Thursday, September 5, 2013

A ROYAL AFFAIR
(DENMARK)

Cine Europa 16
Shang Cineplex, Cinema 2



From Denmark comes this period piece based on a true story which unfolds during the close of the 18th century. A young English princess marries the King of Denmark, Christian VII.  He is what we now call autistic but back in those days, they all believe he was insane. So the Court decides to hire a physician.  In comes, Johann Frederich Struensee, a German doctor who is secretly part of the Enlightenment movement - an organization of intellectuals and free thinkers.

During those ages, Denmark was an oppressive nation ruled by a conservative Parliament and the influential clergy.   Soon enough, the good doctor finds himself in the bed of the young but strong minded Queen Caroline Mathilda as well as the 'brains' behind the much ridiculed King.  But as we later find out, Struensee  pays dearly for his indiscretions - a public beheading.

The film begins with the exiled Queen writing a letter to her two children explaining to them why she had an affair with the German doctor.  Then it effortlessly moves into flashback mode as we are taken 9 years earlier. 

This drama about an illicit relationship is well executed. The costumes are authentic, the cinematography is lusciously bold and vivid and the cast portray their roles, realistically. Mads Mikkelsen who I guess is Denmark's most famous import to the film industry stars as the quiet yet charismatic doctor Struensee. It was interesting to watch his character evolve from the silent behind the scenes doctor to the powerful almost greedy enforcer of Denmark's reforms.

The story line tackles intrigues, politics, the magnetic draw of power all in the pursuit of the greater good of mankind. Although it clocks at over 2 hours, it was still fascinating to watch a good period drama about a faraway Scandinavian land which I never had the chance to visit.

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