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Excellent, but not a romance
Matt T16 March 1999
This is a phenomenal movie, but I am rather peeved at the way it has been marketed. When I rented the movie, the blurb on the box luridly touted the "forbidden passion between a rugged Scotsman and the most powerful woman in the world." Other marketing of the film is similar. That's not what the movie is about at all!! It is a very sad commentary on our society if a moving drama about terrible grief being assuaged through loyal friendship cannot be accepted for what it is. Is the American public really that shallow? I don't know whether to blame movie execs for dumbing down the presentation of their product to titillate the lowest common denominator, or the American public for maybe actually being that way.

Diatribes aside, Dench and Connolly are phenomenal. Victoria and Brown are complex characters with conflicting emotions, and one almost feels able to look upon their souls in this portrayal. Antony Sher was delightful as the orator/politician Benjamin Disraeli, at the same time both wise and gently pompous. The makeup job was so good that I actually recognized him as Disraeli before his name was mentioned.

If you are disappointed because this is not a puerile romance, shame on you. These are real people with real emotions. This moving story of grief and friendship is definitely one of the best of the year.
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Fantastic love story
Dr.Teeth23 August 1999
This film is a fantastic love story. You'll note that I didn't say "sex story," because there is absolutely no sex in this film. And yet most people equate "love story" with sex, or at least a beautifully shot kiss at the end, complete with a cheesy song penned by Brian Adams. This, my friends, is a love story with a difference.

It is the story of a servant's love for his queen; it is the story of a woman's love for the man who has given her life meaning; it is a story of two best friends, who ignore social circumstances and care deeply for one another. The story is nearly flawless, combining the historical situation and circumstances with intense and riveting emotion.

The acting is outstanding. Both of the central actors convey exactly what their character is feeling, even if no words are spoken. Billy Connolly lets John Brown's humanity shine through his rough exterior, and he has a naturalness that is quite inspired. And Dame Judi Dench gives a masterful performance, worthy of the Oscar (like that's never been said before). Her portrayal of a queen tortured by her feelings and her position in society is the best of the year by any actor, male or female.

Hands down the best British film of the year. 9/10.
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A masterful, touching, gentle piece of history
Rumples4 May 1999
Absolutely brilliant film. No question, we all seem to agree that Dench deserved the Oscar (ok, Hunt was cute in AGAIG but a long way from 'Best'), Connolly is surprisingly good in this very dramatic role (I'm not exactly a huge fan of his comedic work), and Sher was very clever as Disraeli. All in all, a sterling performance by a wonderful cast. But this movie is just a little bit more that just great acting, it is also a moving story of the burdens of office, the mores of Victorian society, the anguish of the death of a loved one, and the blessing of true friendship. This is a very good movie. Don't expect sex, violence or swearing, but if you're looking for a quality film, this could be for you. 8/10
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Boyo-220 November 1998
This movie is a treasure. Judi Dench deserved an Oscar for her work. If I ever see her on the street, I will apologize for the stupidity of the Academy. Billy Connolly was terrific also and deserved his own nomination. This movie is magnificent; one of the best I've seen in a long time. Even if you think this kind of thing is too Masterpiece Theatre, I think you would enjoy this.
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A Strong Period Drama and Another Brilliant Characterization by Judi Dench
gradyharp31 January 2006
MRS. BROWN as written by Jeremy Brock and directed by John Madden (Proof, Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli's Mandolin) is a sprightly, entertaining and engrossing study of a moment in the life of enigmatic Queen Victoria. Selecting an outstanding production crew and a fine cast this film succeeds on every level and once again proves to us that Judi Dench is one of the finest actresses on the stage or screen today.

The story revolves around the time when Queen Victoria's beloved husband Prince Albert dies resulting in a clinical depression in the queen. She leaves London with her entourage to grieve at Balmoral Castle. There her Scottish Highlander servant John Brown (Billy Connolly) nurses her back to normalcy but in the meanwhile sets up the appearance of an affair that scandalized the British Isles. Disraeli (Antony Sher) visits in an attempt to right the situation but it is Brown's strong personality - an equal match for the wise and wily Victoria - that alters the course of events that returns Queen Victoria to her proper station.

