Although Queen Victoria ruled the British Empire from 1837 to 1901, in this film, we're only offered a glimpse of her early years. A girl with no formal training in politics was called upon to rule the world's most powerful kingdom, how did she prepare for and carry out that calling? That's the question 'The Young Victoria' tries to answer as it leisurely guides us through the early life of the young monarch.
Victoria was coddled by her mother who wouldn't even let her walk down a flight of stairs without someone holding her hand. She couldn't take any chances. Victoria was in a position to take the throne after the king passed away. Other people in the royal families from across Europe schemed to get close to her, by trying to arrange marriages or simply weasel their way into her inner circle. Victoria soon finds herself surrounded by power hungry people who all want a piece of the crown she's destined to carry.
In a time where women were never regarded as important as men, Victoria took on her role with vigor and tenacity. Where she lacked in political savvy, she made up with feminine wisdom and understanding.
Emily Blunt gives Victoria equal parts beauty and regality. She's soft spoken, but always alert. Blunt is perfect for the role. She disappears into it; it's hard to believe this is the same snotty nosed receptionist from 'The Devil Wears Prada.'
The film covers Victoria's meeting and courtship with her future husband Albert. Albert, at times, has a tough time dealing with the fact that his wife is the queen, but he's not necessarily the king. He's more like guest in his own palace.
Paul Bettany ('The Da Vinci Code') takes on the task of playing the conniving Lord Melbourne, one of those people trying to sneak his way into Victoria's inner circle. Melbourne, while successful for a while, underestimates Victoria and her determination. As a matter of fact most people underestimate her, a powerful woman ordering around a kingdom of men.
'The Young Victoria' is only a glimpse of the long and illustrious life of Queen Victoria, but does let us in on the most intriguing parts of her personality. My only complaint with the movie is that it glosses over the history too much. Her courtship with Albert is short and sweet, but lacks the substance that gives us the knowledge that they truly loved each other. A better way to describe 'The Young Victoria,' would be an epic movie, minus the epic. Imagine if a film like 'Braveheart' just skimmed over the middle part so it could get to the ending faster, that's the feeling you get here. Even though we're only talking about a snapshot in Victoria's long life, there's got to be a little more substance there.
With its beautiful cinematography, and outstanding (Oscar winning) costumes, 'The Young Victoria' is as much a thrill to look at as it is to watch. In the history of period pieces during the height of the British Empire, this is one worth seeing.
Everything about 'The Young Victoria's 1080p presentation screams perfection. Hagen Bogdanski's lush cinematography is given a demo-worthy stage on which to shine. The rich greens of the English countryside, the opulent gold adorned halls of Buckingham palace, never degrade for a second. The Oscar winning costumes worn are presented with the utmost detail. Fine detail is visible throughout, with textures and regal fabrics jumping off the screen. Lines are crisp, edges are distinct. Darker scenes are immaculately represented here, with delineation providing an extra depth to the picture. Primary colors glisten, whether it is royal reds or majestic blues. 'The Young Victoria' is a pleasure to look at throughout. While some may not use it specifically as demo material, maybe because it doesn't provide as much as a pop as films like 'Avatar,' this transfer is still very near perfect, even if it's a slightly nuanced perfection.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless audio presentation fares about as well as the video, even for a period piece. The soundtrack is a lot livelier than most period films out there. The surrounds are constantly delivering exciting and engrossing ambient sound whether it be a crowded royal dinner party or a sparsely populated palace garden. Voices are always audible, never hushed or drowned out. Ilan Eshkeri's (yes the same guy who composed original music for 'Ninja Assassin') works wonders with a lively, but at the same time reserved soundtrack, which lends itself to the overall mood and ambiance of the picture. No, there's not a lot of thumping bass, but just like the video presentation, the audio is ideally nuanced for the type of movie it's accompanying.
For such a lovely and sweeping film, the extras included here are quite short and slightly disappointing. Oh, and they're all featured in standard definition.
'Young Victoria' is a must see for anyone who loves a good period film. My wife, a sucker for these kinds of films, may end up watching it three or four more times before the month is over. If it's not your cup of tea, maybe your significant other might like it. It's a fair and accurate (as far as my limited historical knowledge goes) portrait of the queen in her younger years. How she formed the opinions that guided her decades of service to her people. Along with an engaging film is an astounding video presentation, and a very engaging audio presentation that envelops you with all its subtle charms. Someone really dropped the ball on the special features, but it seems we've come to expect that happening more often than not. 'The Young Victoria' is well worth a look.