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The Lost Prince
The Lost Prince
Actors: Daniel Williams, Matthew James Thomas, Brock Everitt-Elwick, Rollo Weeks, Gina McKee
Director: Stephen Poliakoff
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
NR     2004     2hr 59min

The true story of the british royal prince locked away because of having epilepsy. Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 02/22/2005 Starring: Miranda Richardson Matthew Thomas Run time: 180 minutes Rating: Nr


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Movie Details

Actors: Daniel Williams, Matthew James Thomas, Brock Everitt-Elwick, Rollo Weeks, Gina McKee
Director: Stephen Poliakoff
Creators: Stephen Poliakoff, David M. Thompson, Joanna Beresford, John Chapman, Mark Hubbard, Peter Fincham, Rebecca Eaton
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, All Made-for-TV Movies
Studio: BBC Warner
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/26/2004
Original Release Date: 12/18/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 12/18/2005
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 59min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Heartbreakingly Evocative
John D. Cofield | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Now that I have finally seen both episodes of The Lost Prince I can say confidently that it is one of the best Masterpiece Theater presentations in many years. As the story of Prince John, the youngest child of King George V and Queen Mary of Great Britain, it is heartbreakingly evocative of the tragedy of one child and of the loss of an entire world.

The first episode opens with Prince John at about the age of three or four. He is epileptic and probably autistic, handicaps which no one knew how to deal with effectively at the time and which were especially difficult to handle for a Royal on public display much of the time. His family is fond of him but emotionally distant, and the only real love John receives is from his nurse Lalla and his next older brother Georgie. Most of the time John is kept out of sight, though occasionally he gets to watch Royal occasions like the visit of the Russian Imperial Family to England (among the most beautiful of the scenes in this film, the Grand Duchesses and the Empress being elegant and charming) and the funeral of his grandfather Edward VII. His parents are so bound up with their royal duties and conscious of their dignity that they can't unbend enough to risk being with Johnnie too often. (With Queen Mary we are given an explanation for her apparent unfeelingness when we are shown glimpses of her own difficult and embarrassing childhood as the daughter of a very large and very undignified Princess.) Johnnie's handicaps make him refreshingly natural and spontaneous, which embarrasses his family when, for example, he repeats some unflattering comments he has overheard the Prime Minister make about the Royals. The first episode ends with the outbreak of World War I and Johnnie's removal to the countryside.

In the second episode Johnnie is safely ensconced at a farm near Sandringham with Lalla and a small retinue of servants. He rarely sees his family, who are busier with royal duties than ever. His main source of news and information is Georgie, who is a miserable cadet at the Royal Naval College. Georgie witnesses Britain's conversion to a war footing and the development of chauvinistic super-patriotic anti-German feelings. These lead to the Royal Family coming under attack for its German origins, and to the dynasty's renaming itself the House of Windsor. We also see the fate of the Romanovs after the fall of the Russian monarchy in 1917. Although the British government at first agreed to accept the Romanovs as exiles, rising anti-monarchical sentiment in Britain so alarmed George V that he prevailed on his government to rescind the invitation. This led to the eventual execution of the Romanovs and lifelong remorse by the King.

During these war years Johnnie lived a quiet life, roaming the countryside and planting gardens. His parents saw him rarely and were as distant as ever. Eventually, Lalla prevailed on the King and Queen to hear Johnnie give a recital. One of the happiest parts of The Lost Prince comes when the King and Queen find themselves listening to and enjoying the company of their youngest son, gradually unbending and smiling as he plays the trumpet and kicks a football. Johnnie lived only a short time after the end of World War I, but the King and Queen carried his memory with them for the rest of their lives. By the way, it may be of interest to know that his brother Georgie, to whom Johnnie gave the courage to pursue his own artistic interests, had difficulties of his own in his twenties and thirties with drug addiction and sundry other problems, finally dying in a plane crash in 1942. This Georgie was not King George VI, the father of the present Queen. George VI's original name was Albert (Bertie) and he appears only as an extra in this film.

