“A Royal Affair” Review

Royal_Affair_Quad_FINAL_High Res-1A Royal Affair [2012] – ★★★★★

👑 A masterfully-executed historical drama, showing one of the most important and exciting periods in Danish history.

Nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category, this critically acclaimed Danish/Swedish film has so far been unable to pass unnoticed in any country. The engrossing story of a young Princess, Caroline Mathilda (Alicia Vikander) travelling from England to Denmark to marry his majesty Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard) is bound to appeal just on the basis of its simplicity, a sense of adventure and romanticism. Although from her childhood years the young Princess often dreamt of her magical encounter with the Prince, in the end, everything turns out far from what she had expected. With the King perceived as “weak in the head” and completely childish, Caroline soon becomes infatuated with his right-hand man, a mysterious and liberal-thinking German physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen). Together, at the times of repression and injustice, the pair is about to change Denmark beyond all recognition and direct it onto the path of justice and the Enlightenment.

Apart from its Academy Award nomination, A Royal Affair has also been an absolute star at the recent Berlin International Film Festival, where it swooped a number of awards and was even nominated for the Golden Globe Award in the category of the Best Foreign Language Film 2012. From the film’s first scenes, it is very easy to see why the film is so successful. From its meticulously-drafted script and outstanding cinematography to the brilliantly-acted scenes and amazing costumes and decorations, A Royal Affair is the very epitome of what a good period drama should be all about. The actors do a marvellous job: from a delightful up-and-coming actress Alicia Vikander (Anna Karenina (2012)) and a well-known Danish actor, Mads Mikkelsen to a Danish newcomer Mikkel Boe Følsgaard (the King) and all the actors playing secondary characters.

Although A Royal Affair shares similar themes with Elizabeth (1998) and Shakespeare in Love (1998), the film has a very different quality from either of the two, for example, it does not stray from the truthful representation of the historical facts. Although running slightly more than two hours, the film is never tiresome, and the narrative is well-paced. Cleverly balancing funny and sad moments, A Royal Affair is watched almost on one breath: the audience is either captivated by the lovely Vikander or by the handsome Mikkelsen or even by the brilliantly capricious Mikkel Boe Følsgaard to pay attention to any slight irregularities. And when these three are not in the frame, the film’s interesting and somewhat unusual portrayal of historical events and a degree of suspense are also sufficient to keep being intrigued.

a royal affair2

The secret to this film’s success also lies in the powerful and memorable portrayal of the main characters: be it the beautiful, talented, headstrong and intelligent Queen, the “weak-spirited”, but likeable King-Clown or the rational and charming Physician. The Queen, the King and the Physician seem to stand and represent different ways of looking at the world, but they do have things in common that unite them, for example their passion for reading. On that basis, it is interesting to see the trio’s interactions. For example, Caroline first gets Struensee’s undivided attention when she selects a book of Rousseau from his book-shelf, and Struensee is able to make first connections with the King by answering his book quotations with his own.

It will also be a mistake to assume that this period drama is only about romantic encounters taking place in the background of the world’s historic events. From the King of Denmark’s maddening dissent into complete submission to the vivid representations of Denmark’s coup d’état, A Royal Affair is also a story about Denmark’s fight for freedom and the rise of liberal thinking at the time.

A Royal Affair is a historical period drama like no other – it will grip you and can haunt you for days. 


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Great review! Heard some really good things about this but it completely passed me by when it was released. Not the hugest fan of period pieces such as this but I’ll definitely have to give this a go.


    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      Thanks! Even if you ain’t into this genre, I don’t think this film can disappoint, so it’s worth a shot.


  2. godtisx says:

    I loved this film, great and accurate review – although I loved the dark emotion and creative embellishment of Anna Karenina. I thought it was just as extraordinary, just a different tone.

    I look forward to reading more of your reviews!


  3. godtisx says:

    Oh! Okay….you might have been a tough sell (for AK). Lol. I find that is the case for fans of any book going to see a film, there is attitude of he/she is going to mess this up, from get go. And the filmmakers don’t help, because in their lack of care for certain elements of the story, they rush quickly getting rid of it. Something that always works against them.

    Anyway, I can see how the standard was twisted on it’s head. And too much so, for most to digest in good fun. o_0


  4. I just saw this movie about a month ago and was pleasantly surprised by how absorbing it is. It’s not your run-of-the-mill period piece, that’s for sure! I’ll be watching it again before long.


    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      I am happy you liked it! It is a very well-crafted movie which more people should see! Also, one can also plainly see here Alicia Vikander’s enormous potential as an actress, and that she will go far in her career.

      Liked by 1 person

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