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Film / The Young Victoria

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The Young Victoria is a 2009 British biopic directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and written by Julian Fellowes.

It tells the story of Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt)'s early years, beginning with her isolated childhood with her mother, the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), and her tyrannical aide John Conroy (Mark Strong); her headstrong reactions to the attempts of her mother, her uncles King William IV of the UK (Jim Broadbent) and King Leopold of Belgium (Thomas Kretschmann), and her prime minister, Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany), to control her; and the beginning of her lifelong romance with her cousin and future husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Rupert Friend).

This film provides examples of the following:

  • Artistic License – History:
    • Albert did not attend the coronation in real life.
    • Albert was not actually wounded during the assassination attempt; the director stated he put that in to make it more dramatic.
    • As is mentioned below, in reality Lord Melbourne was forty years older than Victoria. They also got on very well indeed; she was so devoted to him, in fact, that people started to mockingly call her 'Mrs Melbourne'.
    • Sir John Conroy goes so far as to physically abuse Victoria, twice. The real Conroy, while ambitious and arrogant, was never so foolish as to treat the future monarch so poorly; he mostly ignored her, which was idiotic enough in its own right.
    • The film seems to suggest that the Whigs lose the 1837 general election. It may be awkward writing, but in reality, Lord Melbourne felt compelled to resign after only narrowly winning an important vote in Parliament.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Played twice for good measure.
  • Catapult Nightmare: The night before the coronation, Victoria has a dream of playing chess with Albert. She sees her uncle, Lord Melbourne, Sir Robert Peel, and the Duke of Wellington, among others. Albert says "your move." When Victoria moves to put her piece down, Albert turns into Conroy and grabs her wrist.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The man who tries to shoot Victoria makes several appearances in almost every crowd.
  • Chess Motifs: Look how many times chessboards appear in the film. Victoria also complains to Albert about feeling like a chesspiece. He responds that she should play herself.note 
  • The Consigliere: Baron Stockmar to King Leopold, as his main counselor and Albert's tutor in British politics.
  • Cool Old Guy: The Duke of Wellington. A Retired Badass too.
    • William IV as well. He's quite fond of Victoria, and is outraged by her mother's attempts to isolate and control her.
  • Dances and Balls
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Victoria, in a sense. Though she's generally warm and friendly, her Character Arc over the course of the film is to not be so staunchly independent/protective of her power and let Albert help her in the ruling of her country.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Each of the characters get one, but especially Lord Melbourne. His first interaction with Victoria involves him making conversation with her and praising her late father as a kind and noble gentleman. Cut to the Duke of Wellington muttering that even if he had the skill to charm Victoria, he couldn't praise her father, as he was "the most brutal officer [Wellington] ever encountered." This shows Melbourne as someone who's friendly and caring while also a consummate politician and manipulator.
  • Evil Matriarch: The princess has a very difficult relationship with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, who under the influence of Evil Chancellor Sir John Conroy controls the princess's every move and conspires to browbeat her into allowing the Duchess (and consequently Conroy) the regency until well into her adulthood. Upon her accession, Victoria banishes her mother to a far corner of Buckingham Palace and turfs Conroy altogether. Happily, she can rely on the counsel of her kindly aunt, the dowager Queen Adelaide, and eventually thaws slightly to her mother after the birth of her first daughter.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Oh yes, including Regal Ringlets. The film even won an Academy Award for its Costume Porn and Pimped Out Dresses.
  • Happily Ever After: The real Victoria and Albert more or less got to do this, going on to have nine children and a very successful monarchy, until his death.
  • Held Gaze: Victoria and Albert have one long gaze into each other's eyes as they waltz together at the ball to celebrate Victoria's becoming Queen of the United Kingdom.
