A Royal Affair
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel.
Danish films could be said to be the best of Scandinavian films. ´A Royal Affair` confirms that the Danish movie industry knows what they’re doing. A love story combined with a game of politics is a good recipe for an exciting movie, and basing it on true events it gives an extra kick. If you have low expectations for this film, think again.
The story begins when the English princess, Caroline Mathilda, comes to Denmark during the Age of Enlightenment. She marries the mad King Christian VII, and her marriage is a tragic disaster due to the king’s mental illness. When the German doctor Struensee makes his arrival as the royal physician, things starts to change. Emotions start to develop between him and Caroline Mathilda, and at the same time Struensee realizes he has a huge influence on the king. Driven by idealistic thoughts he eventually takes over the power in the kingdom, and becomes a regent. He and Caroline Mathilda want to improve the situation for the population, and insert new laws like freedom of the press. Their ideas of a new Denmark-Norway give them many enemies, and tension starts to rise. Eventually it’s the love between Struensee and the queen that jeopardizes their big plans for Denmark.
There are no dull scenes in this movie, because the tension that goes through the whole film will make you engrossed. The scenography is stunningly beautiful, and everything from the costumes to the music is done to perfection. Every little detail is so well done, it will leave you with a feeling you just were transported back in time. What really lift this film though, are the actors of the three leading parts. Together they make sparks on the screen. Mads Mikkelsen delivers a strong interpretation of the king’s doctor, John Struensee. Alicia Vikander plays Queen Caroline Mathilde, and does it with grace and purity. She is an up and coming star, and will be seen in Anna Karenina later this year. Mikkel Boe Følgaard plays King Christian VII. The way he portraits the King with a bad temper and a wandering mind, is extraordinary.
Følgaard won The Silver Bear for best male actor, under The Berlin International Film Festival. ´A Royal Affair` also won a Silver Bear for best script. There’s nothing left to say other than that this film is a Danish masterpiece.
By Guro Stensvaag