Saturday, April 08, 2017

Victoria vs. Young Victoria

This winter I watched the first season of Victoria on Masterpiece. I also took the time and opportunity to rewatch (for the perhaps twentieth time) Young Victoria. I thought I would share my thoughts on both.

Strengths:
  • Longer overall and spans more time
  • Has beautiful costumes
  • Complex characters

Weaknesses:
  • Makes too much of a "romantic" relationship with Lord Melbourne. 
  • Spends too much time with the "downstairs" of the palace
  • Is always, always concerned with devilish plotting and conniving. (Did her uncles really continue to plot against her that many years after she took the crown?!)
  • The way it's written, it makes me suspect it's more "loosely" based than actually historically accurate.
What annoyed me most was this Lord M. nonsense.  It annoyed me that for three episodes (maybe four?) I had to put up with Victoria being "madly, deeply" in love with her prime minister Lord M. That the two were "desperately" in love with each other, but were forbidden to be together. That theirs was a love "never to be." Oh. How. Sad. And. Horrible. Maybe some people find Rufus Sewell swoon-worthy. (I'm not one of them.) Maybe once he was cast, the writer(s) felt they had to give audiences "what they wanted." Or maybe he was cast first, and he was the author-and-writer's first and only choice of an oh-so-dreamy Lord M. Maybe she was writing out her own fantasy. Regardless, it was silly and lasted much too long.

I like Albert well enough. I mean Tom Hughes does a good job in the role. And the show improved drastically once the two were engaged and married.

In the first episode, or one of the first episodes, Victoria accuses Lady Flora of being pregnant. She is forced to undergo a medical exam, where, it is discovered that she is NOT pregnant--a virgin still--but that she is dying because of a cancerous tumor. The show juxtaposes the two stories: Queen Victoria being crowned and Lady Flora being examined. It creates drama and tension and is emotionally powerful. Of course, she was crowned in June of 1838, and the Lady Flora scandal was actually in February 1839. But I'm not surprised or upset at this playing with the time line. Lady Flora gave me food for thought. To undergo physical and emotional and mental pain and distress and hold onto your dignity and faith was something worth admiring.

Young Victoria

Strengths:
  • Beautiful Costumes
  • Amazingly beautiful and practically perfect in every way soundtrack. I love, love, love Ilan Eshkeri's work.
  • Complex characters
  • Emphasis on the right relationship--Albert and Victoria
  • Great at establishing political context
  • Dramatic AND romantic (One of the best proposal scenes EVER)

Weaknesses:
  • Probably plays around with historical details and timelines in order to make the movie as dramatic and romantic as it can be in under two hours.
  • Perhaps doesn't emphasis the moral weaknesses of both Victoria and Albert.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one so much. I love everything about it start to finish practically. I love how viewers spend a good bit of time BEFORE she becomes queen. I loved seeing the few scenes with King William (Jim Broadbent). I love the tension and drama. (If he dies before she comes of age, there will be another regency. And regencies are not good for the country....and this one could be disastrous.) I love Paul Bettany's portrayal of Lord M. I really do. But more than anything, I love this slow-building-up of a relationship between Albert and Victoria. I love how even when Albert is out of the country, the two are corresponding as friends and relations. I love how they're connected even when apart. The letter writing is just so swoon-worthy. If there is a hint of Lord M and Queen Victoria perhaps perhaps falling in love, it's just that an innuendo told to Albert by his uncle to "rush" him along. Lord M is not the hero and never will be. Viewers aren't being manipulated into thinking he is Victoria's "one true love." Albert is very much THE HERO and oh-so-swoon-worthy. This film helps you get why Victoria would love him so much and be so steadfast and loyal even after his death.

I don't think Young Victoria's presentation would hold up to a critical scholarly approach of being "historically accurate." Or historically complete and/or objective. Just selective in what it portrays and how its portrayed. It is beautifully done. 
 
For me, the choice is obvious as to which is better. But so long as Lord M stays out of the picture--then I might keep watching more seasons.

My favorite songs:
Childhood
Go To England, Make Her Smile 
Down the Stairs 
The King's Birthday
Marriage Proposal
Victoria and Albert


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 comments:

Lois Johnson 8:19 PM  

I haven't watched Victoria yet but I've watched The Young Victoria multiple times and I love it! From what I've heard my mom say from her watching Victoria though it sounds like you're spot on. I'm not sure I'll bother.

Joy Weese Moll 2:50 PM  

I gave up Victoria with the Lord M stuff carrying on so long. I probably should try the rest of the season now that I surely have most of that behind me.

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