On Monday, I watched a film that I’d recorded last week, The Young Victoria. I’d seen the film before and remembered it for its lovely romantic moments. After a hectic weekend, I felt like losing myself again in the romance between the young Victoria (Emily Blunt), eighteen when she came to the throne, and Prince Albert (Rupert Friend).
I wasn’t disappointed – I found myself smiling at the screen throughout the film, a tear or two in my eyes at times. In a series of simple scenes, the film conveyed the deep emotion felt by two people whose relationship was being encouraged for political reasons, but who were genuinely falling in love.
I’ve been thinking back to three of the scenes that I found the most memorable, and asking myself why they worked so well.
1) In their first meeting, they play chess and walk together up the stairs at the end of the evening. Having always had to climb the stairs holding the hand of either her mother or her lady-in-waiting, this time Victoria insists that it’s Albert’s hand she holds – a significant moment in their relationship. Their exchanges are few and are inhibited by their position and status, but it is clear that each finds the other very attractive, both physically and mentally. She sees his sincerity and caring for others; he sees her warm heart and anxiety to do right, and by the end of their first meeting, we know that they have fallen in love.
Victoria, having escaped the domination of her mother and Sir John Conroy, is unwilling to relinquish her freedom so soon, so Albert returns home. In between writing letters to her, and receiving them back from her, he remembers Victoria’s disappointment at him being unable to waltz, and secretly decides to remedy the situation. Eventually, he returns to England for her Coronation and …
2) … as soon as Victoria arrives at the Coronation Ball, Albert is the first person she approaches. In front of the Court, she starts to dance the waltz with him, although she fears the worst, remembering his words during his last visit. To her joy, he dances beautifully, and during the dance it becomes clear to each of them how the other feels.
It isn’t an original moment – I remember, for example, a similar scene in the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice, but it’s a very moving moment because we already know so much about the two people, and we understand and care for them.
Victoria continues alone for longer, but rather loses her way. Needing help – and love – she sends for Albert. Everyone in the court, as well as Prince Albert and the viewers, realises why she’s sent for him. After greeting him, she calls him to her day room and …
3) … asks him to marry her. He was not allowed to propose marriage to the queen, who had a higher status and greater wealth than he – she had to ask him – and she did so in a scene that was moving in its simplicity, but that allowed us to feel the depth of emotion felt by them both. I defy anyone not to shed a tear when Albert hugs Victoria immediately after accepting her proposal, showing his genuine love for her.
Throughout the film, we are shown their love growing and deepening. The words between them are relatively few, and the sexual side of their life is suggested rather than shown in glorious technicolour, yet the film is deeply romantic.
It’s very much a case of less is more, I would say.
Can you think of any films or books that use restraint in order to create their effect?
P.S. Anyone who suggest Fifty Shades of Grey will not be taken seriously!