Every since I heard about the costume drama A Royal Affair, I was looking forward to see this film! Saturday night, July the fourth, was the night the Danish film was broadcast on the Dutch television!
The fifteen-year-old English princess Caroline Mathilde is looking forward to marry the Danish king Christian VII and become queen. When Caroline arrives in Denmark and meets her husband, things are not as she hoped they would be and it’s definitely not the fairy tale life. The Danish King is mentally ill and is not taken seriously by his advisers nor his people. Because of the king’s behaviour and actions, queen Caroline gets more and more isolated untill Johann Friedrich Struensee enters her life. When Johann Friedrich Struensee – who’s a man of the Enlightenment – becomes the king’s personal physician, a love blossoms between Johann and Caroline. Together and with the King’s help they try to breathe new life into Denmark.
En Kongelig Affӕre is a Danish film which has A Royal Affair as English title. The story is set in the mid-18th century and is based on the book Prinsesse off blodet, which was written by Bodil Steensen-Leth and based on true facts. The director of the film is Nikolaj Arcel, who is among other things known as the writer of the Danish – and original – version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The main characters are played by Alicia Vikander – who is from Sweden – and Mads Mikkelsen. Both have generated some notoriety in other countries. Mikkelsen is best known for his role as Dr. Hannibal Lector in the tv-series Hannibal and his role as the villain in James Bond’s Casino Royal. Vikander can be seen on the big screen in this summer’s spy film The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Besides this up upcoming film, she is also known for Ex Machina and Testament of Youth. The other actors are less known to the general public, but the young actor Mikkel Boe Følsgaard plays the role of the mentally ill King Christian very well.
This costume drama is not a film for everyone. You must have some king of interest in history, monarchy and of course romance. Alicia Vikander plays the English Princess and is married to the slightly deranged King of Denmark, which makes her Queen Caroline. Christian VII is very well portrayed by the young Danish actor Mikkel Boe Følsgaard. It is clear that he lacks the interest in being King and he would rather act and have fun. Only when the German physician enters the picture, Christian gets more feeling in being King. The royal physician Johann Friedrich Struensee is excellently played by Mads Mikkelsen. The only point of criticism is that his character is a German and speaks the Danish language very well. In reality, Struensee wasn’t that good in Danish and would only speak German – though this is something for connoisseurs. Vikander has a slightly irritating voice and therefore she sometimes comes across as dull and disinterested. Her facial expressions can also be interpreted as emotionless, but this has also to do with the fact that her character was very unhappy with the marriage. From the beginning Følsgaard’s character shows why he is not the right man for his wife.
The film is actually a complete flashback, because it begins with a look from the present. Princess Caroline writes a letter which already shows that something drastic will happen to her. Princess Caroline was very looking forward to her marriage between her and the Danish King. She believed in true love, but unfortunately she didn’t knew about the King’s condition. From the moment they met, the relationship between the two is very awkward. When Christian and his new-found personal physician Johann prefer brothels over his wife, she gets an even greater dislike for him. It is clear that Queen Caroline also has a dislike against the physician, until she learns of his ideas. Johann is in fact a freethinker and a man of the Enlightenment, which was strongly disapproved by the Danish court and the religious people. Furthermore, the presence of Johann has a good impact on the King and thus on the Queen. It won’t take long before Johann and Caroline begin to feel more for each other. Though the build-up to the affair between these two people could have been better. As the affair progresses, Vikander’s character becomes more happy and her facial expressions less emotionless.
The film is filled with drama and despite the idiotic antics of the Danish King, there is nothing to laugh about. The film shows an interesting part of the Danish history: the introduction of many laws that are above religion. It is obvious that this eventually has a positive influence on Denmark itself. Both Caroline and Johann have many ideas they want to implement with the help of the King. Christian can therefore better fulfill his role as King, because Johann has told him that announcing a new law is nothing more than acting. As the intro of the film suggests, something bad happens for Queen Caroline. Many connoisseurs will know how the story continues, but for others is it better to find it out yourself. The film has a nice but dramatic ending. It is slightly predictable, but by Mikkelsen’s performance makes it really emotional.
The Danish film En Kongelig Afaere is a romantic drama that takes place at the Danish court in the 18th century. It shows the relationship between King Christian VII and his wife Queen Caroline Mathilde. How an affair started and what impact this has had on Denmark itself. Mads Mikkelsen is the absolute star in the film, but also Alicia Vikander and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard give an outstanding performance. The film is somewhat comparable to The Other Boleyn Girl, which also shows how the love between the King and his wife changes a complete nation. En Kongelig Affaere is with its theme not for everyone, but for those who are interested in the history of Royal Houses it’s an absolute must-see!