The Lost Prince is a beautiful production. Extreme royal aficionados will notice a few missteps (the Romanovs may have been Russian Royals, but they didn't have Russian accents the way this film portrayed them. If anything, Nicholas and Alexandra and their children had British accents!) but these are mere fumbles in the delivery of a beautiful and evocative series."
Pivotal moments in history through the eyes of an innocent
Punayut Klykoom | Pakred, Thailand | 03/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For his latest television film, Stephen Poliakoff has dusted off some skeletons from the Royal Family closet, given them flesh through a well researched, literate script and dressed them, beautifully, in all the finery of late Edwardian era; his real triumph, though, is in breathing life into what could have been mere historical zombies.
"The Lost Prince" tells the tale of the Royals from the time of Edward VII, and the zenith of Britain's Imperial splendour, through to the Gotterdammerung of the First World War and the smashing of the royal houses of Europe on the battlefield. Where Poliakoff's account departs from others is in telling the story largely through the eyes of a child: Prince Johnny, the epileptic, possibly autistic (and thought to be `imbecile') youngest son of George V and Queen Mary. For Johnny, hidden away in the country where he cannot embarrass his parents, the unfolding of one of the most tumultuous periods in European history is a surreal family melodrama populated by larger-than-life relatives like Czar Niki and Kaiser Willy.
Pretty well abandoned by his parents, Johnny's main contact with the world is through his nurse, Lalla, and brother Georgie---better known as the Duke of Kent, whose death in a 1942 plane crash along with the `real' Rudolf Hess still has tongues wagging---Poliakoff also lifts the lid on who was really responsible for abandoning the Romanovs to their fate (and it wasn't Lloyd George).
With great performances from the likes of Tom Hollander (as George V), Michael Gambon (as Edward VII), and Miranda Richardson (as Queen Mary)---not to mention the children who bring young Johnny and Georgie to life---splendid cinematography, a suitably bittersweet Elgarian score and an approach to staging the past that gets beyond the cosmetic pleasures of much costume drama, this is a wonderfully satisfying, elegiac piece of work. A perfect piece of historical drama, no less."
A British Tragedy
B. Wolinsky | New York | 12/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I teach Special Education, and I know how hard it is for parents to raise children who are developementaly delayed or have behavior problems. The only time this is ever a "problem" is when the parents are so embarassed by their child that they ignore him/her completely. That's what happened to Prince John.

John Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (later changed to Windsor) is like the average child, except he has epilepsy and may also be mildly slow. This of course could have been the result of brain damage from the siezures, but it's never clear. Barred from the family circle, he views that ways of his father, the king, as an impartial observer. There's nothing but good in this kid; when his parents make him stand a good distance from a Royal beach party, he's happy to watch. When he sees the Tsar Nicholas swimming, he says "he looks like an Emperor Fish." His Russian cousins laugh, but his parents and brothers pretend he ain't there.

That is, except his closest brother.

John's older brother, with whom he was close in age, shared some good times with John. Unfortunately, he was the only one that cared. The rest of the family wasn't with him all his life, and they weren't the least bit miserable when he died. Why would they be? They formed no bond with their son durring his 14 years.

On a happier note.....

I don't know where they found the boys that play John as a child and adolescent, but they both deserve oscars. They nail the part head on, and they hold their own in the film. This is some of the best performance from child actors that I've seen in a long time."
A unique perspective of the last days of Empire
chefdevergue | Spokane, WA United States | 10/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"We have seen plenty of treatments of the Edwardian era and World War I, including a number from a child's perspective, but none with the perspective that one will find here. Prince John (1905-1919), sheltered from public view due to a variety of ailments (including epilepsy & possibly a form of autism), drifts through his brief life unaffected and undisturbed by the tumult surrounding him.

One reviewer scored this production for its sloppy editing, as the scenes appear to be jumbled together. There is something to that criticism. If you do not know the period well, you may be confused as to what year it is, not to mention who all of the royal relatives may be. Every now and then, one gets a point of reference (death of Edward VII, assassination of Franz Ferdinand) that will tell you what year it is, but then you find that the scene has abruptly shifted to 2 years later. This was a little disconcerting & may be the result of sloppy editing, but I am inclined to think that this was by design. For a child cut off from world events, where every day consists of the same routine, the years might very well blur together after awhile.

Aside from Prince John, a great deal of the action centered around his older brother, (the future Duke of Kent) Prince George (1902-1942), whose perspective is considerably different than that of his brother. Condemned to be the only smart one in a family of relative dullards, Prince George feels most keenly the inability of his parents to deal effectively with much of anything at all, whether it is John's situation or matters of state. At the film's conclusion, he almost envies his brother for being able to live his life on his own terms, and not give a damn what anyone else thinks.

The performances are first rate. Miranda Richardson is superb as Queen Mary, who clearly is torn between her duties as Queen and her wishes to be more attentive and supportive of her family. Tom Hollander evokes sympathy as the hapless George V, who is all too aware of his limitations as a monarch and father & is considerably frustrated by it. Shining through above all others is Gina McKee, who many may recall from "The Forsyte Saga" (in a role that I personally felt had her horribly miscast). She may not have worked well as Irene Forsyte, but she was most moving as the wholy devoted nanny Lalla, who so cares about John's well-being that she is willing to endure a near-decade of virtual exile. It appears that Lalla is unwilling to admit fully to herself the true nature of John's disabilities, continuing to insist that John is "doing so much better." Her own world ultimately becomes more removed from reality than that of John himself.

This is the ultimate irony of John's life, and we see it throughout the film. He was shielded from public view to protect the royal family from potential embarrassment, but this same seclusion ultimately serves to protect John from his own family & their inadequecies. Though largely forgotten by history, nonetheless he is the one who emerges most unscathed and uncompromised."