Queen Victoria (Dame Judi Dench) is deeply depressed after the death of her husband, disappearing from public. Her servant Mr. John Brown (Sir Billy Connolly), who adores her, through caress and admiration brings her back to life, but that relationship creates scandalous situation and is likely to lead to monarchy crisis.
This was originally intended as a television movie. Harvey Weinstein was so impressed that it ultimately got a theatrical release. See more »
Disraeli speaks from notes in Parliament, and again at the end of the film. In real life, Disraeli delivered all of his speeches, including those several hours long or involving complicated statistics, from memory. He warned younger politicians against using notes as a crutch. See more »
Queen Victoria's slow, painful, emergence from mourning after the loss of her husband Albert, is brought about by the only man amongst her staff who can see her as a woman as well as a queen. This simple tale is used to paint a picture of the Victorian court so perfectly that you're left with a conviction that this is exactly how it must have been.
Certainly the plot restrains itself to the facts: Queen Victoria and her gillie John Brown were friends with a great affection for each other. That their affection never went further is a certainty and the film provides ample proof of the English class and protocol systems that guaranteed it.
The set design and the supporting cast are uniformly excellent. Billy Connolly gives his best acting performance to date, but Judi Dench is breathtaking. She deservedly won a BAFTA for her performance and should have got the Oscar. (Even the recipient ,Helen Hunt, said so during her acceptance speech.)
I can understand how some viewers feel the film is cold and austere, it is, on the surface. But below the surface is a constantly shifting pattern of emotion and passion. Victorian England was exactly the same.
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