By Eriona Peci
A Royal Affair could be regarded by some viewers as a history lesson on Danish royalty. However, the film is much more than that. The plot is centred on the corrupt Danish court of the 18th century. Mad King Charles VII, portrayed by Mikkel Folsgaard, marries the beautiful 16-year-old English Princess, Caroline Mathilde. Queen Caroline moves to Denmark and her life quickly becomes horrid. Even after Charles fathers Caroline’s son, he prefers to spend more time with his dog and act like a petulant child.
It becomes obvious to moviegoers that Charles is a puppet for the evil Danish council that favors the rich and exploits the poor. The power lies with the affluent, not to the King.
However, it all changes when Charles needs a doctor. Here enters German physician Dr. Johann Friedrich Struensee, an Enlightenment thinker. Once Charles befriends Struensee, the politics take a drastic turn towards Enlightened thought.
The change creates a certain animosity between the people of the Court. This hatred grows to the point beyond repair. Furthermore, romantic drama ensues between the King, his queen, and his doctor.
The raw acting, the elaborate costume design, the script, and the cinematography are what make this film different from every other generic period piece.
Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as the German doctor is what is to be expected from such a great actor. The raw emotion coming from Mikkelsen during certain scenes really helps the audience picture Struensee’s experience.
However, Mikkel Boe Folsgaard, portrayal of King Charles VII stole the entire show. Mikkel manages to play a lunatic trying to act sane. Furthermore, he is able to make his character pitiful, even after the audience witnesses the horrible acts he as committed.
To portray a character with so many conflicted emotions takes skill: Oscar-worthy skill. Folsgaard has already won this year’s Silver Bear for Best Male Actor at the Berlin Film Festival for his performance.
A Royal Affair also won the Silver Bear for Best Script. Denmark seems to have put immense faith in this film, making A Royal Affair their official submission for the Foreign Language Film Category of the 85th Academy Awards.