Friday, April 08, 2011

Young Victoria and Bright Star

The King's Speech is not the only recent film to depict events in British history. Bonnie brought home two gorgeously romantic films focused on early nineteenth century Britain that should please many Anglophiles like me.

The first was Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt as the princess (born 1819) who became the longest reigning British monarch. It is a coming of age story about Victoria who as heir to the throne first fought her mother to avoid the control of ambitious John Conroy, the strict comptroller of the duchess's household, and then as a young queen struggled to overcome the manipulations of her advisers, especially the well-meaning Lord Melbourne. In the background, her uncle King Leopold of Belgium groomed her cousin Albert as a suitor that he thought that he could control. Both Victoria and Albert proved to be strong-willed, able to eventually take command of their would-be controllers. It's a great story and visually stunning.

At just about the time that Victoria was born, poet John Keats was lodging in Hampstead outside London with his friend Charles Armitage Brown. Keats was totally without money but had just published a volume of poetry which received mixed reviews. In his early twenties, he attracted the attention of Fanny Brawne, a local girl who enjoyed sewing, dancing, and flirting. Keats was rather serious about writing and did not like to dance. Their unlikely romance is depicted in Bright Star. Of course, if you know your literary history, you know the film is going to end sadly, but with all the poetry and beautiful countryside, it is a pleasure to watch.

Young Victoria. Sony Pictures, 2010. ISBN 9781435996335.

Bright Star. Sony Pictures, 2010. ISBN 9781435996366.


Pam said...

Now you have to read "We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals" by Gillian Gill. If you loved The Young Victoria, you will love that book.

ricklibrarian said...

Good choice. I believe that I am going to cite it in my next book on biography, which will be out in 2012.