The Young Victoria

The Young Victoria (2009)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent
Extras: Deleted & EXtended Scenes, Featurettes, movieIQ

I have always felt some affinity with England's Victorian era for some reason. Though over-glamorized in our minds, of course, it is an era that seems very romantic, adventurous and mysterious at the same time. Considering that my own novel series Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter is playing during the late Victorian period, it is hardly surprising that the movie "The Young Victoria" was high on my to-see list, if only to get a better glimpse at the period.

At the age of 18 years, Victoria (Emily Blunt) inherits the throne to England from her uncle William. Throughout her childhood, the young girl has been used like a chess piece by her family members in an attempt to wrest her queenship from her and instead have her mother and step-father as regents in her stead – because she is so young and inexperienced.

However, all those schemers made their plans without ever considering that Victoria could actually be a very stubborn and steadfast young woman with an incredibly smart intellect. Not only does she see through the politicking around her, she also makes sure she picks those she trusts around her very carefully. One of those she trusts most is Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a suitor who, in turn, has been groomed most of his life to be Victoria's perfect partner. Comparable to Victoria's own experience, Albert is fully aware of the way he is being exploited and as such he and Victoria share a common bond. The will to break free, lead their own lives and to no longer be other people's pawns is strong within them and after a long courtship, during which Victoria ensures that she can fully trust Albert's motives to be love and not politics, the young Queen of England decides to marry Albert. After a short period of friction as they settle into their respective roles, Victoria allows Albert to actually reign the country with her and together they changed England with their focus on social reform, as well as the arts and sciences.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie and was quickly captivated by this wonderful production. Starting with its marvelous costumes, which won an Academy Award, the movie offers also remarkable performances by its cast. It is these powerful screen presences that immediately pull you into the movie, together with the atmosphere of political scheming and intrigue that permeates the entire film from beginning to end. I was particularly smitten by Emily Blunt's portrayal of Victoria that is both understated, yet at the same very determined, showing us a young empress that is growing into her own with every step she takes. Equally impressive I found Rupert Friend's portrayal of Albert, who finds just the right balance between the forlorn admirer and determined strategist who becomes Victoria's powerful ally. Strong performances by Paul Bettany and Miranda Richardson round out a truly stellar cast.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents "The Young Victoria" in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio in this 1080p high definition transfer, that is a beauty to behold. With nary a mar, blemish or defect, the film offers up an incredible high level of detail, making sure that every texture and nuance of the production design is faithfully restored on your screen. Vibrant colors that leap off the screen, combined with deep solid blacks define the presentation, bringing the film to spectacular live. In particular there is a scene of Victoria and Albert taking shelter from the rain, where viewers will get the impression that they will simply have to reach out their hands to touch the rain. It is a marvelous transfer that makes the movie so much more enjoyable.

As well-behaved and understated as the film itself is, the audio presentation further adds to the experience. With a mix that is very subtle, but makes constant use of the surround channels for ambient effects, this Blu-Ray Disc's DTS Master Audio track is exemplary when it comes to realism. Instead of going for effects and bombast, the audio in the film draws from atmosphere and ambiance to show Victoria's world as one that is mostly secluded from the world. However, during the ball scenes and the social events, the track makes best possible use of the surrounds to fill the sound field with energy and bustle, as well as music.

In addition to its spectacular feature film presentation, the Blu-Ray Disc also contain a few bonus materials, such as Deleted and Extended Scenes. You will also find a few featurettes on the release, giving you a closer look at the production as a whole, as well as selected scenes, such as the Coronation and the Wedding. Another featurette goes into history, giving viewers a chance to learn more about the real Queen Victoria, while yet another featurette examines the clothing of the period, as well as the costumes in the movie.

Sony's movieIQ trivia track feature is also included on the release offering on-the-fly information that relate to what you see on the screen.

"The Young Victoria" is a magnetic movie, filled with charm and atmosphere, not to mention the political intrigue and romance. Never have Victoria's early years been given such a lavish treatment before, making her all the more likable and giving us the chance to understand her impact on English history all the more. I am glad that I have had the opportunity to see this film, particularly in such a glorious presentation as the one on this Bly-Ray Disc.