Guest Author - Karen L Hardison
Mrs. Brown (1997) by director John Madden told the speculated story of Queen Victoria's secret and improprietous love for her gillie John Brown (riding attendant) that came to renewed public attention because of publication of diaries of the Victorian courtier 1st Viscount Harcourt. His diaries were laden with salacious gossip. In it Harcourt records reports of death-bed confessions, of in-the-know ladies-in-waiting’s remarks, of scandalous deportment on the Queen's part. The perfect fodder for a movie—and all (as yet) uncorroborated intrigue.
At the time that England’s Queen Victoria became closely associated with John Brown, she was a grieving widow. Her beloved and cherished husband Prince Albert had died and Victoria was in the tight grip of deep mourning, and this to the extent that her grief was awakening alarms for her well-being in her daughter. It was agreed that on Victoria's behalf Prince Albert's gillie from the castle of Balmoral be brought, with Victoria's consent, to Windsor to attend to the equestrian entertainment of the Queen, this in the hopes of rousing her from her despair and despondency.
According to the gossip the plan worked a little too well. There were even rumors of a secret royal wedding and pregnancy as the result of an alliance between Victoria and John Brown. Grist was added to the mill when Victoria required that upon her death, a picture of and a ring belonging to John Brown be placed in her coffin, along with belongings of her beloved, but lost, Prince Albert.
The Young Victoria tells the story of Queen Victoria's one an only true love affair, which was with Prince Albert (who knows, she may also have truly loved John Brown but...their love is as yet only speculation). Victoria is shown as a beautiful, ingenuous young woman who is surprised that her ascent to the throne will occur sooner than she had believed. This revelation ushered in a serious quest for a husband for the future queen. The choice was ultimately Prince Albert—no movie spoiler here; it's history!
The Young Victoria beautifully recounts their courtship, growing love and dedicated devotion in the wonderfully replicated halls of royal residence at Windsor and other places. The spectacle of court life in the 1800s is as rich as Lindor chocolates and as thirst quenching as the Sistine Chapel—beauty feeds a certain something in the soul and without it, inner lives are parched.
The list of stars playing lead roles in The Young Victoria includes the beautiful Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany (in a saner role this time, we hope), Miranda Richardson and Jim Broadbent. These are all stellar performers shinning in star-worthy roles. The bad news is that the U.S. release of The Young Victoria is "limited." You'll need to try harder to see what promises to be a shinning cinematic gem. It's rated PG, which usually means it will be suitable for the whole family with a little judicious eye covering and ear closing.
[For more information about the gossip and Queen Victoria as the alleged Mrs. Brown, see Raymond Lamont-Brown’s article on 1st Viscount Harcourt’s diaries on BNET, from which my summary of Victoria’s and John Brown’s story is taken. Look for it at: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2242/is_1655_283/ai_112095011/ ]
Jean-Marc Vallee - Director
Julian Fellowes - Writer
Emily Blunt - Young Victoria
Rupert Friend - Prince Albert
Paul Bettany - Lord Melbourne
Miranda Richardson - Duchess of Kent
Jim Broadbent - King William