6.8/10
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119 user 185 critic

Victoria & Abdul (2017)

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Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.

Director:

Stephen Frears

Writers:

Lee Hall (screenplay by), Shrabani Basu (based on the book by)
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Popularity
4,164 ( 262)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Judi Dench ... Queen Victoria
Ali Fazal ... Abdul Karim
Tim Pigott-Smith ... Sir Henry Ponsonby
Eddie Izzard ... Bertie, Prince of Wales
Adeel Akhtar ... Mohammed
Michael Gambon ... Lord Salisbury
Paul Higgins ... Dr. Reid
Olivia Williams ... Lady Churchill
Fenella Woolgar ... Miss Phipps
Julian Wadham ... Alick Yorke
Robin Soans ... Arthur Bigge
Ruth McCabe ... Mrs. Tuck
Simon Callow ... Puccini
Sukh Ojla Sukh Ojla ... Mrs. Karim
Kemaal Deen-Ellis ... Ahmed
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Storyline

Abdul Karim arrives from India to participate in Queen Victoria's golden jubilee. The young clerk is surprised to find favor with the queen herself. As Victoria questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance that her household and inner circle try to destroy. As their friendship deepens, the queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes, joyfully reclaiming her humanity.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

History's most unlikely friendship See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Urdu | Hindi

Release Date:

6 October 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Victoria y Abdul See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$158,845, 24 September 2017, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$22,245,070, 4 January 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In real life, Jane Spencer, the Baroness Churchill, died December 24, 1900, one month before Queen Victoria. She served as Lady of the Bedchamber from 1854 until her death, and was the longest-serving member of the queen's personal household. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the film, Major Bigge is introduced as a member of the royal household of Windsor. While Windsor was not adopted as a name by the British royal family until 1917, this was in reference to his position in the royal household at Windsor Castle, not the royal House of Windsor. Bigge was not a member of the royal family, whatever the name. See more »

Quotes

Abdul Karim: Listen, little drop, give yourself up without a regret and in return you will gain the ocean. Give yourself away and in the great sea you will be secure. Rumi.
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Crazy Credits

Begins with text that says it is "Based on real events... mostly". See more »


Soundtracks

String Quartet in E Flat Major, Opus 1 No. 2, Minuetto
Written by Franz Joseph Haydn
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User Reviews

 
dame judi does it again
28 September 2017 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Director Stephen Frears has enjoyed a long career by focusing on the interesting stories of people, rather than the salient specifics of history or politics. He received Oscar nominations for THE QUEEN and THE GRIFTERS, and helmed other crowd-pleasers such as MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS, PHILOMENA, HIGH FIDELITY, and FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS. While purely entertaining movies are always welcome, it's important to note the filmmaker's approach when the story is entwined with historical importance.

"Based on real events … mostly" is Mr. Frears' cutesy way of kicking off the film and asking us to enjoy the unusual story of connection between a Queen and a servant, and cut him some slack on the historical depth. For most of us, the real enjoyment will be derived from watching yet another standout performance from Oscar winner (and 7 time nominee) Dame Judi Dench as the longest-reigning monarch, Queen Victoria in her elderly years. It's a role she played twenty years ago in MRS. BROWN, and her relationship with John Brown (presented in that film) has some parallels to what we see here with Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal). Dame Judi is the rare actress who can capture both the loneliness and tiresome burden of six decades of rule and the re-invigorated woman we see learning a new language and new religion. She plays weary and spunky with equal believability.

Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India, and in 1861 her beloved husband Prince Albert died. This film picks up in 1887 with the pomp and circumstance of the Golden Jubilee – a celebration of her 50 years of rule. The early scenes tease us with obstructed views, and the comedic element becomes quite obvious as we see her so carelessly slurping her soup at the formal lunch. Part of the celebration includes the presentation of an honorary coin by two Indians peasants Abdul (Fazal) and Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar), the first chosen because of his height, and the second as a last minute fill-in.

Lee Hall (Oscar nominated for BILLY ELLIOT) wrote the screenplay based on the book by Shrabani Basu. The journals of Abdul Karim were only discovered in 2010, a hundred years after his death. Some of the less favorable moments of this era are mentioned, but most of the Queen's lack of knowledge or awareness is attributed to the "boring" reports from her advisers. This leads to some awkward moments later in the film regarding the Muslim mutiny and the subsequent Fatwa.

Rather than dwell on history, the film prefers to focus on the unconventional friendship and the re-awakening of the Queen. Abdul becomes her "Munshi" – a spiritual adviser and her teacher of Urda and the Koran. As you would expect, this is all quite scandalous and frustrating for those such as Prime Minister Lord Salisbury (Michael Gambon), Lady Churchill (Olivia Williams), Victoria's son Bertie (Eddie Izzard), and the royal staff: Sir Henry (the recently deceased Tim Pigott-Smith), her physician Dr Reid (Paul Higgins), and her quivering maid Miss Phipps (Fenella Woolgar). There is even a comical sequence with the great singer Puccini (Simon Callow) as the Queen herself belts out the Gilbert and Sullivan song "I'm Called Little Buttercup".

Balmoral, the Isle of Wight, and Windsor Castle are all part of the breath-taking scenery, while the absurdity of the royal status is viewed through the eyes of the Indian servants. Most of the focus is on Victoria's transformation from joyless, isolated monarch to the anything-but-insane (an Oscar worthy scene) and eager to engage elderly woman (one who has an entire era named after her) falling back in love with life as she fights off "the banquet of eternity". Come for the laughs and the performance of Dame Judi … just not for a history lesson.


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