Nominated for Oscar as the best foreign language film in 2013, Danish film A Royal Affair remains relatively unknown in India. Tanushree Sow Mondal (Class X, The Levelfield School, Suri) describes why this gripping movie is a must-watch. More importantly, she recommends this movie for high-school classes to foster greater interest in history.
At the dawn of the 21st century, we attribute our changed new world to the works of a chosen few. We have assigned so many dates, festivities to mark their contribution to the multiple revolutions. The product of which is our current society. But we fail to realize that the efforts of these heroes would not have made an impact so great, if not for the countless others who sank into oblivion just because they had come to be at a time when the world was not yet ready to receive their ideas.
It is 1766, Denmark. The air is filled with putrid stench being carried from the open sewers, as rats scurry through the streets. The commoners are forever hungry. They are beaten to death by the local landlords, even for the smallest mistakes.
Meanwhile inside the royal palace is a different world all together. There are parties almost every night. With the demented and childish king, valued for his signature on the court orders, the fate of the country lie at the hands of a parochial and prejudiced council.
However, winds of change are blowing throughout Europe. The principles of the Enlightenment are taking shape everywhere. At such a time, the ideas of Voltaire and Rousseau reach the royal gates in the form of the king’s physician, Struensee. Struensee soon charms the whole court and above all, the queen Caroline Mathilda, who is deeply intrigued by his ideas of the Enlightenment.
Using his influence over the king, he together with the queen changed Denmark, even going as far as dissolving the council. In their bliss, they are oblivious to the venom flowing within the rest of the court. Their clandestine affair provides an excuse for the erstwhile council to rid themselves of the only threat to their power, Struensee. They are charged with moral transgression and become a public figure of hatred and shame.
A final scene from the movie shows Struensee while he is going to the guillotine. “I am one of you,”, he shouts to the angry crowd. Having been fed the dogma of subservience to royal authority for years, they fail to see their own good and put an end to a bright future for them.