REVIEW: A Royal Affair

First of all, historical dramas in a nutshell are that they are produced and filmed in almost exactly the same way in terms of sets, filming, script and sometimes the types of characters yet all result in new meaningful messages for the viewers. Although there are few exceptions, Hollywood are struggling with films of this kind and Danish, Swedish and Czech drama A Royal Affairhits the screen and in a huge way. Considering that this film involves quite a few genres from drama to romance to thriller and surprisingly moments of humorous comedy, A Royal Affair fits almost perfectly and is one of the strongest historical dramas in recent memory.

Films similar to A Royal Affair are more or less history lessons for the audience on the screen by stating the facts and helping us gain a clearer understand about life centuries before the modern era. Director Nikolaj Arcel is best known as co-screenwriter of 2009 Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but now makes a film that is marvellously put together. He perfectly expresses what royalty is like and, therefore, teaches the audience the ups and downs of living that life. Furthermore, Arcel includes that eerie tone to the film with medieval-like settings and the dark sceneries. Thus, unlike most historical dramas nowadays, A Royal Affair is a more gloomy and dismal looking film which added that more realistic atmosphere to it.

Considering that A Royal Affair involves a king and his physician, it is hard to determine who the leading character is of the two. Former James Bond villain Mads Mikkelsen portrayed physician Dr. Johann Straunsee, who is the main focus of the film. He gives a very mixed performance. There was, of course, a very emotional connection between Straunsee and Queen Caroline of Denmark and the audience understood what they were going through, but Mikkelsen was not entirely as engaging to watch as an individual character. The same can be said for actress Alicia Vikander and her role as Queen Caroline. She terrifically defines a teenaged queen – naïve and incredibly attractive.

Furthermore, the hats must go off to Mikkel Følsgaard as the mentally unstable King Christian VII. It is not very often that we witness an actor portray a dangerously disturbed madman so exquisitely. Følsgaard added that essence of evil and insanity to the screen at an almost equal level to Heath Ledger as the Joker. However at the same time, Følsgaard provided us with a very humane, naturalistic touch to King Christian. Therefore, his role is worthy of an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Overall, A Royal Affair is another powerful historical drama that despite its slightly delayed pace and predictability, it is at that superior level of earning Academy Award nominations. The film as a whole has similar concepts to Fred Zinnemann’s 1966 hit A Man For All Seasons that involves a lot of psychology, drama and crime within the highest social class. Therefore, A Royal Affair expresses that members of a royal family and their colleagues are all still human beings and that historical dramas really work better in world cinema rather than Hollywood.


~ by SJMJ91 on 02/07/2012.

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