Royal Affair, A (Blu-ray) (2012)
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Interviews with director Nicolaj Arcel and lead actors
Biographies-Character-Character biographies and Family tree
Trailer-Madman Propaganda trailers
|Year Of Production||2012|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Nikolaj Arcel|
Mikkel Boe Følsgaard
Thomas W. Gabrielsson
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Unknown||Danish DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (4608Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
A Royal Affair chronicles the story of the mad young king of Denmark, King Christian VII, his marriage to the English Princess, Caroline Mathilde and their relationship to Dr. Johann Struensee, a progressive-thinking German physician who has an affair with Caroline and gains the King's trust in all matters, to the point of being a lone regent (officially he was the privy counsellor to the king) who enacted over 1000 changes in constitutional law during 13 months from late 1770 to early 1772. Alex von Tunzelmann in his Guardian review on the film sums up the events of the film below:
Princess Caroline Matilda, sister of mad king George III of Great Britain, was married off to mad king Christian VII of Denmark at the age of 15. She later began an affair with his chief minister, Johann Struensee.
Young Caroline Matilda (Alicia Vikander) meets her betrothed (Mikkel Følsgaard) at a crossroads, where he is relieving himself against a tree. According to historian P Nors, their real first meeting was "exceedingly romantic", to the point where 17-year-old Christian "committed a number of awful breaches of etiquette by embracing and kissing her repeatedly in the presence of the whole Court". The film is right, though, that he soon tired of her. Christian had suffered a brutally abusive upbringing at the hands of his guardian, Ditlev Reventlow: regular beatings had often left him writhing on the palace floor in agony. "He's been difficult since childhood," the film's Reventlow explains, "but I think most of his problems stem from excessive masturbation." The king's excesses also included drink, sado-masochism, handsome young men and prostitutes, most famously Støvlet-Cathrine, or Catherine-of-the-Boots. The Danish court considered it appallingly bourgeois to be in love with one's spouse.
Christian's mental illness is soon so severe that a full-time physician must be engaged. Enter Johann Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen), who vigorously encourages the king's carousing and whoring. Christian and Struensee roll in late from a brothel excursion, earning a ticking-off from Caroline Matilda. "The world's full of princesses, and I got stuck with the grumpy one," Christian complains. Struensee expertly diagnoses that the queen is "in a bad mood". In fact, she had a serious illness at this point – one whose details have not been recorded, but which apparently nearly killed her. Court gossip plausibly suggested it was a venereal disease: probably an unwelcome gift from her husband.
In the film, Struensee and Caroline Matilda bond over a shared passion for Enlightenment ideas. Though Struensee was a free-thinker, there's scant evidence of intellectualism in Caroline Matilda's biographies. Furthermore, in trying to present Struensee's relationship with Caroline Matilda as a pure, charming romance, A Royal Affair delicately leaves out court gossip that he was also having an affair with her lady-in-waiting, Elisabeth von Eyden. It was said that he carried on with both women for quite some time, making them spittingly jealous of each other. Scandal
"There is the devil to pay in Denmark," wrote Horace Walpole. "The Queen has got the ascendant, has turned out favourites and Ministers, and literally wears the breeches, actual buckskin." Sadly, the film does not show Caroline Matilda's famous penchant for transvestism, which outraged Copenhagen even more than her extramarital affair. She was often seen walking through the city arm in arm with Struensee, both of them wearing tight-fitting leather breeches and scarlet coats. The effect particularly alarmed her ladies-in-waiting, for the real Caroline was more sturdily built than the one in the movie. "If only she were well made, I could understand her walking about in that costume," wailed Mme von Gramm, "but just think of her hips, her – quarters!" Yes, her royal bum looked big in that.
Struensee rises to a position of almost dictatorial power at court. The film is right that many of the reforms he enacted were remarkably progressive. These included a decree that aristocrats, who had previously been allowed to build up enormous debts without legal penalty, would henceforth be imprisoned for failing to pay back what they owed. Ninety per cent of them immediately scurried off into hiding. Viewers may find themselves feeling that modern Europe could do with a few Struensees to take on its bankers. Unsurprisingly, the ultra-conservative faction at court has it in for him. The film's depiction of what happens next is sadly accurate.
A Royal Affair is a watchable and historically respectable retelling of Caroline Matilda's extraordinary story – but what a pity we didn't get to see her in drag. I would agree with the consensual film critic view that A Royal Affair is well-produced, directed and acted. For a historical drama film it is, in essence, faithful to actual events. The characterisations of Struensee differ slightly in that when he had the sole power of the court he was more arrogant and belligerent and he also spoke German, he did not speak Danish, whilst Queen Caroline was not as accepting of her exile and separation from her children during the last three years of her young life, instead she was vengeful and bitter, and sought out ways to reclaim her position and children. Also, Brandt and Struensee were drawn and quartered during their executions (firstly, their right hand was chopped off, then they were beheaded and finally, their torsos were cut-up into four pieces). Thankfully we are spared the gruesome facts of what this physically meant in the film.
The transfer of this film to Blu-ray is superb.
The aspect ratio is 2:35:1. The film is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.
The transfer is sharp, with a good range of contrast.
The Director of Photography, Rasmus Videbæk, has shot the film in a similar style to classic Rembrandt paintings of the 17th century, with contrasting shadows and lights which emphasise the strong, natural look of the film. Indoor scenes revisit the look of Stanley Kubrick's period film, Barry Lyndon, with minimum use of artificial lighting to maintain a sense of realism.
There are no MPEG artefacts whatsoever.
Optional Subtitles are presented in English and are easy to follow.
Cyrille Aufort and Gabriel Yared's score is subtle, augmenting the dialogue of the film well.
There is one main audio track, a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track in Danish.
Dialogue is clear and the audio is synchronised.
The soundtrack supports the period of the film, the late 18th century, with stringed instruments.
For a dramatic film, I was surprised at just how good the separation in my home theatre channels was. However, this is a dialogue-driven film so surround channel usage in the soundtrack is employed sparingly.
The Subwoofer is not used to any great effect.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
A UK Region B Blu-ray of A Royal Affair contains identical specifications to the Madman Region B Australian release. A US Region A will be available from the 26th of March, 2013.
A well-made historical drama deserving of its best Foreign Film nomination (at the time of writing this review), A Royal Affair had been similarly well-authored and promoted on Blu-ray by it's Australian distributor, Madman. Highly recommended viewing!
|DVD||Sony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Sony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||Sony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)|