The recent absorbing series on BBC 4 TV of The Killing and also The Bridge made for some absorbing viewing on Saturday nights when British TV more generally seems geared to extending what used to be known as children's TV programmes into the later evenings.
Included in some recent birthday gifts was a token for the HMV/Curzon cinema Wimbledon. Not knowing anything about Danish history and very little more about Denmark itself beyond the Killing and The Bridge TV series, we decided nonetheless to see the Danish film "A Royal Affair" yesterday, which proved to be a beautiful absorbing although ultimately sad film.
The theme which spans all human ages and times, was that of misplaced love; the brief moments of ecstasy which all too soon led to disaster and death though also hope. The story which I understand is largely true was set in the 18th Century and opens with a young pretty looking princess Caroline being called from her happy looking home in England to join an apparently idiosyncratic if not nutty, young unmarried king in Denmark. She travels across the North Sea (quite why is not made plain to me though as I did A level science at school rather than any arts subjects such information is usually beyond my ken) and meets king Christian VII. The film also shows doctors queuing up to be considered for the post of personal physician to the king. His very odd child like character makes for most medics not progressing very far in their quests for consideration by him. Eventually King Christian manages to opt for Johann Friedrich Struensee. The latter is portrayed as an intelligent progressive though I found his permanently negative attitude to religion irritating. Meanwhile Caroline becomes queen and her intelligence hugely contrasts with her husband's childishness.
In the progressive 21st century Britain where we have had a Queen on the throne for over 60 years who seems to be becoming more and more popular with each passing year, it is difficult to see why Queen Caroline of Denmark had to keep her thoughts to herself and let her husband rule in his mad style. The fact that there would then grow a cabal of people with designs on the way in which Denmark should be governed and their own own interests seems obvious now but love began to blossom between Dr Johan and Queen Caroline and eventually her third and youngest child is born with Dr Johan being the father. Initially that latter fact is kept secret but eventually the secret becomes known to the Dowager and the game is up.
Caroline is banished and only allowed to keep her youngest child with Dr Johan expecting eventually to join her but he is quite dramatically executed enroute. The exiled queen does manage to pass a letter to her two other children before her death and one is led to believe that they then in subsequent years brought Denmark back to civilisation continuing the modernisation that had been hamstrung by her affair of the heart.
A beautiful and absorbing film - one of the best I have seen for years and the subtitles did not detract at all from becoming lost in the the story.