Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Denmark/Sweden/Czech Republic, 2012. Zentropa Entertainments, Danmarks Radio, Trollhattan Film AB, Film i Vast, Sveriges Television, Sirena Film. Screenplay by Rasmus Heisterberg, Nikolaj Arcel, based on the novel Prinsesse Af Blodet by Bodil Steensen-Leth. Cinematography by Rasmus Videbaek. Produced by Meta Louise Foldager, Sisse Graum Jorgensen, Louise Vesth. Music by Cyrille Aufort, Gabriel Yared. Production Design by Niels Sejer. Costume Design by Manon Rasmussen. Film Editing by Kasper Leick, Mikkel E.G. Nielsen.
An English princess (Alicia Vikander) is brought to the Danish court of King Christian VII as his bride, having been schooled in the culture and language and prepared to bear his heirs. When she arrives she is greeted by an eccentric personality bordering on madness, a wayward and weak ruler who is only brought into line when he hires a personal physician from a German colony (Mads Mikkelsen) to be his right hand in all political manners.
When Christian disbands the conservative, unbending council and puts Mikkelsen in charge of the nation, it ushers in a period of reform and progress that places Denmark at the forefront of the Enlightenment. Making so many enemies in such a short period of time does nothing good for the doctor, however, and the passionate affair that springs up between him and the young queen does them no service when it becomes fuel for their adversaries to use against them later on.
This highly enjoyable soap opera, lushly produced and skillfully directed, gets no points for originality—you can pretty much tell where it’s going the minute a character quotes Malory in the first third—but what it does well is encourage sympathy for its players. Mikkelsen’s strong screen presence more than makes up for Vikander’s less inspiring powers, appropriate and poised but not quite charismatic enough to carry a film; their love affair is an easily dismissed necessity of the plot, while the relationship between the doctor and the king is far more entrancing by comparison. It’s a weighty epic with a more than healthy running time, but it is worth waiting for the very satisfying conclusion.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Foreign Language Film
Berlin Film Festival Awards: Best Actor (Mikkel Folsgaard); Best Screenplay
European Film Award Nominations: Best European Composer; Best European Production Designer
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Foreign Language Film
Toronto International Film Festival: 2012