What’s the first image that comes to mind when you think of Queen Victoria? I bet it’s of a photograph of her as an old woman, dressed in black widow’s weeds with a glum look on her face. With that indelible image, it’s easy to forget that she was once a young woman of 17 who loved to dance and was falling in love. The Young Victoria brings the early years of Queen Victoria’s life – just before and after her coronation – brilliantly alive.

Kept isolated and under tight control throughout her childhood by her mother, Victoria was poorly prepared to rule what was then the richest country in the world. Her mother’s adviser, Sir John Conroy, tried to force Victoria to sign a regency document allowing him to rule through her, but Victoria, showing surprising spunk and determination, refused. Just six weeks after her 18th birthday, King William died and she became Queen. Now dependent on various politicians for guidance, she found herself turning more and more to her cousin Albert.

Planned by their uncle that they should eventually marry since they were babies, Victoria and Albert did the nearly unthinkable and fell in love. They made a nearly perfect team, complimenting each others strengths, and together ruled England for 20 years until Alberts death. Victoria mourned him for another 40 years.

The Young Victoria is a sumptuous production with superb acting, beautiful settings and gorgeous costumes (which won numerous awards including an Oscar) While the screenplay fudges on some historical details, it is overall accurate, and it is especially evocative of one of the great romances of all time.

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