Dench and Connolly play so well off each other that their relationship has a wealth of charm, tenderness, bite, wit, and solidity. The supporting cast includes a fine turn by Gerard Butler as Archie Brown, John's supportive and playful brother. The costumes are superb and the cinematography by Richard Greatrex captures the atmosphere of the cloying indoor spaces as well as the freedom of the vast coastline vistas. Stephen Warbeck is responsible for the well-integrated musical score. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
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Love Does Not Conquer All
BB-1516 January 2000
Some believe that marriage is too important a decision to be left in the hands of lovers. No where is this more clear than with love among royalty and it certainly was true 150 years ago. At that time the Queen of England, Victoria tragically becomes a widow. She is very lonely but eventually finds companionship. So begins Mrs. Brown, but sadly a new tragedy slowly unfolds because Victoria's companion is her servant, Mr. Brown. That he can never be anything else but her servant is understood but his heart takes much longer to learn.

Besides this powerful premise Mrs. Brown works because John Madden's direction and the editing keep things moving, with many beautiful images shown along the way. The acting by all the major characters is very good. Judi Dench is very subtle in showing many different moods. It is no surprise that she was nominated for a best actress Oscar.

A haunting musical score adds to the feeling of the film. It is an excellent accompaniment for what should have been a happy story of love which simply could never be. Mrs. Brown is not heavy handed with its message. It is a tale of the heart and in the end the center of the film is not the Mrs. but the Mr. Brown, for his patience, endurance and care.
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A film which carries extra appeal because of personal resonance.
bwilson-30813 August 2005
Undoubtedly this film appeals to so very many because of the fine acting, the tenderness of a story about how a man comforts a great human being in her grief, the wit, and the careful re-creation of a period of history. For me personally, however, there was another appealing element - the highlighting of the differences between English and Scottish culture. This seems so often to be brought out very wittily by Sher's Disraeli - in his references to his suffering because of the weather and Scottish food, to this land of Calvin and Knox, and in his barbed comments to English churchmen that Her Majesty is actually becoming interested in Low Church Presbyterianism. It is because I can identify with such traits of character and belief from an Ulster Scot ancestry and because I often see others' failure to understand or appreciate those traits that the film has a degree of personal resonance.
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Two superb actors at their best
CharltonBoy4 January 2000
Mrs Brown is an enthralling piece of work wonderfully crafted by Judy Dench and Billy Connolly. The story is about queen Victoria and the relationship with Mr Brown after the death of her husband. Connolly is superb and maybe should think about sticking to straight acting more often instead of comedy. Although the film tends to tail of a little in the last half hour it is still worth seeing. 7 out of 10
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Shannon26 June 2002
Warning: Spoilers
** Possible spoilers **

This film was a delight to rent on a Friday night. As a history buff (and my college major), I wanted to check this out. Having previously seen the A&E original miniseries, "Victoria and Albert," I was told that this movie picked up where "V&A" left off.

Not only is it wonderful, it just stuck in my mind. Billy Connolly and Dame Judi Dench were magnificent in their roles. The character of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli was also wonderful. This movie should've carried more Oscars and nominations than it had.

The movie itself is about Scotsman John Brown (Connolly) who befriends Queen Victoria (Dench) who has been in mourning for her husband and consort, Prince Albert, since his death of typhoid in 1861. It's a nice story that history and non-history buffs will enjoy.

