Sunday, 10 November 2013

A Royal Affair

A Royal Affair – Nicolaj Arcel – A well acted, powerful and poignant drama. This historical drama is set in the court of King Christian VII of Denmark (18th C) and explores the adulterous affair that the queen pursues with the royal physician. All of the three main leads are strongly performed, Mads Mikkelson effortlessly exhudes his own, at times unsettling, intensity and charisma. Mikkel Følsgaard, as Christian, portrays the king’s mental instability with an exciting amalgam of adolescent vulnerability (at time redolent of Tom Hulce’s portrayal of Mozart, in the epic Amadeus) and a debauched libertine defiance, one that becomes increasingly reckless and inappropriate, given the expectations of royalty. As the royal physician begins to realise his power with the king, the potential to wield genuine influence encourages a risky pursuit of liberating (previously censored and repressed) renaissance ideals. Exploring the evolution of culture, held back, warped and distracted by structures of power in the tension between between humanist aspirations and the decisions of a governing body, seems particularly relevant in recent times of econmic crisis. Here, the film hinges upon Christian’s court freeing itself from a beurocracy of tradition, in order to culturally advance with renaissance values. Right now, with wide spread cuts to the humanities, closing down libraries and denying the wider public access to cultural experiences we are arguably allowing the collapse of economic capital to justify the disentegration of our own cultural capital. In A Royal Affair, infidelity and illicit regal sex aside, we witness a man and woman fight for the importance of free speech, artistic innovation and the support of cultural ambition. And yes, it may seeem like tenuous soapbox indulgence, but right now, with increasingly damaging and widespread cuts to education, support and facilitation of ‘the arts’; Britain is allowing a short term levelling of financial problems to eclipse the more long-term injury to this nation’s cultural health...In light of which, a film like A Royal Affair can become a deceptively contemporary meditation. But then I belong to a generation (he said, misrepresenting millions with a brush of incrminating presumption) that have been stagnating in political apathy for a long time, settled in a coma deepened by the coalition, and only ever gently awoken by satirical comedy or a decent film. 7.5/10

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