danish actress Trine Dyrholm and Swedish actor David Dencik. A heartrending and commendable Danish epic about social conflict and royal intrigue which gained the Silver Bear for Best Actor Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and Best Script Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg at the 62nd Berlin Film Festival in 2012.
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