To get the full effect of Queen Victoria's life, rent (or buy) "Victoria and Albert," then rent (or buy) "Mrs. Brown," and you will then see how the story of Victoria's life fits together. All in all, I give this 3 stars out of a possible four stars.
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Unanswered question the key to satisfying, involving film
lfsutherland6 September 2000
I saw this movie again last night on video, having seen it before. It's one of those unpretentious films that leaves you wondering why you are - quietly - so involved: it "sneaks up" on you. Musing, it occurred to me that the unnamed force holding the story together is the unidentified motivation of John Brown. Why does he become so doggedly concerned with the welfare of this woman - in both her manners and her position the epitome of that English system of class and values he so disdains - even to the point of near obsession? We can see from his other actions and words that it has something to do with responsibility, independence, kindness, strength and weakness, and most of all honesty - he cannot dissemble - but fortunately, the film makers and the actor don't pry. The character is that wonderful thing, opaque yet real, sympathetic yet independent and never cloying - a wonderful antidote to run of the mill characterisation where we, the audience, are forced relentlessly to "relate". You really feel as if you have met a man as you might in life. At the largest level, I got out of the film the sense of what is possible - in terms of feeling, of relationship, of kindness to others - to a person when they truly accept themselves and live life on their own terms.
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A beautifully crafted film
Kaserynofthegyre8 March 1999
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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Bill Conolly is terrific!!
Prateek Dasgupta21 September 2005
Mrs Brown is a good movie with a good storyline ,excellent performances by Bill Conolly ,Judi Dench and Antony Sher. Antony Sher(Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli)adds some humor to the the movie .It was a delight visiting the beautiful Scottish Highlands thanks to some marvelous photography and a very good recreation of the Victorian age. The real show stealer I felt was Bill Conolly(John Brown).He is portrayed as a loyal,charismatic,fun loving Scottish highlander who can dare to defy the Queen's orders .The scenes involving Victoria and Brown are electrifying.It surprises me that a talented actor like Bill Connoly Does not get many good roles.I would definitely love to see more of this talented actor.
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A must see for lovers of British period films
George Parker11 May 2003
"Mrs. Brown" tells the story of the grieving widow Queen Victoria (Dench) and her relationship with a common Scottish horse groomsman (Connolly) whose audacity and devotion won him a position as the queen's closest consort and her everlasting affection. A wonderfully executed period piece (circa 1860's), "Mrs. Brown" leans toward fact and avoids sensationalism as it tenders its biographically correct drama about a grieving queen who finds an unspoken love and renewed commitment to life in a most unlikely man. Anyone into British period flicks should enjoy this film's sterling performances, excellent costuming, beautiful locations, etc. (B+)
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An All-Time Great performance by the Dame
kostas papageorgiou24 April 2002
An excellent historical drama on a sweet anecdote from the life of Queen Victoria. Certainly not the stuff for a pompous epic drama, and that´s the film´s strength. What makes it great, however, is the duo of the protagonists: Judi Dench and Billy Connoly give acting lessons, at the same time being so subtle about it that I had the impression that each was trying to act the other into the spotlight. I was deeply moved by the Dame´s performance and think she was robbed of an Oscar - a fact which was acknowledged in the Oscar ceremony by the winner Helen Hunt!(not taking anything away from her performance, she was excellent) By the way, a sign of greatness by Helen - chapeau! Obviously, that was the reason for the Oscar for her (great) 8-minute performance in Shakespeare In Love the next year. Still, Mrs.Brown is a great film in all aspects, not just something for Dench-fans. Wouldn´t hurt to check the political history of the time, the background is extremely interesting.
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Film Portrays the Private Life of Queen Victoria and Mr. Brown
savanna-23 April 2000
Superb and thoroughly convincing portrayals by all, but especially Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and Billy Connolly as John Brown. Brown is dogged in his devotion to the Queen.

While she is appreciative of and at a point demands that he remains with her, he is a very unpopular choice with her children, advisors, prime minister(s), etc.

Even through ridicule and other hardships Brown remains ever vigilant. A haunting film, that is well worth more then one viewing.

The attention to detail will please even the most demanding viewer.
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Good, meticulously crafted, no-compromise drama
redhand-228 December 1998
This is not, as one might think, a romantic film about a queen who falls in love with a subject -- although that's technically its story, and although it seems to aspire to the category of romantic, bittersweet drama. For that it's too harsh and cold, and my experience is that women in particular will be disappointed that at no point in the film will the central characters "succumb to their yearnings". True, this is an epic, sweeping, costume drama, but it's one that stays so true in its wish to portray history and reality correctly, that the grand love scenes are ruled out by its no-compromise attitude.

Beyond that (it's by no means a criticism), Mrs. Brown is a touching, very entertaining, extremely well acted drama. Unlike many other films set in this era, the sets aren't overdone, and the people are portrayed (as I imagine it) realistically. Despite its focus on realism, it comes off as an extremely emotional (much thanks to Billy Connolly's performance) story about personal and political conflicts.

