Victoria & Abdul #FilmReview #BriFri
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Last week was a busy week for British Isles Friday. I captured the British moments at the 2018 Academy Awards ceremony. Gaele reviewed three books — Wedding Bells at the Dog & Duck (featuring a village pub), Spring on the Little Cornish Isles: The Flower Farm (featuring a remote setting on an island off of Cornwall), and The Last Laugh (featuring a wise elder in a care home). Tina reviewed If You Knew Her, a book that grabs at your emotions. Sim shared her thoughts on the first couple of episodes of McMafia, starring James Norton. For March Magics, celebrating Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones, Jean read The Long Utopia and The Long Cosmos, two books that finish a series by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. Jean also read the first two books in the series The Chronicles of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor about time-traveling historians. Becky reviewed two new 2018 books, Brightly Burning (imagine Jane Eyre in space!) and Ashes on the Moor (set set in Yorkshire during the Victorian age). We had a new participate last week, Mae of Mae’s Food Blog, who shared her review of The Moving Toyshop after Tina pointed out that it would be perfect for British Isles Friday.
Victoria & Abdul was nominated for two Oscars — best makeup and hairstyling, best costume design. It didn’t win either but it’s easy to see why it was nominated. The look of the characters felt perfect for the times and personalities.
Queen Victoria (played by Judi Dench, reprising her role from Mrs. Brown) is an old lady whose one pleasure in life is food. She’s lost interest in people and places.
Abdul Karim (played by Ali Fazal) is a clerk from India picked, because of his height, to present the Queen with a gift from his country for her Golden Jubilee.
The Queen takes notice of Abdul and they develop a friendship, one where Queen Victoria renews some of her interest in the world, near and far. The relationship is not without its detractors, however. Victoria’s son and heir to the throne, Bertie (the future King Edward VII), resents that his mother lavishes attention on the young Muslim while ignoring her own son.
According to a note at the end, this was a lost story, successfully erased by the household staff and the new king. It was only recently re-discovered when Abdul’s journals were found. So, of course, I became curious about how much of the history is accurate. Fortunately, Vanity Fair ran a long piece describing the real story. I loved learning new things about the last decade of Queen Victoria’s life from the film and article.
Of course, I expected to enjoy the British settings, and did — especially Glassalt, the lodge on the Balmoral estate in Scotland, and Osborne House, a royal residence on the Isle of Wight. I was surprised, though, that what I most enjoyed about this film was that it’s a very human story about growing old and about how to increase one’s happiness, at any time of life, by seeking to learn new things and engage with people who are different from you.
Have you seen this film? What did you think?
Well, that’s a coincidence – we watched Victoria & Abdul (aka Mrs Brown with Turbans) at our village Film Club this week. It was a good film, I thought, beautifully made and well-acted, but after an hour I was fidgeting. I found the interplay between Vicky and Abdul embarrassing, and sad; if true, she must have been incredibly lonely to welcome a stranger, particularly a much younger one, into her soul in that way. I can’t get too excited about the racism and class attitudes – those were the times, so it should not surprise us – and I suspect any outsider would have been regarded with suspicion and distaste in the jealous atmosphere of the monarch’s court and household at the time.
It seems rude not to offer you and your readers, in return, an insight to Osborne House, Victoria’s holiday home on the Isle of Wight, where some of Victoria & Abdul was filmed. Captions appear over photographs if you hover your cursor over them (doesn’t work on some mobile devices, unfortunately).
I look forward to seeing this film, but the fact that Queen Victoria had a close friendship with an Indian servant towards the end of her life is well known, and not a secret. As with John Brown, all references to him in the Queen’s papers were destroyed at the end of her life, but it was well documented elsewhere, and most biographies refer to it. The author may have uncovered additional information in the Urdu journals, but I think the hype about it being a newly discovered secret is dishonest, and distorts history.
I loved it. She was obviously depressed and he added some light into her late life. The make up was fabulous. Judi Dench disappeared but her eyes!
I adore Judi Dench – and had heard about this story way back when (I think) when Mrs. Brown was being developed – that there were other ‘stories’ from Queen Victoria’s life that were “quieted” down in favor of the woman in black mourning her husband for the rest of her life… That version always seemed so sad to me – that someone with all the gumption and zest for life and learning and progress would be satisfied to be essentially isolated and separated from anything that interested her before Albert’s death….
We’ve got a ton of films to get through – so I can’t wait for it.
I have not seen it, but I sure would like to! This week I’m adding the Irish novel The Third Policeman.