A dark, thrilling drama about the schizophrenic Christian VII of Denmark, his wife Caroline Mathilde and her love affair with her husband’s doctor, Johann Friedrich Struensee.
I had heard about this film, and finally got the chance to watch it when it popped up on BBCi Player. I’m not too familiar with the history of the Danish royal family, but from the beginning this dark twisted film drew me in.
The film is presented like a letter written by the sickly Caroline Mathilde to her children, Frederick and Louise. She is alien to them, but in writing the letter she gives herself the chance to explain and gives us as an audience a chance to see how everything unfolded.
Caroline’s husband Christian was mentally ill, and wanted to sire a son for the sake of the succession. The young queen feels desolate and alone, with her husband tired of her and more interested in the company of prostitutes. When Struensee becomes his royal doctor, he uses it as a chance to gain influence over the weak king, and tries to modernize Danish rule. Indeed, at times Christian comes across as being fickle and easily led, given to quick and explosive changes of mood. At one point he declares that Struensee rule in his stead.
When Caroline and Straunsee fall in love, it seems to be a chance at happiness for them both. However, due to people’s hatred and distrust of Straunsee it is not to be. Therein lies the tragedy. An excellent film. Far better than I expected, this is an enthralling film and it drags you deep into the bowels of the 18th century royal Danish court.
The acting talent is superb, and I felt as if my heart was breaking several times in the film.
MY RATING: ***** / *****