Finally, I believe the political angle of the film will confuse some people who won't understand the issues at stake (this is how my girlfriend reacted -- she couldn't follow much of the narrative in the last hour or so); but those who do will be thrilled.
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Judi Dench is Luminous
Jeff Hendrix2 November 2013
The movie is Master Class. Judi Dench conveys more emotion and anguish with one look than most actors do in their entire career. Becoming Queen Victoria is what she accomplishes in this small, independent, but, thoroughly enthralling film. The remaining ensemble is terrific from top to bottom. The movie strings extreme emotion throughout, first, deep sorrow and grief, confusion and anguish, and finally triumph. It keeps you guessing as to the Queen's competence to the throne and the relationship she constructs with Mr. Brown. The scenery is spectacular, both interior and exterior: it and Judi Dench will take you breath away. In the end, the movie satisfies on all accounts.
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A story of friendship
bd7410 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
It's the 1860s, and the aging Queen Victoria is still grieving over the death of her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. A couple of years have passed since his death, but the black-clad Queen has not been able to get out of her state of melancholy, and she has chosen to retreat to her home on the Isle of Wight. John Brown, a servant highly respected by the late Prince Albert, is brought in from Scotland to attend to the Queen. Mr. Brown is determined to lead the Queen out of her misery. Since he is in charge of the Queen's horse, he takes the Queen out to ride the horse every morning, in hopes that the fresh air will do her good. At first, the Queen is stubborn and reluctant to spend time with him. Within time, she gives in and a friendship is formed between the two. Through it all, Mr. Brown demonstrates an unmatched allegiance to the Queen.

This movie was incorrectly billed as a love story, but it is actually a story about the power of friendship and how two people from polar opposite social classes (a servant and a monarch) end up becoming friends. In the film, the members of the British aristocracy look down upon the friendship between Mr. Brown and the Queen; when they speak of the Queen, they refer to her as "Mrs. Brown." Nevertheless, the bond shared by Mr. Brown and the Queen is merely an amicable one, and that bond is broken only Mr. Brown's untimely death. Billy Connolly cleverly portrays the saucy and arrogant Mr. Brown, while the Queen is played with precision by the very talented Judy Dench. Their performances bring this movie to life, and the movie itself manages to show that friendship can be a powerful thing.
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A peek inside the private life of Queen Victoria
MickeyTo22 September 1999
It may be an unwritten rule, but it is clearly understood in upper crust societies that sadness is stoic, while happiness is petty. Mrs. Brown peers into the private life of one of history's most fascinating people, at her most private of times. Following the death of her husband, Queen Victoria goes into a long period of mourning, taking her empire with her. Struggling to hang onto her dearly departed she latches onto his favorite employee, a stable master.

Under the stern eye of her advisors and children, Victoria forms a friendship with the man that transcends anything considered respectable.

Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria to perfection. Even in her most tender moments, she never loses her dignity, nor her presence. Billy Connelly is John Brown, her loyal and trustworthy friend, servant and companion.

The film is beautifully shot, capturing the bleakness that would have been Queen Victoria's life at that time. The writing is first rate, blending a small story with epic events, and detailing the picture with occasional glimpses into the day to day life of the time.

Most impressive about this movie is that it resists the temptation to grasp on to Hollywood cliches. John Brown snubs his nose at the establishment, however he knows his limits. Victoria lets loose, but never at the cost of her station.
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Brilliant movie
lucy-192 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
(Spoiler alert)

Yes, yes, Dench and Connolly act brilliantly and their relationship is touching. Look beyond, though, at the settings - Victoria's pompous, cold, stuffy palaces. Look at the costumes - the women stuck wearing Victoria's modification of the clothes that were fashionable when she was young. Note the ridiculous protocol - when Vicky stops eating, everyone stops. When she dashes off to visit her ill son (and breaks her self-imposed purdah at last) - no one gets any lunch. Is Henry Ponsonby ever allowed to visit his wife? Note, too, the "tartanry" - the Victorian reinvention of Scotland (a country very recently conquered and annexed by the English crown). Maybe Brown stands for the real thing - the real Scotsman surrounded by a German royal family carefully singing Scottish folksongs in English translation and the style of Schubert. Neither Vicky nor Brown is perfect. Until he comes along, no one tells her to shut up. His character "develops" from someone with an eye to the main chance to a man devoted to preserving her safety and jealously shielding her from family and politicians. But he also drinks too much and tyrannizes over his fellow servants - I couldn't watch. An excellent film that picks out many aspects of the time that still resound today. It stays in the mind.
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Excellent, A Truly Wonderful Movie!
webber-george19 August 2015
The promotional material that was released for this film including the descriptions that appear on the box to me bear no resemblance to the film itself. Queen Victoria is suffering from terrible grief after the loss of her husband and the film is about her loyal friendship with Mr Brown. Why they describe it any other way I cannot fathom, perhaps only because they think it will sell more copies (but disappoint more people at the same time). Both Dame Judy Dench and Billy Connelly CBE both play outstanding parts in this film. Both characters are complex and have deep emotion which both stars pull off exquisitely. Anthony Sher is also excellent and with such amazing makeup can actually be confused for Benjamin Disraeli.

This film is about real people and these real people have real emotions and that's what this film is about. I only mark it down because of the incorrect labelling of the film by the marketing people.
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The Queen's Highland Fling
bkoganbing19 March 2011
If you are expecting this film to be a romance than skip it. It is about the extraordinary man with the ordinary name of John Brown who brought a Queen out of mourning. Not that a whole lot of gossip about Queen Victoria and her Scot's highland servant Brown wasn't bandied about in their day. That's the way it is in court politics, then and now.

Judi Dench is the Queen who when this story begins was getting the unflattering nickname of the widow of Windsor. By the merest of chance in these royal arranged marriages it was arranged she should marry a cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg Gotha. She and Prince Albert had a good score of married years with several children. They were so happy that when Prince Albert died of typhoid fever in late 1861, Victoria went into a really lengthy mourning period beyond all normal parameters. The woman would have needed grief counseling had it been available back in her day. She shut herself up in Balmoral Castle in Scotland and made no public appearances. Nor would she allow any of her children to substitute for her, particularly the Prince of Wales. With that kind of mentality operating, a whole lot of people questioned the need even for a monarchy.

Into her life comes John Brown, brother one of the household help already at Balmoral and hired to tend the Queen's horses. Billy Connolly plays the rough spoken Brown who somehow even through his tough highland talk, endears himself to his Queen with his common sense and total concern for her well being.

Gaining the position he does in the Victorian household, Brown makes many enemies who try to bring him down. The period of the film covers when he arrives in the Queen service in 1866 until his death in 1883. Connolly makes a fine Brown though if the film had been made 25 years earlier, the part was made for Sean Connery.

Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown gained to Oscar nominations for Judi Dench for Best Actress and for Best Makeup. Shooting on location in the royal palaces and grounds which are nicely preserved from Victoria's time, the film does have the look and feel of Victorian Great Britain and the troubled monarch who reigned over the Empire.

Were she and Brown ever physical? I doubt that very much, the very practical Brown was not a stupid man and would never have pushed his luck that much. But he was a tower of strength for the woman whom he brought out of mourning to take her place which was a large one in the world.
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I loved this film
bart-4428 September 1999
There may have been a bit of poetic license taken with the story of Queen Victoria and her Scottish groom, but this is an absolutely wonderful film! Dench as Victoria and Connolly as Brown are absolutely superb, and the rest of the cast is just as good. (Antony Sher is brilliant as the shrewd and compassionate Disraeli, and though its not a big role, he is a joy to watch.) The developing bond between Dench and Connolly is very believable and there is a real chemistry when they are on screen together.

When the story begins England is growing very tired of their Queen's prolonged grieving over her now long-dead husband Prince Albert -- she has virtually eliminated her ceremonial appearances and cut herself off from the public literally for years. Problem is, no one seems willing to confront Her Majesty with the fact that it is high time she move on. No one, that is, except John Brown who recognizes that even the Queen of England needs to be treated like ordinary human beings once in a while.

Their developing relationship is charming and touching. This is no dry, historical period piece, this is truly a great film. (Ten out of ten from me, and I don't rate films a full ten very often!)
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Fit for a queen
R_O_U_S20 January 2004
We do do movies about dead monarchs well, don't we? Here's Judi Dench in the role she SHOULD have won the Oscar for, alongside a hairy comedian giving a performance that almost equals hers. Queen Victoria, it is, in mourning over the death of her beloved husband Albert, to whom she erected countless bloody memorials. It's a movie about forbidden love, of course. And, er, it's a while since I saw it. Good movie, though.
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"Ageing" Queen was in her early 40's
rogertaylor194721 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Some contributors have written as if Victoria was already some ageing figure but she was born in 1819 and so was only in her early 40's at the time that John Brown came into her life.

She still would have been very much pre change of life so there was always the real possibility or potential of emotions going beyond friendship and mutual respect.

Supposedly an incredibly stuffy woman she defied social and family pressure to be seen to find delight in the company of a man of low-ish social status.

It would be ridiculous to even contemplate that our current Queen could and would find the psychological strength to enter into this kind of "forbidden" relationship and friendship had she been made a widow like Victoria in her late 30's.

In fact I find it impossible to think that she would be capable of finding delight and be able to appreciate the warmth of a rough and ready but obviously sharp and proud figure like John Brown and fall, for a time at least, like Victoria, under the spell of such a dominating but low-status personality.

The current Queen is definitely of the upstairs-downstairs personality and is/has been capable of only appreciating company inside her own narrow social circle, so if she had have faced widowhood at the same age as Victoria, we could automatically discount anything beyond the strictest formality in her relationship with her staff.

Both women were/are quite adept and had/have a native intelligence and were/are fools to no one yet we live in an age when snobbery is supposedly dead or at least laying low and that Victorian Britain was this incredibly uptight place, yet Victoria, in her time and place finds both the personal strength and the imagination to defy convention.

Wouldn't such behaviour contradicting such pre-conceived images about the up tight nature of Victorian society make such assertions over-simplistic and indicate that the rather shallow and partial perspective we are taught to hold on such an age needs a corrective (UMM always wary of using THAT word these days) change on the rudder?

Some of the scenes would seem to beg some explanation.

Brown was apparently beaten up and then Victoria was told he had been in a fight through having had too much to drink and at the same time Prince Edward was trying to get Brown the sack. Though this type of semi-biographical film always has scenes and events inserted from a certain perspective for dramatic effect I would imagine that the beating up was real enough and not dramatic license. If this event did happen then was Prince Edward behind the planning of the beating? The "fortuitous" timing would certainly point to that conclusion.

This relationship had tragedy built in. We can only surmise if it is worth someone like Brown to live in the limelight knowing very much in his heart that he is like a moth attracted to a flame and that he was due, after a period of being a essential companion, to suffer years of benign neglect.

From what I can gather from the film he was by her side for 4 years at the very most and that he then spent the entire 1870's and early 80's in obscurity once she had re-entered her role of monarch to the British public.

In fact the scene with Disraeli on the mountain top shows that he knows that once she is out of the Balmoral & the Highlands that his time as crucial companion will come to an end yet he is unable to refuse Disraeli clear invitation to use his influence to make her re-enter the orbit of being the public monarch.

Again I think the Disrali-Brown meeting, whatever it's location, the substance of that discussion, though given dramatic license, must logically have taken place, though the film portrays that the single "momentous", as it happen, event that brought Victoria back from the role of grieving widow into the role of Queen one again was Prince Edward falling ill with Cholera.

The film is quite brilliant at bringing out that moment which began the marginalisation and eventual elimination of John Brown's reign of influence over Victoria and his eventual psychological and physical destruction.

It would be a spoiler to describe the actual scene but it is exceedingly well done and you are left in no doubt that this is the end for John Brown if not for Victoria. So who really then was the tragic figure in all of this???

Had he "saved" her only to be led inexorably on the road to eventual self-destruction?

Maybe the main reason why I related so much to the JB character: highly intelligent man who has a commanding presence who is forced to suffer from being subordinate to those of inferior intellect from an inability to kow-tow but is afflicted with a fatal weakness whose consumption dominates his whole life: so closely echoes the memory of a Scotsman with whom I was a student 35 years ago.

I saw him occasionally in the years after as he failed to rise up the greasy hierarchy and each time, as I saw the physical evidence of his decline, wondered what it is that drives a seemingly immensely strong personality onwards into an inevitable self-destruction and death.

Alcoholic oblivion is a temporary fix which enables you to neutralised those feelings of unfulfilled status but whose inevitable result is your own demise.

Whilst it may not be an exclusively Scottish way to live and die the culture of heavy drinking seems an incredibly destructive force on otherwise unstoppable charismatic personalities through the generations.
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