24
Mar 09

How Queen Victoria Used To Live

FT4 comments • 241 views

Maybe it was Emily Blunt’s big stamp head on the side of all the buses in London that made me want to see The Young Victoria. Maybe it was the surprising use of the definite article in the title. Whatever I went to see the costume and facial hair drama and got a definite whiff of How We Used To Live about it. In many ways it reminded me of a modern day How We Used To Live about me in the early eighties watching a How We Used To Live about Queen Victoria. Because for all its half hearted stabs at drama, The Young Victoria both desires and is destined to end up in the classroom, probably after yet another history syllabus revision which stresses learning about Kings & Queens rather than empathising with smallholding farmers. (One assumes this would be a Tory revision.)

Its a staid, PG affair which would have many uses in the classroom – not just in history. It would be invaluable in a needlework or dressmaking class. There are integral art lessons involved, as Victoria of tries and fails to paint a still life of her unstill doggie. Ettiquette is clearly covered, albeit out of date. Personal development would get much mileage about Victoria’s struggles as a female in a mans world, issues about citizenship not to mention planned parenthood and the suitable methods for courtship (though they may need to explain the “living in another country and marrying your cousin” bits).

However possibly its best use in the classroom would be the advice on how (not) to demonstrate anger – for our swift to violence youth of today. There are a number of moments in the film, indeed the only dramatic moments in the film, where people get angry with each other. In nearly every occasion the demonstration of said anger is somewhat exaggerated. Victoria storms upstairs and slams a door, making a chandelier jangle. A cushion is thrown against a wall. A small side table is half-heartedly kicked. And my favourite bit, after the storming out, and a general grumbling, Victoria’s small lapdog gets a kick in the side by Sir John Conroy. BECAUSE THIS MAN IS A BAD GUY. Indeed the lesson The Young Victoria is unlikely to be used in is English or Drama, where the tin ear dialogue would offend, and the Manichean characterisations underepresent the reality of the situation. Any film which boils down to Victoria and Albert Good, Melbourne and John Conroy Bad* leaving Sir Robert Peel** in a hinterland of there not being a third position for him to take. And to be fair the bedwetterchamber crisis is not a particualrly dramatic piece of British history. So its pretty, its simplistic and there are the small pleasures of seeing a small dog get kicked. But there are better, more accurate, portrayals of history where Miranda Richardson wears big dresses and gets to be haughty.

*As evinced by being cast by a slimy Paul Bettany and the current baddie du jour Mark Strong.

**Sir Robert Peel, Bobby Peel, Robert Peel, Peelers Bobbies DO YOU SEE.

Comments

  1. 1
    wichita lineman on 24 Mar 2009 #

    Very PG eh? So I’ll assume it doesn’t cover what I thought would be the obvious subject matter, re cousin/hubbie Albert. No wonder I failed A level History.

  2. 2
    Pete Baran on 24 Mar 2009 #

    There is a sex scene where neither take their clothes off. And not a hint of a piercing.

  3. 3
    CarsmileSteve on 27 Mar 2009 #

    peelers? bobbies? bobby peel?

  4. 4
    Erithian on 27 Mar 2009 #

    If you’re puzzled by this – http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/England-History/SirRobertPeel.htm

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