This is my review of A Royal Affair [DVD] .
I join in the praise of this Danish, Swedish and Czech co-production which deserves to be more widely promoted than is likely. Both entertaining and moving, it is based on a true story little known in England, of how in the eighteenth century an English princess was packed off to marry the young Danish king, Christian V11, who proved to be mentally ill at a time when there was little understanding or treatment available for his condition.
We see examples of the ludicrous situation in which his crazy wishes are imposed on his subjects, because he is a monarch "whose word is law". Since his young wife has to endure his cruel and humiliating behaviour, it is not surprising that she falls for Struensee, the charismatic physician brought in to keep the young man under control. Struensee is an interesting character: he forms what appears to be a genuine friendship with Christian, his desire for a more equal society seems sincere, and gives him interests in common with the young queen from a country which is already a parliamentary democracy and relatively "free-thinking", but is he corrupted by the power gained from having the king's ear? Do his ends justify his means? The pain created by the complex "love triangle" is also explored, with all three arousing some sympathy in this skilful production.
Beneath a well-constructed plot, there lie some complex moral issues which may linger in your thoughts for some time. It is also interesting to see how Denmark has progressed from being a repressive and backward feudal monarchy as recently as the C18.