A Gentle, Romantic Period Piece
Deborah Earle | USA | 10/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This new A&E production on the lives of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert was simply told and well-acted.It does not oversentimentalize the relationship of the couple, and the major events of their lives are reenacted without much sensationalism.
Victoria Hamilton, who may well be one of the Queen's many namesakes, captures the petite size of Britain's longest reigning monarch, making her an endearing character in the eyes of the viewer, even though many of my own forebears suffered under her regime. Jonathan Firth's Albert is potrayed as a gentle, decent, thoughtful man, made to leave his homeland and struggle to find acceptance in an entirely different country. But in the scene where this devoted father of nine comforts hs wife during labor while nearby, his critics suggest that he should be at a men's club instead, we see that, by following the German tradition on dealing with childbirth, he is a man ahead of his time. One of the more delightful moments ofthe film is when, during their courtship, he and Victoria play a duet together on the piano. One of the saddest, is when the Christmas tree, a custom Albert introduced to England, arrives a few days before his death on December 14,1861. It was nice to see a grown-up
Kate Mayberly in films again. She plays the couple's second daughter, Alice, who followed her older sister into marriage in the German Nobility, became the mother of Russia's last Czarina, and died of diptheria at the age of 35.The relationships of the Queen and her cabinet members is touched upon, as is the relationship with her overbearing mother. Peter Ustinov has a certain strained charisma as the Queen's predecessor, who is still aware of his sister-in-law's antics despite ill health. Diana Rigg is understated and dignified as the young Queen's devoted Lady-in-Waiting. The whole cast did a fine job. This elegant miniseries brings the chief players of the Victorian Era down from the oil-painted canvases and resurrects them quite nicely."
Great Costume Drama, So-So on the History
John D. Cofield | 11/01/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Victoria and Albert is a magnificent costume drama with excellent stars, a compelling story, and lovely settings. As you watch this, please keep in mind that this is a romanticized, not completely factual dramatization of the married life of Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert. In other words, enjoy it, but don't take it as accurate history.The first episode is good drama and fairly good history. The young Victoria is shown living a cloistered life in Kensington Palace, used by her ambitious mother and others to maintain a toe hold on power. Then, after the death of her uncle William IV, Victoria's early reign is also depicted accurately as she took on her responsibilities with a dutifulness which characterized her entire reign. Her daughterly relationship with her first Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne is also well done. Finally, her meeting with Prince Albert and their hesitant courtship, engagement, and marriage is both compelling and true to history.It is with the second episode that the drama begins to overwhelm the history. Victoria and Albert are shown with a family of six children (they really had nine) whom they bounce on their knees, cuddle and nuzzle in public, and obviously adore. Unfortunately the real Queen Victoria was not fond of children, and Prince Albert saw his progeny as useful tools for carrying out his long range plan for the liberalization of Europe, but not a whole lot more. The whitewashing of their troubled relationship with their eldest son and heir Bertie is really ridiculous. Bertie could never do right and was a constant disappointment to his parents, as they never ceased telling him. While Prince Albert's last meeting with Bertie, in which he says something like "I'm sorry we've been so hard on you" is charmingly acted, nothing like that ever took place. I also found the scenes in which Albert repeatedly ponders whether he really loves Victoria a bit unbelievable. Finally, Victoria's composure after Albert's death is completely at odds with history, which records her retreating into deep mourning for the next four decades.Regardless of the inaccuracies, this is a beautiful piece of work and well worth the price. If you like this Victoria and Albert, may I suggest that you also look into the mini-series Edward the King, produced in the mid 1970s, which covers Bertie's life and times. It is just as well written and acted, and contains a far more true to life depiction of Victoria and Albert."
An Abundance of Inaccuracies
John | Berlin, Germany | 06/23/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"For the past eight years I've been working on a project on the Romanovs. A sizeable part of my research also included their British relations, particularly Queen Victoria and her daughters.
This BBC movie as entertaining as it was was probably more damaging for the uninformed than informative. On a superficial level, Queen Victoria was never considered a beauty or even attractive in her own time, even when she was young. Although she did have a narrow waistline. So picking such an attractive actress to portray her was probably as bad as when Catherine Zeta-Jones (one of the leading Hollywood beauties) was picked to portray another monarch, Catherine the great of Russia, who was notorious for her plain looks. Albert, I should admit looked more like the real thing.
I can't tell you how vivacious and energetic the real Victoria was, since the actress in the movie was quite lively, but she could have never been so indiscreet in public as to kiss her husband and even show affection publicly. She gave great importance to decorum and would have never screamed in the hallways when others could hear her.
In the movie she also appeared to be almost a modern mother who let her children enjoy their lives. Nothing could be further than the truth. She certainly loved her children but she was very tyrannical towards them. At the table her children sat very quietly and minded their own business. She made her daughters' later lives especially miserable. Therefore, they were all much closer to their loving father that to their mother. Also from the very beginning Albert took control of the palace affairs, more or less like our Prince Phillip. It's rather unfortunate that the only scene that showed her at a theatre was attending a comedy play. She did watch comedies, but she had a rather low opinion of them and would not have burst into laughter like that in public. In many ways she was a boring person. And her last sentence in the movie which says that she would move on with life because Albert would have wanted her to, is also rather inaccurate. All of us know, that after his death she withdrew from public and her duties for years, until people finally convinced her that it was doing so much damage to the family's image that she finally gave in. Although she never took off her mourning black dress, wearing it even at her children's weddings. An entire ultra-conservative era was not named after Queen Victoria for no reason, and not just because she lived in that period but that she was the personification of the mentality of the time, somewhat of a U-turn from the 18th century Enlightenment. I think this movie was made to change the popular image of Queen Victoria as a strict, dogmatic and inflexible woman (which is definitely more accurate), though, I admit, she had a kind heart. And perhaps to boost the current queen's image too, who is also believed to be dry and dogmatic. But in her case I think it's rather unfair.
A royal cinematic feast
Michael J. Mazza | Pittsburgh, PA USA | 10/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Victoria and Albert," directed by John Erman, stars Victoria Hamilton and Jonathan Firth as Britain's Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert. The superb supporting cast includes an impressive band of acting veterans, among them Peter Ustinov (as William IV) and Diana Rigg (as young Victoria's governess). The film follows the courtship and married life of this royal couple.V&A is a visually stunning period piece, but ultimately it's the fine performances that really make the film work. There is a wonderful chemistry between the two leads, who furthermore capably rise to the challenge of portraying the pair over a long span of time. It's an onscreen relationship that is complex and tender. The supporting cast is great--Ustinov is especially entertaining as the cantankerous King William. It's a juicy role that Ustinov plays with relish.Although it's a period piece, V&A seems remarkably timely in light of the continuing saga of the British royal family. The film raises a number of intriguing issues--the politics of royal marriage, the relationship between the royal house and the citizenry, etc. This is a classy, well-made film--a must for those interested in British royal history."