  • Heroic Bystander: When Victoria is shot at, the man standing next to the shooter immediately wrestles the gun away from him.
  • Historical Beauty Upgrade: Doesn't matter if the real Victoria was a young woman of average attractiveness, she was nowhere as stunning as Emily Blunt. This is lampshaded when Albert is shown a portrait and asks if she is really that pretty in person.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • The historical Sir John Conroy, while indeed an adventurer and a nasty piece of work, nevertheless was not so stupid as to physically abuse the future Queen of the United Kingdom.
    • The real Leopold had a good relationship with Victoria and held her mother's attempts to make her into a weak-willed pawn in contempt.
  • Hollywood Old: Lord Melbourne was 58 when Victoria became queen. Paul Bettany had just celebrated his 38th birthday when he played the role.
  • Hot Consort: Oh yes.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: All but said with Albert and Victoria during the montage of their "honeymoon."
  • I Was Quite a Looker: That too.
  • Kick the Dog: Literally; after violently manhandling Victoria (a scene which she promises she will never forgive her mother for standing by and watching), John Conroy actually kicks her dog, Dash, as she storms from the room.
  • Kissing Cousins: Albert was Victoria's first cousin; his father was her mother's brother.
  • Large Ham: King Leopold's scenes are one scene of Chewing the Scenery after another.
    Stockmar: I can't get past Melbourne.
    King Leopold: Then get [Albert] past Melbourne! Get him into her bed!
  • The Man Behind the Man: The whole movie is about how she thwarts everyone vying to control her: her mother and her advisor; King William (who mostly just wants to die after she turns 18, so she can become Queen with no regency); King Leopold (whose tyrannical attitude is exaggerated - actually he was her favourite uncle); and Lord Melbourne (whom the real Victoria loved dearly). Melbourne, at least, is portrayed as genuinely caring for the young Queen and mostly having her best interests at heart; but he was, of course, a politician.
  • Match Cut:
    • At Victoria's coronation, the camera focuses on her mother's face as it flashes back two years to when John Conroy attempts to force Victoria to sign an order for a regency.
    • As King William reaches for a new glass of alcohol, the glass is replaced by a whole line of them at the dinner table.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Played subtly at the start, then amped up with the whole "let him rule with you" bit.
  • Oh, Crap!: Albert when he realizes he has to learn to dance.
  • Parental Abandonment: Victoria's father died and Albert's mother was divorced and sent away when they were children.
  • Pet the Dog: At the end of his appointment as Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne admits that some of his counsel to Victoria may have not been in her best interest and asks Victoria for her forgiveness. He also advises for Victoria for the last time, asking her to trust in Albert, despite all the animosity Albert may have with Lord Melbourne.
  • Reaction Shot: When Victoria slams her bedroom door after another fight, the chandelier is shown shaking and several footmen are looking up at it warily.
  • Rebellious Princess: Victoria fights off the determined attempts of her mother and John Conroy to control her and force her to accept a regency.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The passionate, fiery and stubborn Victoria, and the quiet, reserved and patient Albert.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Despite the dissuasions of her Whig prime minister Lord Melbourne, who didn't think much of the common lot of mankind, Victoria is anxious to help the poor, and Albert endears himself to her by being abubble with ideas on the subject.
  • Ruling Couple: Victoria and Albert naturally, though it's actually one of the themes of the film: that Victoria allows her husband to rule alongside her.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: After Victoria is crowned, Lord Melbourne announces to John Conroy and the Duchess of Kent that they would not be living together with the queen in the palace, effectively cutting off all influence they may have over her. The two get very upset, alternatively threatening and appealing to Lord Melbourne's better nature. In the middle of Conroy's rant, Lord Melbourne effectively cut both of them off with this.
    Lord Melbourne: I'm sorry. I can see I am not speaking clearly. You have played the game... and lost.
  • Tough Leader Façade: Victoria muses extensively on how to avoid being controlled or making mistakes due to her youth and inexperience.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Albert wants to help Victoria with ruling. Victoria asks him to blot ink off her letters.
  • Young Future Famous People: The main character.