Saturday, October 7, 2017

Victoria & Abdul: Monday, October 2 2017

Victoria and Abdul (2017) is directed by Stephen Frears (76). He also has directed many well-known films, including The Queen (2006). Lee Hall (51) wrote the screenplay, and is best known for Billy Elliot (2000). The film is called a biographical comedy-drama, and is a sequel to Mrs. Brown (1997).

Judy Dench as Queen Victoria in her later years, is, it goes without saying, fantastic. Many people viewed the film because of her, and were not disappointed. Oscar nomination would appear to be in the air. Ali Fazal is played by the very handsome Abdul Karim, and takes the part credibly. It is understandable that a bored out of her mind Queen Victoria would take to this very attractive Indian man, who was not in the least intimidated by her. He treated her as a person, while giving her his allegiance as the Empress of India.

Abdul Karim and Queen Victoria
The first thing I did when I had the opportunity, was to research the story, and some details about Queen Victoria. Much to my surprise, the story was, basically, true. My mother had told me a lot about many things when I was a little girl, but even she hadn't known about Abdul. She would probably have approved. As the queen says in the film, no one can know what her life was like. "A bird in a gilded cage" probably would have been an apt description. Abdul must have seemed like a breath of fresh air. That fresh air from an outsider must, also understandably, have been most unwelcome to everyone around Queen Victoria.

My mother had impressed on me the importance of good table manners, so she certainly didn't tell me that Queen Victoria didn't have any. I had to research that too, and apparently, it was well-known that she stuffed food into her mouth, and ate very quickly. Both definite no-nos. What a pity I didn't know that, as I would have had a good reply for my mother as she did her best to train me.

Abdul and Victoria is neither a serious biographic film, nor a complete spoof of life in the court of Queen Victoria, but a bit of something in between. This I found a little disappointing. I had hoped for something along the lines of Downton Abbey; instead we were given something that seemed to be sneering at the stiff etiquette of the Royal Court. The comedy mainly consisted of cheap shots at the culture of the times. Those people brought up in that culture, wouldn't find it amusing.

The film is light entertainment, and many in the audience found it funny. My friends enjoyed it, and were prepared to recommend it to others. After some of the dreadful films we have seen recently, perhaps this one was light relief.

No comments: